Editor's Note: Check out our hands-on coverage of the Surface Pro, which Microsoft revealed at its May 23 Shanghai event.
To the surprise of many, Microsoft didn't update the Surface Pro 4 in 2016, which puts even more pressure on the tech titan to update the 2-in-1 in 2017. So now, we're expecting necessary spec bumps, new colors and a possible new accessory for the Surface Pro 5 (which might not even have that name) when it comes out this year.
Images from prolific tech leaker Evan Blass show a Surface Pro with no new ports and a very similar design. Blass noted that the update will be mostly internal, reminiscent of Apple's s-class iPhones, which mostly feature new guts.
This Surface Pro could make its debut at a May 23 Microsoft event in Shanghai, but quotes from both Blass and Surface creator Panos Panay suggest it won't be called the Pro 5. Blass claims the device will simply be known as the Surface Pro, while Panay noted that "there is no such thing as a Pro 5."
Why the May 23 event? Panay explained that he'll be in attendance at the Shanghai event in a tweet that included the #Surface hashtag. In a subsequent interview, According to the Surface exec, a new product name requires "meaningful change," and that giving the notebook "the latest processor" doesn't count. A Pro 5, Panay insisted, would require "an experiential change that makes a huge difference in product line.”
On May 22, Panay tweeted a photo teasing new Surface Pro 4 Signature Type Covers, showing the original gray design along with those in Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and Graphite Gold tones seen in the Surface Laptop. The keyboards are seen as a backdrop to Surface team members preparing for the Shanghai event, as Panay's tweet says "Working session. 30 hours to go. #MicrosoftEvent #Surface."
All of the above confirms the first solid rumors we heard about the updated convertible. Paul Thurrott tweeted that sources told him the major difference between that and past Surface Pros will be an upgrade to Intel's Kaby Lake CPUs. Thurott also noted that hybrid will continue to use a proprietary charger, such as the one used by the Pro 4 or the Surface Book.
A New Surface Pen
In January 2016, Patently Mobile reported that Microsoft filed a patent for a rechargeable stylus and dock, which the company could announce alongside the Surface Pro 5. A charging stylus would be a welcome upgrade, as the Surface Pen requires AAAA batteries.
Schematic drawings from the filing show a stylus with an on/off button, indicator light and a charging terminal near its base. The patent reveals that the charging element would be magnetic, and allow the stylus to charge while lying flat against the dock.
As it's shown in the patent, the dock may have pegs jutting out from its base, which suggests the docking cradle could be a part of the Surface Pro 5. It's unclear if the dock could also work with current Microsoft devices, but Patently Mobile suggests that the gap left in the Surface Book's dynamic fulcrum hinge would be "an ideal spot" for the pen to rest.
News Everyday claims that the Surface Pro 5's Core i5 base model will cost $899, and that Microsoft will offer it with an i7 processor model for $999 and an i7 Extreme CPU for $1,599. This price structure would be a bit surprising, as the Surface Pro 4's entry-level Core m3 model cost $899, but its least expensive Core i7 goes for $1,599.
Our Wish List
While modest updates to bring parity with other laptops are all one can reasonably expect out of the next Surface Pro, we think it needs to shake things up a bit to stand out in the now crowded detachable 2-in-1 market. Innovation could come in upgrades to the device's keyboard, which could stand to be more lap-able. Aside from a re-design of how the accessory works, that gain could be achieved with the added weight of a battery, which Microsoft previously offered in the Surface Power Cover.
We also hope the Surface Pro 5 will have a smoother launch than its predecessor, which was plagued with defective rear cameras.
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