Microsoft held a Surface Event this week and announced an arsenal of new products – with some unexpected surprises that has shook the tech world with the intuitive innovation in these new products. Spoiler alert, its foldable tech! Let’s start with that.
Note – All image credits in this news story go to Microsoft.
The key feature in the foldable Surface Neo & Duo are how intuitive & practical they are, apart from the unprecedented innovation
Both these new products are built in a much more practical way compared to the other foldable we’ve seen – Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, Huawei’s Mate X, and the Royole FlexPai. It’s not just about the intuitiveness, how this OS works, or the fact that it’s from the Microsoft Surface team that strives to make the best 2-in-1s and eliminate the conflicts between a ‘tablet’ and a ‘laptop’. The Surface Neo & Duo are both just simply way more practical, because they’re built with displays protected by glass. Guess you didn’t think it would be that simple!
Here’s the thing. The Galaxy Fold (Mate X is yet to launch but still has similar flaws) is a really innovative, foldable phone with cutting edge tech at almost $2000 USD. But now that it’s released, even after the improved durability in its structure, it’s still not very practical at all. The plastic screen literally dents with pressure of a fingernail. There’s no proper water & dust resistance, so when JerryRigEverything poured some sand onto the Galaxy Fold it got inside its hinges easily producing crackling noises and ruining the screen. I can totally see many people using the Galaxy Fold carefully and treating it with prestige, and with Samsung’s display replacement program & express service, it’s not bad at all.
But the Surface Neo & Duo. These have glass screens with a small bezel & hinge separating them. The screens are large enough and will still offer most of the fundamental advantages of having a foldable screen. Something the Surface Design team has innovated a lot is the hinge, so I’m quite confident with the hinge’s durability & reliability on these products.
Combine that with how intuitively they’re designed and the OS they’re both powered by, and we might just have the best cutting edge tech of 2020. Oh yes, forgot to mention that. Both the Surface Neo & Duo will come out in fall of 2020, but even right now they seem to be really well polished products. I have almost no doubts.
Enough with the justification of the design of these new products – let’s get right into them.
Surface Neo – the foldable dual screen laptop
Surface Neo is their new dual-screen (two 9-inch screens) laptop-class foldable product. The two screens are connected with a 360-degree hinge with full-friction. It also supports a removable keyboard, which by the way, connects in a seriously intuitive way. The way it works is so magical – the keyboard flips up from the bottom to the second screen, and then the top half of the screen is an extended workspace, for some serious productivity coupled with a mouse. Or, you can further push up the keyboard and make the bottom half the trackpad.
The Neo supports a keyboard attachment, the Surface Pen, and the usual Bluetooth accessories. It’s going to run on Windows 10X, a new form of Windows built for dual-screen devices. We don’t have any concrete info on what processor is going to power the Surface Neo, since the product is still in development, expected to launch by Fall 2020.
Surface Duo – the foldable dual screen smartphone
Surface Duo is also a dual-screen (two 5.6-inch screens) foldable but its way smaller, and designed to fit in your pocket. It’s a foldable smartphone, with similar functionality to the Neo. It supports the Surface Pen too.
The Surface Duo is powered by Android, which makes it Microsoft’s first phone in a long time after Windows Phones died. The biggest reason for its death was the app support and how mature Android & iOS Platforms were, so Microsoft chose to go with Android. Microsoft says ‘we are building upon Android to marry cutting edge hardware with familiar software and services’ which brings the Surface Duo much better luck in competing with other phones.
It’s like a supercharged Galaxy Note, combined with the Surface Pen. The design looks clean, minimal and beautiful, just what the Surface Design team is well known for.
Surface Pro X – An ARM based 2-in-1 with great efficiency & performance
The Surface Pro X pushes the boundaries and features a much lighter design, at 0.76 kg weight & 5.3mm thickness. It’s more streamlined and clean too. The bezels at 33% thinner and the display is 13-inches in a 2:1 ratio. It has USB-A & USB-C ports. There’s also a new Surface Type Cover for the Pro X that has the ability to house a Surface Pen.
So what’s different? Why not make this the only new Surface Pro? Well, here’s where it gets complicated. The Surface Pro X is powered by an ARM processor, used in tablets & smartphones rather than the conventional x86 processor from Intel or AMD, used in laptops & desktops. It’s a fundamentally different architecture but theoretically has great performance & efficiency, just better than something from Intel or AMD.
The Surface Pro X starts at $999 and is available for pre-order. We’ll update when we have info on its availability in India.
Remember how the iPad Pro had Xbox One S class performance while being a mobile tablet and much, much lighter? But it couldn’t play games like GTA V & Battlefield 1? That’s exactly what’s happening here.
Not a lot of desktop applications are able to run straight away on ARM. Especially many professional apps, and of course games. But Microsoft partnered with Adobe to bring Creative Cloud to the ARM powered Surface Pro X, and the Adobe Fresco app will be available at launch too. Basically, app support has to be the main focus here.
We’re not certain of what other Adobe Creative Cloud apps are coming to the Surface Pro X, but it seems promising. Adobe is also working on bringing full scale Photoshop to the iPad (also ARM powered) so we can expect them to bring it over to the Surface Pro X as well.
What’s certain is that companies are definitely considering ARM and important platform and the top tech analysts predict a move to ARM for desktop & laptops in the coming years.
The Surface Pro X is powered by a custom Microsoft SQ1 Processor designed in collaboration with Qualcomm. It pushes 2 teraflops of graphics processing power
I’m definitely intrigued by this product, and it does seem to be more of a ‘real’ computer, thanks to Windows 10, than the iPad Pro. Although that too is close with the new iPadOS software update and has its advantages with the App Store and Apple’s ecosystem – with a great suite of professional apps like Affinity Photo, LumaFusion, and Procreate.
Still, Windows 10 is obviously better. I reckon with good support & development the Surface Pro X will be a great choice for many!
Surface Pro 7 – 10th Gen Processors & USB-C
The Surface Pro 7 now comes with 10th Gen Intel Processors, which is twice as fast as the Pro 6. There’s a new USB Type-C port along with its the usual USB-A & Surface Connector. It also has studio microphones for better microphone quality. The design remains largely unchanged, but there are some new colour options too.
The Surface Pro 7 starts $749 and is available for pre-order. We’ll update when we have info on its availability in India.
Surface Laptop 3 – New 15-inch variant, Intel 10th Gen & AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen Processors
The Surface Laptop 3 comes with lots of new changes. Firstly, there’s a new 15-inch variant for more screen real estate and options for better performance too. This new laptop comes with 10th Gen Intel Processors, and the 15-inch variant has a new ‘Ryzen Surface Edition’ processor packing in great performance especially in the GPU department.
The design has been made more modular, with options for repairability & replaceable storage being much better than what was there before. There’s new aluminium built models too in different colours. The trackpad has been widened and there’s studio mics too.
The Surface Laptop 3 starts $999 for the 13-inch and $1199 for the 15-inch. We’ll update here when we have info on availability in India.
What do you think about Microsoft’s new lineup? Personally, I’m still waiting on the next Surface Book which they confirmed is not gone. This new hardware looks really good and I’m really excited for next year’s foldable tech.