In fact, rumors of a Surface Pro 5 release date have been floating around the internet since the current model was launched onto store shelves. The keyword there is "rumors", however, as very few of those reports are citing trustworthy sources.
That goes without mentioning folks clamoring across message boards for their most desired features and improvements. (Can you guess the most popular one? It rhymes with "flattery.")
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The would-be fifth Surface Pro tablet
- When is it out? Current rumors point to spring 2017
- What will it cost? Likely as much as – if not a bit more than – the current Surface Pro 4
Surface Pro 5 release date
As reported earlier in 2016, the second major update to Windows 10 was delayed until spring of next year to correspond with a new hardware launch. The Windows 10 Creators Update was officially announced on October 26 alongside the Surface Studio PC and a more powerful Surface Book i7.
Purportedly, the spring lineup would consist of the Surface Pro 5, Surface Book 2 and potentially the yet-to-be-confirmed Surface Phone. Moreover, with Intel’s Kaby Lake processors having just shipped, it wouldn't be out of character for Redmond to push back the hardware a few extra months, allotting itself time to get comfortable with the new architecture.
Surface Pro 5 price
Take a look at the history of the Surface Pro tablets and you'll notice that the pricing rarely fluctuates year over year.
With that in mind, it's likely we'll see the Surface Pro 5 start at $899 (£749, AU$1,349) and escalate from there depending on spec configurations and bundled accessories.
Is there any chance that the final price will differ? Of course there is. Would it be smart for Microsoft to deviate too far from the standard that it's predicated? Nope.
Regardless, the ball in in Microsoft's court here, and if pricier new features are added to the baseline model, it's not unprecedented for PC maker to issue a price hike (see: Apple).
Surface Pro 5 stylus
One piece of the puzzle regarding every new Surface is how Microsoft will upgrade its Surface Pen stylus accessory that comes bundled with each tablet. Back in January, it was uncovered by Patently Mobile that Microsoft had filed for a rechargeable stylus.
Specifically, the patent details a magnetic charging dock built to give the new Surface Pen its juice, seemingly with connectors meant for a Surface Dock mounting. Such a venture makes a lot of sense for Microsoft, as the iPad Pro's Apple Pencil currently has this exact edge over the Surface Pen, able to charge by awkwardly connecting to the tablet via its Lightning port.
Another interesting patent filed by Microsoft describes a renewed Surface Pen loop, designed to both latch the Surface Pen onto your Surface devices via a USB connection. Not only would it hold the Surface Pen into position when needed, but it would simultaneously charge the accessory for prolonged continuous use.
What we want to see
Look, as much as we've been impressed by the Surface Pro 4, firmware issues aside, there will always be room for improvement. (That would be the case even if it had earned our Editor's Choice award.)
From the screen size and resolution to the hardware inside, we have a few ideas for how Microsoft could craft an even better Windows 10 tablet.
Longer battery life
This is a bit of low-hanging fruit, but countless customers have lamented the Surface Pro 4's battery life – regardless of issues with its "Sleep" mode. We rated the device for 5 hours and 15 minutes of video playback.
That's well below Microsoft's promise of 9 hours of video playback, but we all know that few, if any, laptops actually meet their promised battery life approximations. Our video playback figure is in line with the average laptop, though it's a far cry from what its nemesis, the MacBook, can produce.
Ideally, and realistically, we'd like to see at least 7 hours of battery life reliably from the next Surface Pro tablet. That would put it closer in line with the MacBook Air as well as competing tablets, like the iPad Pro.
An even sharper (and/or bigger) screen
With the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft managed to outrank countless rivals in both the laptop and tablet spaces when it comes to screen resolution. With a razor-sharp 267 ppi (pixels per inch) already at 2,736 x 1,824 pixels within a 12.3-inch screen, it's not as if the Surface Pro 5 needs to be much sharper.
However, if the next Surface Pro were equipped with, say, a 4K (3,840 pixels wide at the very least) screen, that would rip its productivity and entertainment capabilities wide open. Film and photo editors could work at the native resolution that's increasingly becoming the norm, while average Joe's (teehee) could finally watch Netflix in 4K on a tablet.
That said, the realm of super sharp resolutions might be reserved for the Surface Book range at this point. So, why not up its size a bit?
The Surface Pro 4 is big enough for almost all tasks, but it's still not the established default size for most laptops: 13.3 inches. Then again, doing so cannibalize Microsoft's market by negating the need for its Surface Book.
However, maybe the iPad Pro is onto something with its 12.9-inch display. Granted the resolution doesn't bump up too much alongside a size increase, the extra space could allow for a battery life boost.
It might finally be time for USB-C
We saw the latest Google Chromebook Pixel and the MacBook Pro might be among the first devices to adopt the latest in USB technology, only for a growing number of smartphones, tablets and laptops to hop on board since then.
The reversible, versatile port (or two?) may be just what the Surface Pro 5 needs to alleviate the product line's slight input/output problem. A single USB 3.0 port and a proprietary charging port aren't going to cut it for much longer.
At the same time, Microsoft may want to include a standard USB 3.0 port, too, in order to meet the system requirements for its own Windows 10 VR headsets. If the company wants to lead the pack in the business of affordable virtual reality solutions, it's a no-brainer to make the Surface Pro 5 compatible.
Word around the office says we're about six months out from a release – plenty of time for the rumor mill to fire up. Stay tuned to this space in the coming months for the latest on things Surface Pro 5.
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Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article