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Surface Book 3: what we want to see

Surface Book 3 (Image credit: Microsoft)
Surface Book 3

The Surface Book 3 has big shoes to fill. When the first Surface Book hit the streets, it was extremely successful. Yet, as incredible as it was, its sequel, the Surface Book 2, refined everything the original did, which resulted in a machine that makes the MacBook Pro look like a cheap toy.

So, it shouldn't be surprising that we're eagerly awaiting the Surface Book 3. Luckily, Microsoft is holding a hardware event in just a couple of hours, and we're expecting to see a slew of new hardware from the tech giant. And, because the Surface Book 2 came out so long ago, we might just see the Surface Book 3 later today. Be sure to keep up with our live blog so you can see it coming. 

Regardless, we can see it now: a Surface Book 2 with a sharper, richer display, Thunderbolt 3, and – if the recently benchmarked Microsoft Surface powered by Intel Ice Lake were anything to go by – more powerful internal components. In other words, the Surface Book 3 could end up being the best 2-in-1 laptop we’ve seen. With these features, it might be the perfect device to give Apple’s pro laptops a run for their money.

If Microsoft is able to extract and reproduce what made the first two Surface Book devices so good, and distill it into the third model, then the Surface Book 3 might even end up as the best laptop to date.

Unfortunately for us, there is little to no tangible information about the Surface Book 3 right now. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t at least speculate based on past releases, leaks and rumors, and our tech expertise.

With that in mind, let’s dig into what we think and hope the Surface Book 3 might look like.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The would-be third Surface Book 2-in-1 laptop
  • When is it out? Likely between September and November 2019
  • What will it cost? Likely as much as – if not more than – the current model

surface book 3 in motion

We’re still hoping that Microsoft will showcase the Surface Book 3. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface Book 3 release date

The Surface Book 2 was rolled out in late 2017 so it’s already got a few years under its belt. However, based on the release pattern of Surface devices that aren’t the Surface Pro, it would be hard-pressed to the Surface Book 3 until late 2019 or early 2020 at the earliest.

Two new Surface devices were released in October 2018 – the Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 – but there wasn’t any sign of a new Surface Book. If you also account for the fact that Microsoft has recently given the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 a quad-core processor, we don't expect to see a Surface Book 3 coming out any time soon.

However, we’re still hoping that Microsoft will showcase the Surface Book 3 or at least share an update about it at its hardware event later today, even if it doesn't roll it out until early 2020.

Until we have more concrete information, or even rumors, we’re sticking with our late 2019 or 2020 Surface Book 3 release date prediction.

surface book 3 in motion

Fingers crossed that the would-be Surface Book 3 sticks well within the same price range as its predecessor. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface Book 3 price

Unfortunately for us, since there’s no concrete information about the Surface Book 3 right now, we don’t really know what to expect when it comes to how much it will cost.

Looking at the pricing of the Surface Book and the Surface Book 2, however, we can certainly speculate. Currently, due to a new lower-storage model, the 13.5 inch Surface Book 2 starts at $1,199 or £1,149, while the 15-inch iteration stays at its $2,499 or £2,349 (AU$3,649) price tag. If you ask us, that’s already plenty pricey.

We won’t likely see a price drop. However, fingers crossed that the would-be Surface Book 3 sticks well within that price range, as anything more would already be too expensive for many users or potential buyers.

surface book 3 tablet mode

Microsoft has to make better use of the room provided it with the 15-inch Surface Book. (Image credit: Microsoft)

What we want to see in a Surface Book 3

A Surface Book 3 release seems so far away at this point, especially because we don’t have any solid information on what to expect. So, all we can do right now is put together a wish list, if you must, of what we would like to see improved in this follow up.

Here are the features we’d like to see in the Surface Book 3, based on speculation, leaks and rumors.

More powerful internals
The Surface Book is the most powerful and sophisticated laptop that Microsoft has ever designed, so we’d appreciate to see up-to-date components all around. Now that Intel has been shipping its Ice Lake processors and we’ll start seeing them in laptops before the end of the year ­– not to mention, Nvidia has rolled out its Super RTX graphics this summer – the Surface Book 3 could hypothetically be among the most powerful devices to hit the streets. We can see it now: a portable workhorse that can handle some 4K gaming in its downtime and last you a while as well.

Use the extra space accordingly
Microsoft could fit the Surface Book 3 with either an expanded keyboard with the number pad or top-firing speakers with deep bass chambers. The point is, Microsoft has to make better use of the room provided it with the 15-inch Surface Book chassis. Right now, it’s just wasted space waiting to be utilized.

Thunderbolt 3, please
The Surface connector on the Surface Book 2 is, without a doubt, versatile. However, it’s time for Microsoft to incorporate Thunderbolt 3 via USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 provides faster file transfers, and also works as a one plug hub for all monitors and other peripherals you could want to connect. If the Surface Book 3 is actually going to compete with the best there is, especially in 2019 or 2020, it needs to jump on board with this growing standard.

The good news is that looks like this might actually happen. Microsoft has patented a magnetic USB-C connector that would kind of function like the existing magnetic Surface charger. Whether or not it will actually support Thunderbolt 3 remains to be seen, but we don’t see why it shouldn’t.

Better power management
One of the biggest flaws of the Surface Book 2 15-inch is that it couldn’t play games without draining its battery on top of pulling charge through its Surface Connector. Microsoft told us that this was because of the device being designed specifically for creatives and not for gaming. But, this is the same company that also gave it a built-in Xbox controller receiver, so that excuse seems like a total cop out.

Regardless of who the next iteration is made for, it should come with improved power management so as to not dip into its battery reserves for extra juice.

A 4K display would be nice
The Surface Book 2’s screen comes in at 3,240 x 2,160 (260 ppi) at a 3:2 aspect ratio on its 15-inch model. It’s a stunning display, to be fair. However, while it does come close to hitting that 4K mark, true 4K assets are becoming standard, and digital creators, for whom the Surface Book is designed, will want a screen that mirrors the sharpness at which they produce content.

All accessories included
For what it’s charging for its current – and will charge for its future – Surface Book products, Microsoft should include all of the essential accessories in the box. Yes, that includes the innovative Surface Dial, alongside the Surface Pen, in this case. It’s only fair for what is essentially a luxury item.

Black color option
The Surface Book 2 is already an exceptionally stunning device, but now that Microsoft revealed the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2, we would love to see the next premium 2-in-1 adopt the black color option as well.

Just imagine, a Surface Book 3 that might not only give the MacBook Pro 2018 a run for its money, but one that has a more striking color option than the Space Gray on the latest Apple flagship.