The Surface Pro has been a success for Microsoft. When it launched in 2013 it set the benchmark for what a Windows 2-in-1 could be, even if some people (including us) thought it wasn’t necessarily the best of both worlds.
For the past few generations little has changed: each successive update has been iterative and it was only in 2019 that Microsoft finally added USB-C (but not Thunderbolt 3 support).
In 2020, then, will the eighth-generation Surface Pro be another tweaked model, or something more radical? Here’s what the rumours are saying.
Surface Pro 8 rumours at a glance:
- 11th gen Intel Core processors
- Solar-powered Type Cover
- Speaker built into kickstand
- Launching October 2020
When is the Surface Pro 8 coming out?
Microsoft hasn’t announced anything, but using history as a guide, it’s a sensible bet that the company will hold a hardware event around October – as it has done in recent years – to unveil the Surface Pro 8, the next Surface Laptop and also the finished Surface Neo and Surface Duo.
In case those latter two are news to you, Microsoft teased the two products at the event back in October 2019 and both represent the radical departure from the regular Surface Pro that we’d been expecting for a couple of years.
Because they’re so different, the company said it wanted to gauge reactions and get people used to the concepts (as well as to get developers on board) before the official launch late in 2020. And we fully expect that to coincide with the launch of the Surface Pro 8.
How much will the Surface Pro 8 cost?
Expect Microsoft to stick with the same price range as the current model. That means an entry price of around £799/$749 up to a top-end model for around £2299/$2299.
Don’t forget that you only get the tablet in the box: if you want a keyboard (the Type Cover) and a stylus, both are optional – and quite pricey – extras.
What are the Surface Pro 8’s rumoured specifications?
As with previous models, Microsoft will undoubtedly use the latest-available Intel Core processors. It’s possible that – as we saw with the Surface Pro X – that an ARM-based Surface Pro 8 could exist, but Microsoft may launch a second-generation Pro X instead: the SQ1 processor was its own design in collaboration with Qualcomm.
It’s really too early for any leaked spec sheets or photos, but a couple of patents have been spotted for tech which could well make its way into the Surface Pro 8.
First is the expandable speaker enclosure (via WindowsLatest) which appears to involve speakers mounted on the kickstand – or Type Cover – and which use an enclosed area between the kickstand and the tablet as a ‘resonance chamber’.
Basically, when you open the kickstand it forms a speaker enclosure that gives louder sound without making the device itself bulkier. Quite how the enclosure would work isn’t clear: the patent covers multiple options with one or more speakers, and also details an accordion-style setup which would fold flat when you close the kickstand.
As the flow-chart shows, sensors and software will determine whether the enclosure is open or closed and adjust sound accordingly.
If you don’t consider the speaker patent a credible upgrade, then this one will be even less so. Another patent spotted by WindowsLatest shows solar panels on the back of the kickstand (actually the stand of a cover).
Solar chargers are nothing new, but the real issue is that most users are unlikely to work outdoors with their Surface Pro enough to make this idea workable. Current solar chargers are next to useless for a lot of people and, with USB power banks so affordable, we can’t imagine many people will want to buy a more expensive solar cover for their Surface Pro.
It’s nice that the Surface Pro 7 has a USB-C Port, but it uses the USB 3.1 Gen 2 standard. That gives it a potential speed of 10Gb/sec, which is pretty fast. But it’s a quarter of the speed of Thunderbolt 3 and the Intel chip in the Pro 7 has support for Thunderbolt 3.
We’d like to see Microsoft address this in the next model.
Elsewhere, there’s no real need for any huge changes. People clearly like the form factor, as it strikes a good balance between screen size and usability. Plus, other screen sizes are already catered for by the Surface Pro X, and the Duo and Neo. We’re looking forward to finding out how much those two will cost in particular, but as and when more rumours crop up for the Surface Pro 8, we’ll be sure to add them here.