The Microsoft Surface Pro LTE is now available to all users, with preorders having started on Tuesday. Since December, only business users were able to purchase the device, but now it is open to anyone. However, shipments of the device won’t start until May 1.
Microsoft offers two versions of the LTE device for businesses, one at $1,149 with a Core i5 7300U processor, 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, and the other priced at $1,449 with the same processor but 8GB of RAM. Both devices cost $150 more than the non-LTE versions. However, through its official store, Microsoft is only offering the more expensive version for preorder. Those looking to complete the set with a Type Cover keyboard and a Surface Pen will have to pay extra.
“With up to 50% more battery life than Surface Pro 4, an ultra-light design, and now with LTE Advanced, this is the most versatile Surface yet,” Microsoft claims.
On the exterior, the LTE model does not differ much from the non-LTE model. The dimensions read the same at 0.33 x 11.5 x 7.9 inches. Since the dimensions are same, accessories such as ports, keyboards, the kickstand, the stylus and more will also be similar to those of the non-LTE Surface Pro. The LTE version, however, does have a slot for the SIM card on the rear panel below the kickstand.
Once the kickstand is pulled out, the slot for the SIM card can be accessed. Like any other modern device, the SIM can be placed on the tray and pushed into the device. Microsoft has also added an embedded SIM card option to allow the use of a pay-as-you-go plan through the Windows Store.
In the United States, French company Transatel will offer LTE eSIM service with several plans, such as 200MB for one day ($4.99), 1GB for 15 days ($13.99), and 3GB for 30 days ($29.99), notes PC Mag.
Apple’s MacBook is popular among students and casual users, even through there are no fireworks as far as features are concerned. Microsoft is aware of this, and therefore, with its latest device, it is trying to woo business professionals mainly. The Surface Pro LTE version could be a choice over the MacBook because of its connectivity on-the-go option, which is something professionals always crave. Microsoft’s Surface Pro LTE version could come in handy in places like airports, where data signals are wretched.
Further, many believe that while Apple is stuck in offering only cosmetic changes to its Macbook, such as tweaking the Touch Bar, Microsoft is focusing more on the features that matter and offer greater convenience to users on the go. Apart from mobility, Microsoft also worked on making the Surface Pro LTE more flexible by offering a Windows 10 package.
In its recent review, The Verge rated the new Surface Pro LTE high for its durable battery. However, the processor, according to The Verge, is outdated compared to those used in other new PCs. According to Ars Technica, there may not be an i7 version of the Surface Pro LTE. The space where the modem would sit has a fan in the i7 units, meaning there is no room for LTE.
Microsoft claims that the battery lasts 12.5 hours between charges, compared to 13.5 hours for the Wi-Fi model. However, this estimate is based on looping video use and not real-world usage. According to The Verge, the battery life on the LTE version is about seven hours, which is marginally less than the Wi-Fi version but still in the acceptable range. Further, data usage could be at a higher rate since the Surface Pro LTE runs full Windows 10 with a desktop browser and desktop applications.
The Verge also applauded the network connectivity of the LTE Surface Pro.
“Getting online with the LTE Surface Pro is so easy that I never had to think about it. It’s a computer that gets out of my way and just lets me do the things I need to get done, instead of distracting me with network settings or other annoyances,” the site said.
PCMag carried out an Ookla Speedtest on the latest Surface device and found that it averaged 46.81Mbps up and 22.22Mbps down on Verizon’s network, compared to 54.6Mbps up and 10.12 down for the Galaxy Note 8.
“Results of these tests will vary based on time and location, but the Surface Pro’s speed consistently fell at or near other efficient LTE devices when tested in the same conditions,” says PCMag.