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7 reasons to get the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3

If you're a Surface Pro 3 owner, you're probably tempted to get the newer Surface Pro 4. However, as Dan mentioned in the Surface Pro 4 review, the gains are probably not worth the cost if you're a Surface Pro 3 user. You can still upgrade your experience by buying the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover for your Surface Pro 3. It's fully compatible. We'll give you 7 reasons to get the new Type Cover.

1. Larger trackpad. The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover's trackpad is 40% larger than in the previous Type Cover. This means more room for scrolling, or dragging and dropping items.

2. Smoother trackpad. The trackpad is now made of very smooth glass. It feels much better to swipe than the previous Type Cover.

3. Buttons are more spaced out. The increased separation between the keys makes it easier and faster to type without looking down. The buttons are slightly smaller, but not enough to be an issue.

4. Longer key travel. When you type, the buttons go down a little further than the ones found on the previous Type Cover. Typing feels softer, too.

5. There's now a PrtScn button. Instead of pressing three buttons, Windows key + Fn + Space bar to take a screenshot of your desktop, you can now do it with two buttons. With the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover, you can press Windows key + PrtScn.

6. Optional Fingerprint scanner. The Surface Pro 3 doesn't have a Windows Hello-compatible camera, but the new Type Cover with Fingerprint ID lets you sign in to your machine by placing your finger on the scanner.

7. There's now a dedicated contextual menu. I thought this was useless at first, but there's a contextual menu button on the new Type Cover. It lets you right-click on items when you don't want to use the mouse or trackpad.

I did not have many complaints about the Type Cover on the Surface Pro 3, but the latest version greatly improves my experience. It almost feels like having a new Surface. Are these reasons good enough to buy the new Type Cover for your Surface Pro 3? Let us know in the comments!

Buy the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

  • Good reasons
  • would that dedicated menu button have the same function as an Xbox one's controller's menus button? That'll come in handy when playing Xbox games on the surface pro...
  • It's the same context menu button that's been on Windows keyboards for 30 years.
  • This is why I follow you guys! Keep it up. Is the new pen compatible?
  • Yes
  • Yes, the pen is functions, but your stuck with 256 levels of pressure sensitivity.  You need the Pro 4 to take advantage of more pressure sensitivity.   There  are a few plusses 1) the tips and 2) the buttons do work.
  • I don't like the fact they are copying a pencil with eraser design.  Seems stupid to have changed that. It's much more efficent on the previous pen since you down't have to flip it around and have to re-engage palm regection mode on that almost impossibly close detection range.
  • They could have easily supported both. it's just one additional button on the pen. If they get enough feedback asking for it, they'll do it (and they can just release another version of the pen, no need for any changes on the Surface)
  • I like having a natural eraser on the other end, I use it all the time when using the stylus on my SP1 and never have issues with palm rejection. With the stylus on the SP4 they've actually reverted to the original spec which was 1024 levels of pressure, single button on the barrel for right/click or lasso and eraser functionality on the top. 
  • Old pen has 2 buttons so I always had to guess which one to press and second I had to look to locate it. I prefer this new setup.
  • The reality is wacom pens with eraser tops have been around since XP tablet edition and people are used to them. I liked the two button function on the original pens, but i'll cope. Bought a new pen to use on either a Surface 3 Pro or Surface 3. On the latter currently. Works fine and the eraser seems natural. I grew up with #2 pencils though. The magnet is not particularly functional on a Surface 3 device. Nothing to attach to really. The single 'button' is a bit hard to find and press on the new pen IMHO too.  
  • Wouldn't you also add that it's a firmer keyboard without the rattle and flex of the previous? That seems easily top 3 reason to get it.
  • I would like to know, how good and how fast the fingerprint scanner works. Is it reliabe or do you have to try it more than once until it finally works (like in pretty old laptops).
  • I picked up the new keyboard yesterday (10/28) and the fingerprint reader is very good. Just place finger on the reader, and it unlocks. No swiping, not delay. It says you can setup multiple/extra fingers, but I have only done my index finger.
  • I think you can setup as many fingers as you want. I did three myself. It's always good to setup multiple fingers because if you get a cut or lose your print on a finger for some reason, you can use another.
  • It takes maybe a second to log in. It recognizes your finger almost instantly. Way faster than you could type a 4 digit pin.
  • Okay, thanks to both of you! Then I am buying it as soon as it's available in Austria. I'm wondering if it is worth buying the new pen as well. The differences are: eraser on back, only one button, longer battery life and changeable tips - that's all for SP3, right? Latency is same on SP3? If so, I think I'll pass on buying the new pen.
  • Different texture on the tips. More resistance when dragging, so feels more like a real writing instrument on paper instead of sliding plastic on glass. I don't really have much experience with either model, having not owned either. But I demoed the new pen at a store and it feels great. But everyone has personal preference, and it doesn't have the fancy number of sensitivity levels. So, really, if you have the chance when it comes out in Australia (whenever that'll be), bring your surface to a store and try out the new pens on it to get a feel. Only way to get a good feel for something so subjective. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah, I guess I'll have to try and decide for myself. I don't use it that much, just to take some notes in class and most often as a mouse substitute while watching series in bed^^ Btw. Austria /= Australia, here a link to bing maps to see it for yourself =P (​)
  • Own my laptop (just a normal Asus one) already two years, and never knew about the function of the "contextual menu"-button...
  • My laptop doesn't even have one and I get very annoyed by its absence.
  • Shift+F10 does the same thing in most scenarios. I learned that one on the Windows 3-era keyboards that don't have Start (Ctrl+Esc) or Context Menu keys.
  • +929
    I like use the keyboard more than mouse and my laptop doesn't have the contextual menu key, so that was for a long time a problem for me, until a friend told me the shift + f10 combo, since then I don't miss it anymore
  • Contextual menu = right click from the mouse
  • I'm going to order one, didn't saw PrtScn button :) But this is awesome, and huge plus. So fotkey will be Win + PrtScn or Fn + PrtScn?
  • Win + PrtScn
  • Double click on SP3 pen purple button too.
  • Looks like this is because of my preferences.
    I have F1-F12 enabled by default so in ny case it should be Fn + PrtScn to buffer and Fn + Win + PrtScn for auto saving to Screenshots folder
  • Another good reason: after 18 months of use, my old Type Cover is getting worn out anyway! :D
  • Six reasons for anyone outside US.
  • True, though still good reasons. I just picked up a new Surface Pro 3 for a good price, and grabbed the new Type Cover for SP4 (not fingerprint version) for it. I'm in Canada, so the fingerprint one isn't available here either, plus its only in black anyway (boring).
  • yeah i want a bright blue fingerprint one
  • Agreed, but the ability to use your finger print quickly resolves that minor issue in my mind.
  • Have they given a reason for the fingerprint version not being available outside of the US? Or will it be released at a later date?
  • Almost certainly a US technology export restriction... I seriously doubt Microsoft can do anything about it.
  • haha after 5 years of having my thinkpad W510, i havent noticed the contextual menu key between my right alt and crtl until now!! :D LOL
  • If they'd only put an eraser head in the middle of the keyboard like the ThinkPads...
  • That's true, why don't they sell the cover with fingerprint scanner outside the US?
  • I will be replacing my type cover soon
  • Is the new SP4 keyboard not Stiffer as well? I thought that was one of the things they touted; or is it not noticeably stiffer?
  • Microsoft said it's lighter, thinner, stiffer at their keynote, but it's not that noticeable
  • Not thinner... If anything out may be a little thicker.
  • I have a Surface 3 (not Pro.) would this keyboard work for it? Probably not as it is too big. If not I hope the non-Pro version will be just as good! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Different size
  • i assume the keyboard would work, the typing experience would be exactly the same, but obviously the cover would stick out over the edges of your device technically making it incompatible. i think this because i tried out the sp3 and s3 cover on my sp1 and since they havent changed the connector the new cover should work too. like i said, the only problem would be the awkwardness of the different sizes and maybe the keys touching the screen because of that. if you are interested in one, i would suggest taking your s3 to the closest store that has one of these new covers and trying it out on your device.
  • The Pro 4 keyboard will not work on the Surface 3, sadly. Tried it in store and confirmed by online support. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • That is too bad. I would have loved to get the Pro 4 keyboard with finger print scanner for my Surface 3 when it is docked and then use the correctly sided keyboard for travel.
  • I'll bet you'll be able to get some fingerprint capable keyboard, or finger print appliance, for your docked Surface 3 soon.  
  • Maybe it will hold me off from buying a Surface Book, at least until the Holidays!  I will drop by my local Microsoft store and take a look myself, but I will likely get this upgrade.  How about the new version of the pen/stylus? 
  • Not additionally useful on SP3
  • 8.  Volume up and down buttons... I missed having these on the keyboard when I moved from my Nokia 2520 to the SP3.
  • First thing I noticed. Much needed.
  • Wow.  I didn't realize this and the article doesn't have it.  This might actually push me over the edge to get it.  I wish it had screen brightness buttons as well though...
  • Would it look too out of place on a Surface Pro 2?  I'm looking at that fingerprint reader as a faster option for logging in...
  • Big size difference... Even the screen ratios are different.
  • Not compatible
  • I have the SP3, and never got a Type cover before, it just didn't have the action or feedback I needed, I always had so many non typed characters on past iterations. I carried a Microsoft Wedge Bluetooth keyboard which did great, but an extra "unit" to drag around. I went to the MS store in Denver yesterday and tested the new SP4 Type keyboard and it is the best yet. I can type on it with great accuracy and the tactic feel is very good. The touchpad is significantly better with the glass top, no question. With the fingerprint reader, it sealed the deal, I picked one up and have used that numerous times without flaw since setting up. This is the Type keyboard I have been wanting/waiting for. My SP3 is complete.
  • I have the sp3 cover, and this one is so much better. Feels like a real laptop now.
  • so you can use the surface pro 4 keyboard to surface 3 (non-pro)? 
  • i want a bright blue one with fingerprint scanner but they dont have one. i was gonna settle for the regular bright blue one and now i cant find it anywhere. now i have a sp4 with no type cover
  • Walmart selling these type covers. I preordered one with fingerprint. Picking it up at the store in couple of days. I have long password for work. Fingerprint could be handy.
  • theyre selling bright blue ones with a finger print scanner or just a normalbright blue
  • My only concern is about the key size. I can type on the SP3 without looking.
    I'll have to try it before buying...But then again I'll probably only buy it if Microsoft makes either the fingerprint one of the Teal one available... Both of which they currently haven't. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • You shouldn't be concerned, its a lot better to type on, looking at the keyboard or not.
  • Because the keys on the SP4TC are raised with more space in between each key, it's significantly easier to judge where your fingers are versus the somewhat uniform flatness of the keys on the SP3TC. 
  • The keys are the same size... They just filled the entire usable space. And the keys feel really nice.
  • Did Microsoft say if units with the fingerprint reader will be available in other colors other than black in the near future? While I'm fine with black, I'd prefer having options, such as a blue or green one.
  • Sadly, it means tossing out a $130 SP3 keyboard. They need a trade-in program like the actual SP devices have, in my opinion. My sister's keyboard is in perfect condition, but she really likes the look of the teal one.
  • WAIT a moment.. In your country (what is it?) there is a trade in program?? Sp3 and Sp 4 involved?
  • U.S.
  • I'll just wait until my pro 3 keyboard, still under extended warranty, finally dies as they eventually do, then take it in and let them swap old for new :P. I just wish the new one was available in purple.
  • Mistake: You said the cover itself is 40% bigger. That's untrue. The trackpad is 40% bigger. The covers overall are almost identical in size. Just trying to be helpful. :)
  • Thanks for catching that. Fixed
  • Bought mine yesterday and, BOY, did typing this comment feel GREAT!
  • +1
  • I've been tempted to get SP4 for the better display and IRIS Graphics but due to costs, I'd be going from a Core i7, 512GB SP3 to a Core i7, 256GB SP4. And I like having 512GB...but wonder if I could live with it or just wait another generation. Might not be worth the hassle...just get the fingerprint keyboard and it will seem like a new PC>
  • Ah, the hamburger button button. :)
  • Unfortunately, none of those reasons fit my needs. I really love the keys on the SP3 Type Cover.  And, while having the fingerprint scanner might be a nice gimmick to have, I'm not sacrificing my purple TC for a boring black one just to get that.  I hardly ever use the track pad, opting for the screen, which is faster and more accurate.  As for PrtScn, I prefer to use the new Snip Tool that Microsoft release or, if I'm going keyboardless, the button combination.
  • Funny, you just listed every reason you would love the new cover. The keyboard is 100% better. The trackpad is fast and accurate (more like a macbook) and if you don't care about fingerprint, it still comes in colors.
  • Anyone know when it'll be available with UK and other Euro layouts?
  • Best surprise for me has been the Function Key now locks.
  • Hi Mark. Have you tried the 4 Type Cover with the SP3 docking station ? I read their is a problem closing the the type cover when the SP3 is in the dock. Is this correct or not ? Waiting on your advice before I would buy as its a deal breaker for me:-)
  • The type 4 cover is not fully compatible. If you try to slip the SP3 with an attached type 4 cover into the dock, the dock sides will not close properly. You have to flip the keyboard down temporarily, which allows the SP3 body to fal into the slot, then you can close the dock, then flip the keyboard back up. It's not a big deal, and worth the bother for the improvement int he keyboard (and fingerprint if you get this too). 
  • What fabricate is the fingerprintscanner? Synaptics? Qualcomm?
  • I got a new Type Cover for my SP3.  I haven't spent $140 on something in a while and been so satisfied with it.  It really is a great upgrade
  • Any idea if/when the fingerprint scanner will be available in the UK?
  •   it also feels significantly more sturdy, Imo..  
  • The only way this keyboard could get better is if it was stiffer and perhaps was a power cover, with a battery. It's really very good!
  • Totally agree. I didn't *hate* the SP3 type cover by any means, but I got an SP4 type cover w/ figerprint ID yesterday and it is leaps and bounds better than the SP3 type cover.  My only complaint (if you can even call it that) is that the only one with the fingerprint scanner is the black one. Would've loved to get it in teal.
  • The fingerprint option is not available for the French market... I want one!!
    I'm not sure this type cover 4 with fingerprint exists in AZERTY... I think no
  • I hope this one will be available in France..
  • I asked Microsoft Belgium and they are not sure that the AZERTY type cover for the PRO 4  WITH fingerprint will ever come .... :(
  • I have the SP4 Type Cover with the SP3 and it's keys-and-trackpads above the SP3 Type Cover. It transforms the SP3. The finger print reader is also very quick. Highly recommended.
  • I bought the SP4 Type Cover with Fingerprint and it absolutely makes a huge difference.  It feels like a brand new Surface for me.  I love the fact that I can not sign in with Windows Hello finally.  Now I just wish there was a way to put Windows Hello on my existing desktop.
  • Get a camera or fingerprint scanner
  • Yea, I know there is a camera out there but it's only the Intel Realsense camera.  I was hoping someone knew a more consumer camera.
  • If it would function wirelessly via blue tooth I would have already bought it. Typing is much faster with the keypad on your lap. Blue tooth would enable the surface to sit on your desk improving your ability to see the screen.
  • The first I use a laptop is to disable the trackpad. I never get why there is a trackpad. I would never never use a laptop without mouse.
  • Tried one at the Microsoft store.  Nice.  But not that much better than my current type cover for my SP3.
  • I'm definitely going to buy one, but I still can't decide if I want a cyan color (I LOVE the cyan color, my Surface Pro 2 and my Surface Pro 3 both use it), or if I'll sacrifice the color fashion statement for the convenience of fingerprint I.D and Windows Hello. Tough choices. Oh how I wish every color had a fingerprint I.D counterpart! (I know that's not necessarily practical from a production standpoint, but god how I wish it were so)
  • I always like black.. So the fingerprint black was a no brainer.
  • I need to buy one. The SP4 's Pen disappoints SP3 users.
  • Wouldn't it be too big for the SP3, though?
  • Sp3 and sp4 are identical in size (the 4 is slightly thinner. Works with both.
  • What about using new type cover with SP3 dock? People say you can only have the keyboard flat and no slanted position.
  • Same question here. That needs to be resolved first! And I doubt they can solve this with a SW update...
  • The touchpad is larger, but no longer properly centred. The keyboard is wider, but the keys are now chiclets with useless dead space between them. The keys have more travel, but the action is softer, with less feedback. Sounds to me like half of the supposed advantages actually come with major drawbacks. It's as if they outsourced the design of the new Type Cover to Apple. I'll be sticking to my SP3 Type Cover, thanks.
  • What are you talking about? The keys are amazing feeling. The trackpad is huge, and perfectly centered and actually feels like a great trackpad (like macbook quality).
  • "What are you talking about?" The SP4's Type Cover, of course. "The keys are amazing feeling." Perhaps. Longer key travel is definitely a good thing. Less feedback, as implied by "Typing feels softer", is not. Although perhaps it depends on how flexible your definition of "amazing" is. "The trackpad is huge, and perfectly centered" It's certainly bigger than the SP3's, no argument there. It is not perfectly centred, however. The SP3's touchpad was, and if you look at the pictures in the article, the SP4's has clearly been offset to the right. The best way to see it is to draw a vertical line between the G and H keys - that's the centre of the keyboard. In most cases the spacebar can also be used as a point of reference, but in the SP4's case Microsoft seem to have offset that as well. Why? I'll be damned if I know. I hope they're not planning on pulling a Lenovo and changing things around every generation, especially things that don't need changing.
  • Incidentally, the alignment of the touchpad is the main reason you'll never see a numpad on an Apple laptop. With a numpad, leaving the touchpad centred to the laptop's chassis (a great example of the "form over function" philosophy) would be a usability disaster, while moving it to the left where it belongs would amount to Apple admitting they've been doing it wrong all these years. Neither is an option for Apple, and therefore, the only winning move is not to play.
  • No. It's centered. The space may had more keys on the right then left, making it slightly off center.
  • Your comment is a perfect illustration of what's wrong with the industry - instead of copying things that are worth copying, everyone simply copies Apple. The point I was trying to make, but apparently not clearly enough, is that the touchpad should be centred to the home row on the keyboard, because that's where a touch typist's hands rest. That's how it was on every Surface Type Cover until now, as well as pretty much every non-Apple laptop until fairly recently. Now, though, the norm appears to be having the touchpad centred to the chassis of the laptop, or in the Surface's case, to the Type Cover itself. Just like chiclet keys or clickpads, this is a purely cosmetic change with an overall negative effect on usability, yet it's done anyway, because Apple does it and consumers expect other companies to do it as well. It's especially lamentable in the SP4's case because initially it seemed that with the Surface line, Microsoft would not jump on every silly form-over-function bandwagon like other manufacturers, and instead would try and lead by example. Yet here they are, touting changes designed to excite the casual user ("Bigger! Quieter! Glass!"), rather than introducing meaningful improvements for the professionals. If I sound bitter, it's because I am, a little. I fully acknowledge and appreciate the changes they've made that are actual improvements (like making the keyboard overall wider and increasing key travel), but the purely cosmetic changes that accompany those make it seem like MS is stepping forward with one foot and backwards with the other. That's not the sort of behaviour I'd expect from a company that fancies itself the premium PC manufacturer.
  • The "dead space" space between the keys is actually a good thing.
  • No, it's a cosmetic thing, started by Sony and popularised by Apple (hence my remark about the outsourcing). There are plenty of changes that could be made to a keyboard to improve the typing experience, but switching the keycaps to chiclets is not one of them. An example of "actually a good thing" would be fixing the arrow keys, to use the standard "inverted T" layout. That's something even Apple have managed to not screw up so far, I believe.
  • By dead space do you mean key travel? Yes, that's a very good thing. Makes typing much more comfortable. If you mean key spacing. Makes typing a lot easier since you can feel the key separation... Also helps to not press two at once accidentally.
  • If you need to "feel" for key separation, you're not touch typing and therefore the shape and size of the keycaps doesn't matter much anyway. For those who are touch typists, the dead space that comes with chiclet keys conveys no benefit whatsoever. Quite the opposite - any space that, when hit, does not result in a keystroke, is wasted space. There are other ways to make typing easier, e.g. using standard key spacing (centre-to-centre, not edge-to-edge), making the tops of the keycaps concave, and so on.
  • Hi everyone! I am very curious about which brand the fingerprintscanner is? Is it Synaptics? Qualcomm? Please help me :-)
  • Ordered one for the fingerprint sensor. I have to lock and unlock my surface a lot they the day and this will be more convenient.
  • I had actually preordered the fingerprint cover and forgot about it. This article prompted me to check the order. It was already delivered on the with a bunch of other things I didnt Installing update now to be able to use the keyboard. First thing I noticed tho. No new pen loop... Not good. Next thing. The screen magnet thing (keyboard lean) is a little weak... But probably not weak enough to fail, I'm just used to it really snapping on. The keys feel really nice (like a real laptop). And the trackpad is amazingly responsive (the 3 trackpad was a key failure). Once I get it up and running I'll report back. Fingerprint scanner is fast and you don't even have to press anything. Just turn on the screen and touch the pad! Love it! Oh, and its actually black... Not grey.
  • Does anyone know if the sp4 pen will stick to the sp3?
  • Sort of. Not how you want though. The volume button on the left is ferrous so it sticks to that, and the power/Surface connector on the right is magnetic. The rest of the Pro 3 is not magnetic so it won't stick anywhere well enough to be solid. I have them. That's not a reason for the new pen. Stock up on loops ;)
  • Problem is.. I got the new keyboard and it didn't come with a loop this time. Now my pen has nowhere to live!
  • I love the new type cover- it makes the SP3 feel like a new device.  It's amazing how much they improved over last year- a giant leap forward. In addition to all the reasons listed in the article, I also like how it seems to have less flex so it's more stable when resting on my lap.  The upgrade is definitely worth every penny- couldn't be happier with it!
  • As a writer I've been pretty happy with the SP3 keyboard, but watching the keynote, I began to drool. When I found out that I'd be able to upgrade to it, I was pretty happy. Strangely, it wasn't the keyboard, but the ability to sign in with my fingerprint that was the real catalyst. Anyway, today was payday, so at lunch I went to the MS store and bought it. I have to say the keyboard is really nice. While I had no real problems with the SP3 keyboard, this one is definitely better. The keys really do feel great and the larger, smoother, more responsive trackpad makes me smile. For the first time in my life, I can see myself leaving the mouse at home. I have a huge writing project for November, so this came just at the right time. First impression -- 5 out of 5 stars.      
  • Really think you should point out the fingerprint reader model is $30 higher and only in black. Cost was worth it to me, and black was what I wanted, but it's a factor.Works great on my Pro 3.
  • So after using it a few days I would say it really is fantastic. I love the fingerprint reader... The only negative is scrolling in a browser. While the trackpad is awesomely smooth, for some reason scrolling is not. It takes a second to register, and it loses it every now and then. Hopefully this is a bug that's being addressed.
  • Great article. I was really hoping the new type cover would work with the SP3.  That is the "missing" link to making the SP3 a real working machine. I love it the device, but I could never use the SP3 type cover without getting frustrated. I'll give this one a try!
  • I have some strange issues on lock screen where the finger print reader just stops working and I have to manually enter my password but overall it feels nicer than the original one (as the author indicated, not that the orignal was all that bad).
  • hey guys,   would this work on a surface 2? My typecover just died! cheers
  • I'm amazed nobody has mentioned the ever so slightly narrower magnetic strip which results in an increased gap between the keyboard and the bottom edge of the screen - it is now possible to touch the taskbar icons with your finger without having to lower the type cover. This was REALLY annoying on the SP3 type cover!
  • Did anyone who bought the SP4 Type Cover have any difficulty getting it to work with their SP3? I just bought one today and it doesn't work with mine. Device manager says there is no driver. The old SP3 keyboard still works fine. Any help?