HP Spectre Folio 13 vs. Surface Pro (2017) LTE: Which should you buy?

If you're on a tighter budget and need LTE connectivity on a Windows 10 PC, you'll want to go with the Surface Pro. The tablet will let you get everything done you need to do throughout the day without Wi-Fi and even though it's an outdated model, it's still powerful. However, you won't get any important extras — such as the Type Cover and the stylus, so it may end up costing you extra. HP has a unique LTE-capable notebook in the Spectre Folio 13 that also might be worth it if you can afford the higher price.

Old vs. New

Microsoft launched the most recent Surface Pro with LTE in 2017, so it's part of the Surface Pro 5 family. While on paper it's an outdated model with older internals, the PC is still more than capable at most daily tasks. The included Intel Core i6-7300U processor is great, even when compared against the newer Core i7-8500Y in the Spectre Folio.

It's not black and white exactly which device is better. Both are solid devices, although the Spectre Folio 13 can last longer on a single charge and has an XMM 7560 LTE-Advanced Pro chip for up to 1Gb/s LTE speeds. The better battery life is thanks in part to a Full HD display and the more energy efficient processor.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Pro (2017) LTEHP Spectre Folio 13
ProcessorIntel Core i5-7300UIntel Core i7-8500Y
Display size12.3 inchesTouch13.3 inchesTouch
Display resolution2736 x 18243:2 aspect ratio1920 x 108016:9 aspect ratio
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620Intel UHD Graphics 615
PortsUSB-A 3.0Mini DisplayPort3.5 mm audioSurface ConnectMicroSD card reader2x Thunderbolt 31x USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 13.5mm audio
LTECat 9Cat 16
BiometricsIR camera for Windows HelloIR camera for Windows Hello
BatteryUp to 12 hoursUp to 18 hours
Dimensions11.5 inches x 7.9 inches x 0.33 inches(292 mm x 201 mm x 8.5 mm)11.5 inches x 7.9 inches x 0.33 inches(292 mm x 201 mm x 8.5 mm)
Weight1.79 pounds (812 g)3.28 pounds (1.45 kg)

For performance, you'll want to go with the Surface Pro, but the Spectre Folio 13 isn't a slouch and can last much longer between charges, which is when you'll likely be using LTE the most. Other specifications are roughly identical, including 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn't let you configure the LTE model with an Intel Core i7.

Two feature-rich experiences

The two displays are also very different. In the HP Spectre Folio 13, for the time being, the only option is a Full HD panel from Intel, which draws just 1W of power. In the Surface Pro LTE, Microsoft opted to include the 2736x1824 resolution display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, making it far better for use as a tablet-come-notebook.

The drawback to using a superior display is the additional hit on battery life, which is seen in the several hours less the Surface Pro LTE offers compared to HP's leather-touting notebook. If you're someone who needs the best display you can afford, the Surface Pro LTE will make all your software look sharper. However, the Spectre Folio is a Windows 10 machine designed with portability in mind, so you'll be able to use it longer without a charge and you'll still get a solid screen.

When it comes to LTE support, Spectre Folio is the clear winner with Cat 16 support, but most networks don't support speeds of 1Gb/s, so you'll be hard-pressed to make the most of that available headroom — you can consider it future proofed, however.

Battle of prices

Surface Pro LTE

Why you might (and might not) want a PC with LTE

Microsoft has the Surface Pro LTE priced competitively against the Spectre Folio. In fact, it's cheaper than HP's notebook. This is clear cut in favor for Microsoft on paper, but you have to look a little deeper as the price doesn't include a few optional extras you might want to pick up. For instance, there's no stylus or Type Cover.

HP includes a Type Cover-like keyboard — it's not quite the same since it's physically connected to the main unit and can't be separated — but there's also the inclusion of stylus too, allowing you to get started from unboxing. Adding in the Type Cover and stylus with the Surface Pro LTE would push the price up a few hundreds dollars.

Basically, this choice comes down to whether you value display and power over newer internals, battery life, and value. If you buy into the Microsoft ecosystem, like the more powerful display, and want to save a bit of money, go with the Surface. However, if you want a device with LTE, it's safe to say you want a device with maximum portability, so the better battery life of the HP Spectre might be better for you.

Spectre Folio for better value LTE

HP's Spectre Folio is head-to-head with the Surface Pro LTE in terms of antenna setup for best connectivity, with Microsoft edging out slightly, but the support for Cat 16 and 1Gb/s speeds make the Spectre Folio a solid notebook for those who work on the move and need to get online from anywhere.

Surface Pro LTE for a better display

If you don't really care for leather or are already set on Surface, the Surface Pro LTE is the choice for you. This tablet also boasts the ability to be a notebook with a detachable keyboard and has a stunning display, but is let down by battery life.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.