In 2014, Microsoft planned to announce two new Surface devices. One was the Surface Pro 3, and the other was the now infamous "Surface Mini", which never saw the light of day. At Windows Central, we love finding details on, and seeing, Microsoft's canceled and never before seen products. So we're excited to be able to exclusively show you the never before seen Surface Mini. Let's dig in!
Microsoft Surface Mini images
On the outside, the Surface Mini is essentially a smaller Surface Pro 3 in portrait orientation. It's housed in a case-like material and design that feels soft and felt-like. However, this is actually part of the Surface Mini. It's not a case you can remove, it's the actual physical design of the Surface Mini. It has a built-in kickstand in the landscape orientation and is slightly angled at the edges for easier gripping when using the Pen and taking notes. This gives it a somewhat large bezel, however.
The kickstand works similarly to the kickstand found on the non-Pro Surface 3 introduced a year later. It has three locked positions: one for viewing, one for typing on the screen, and one that's somewhere in between. We wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft used the same kickstand mechanism in the Surface 3 that it had been working on with the Surface Mini. When closed, the kickstand sits flush with the device, just like on any other Surface. The Surface Mini was going to come in a variety of colors, too.
For ports, the Surface Mini had a microSD card slot for expandable storage, a headphone jack, a Micro-USB port for charging, and USB-OTG, which is handy for mini tablets. Micro USB was the norm in 2014, so it's not a surprise to see it. Under the hood, the Surface Mini packed a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 1GB RAM, an Adreno 330, and a screen resolution of 1440 x 1080 at eight inches. It also had 32GB of internal storage and dual-band Wi-Fi.
Surface Mini and Surface Pen
It also had same Pen technology that was first introduced in the Surface Pro 3 and was designed with the Surface Pro 3 Pen in mind. The selling point of the Surface Mini was for it to be a device that was excellent for notetaking. It even has a Pen loop attached to the built-in kickstand that allowed you to store the Pen when it wasn't in use. The case material, along with the shape and design of the Mini, made it feel like a book.
It was powered by Windows RT,and the device benefitted greatly from the Windows 8.1 Start Screen and "Metro apps" that looks gorgeous on tablets. The Surface Mini didn't have a Type Cover accessory and was designed to be used entirely with pen and touch. Windows RT 8.1 made a lot of sense on a device like that, and tapping the button at the top of the Surface Pen instantly opened OneNote, allowing for quick access to your notes.
Unfortunately, Microsoft scrapped the product just weeks before it was scheduled to be announced. The Surface Mini was supposed to launch alongside the Surface Pro 3 back in 2014, but the company made the decision to kill the device because it didn't have enough unique selling points to warrant its existence. Windows RT was basically killed just a few months later, with the unveiling of Windows 10 in September 2014.
I believe there is a market for small, premium eight-inch Windows tablets with pen support, even though they're scarce these days. Maybe Microsoft will one day return to its Surface Mini plans. With Windows 10 coming to ARM later this year, perhaps it will then be the perfect time for a new Surface Mini with updated internals and pen integration.