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What we hope to see in a new 10-inch Surface from Microsoft

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MS logo (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Rumor has it that Microsoft is readying up a brand new affordable 10-inch Surface tablet for release later this year. The last time Microsoft updated its non-pro line of Surface tablets was back in 2015 with the Surface 3, which was a 10.8-inch Surface tablet that basically looked like a mini Surface Pro 3.

The Surface 3 shipped at a price tag of $499, which was far cheaper than the Surface Pro 3 at the time. Because of this, the Surface 3 quickly became one of the more popular Surface devices on the market, as it was much more affordable to those who were interested in the still relatively new 2-in-1 form factor.

I too picked up a Surface 3, and I absolutely loved it. It wasn't without flaws, however, some of which were inherited from the Surface Pro 3, and most of which were fixed with the Surface Pro 4 released later that same year. So, here's a few things we're hoping to see in a new 10-inch non-pro Surface tablet.

Slightly larger screen in the same size body

Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

The Surface 3 was the last Surface to feature a dedicated capacitive Windows touch button for taking you to the Start screen. This was important back when Windows 8.1 was a thing, but now that Windows 10 is here, the need for dedicated home buttons under the screen itself is no longer necessary. So with the new 10-inch Surface, we'd love to see Microsoft remove it in favor of a bigger screen, just like it did with the Surface Pro 4.

If possible, this change would allow Microsoft to fit something like an 11-inch display in the same size chassis. The Surface 3 is a tiny device, and shrinking the bezels in favor of adding a bigger screen would be much appreciated.

Updated Type Cover accessory

The Surface 3 was again the last Surface to ship with the "old" Type Cover design, which included a keyboard with keys that were very close together. With the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft refined this design by introducing slightly smaller keys which are better defined on the keyboard itself. The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover design was a big improvement over the Surface Pro 3 one, so we'd like to see the same Pro 4 Type Cover designs applied to a new 10-inch Surface too.

Microsoft could also introduce updated Alcantara Type Cover editions for those that want to splash out a little extra cash for a better looking Type Cover. The Alcantara Type Covers really are something special, so I'd definitely like the option to pick one up for my smaller Surface tablet. And depending on whether Microsoft adds Windows Hello to the tablet, if not Microsoft could even release an updated fingerprint Type Cover for it too.

An ARM edition

I've already written a little about why Microsoft is rumored to not be going with an ARM chip in its 10-inch Surface, but that doesn't mean I still wouldn't like to see an ARM version. A 10-inch Surface powered by ARM just makes sense, especially if it's designed as a consumption and light productivity device like the Surface 3 originally was. ARM has many benefits, including great battery life and instant wake capabilities, just like your smartphone.

Unlimited kickstand positions

The non-pro Surface line has oddly been where the kickstand falls behind in usefulness. The Pro line has a friction-based hinge, that allows it to be positioned in any which way you fancy. The Surface 3 did not have such a kickstand, even though it launched after the Surface Pro 3. We'd love to see Microsoft finally opt for the same friction hinge in the 10-inch Surface line too.

Or, at the very least, give us a kickstand that has more positions than just three. Give us five or six of them for maximum effectiveness for anyone using it.

Windows Hello integration

Building off bringing a fingerprint scanner to the 10-inch Surface accessories, it would be awesome if Microsoft instead built Windows Hello directly into the tablet. The Surface Pro uses IR cameras for Windows Hello facial recognition, and it works great. That might be too expensive though, so perhaps a fingerprint scanner is a little more appropriate.

Microsoft could put the fingerprint scanner on the lock/power button, something other tablet, laptop, and smartphone makers have done the past. This allows users to log in immediately when powering up their device, and would be great on a 10-inch Surface.

What are you hoping to see?

That's our wishlist of things we're hoping to see in Microsoft's next non-pro Surface. Of course, a lot of what we're hoping for will depend heavily on whether or not these improvements can be made while still keeping prices low. Half of the reason the Surface 3 compromised on things like the kickstand was that it was cheaper to do so to keep costs below $499.

This new 10-inch Surface is rumored to go on sale for as little as $400, so corners are going to have to be cut and as such, it's probably not fair to expect so much for so little. Regardless, we want to know what you're hoping to see in a new 10-inch Surface, so let us know in the comments below!

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

98 Comments
  • I'd like a 24-in. Surface 'Home' Hub for my kitchen.
  • I'd like that too.
  • +1 on this. I have always been interested in a larger Surface.
  • Great idea, but isn't that just a Surface Studio with maybe some far field microphones?
  • I'd like to see them leverage the Surface connector on this. It was somewhat annoying that the Surface 3 couldn't use the dock or chargers of the Surface Pro line. I'd also like to see them use an AMD Ryzen processor, but that might be wishful thinking for numerous reasons.
  • I'm hoping for an AMD Ryzen surface with USB-C and maybe even LTE. If they're going to have LTE, it needs to be on all models, not just a mid range version.
  • I think you are in the minority of people wanting the Surface connector. USB-C is universal and more convenient since phones are starting to utilize them for charging.
  • I hope they kill the SurfaceConnect port forever. I had a Surface 1 & 2, and never bought another one because of proprietary ports and poor quality. Microsoft is years behind the rest of the industry with USB-C, and preferably Thunderbolt 3. It's lime past time they learn from leaders like HP.
  • I agree. I chose the Dell XPS 13 over the SP because of USB-C. One less cable you need to carry and can forget.
  • Does Apple use USB-C on their devices, or is it just Microsoft that doesn't get a pass.
  • Why are you bringing up Apple products in a discussion about Surface?
  • I think its time to that they just move on to USB-C connector instead if its Intel then go with full Thunderbolt support. Surface Connector was fine, but the USB-C is going to be a standard anyways and with Thunderbolt support, it basically will replace Surface Connector anyways. The sooner they move to Type-C connector as a replacement to Surface Connector, the better since we won't hold the proprietary connector for too long which will start gets inconvenient the long it gets.
  • Here is me wishing along with you
  • USB-C plus an adapter for the legacy Surface Connector is what I would like see them go with. Thunderbolt 3 would be preferable of course, even if it costs more...
  • a $399 starting price or a $499 price with keyboard and pen included.
  • I upvoted you, but I believe we will be disappointed.
  • Heartily second most of your wishlist items. Especially an ARM version. The battery life benefits alone would be worth it. However I personally wish they make the screen 10.1 inches. Why? Because Office 365 mobile apps are free to use at 10.1 or smaller. Office 365 sales are weak in the consumer version. There’s just too many other free options like Google docs and Apple Pages. MS Office is a much better product. But free is hard to argue with when a lesser product does most everything you need it to do. It’s all about ecosystem. Use Office 365 home as a “leader” item. Get folks into the the ecosystem. Then maybe once they're settled they start paying for extras like more space on OneDrive, or paying for apps, games, movies, and books on the MS Store, or maybe they eventually purchase a subscription to 365 because of the extra features or extra installation options it gives them. Or best case scenario they like it so much they upgrade to a Surface Pro or Surface Book. Enterprise and Educational users of the new Surface will have corporate and education subscriptions anyway. So no missed revenue opportunity there. But for the sake of rebuilding the consumer market I do hope they stick with 10.1. Maybe then folks would buy one for their grandpa/grandma? Like they do with iPads today.
  • I was thinking about the same thing, keep it small enough to have Office free.
  • This is a Very important item, even to clearly define the market (students and light users) and the device itself (mobile device, mobile apps included)
  • An ARM version should work fine, it just needs to be competitive with Intel Celeron/Pentium CPU's of 2018 which cost much less than the Snapdragon 835 but get better performance.
    A benchmark of 12k on Octane javascript benchmark running Edge or Chrome would make the magic happen and this could be a very competitive device for students and Professionals
  • My daughter still uses my old Surface 3 and loves it. I would happily buy this new model when it comes out. I expect that $399 will end up being £399 in the UK
  • 1) Keep the Windows button and add a Back button. 2) USB-C 3) Ability to make and receive phone calls/sms. 4) A fold :-)
  • With Windows 10 start and back buttons are on the taskbar which is either displayed or one swipe from the bottom away.
  • and an onboard GPS. Then, it will an iPad competitor.
  • Great point! A GPS would be way cool, if only in the LTE version, which will probably cost a little more anyway.
  • Seems to be a give that LTE versions have GPS. My current Surface 3 with LTE does it. Guess it is part of the chip set. You are right, it does add cost, or sale price at least. Seems LTE/GPS generally adds $100-$130 to a device, retail. Mine is the 4G, 128G storage, with LTE model and was around $800 with that. So that $399-$499 price is 'entry level.'
  • Hey, you can have a LTE phone for that 100-130 range
  • Yeah... but not with 10.1", possible pen, kickstand, etc etc
  • Hardware Windows button and back button are unnecessary when there is already in the Taskbar, it is redundant. Especially if they will make the bezels bit slimmer to have a slightly bigger screen or slightly smaller body. There isn't much benefit on having hardware buttons anymore. USB-C (Type C connector) is a must I agree. No less than this.
  • I am curious about the chip inside it. Y series processors does have a good integrated graphics inside it. Hope it could run games like that handheld mini computer from GPD.
  • It has to be as thin as the best Samsung android tablets and iPads and it should have a good tablet O/S which kinda leaves out Windows 10😢
  • Could be updated later with Core OS internal mods. Then we'll have a modular experience.
  • Nothing really wrong with Win 10 on a tablet. I use my Surface 3 in Tablet mode pretty exclusively. The problem is largely the apps aren't always optimized for tablet, because the developers know you likely have a keyboard and mouse. That's not the case with iPhones/iPads. They have to assume you don't have a keyboard and absolutely don't have a mouse/touchpad. Sticking with store apps though helps with the tablet friendliness. MS isn't helping, providing the option to easily take legacy apps designed for keyboard, mouse, and 25"+ monitors and port them into the store where people expect to load them on 8"-10" devices. Office, iTunes, Paint.net, weren't tablet friendly on XP Tablet edition and still aren't. Apps need to be designed with tablet in mind to be functional without frustration. It's not the OS that is the problem.
  • The OS also isn't the solution. They need something new if they want a tablet to succeed instead of just another laptop.
  • Win10 is not tablet OS enough?
    My S3 set in auto config mode for tablet or desktop transformation auto adjust appropriately when I attach or remove keyboard. It works as tablet enough for me.
  • I think you will see literally none of these things in this new device; not at a $400 starting price point. A larger screen, alcantara keyboard, Windows Hello camera, adjustable kickstand, or a Snapdragon 845 would push the price of this thing north of $500. And I think they're unlikely to offer SKUs that differ in any way beyond the processor, storage and LTE option.
  • I'm excited about the new Surface possibilities. A great sounding speaker is what's important to me.
  • Every time people think the new Surface will cost $400, and every time it has not...
  • Look, I still have the right to dream...
  • Zac. In this article you state "later this year" for possible release. I believe in a recent podcast you had with Daniel, you stated it may be quite soon, like July. Do you have any insight into approximate timing for this new Surface? Thank you.
  • The most important thing this 10" tablet will need is a good tablet mode which really sucks at the moment.
  • Honestly when it comes to tablets I'd almost call ARM a necessity. I have an intel tablet and it turns on quickly enough, but with a tablet... you just want it to be instant on. That is the expectation these days and the competitors have that.
  • 2 USB C ports!🙏
  • Updated ports and chassis. The Surface look is getting a little dated.
    Included LTE capability. This should be standard fare on tablets in 2018.
    Screen with higher refresh rate.
    Lower pricing. Buyers expect price tag to reflect the perf value. I would love ARM CPU but it would cost too much.
  • yes and no, look for the 2 Windows ARM models from HP and Lenovo, 1 is $999 and the other is $699 and both use the same CPU (Snapdragon 835) so why you save $300 bucks for same performance? The reason is quality, if Microsoft is selling this for $400 don't expect it to come with a Snapdragon 835.
  • I actually like the Surface chassis.
  • I'm with you there. It's an iconic look. I don't think the Surface 2in1 line should lose that identity. Any design changes should be minimal and be nothing more than to increase usability (like the curved edges from SP4 > SP2017).
  • 2x USB C (Can charge from either)
    1x USB A
    Splash Resistance (I don't need it to go underwater, but rain...)
    Better kickstand
    Fanless
    LTE
    Windows Hello Camera & Fingerprint Reader
    There must be a model in the $500 range...
  • "Splash Resistance (I don't need it to go under water, but rain...)"
    I laughed at this! Wouldn't be great to take the tablet for a swim in the pool with ya :)!!
  • I used to have the Surface 3 and it was a really nice tablet, except for 2 things: performance and very slooooow charging [via microUSB].
    If I read the SD835-based ARM HP Envy x2 review, then I would say that either an Intel m3 or a SD845 is a must. Though I personally would much prefer the latter.
    The same goes for charging: USB-C is a must.
  • A SD845 ? that is on the $700 to $800 price territory.
    Look for something different, how about Microsoft making a partnership with Mediatek? (ARM Competitor of Qualcomm , makes less expensive ARM chips than Qualcomm)
  • That would probably be the only way an ARM processor is used for this new surface device.
  • I use and love my Surface 3. One of the main reasons that I bought it was that it uses a non-proprietary micro-USB charging port. Why have I not bought a Surface Pro? Because I do not want yet another proprietary mains adapter to lug about. Microsoft lost the plot on that one. So does this review by not considering how important charging is for these devices. So, before anything else comes into play, in 2018 a USB C port for both charge and data. By all means include a legacy USB port but the USB C for charging means one cable for PC and phone. Ideally, as with a phone, I would also like to see wireless charging. Once the thing can be conveniently powered to run by all means dream on about the rest.
  • Gotta ask. Do you carry around a laptop? Does it have a 'mains adapter'? Does it charge your phone? For most people, I'm guessing probably not. Their phone is micro-USB, USB-C, Lightning, and their PC has some manner of coaxial plug and a brick. If you bought another laptop, what's the chance your current laptop adapter would work on it, unless you stuck with the same brand/line? MSs Surface adapter at least has a USB port so you just need to bring your phone cable. If you buy some relatively new PCs you can get USB-C charging, that will also do your phone, but they aren't all that common yet. You also have the option of charging your laptop with it's charger, and charging your phone off the laptop. The proprietary connector on the Surface is no reason to discount it. It doesn't cause any more inconvenience than most other options, and really provides some tangible benefits. Going forward, I'm all for USB-C with the thunderbolt capability, which is not a given if you just say USB-C.
  • More and more laptops are using USB-C.
  • Personally, I would love to see a much lower priced tablet, as in $100-200 that is an upgrade from the NuVision versions. It doesn't need the Surface branding, as it infers Premium pricing. MS can even be the OEM on it, branded differently or 3rd party. Just because I love this site and similar places mean that I have the resources to purchase products that provide travel and remote functionality without paying major $$.
  • I seriously doubt Microsoft would spend the time to build a low budget device.
  • I have NuVision tablets. They are $100-$200 for a reason. They are not bad devices, but the Surface 3 was worth $400, and mine with 4G RAM, 128G storage, and LTE was worth $800.
  • Price will decide if I get one or not. Definitely interested...
  • The articles wish list sounds good but one important item is missing. A good tablet mode in windows 10.
  • What's wrong with it?
  • Ah, how about a notification light or something, to at least know when the device is on when the screen goes off. One of the small but slightly annoying features of the Pro.
  • Detachable controllers (a la Switch) that connect to the sides and creates the XBOY we always wanted...by we I mean myself. Also run 360 games natively
  • Really? Sounds kind of awkward. I can already connect my Xbox controller to my Surface 3, wired or BT.
  • I think Microsoft needs to think in long period performance when it designs this device, as an example my 2 in 1 (11.6 inch) just lost more than 50% of performance after a few months of Windows 10 updates + Blizzard Games installations + Crap clean utilities (CCleaner) + Steam + iTunes + Spotify.
    I took a screenshot of Octane benchmark 2 days ago and it is 4k on both Chrome and Edge browser, and after I reverted my device back to factory settings is now reaching 11.6k on Chrome and 9.8k on Edge, thats about twice the performance without all those software changes. What is going on with Windows 10 lately?
  • It's simple srat add Windows One Core
  • That's probably a good solution, if Windows Core lets reduce the complexity of Windows 10 OS and make it more like iOS/Android I think it would be great for tablets and small 2 in 1 devices which are not powerhouse/workstation replacements, but are great for doing productivity in mobile fashion.
    Some of the services I turned off since I don't need but come enabled by default when windows gets installed:
    1) Xbox
    2) Telemetry
    3) Superfetch
    4) Windows Search
    5) Remote Access/Remote Desktop services
    6) Windows Media Network Sharing service
    7) Netbios over TCP/IP
    8) Internet Hotspot
    9) Shadow Volume (Backup)
    If I disable this services, I get much better system response.
  • I can agree with you on all of those on the consumer side (minus Xbox if you are going to use it for streaming) but you need most of those on the corporate side so that would suck if you have to disable those on the corporate side.
  • That's the problem. The more features you add, the more of a hit you'll take in performance. It might be a little here and there but over time it adds up.
  • i would love to upgrade my surface 3. what I would like.... for it to be lighter, I still like the windows button, I want one now! :P
  • 1 arm 845
    2 LTE
    3 a battle tablet mode.
    hopefully they make own ArM cpu for the device.
  • Does "battle tablet mode" mean that a chain and spikes pop out of it so you can use as a mace?
  • Lol Yes lol
  • Maybe Intel's new 10 nm chip will provide the perfromance and battery life to make this new device more competitive. I would like it compatable with the Surface Pro ports. Sure add a usb c that can plug into the surface doc. But does the doc allow charging through a USB C? Would be nice if I can plug in my Surface Pro, external monitor and this new surface into the surface dock. I would imaging I will use this new surface much like I use my Surface Pro, as a table to read my books and surf the net.
  • Why does this device feel like a mediator to the upcoming Andromeda.
  • Forget kickstands. That's what cases are for. Forget keyboards. This will be a tablet, not a laptop. Keep the home button. Needed for a tablet. Most importantly, make "tablet mode" actually useable on a small, battery powered device. There is no need at all for a tablet to boot up with 87 processes and 1,523 threads running, before the user does anything. Do NOT let it start running a bunch of background crap every time I put it down for 5 minutes. I shouldn't ever pick it up, find that it is warm and see that it is running at 100% CPU! That is plugged in, desktop thinking. There is a reason why Apple owns the tablet market. They didn't just take full, bloated MacOS and dump it on a battery powered device.
  • 🙄🙄🙄
  • Put a Core M in it an avoid the X86 emulation on ARM. UWP apps are already compatible with it and Win32 works on it natively so there is no reason to sacrifice power there.
    I think Windows on ARM only works for something like the mythical Surface Phone. Windows tablets should stick with the increasingly lower consumption Intel X86 chips while the integrated GPS and LTE functionality provided by Qualcomm can be leveraged in smaller form factors than Windows tablets, as people expect the Windows device (that looks like a full desktop experience) to be capable of running whatever they associated with Windows over the years, without any hiccups.
  • Core M sucks too much power to deliver decent battery life. Atom is still probably the best option unfortunately.
  • And USB-C charging. The magnetic charging on the Surface Pro 3\4 needs to be killed in a dumpster fire. It should also include Office 365 for the life of the device also. For the price these devices retail for, Microsoft can afford it.
  • Trying to rip off Microsoft? Sorry, they can't afford this stupid thinking.
  • Hi Zac, thanks for the dream on article. I personally own a Surface 3 and really enjoy using it a lot. In case of it's successor, I'd want to have the following (many of which, is the same as yours):
    - USB-C compatible, replacing the display port. I need a dongle to it anyway. Provide a default charge cable here.
    - Keep USB-A there, I need it.
    - Surface connect compatible for the dock. The MagSafe charging cable can be bought optionally.
    - ARM option. I currently don't rely on x86 programs these days but will need emulator as a fall back, no problem. I would love a cool running device with long battery life when using it steam media.
    - Introductory offer of Office 365 personal for a year, like in Surface laptop.
    - Typecover upgrade, of course who wouldn't. And I want it compatible with Surface 3.
    - Kick stand upgrade.
    - Smaller chassis by removing Windows capacitive button.
    - Pen storage solution like magnetic on the side of the screen.
    If this is too much to ask for the price, provide options to include some of these in more expensive SKUs.
  • Aside from the bigger screen (leave the overall size the same) fingerprint reader or Face recognition, USB-C for God's sake. (Please, nor proprietary Surface Connector) One on each side, allowing power or peripherals on either. They need to support video, not the crippled USB-C some devices come with. Mine already has LTE, so don't lose that. I love my Surface 3 (and I have a Surface 3 Pro and iPad Pro as well). It is getting tired though, and I am considering the iPad as a replacement, or an HP X2 Chromebook. I could use either as I use my 3 in tablet mode and only have store apps on it. I have other devices for power work. An updated Surface 3 would be high on my options list. I like the Start screen experience in Windows tablet mode way better than iOS and ChromeOS. Beyond that, it's just apps.
  • How's about some decent battery life. I get about 3 hours tops on my 2017 i7 Surface Pro. And before anybody says they get 10 hours, they should look at the rest of the world. Even with it optimized in all the ways they say, it's still a lemon in the battery department.
  • A notification light that lights up when the device is on.
    A less sensitive On/Off switch. The number of time I accidentally and unknowingly turn on my Surface 3 and drain the battery....
  • SD845 with USB c
  • "What we hope to see in a new 10-inch Surface from Microsoft"
    AMD