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
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!