Microsoft is gearing up for a 2016 hardware face-off. Recent reports have shed light on new specs for the Surface Book 2 and Surface Pro 5, both of which will be released later this year in competition with Apple's MacBook Pro 2016.
Surface Book 2 isn't new to the Redmond rumor mill. Earlier this month, reports began to paint a clearer picture of how the hybrid device will look and function at launch time.
Microsoft packed the original Surface Book with impressive hardware including a 2000 x 3000 display measuring 13.5 inches, 6th Generation Intel Skylake Core i5 or Core i7 processors, and a promised 12 hours of battery life.
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Rumored specs for the Surface Book 2 promise a marked upgrade to the first edition. Features will reportedly include a USB-C port, a 4K display, an 8 MP camera, and a price tag below $1,499, wrote Yibada.
The next-gen Surface Book is also expected to include the 7th Generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, otherwise known as the "Kaby Lake" series. The new processors will reportedly address users' complaints about battery life, but they may interfere with the device's launch date.
Early reports suggested we may see the Surface Book 2 as early as June, and some sources maintain this is the case. However, the Kaby Lake series isn't supposed to be ready until year's end. Its development may push the launch back to October or November, around the one-year anniversary of the original Surface Book release.
A June launch would put the Surface Book 2 on the same timeline as the MacBook Pro 2016, which Apple is expected to release during this year's Worldwide Developers Conference. Microsoft put the MacBook Pro side-by-side with Surface Book when it unveiled the hybrid last year.
Timing aside, the reported specs for both devices indicate 2016 will be a major year for laptop competition between Apple and Microsoft.
Tech watchers are also anticipating a significant hardware upgrade in the new MacBook Pro 2016, which will follow a recent upgrade to the MacBook line announced in April. The MacBook now contains 6th Generation dual-core Intel Core M chips, 10 hours of battery for Web browsing, and 1866 MHz memory.
Recent price cuts announced for the current MacBook Pro indicate a new model is on its way. The MacBook Pro 2016 will reportedly include Intel Skylake processors and a new battery feature that will stretch lasting power to 10 hours, reported The Christian Times.
Digitimes suggests the new MacBook will take a page out of Surface Book and adopt a hinge design to connect the display and keyboard. Apple will reportedly get its hinges from Amphenol, the same supplier Microsoft uses for the Surface.
The Surface Book 2 and MacBook Pro 2016 aren't the only high-end laptops expected to hit the market this year. Microsoft is also working on the Surface Pro 5, which is expected to appear alongside the next Surface Book.
The rumors surrounding Surface Pro 5 claim it will have a larger 13.3-inch 4K display and contain Intel's Kaby Lake processor, reported the International Business Times. It may also have a larger battery for a longer 7-hour charge, and a fingerprint scanner on the device, rather on the Type Cover.
It seems Microsoft is already preparing for a new device launch this year with sales on current device models, reported Dispatch Tribunal. In the UK, customers who purchase a Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book will receive a free dock and Surface Pen kit.
On Amazon, two Surface Pro 4 models have been discounted by $200.
Hopefully the specs in Surface Book 2, the Surface Pro 5, and the MacBook Pro 2016 will generate sales for a PC market in consistent decline. During the first quarter of 2016, global PC shipments hit 101 million units, a 13% volume drop year-over-year -- the market's lowest point since Q2 2011.
The data, which came from market research firm Canalys, indicated two-in-one devices led the market, with 13% growth during the first quarter. Tablets fared the worst, with fewer than 39 million shipments and their sixth consecutive quarter of decline.
Canalys expects continued success for two-in-one devices like those in Microsoft's Surface Pro lineup. Will Apple adopt the hybrid trend? How will it affect the competition?