Surface Pro 4 vs. Surface Pro 3: Should You Upgrade?

Microsoft built upon the features in Surface Pro 3 to deliver a more refined and capable hybrid in Surface Pro 4.
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Microsoft launched its Surface portfolio with the intention of replacing the laptop. The Surface Pro 4, released for general availability Oct. 26, is the newest addition to its Surface lineup.

Chances are good there will always be people who opt for traditional laptops over tablet-first hybrids. Microsoft recognized this and consequently released its high-end Surface Book alongside the Surface Pro 4.

Microsoft may have built its own laptop, but it also has its most worthy laptop replacement in Surface Pro 4. If you're thinking about switching to hybrids or have already made the leap, the Pro 4 will not disappoint.

Most of the upgrades are minor, but combined they iron out the kinks of Surface Pro 3. Its footprint is the same size, but the display is larger and sharper. A new hybrid cooling system makes it a quieter machine. It's slightly thinner, lighter, and more powerful.

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The accessories were also upgraded. A new Type Cover is sturdier, and provides a writing experience similar to that of a laptop. The Surface Pen writes more like a pen and less like a plastic-tipped stylus.

While the Pro 4 a more refined product, there is room for improvement. It's pricier than the entry-level Pro 3, has the same battery life, and still doesn't ship with a Type Cover, even though the keyboard is necessary to get the full Surface experience.

The Pro 3 was difficult to use for daily productivity, primarily because of its flimsy and cramped Type Cover. It was handy as a secondary device, but I wouldn't have used it to replace my laptop.

After a few days of using the Pro 4, it seems Microsoft has built upon the best parts of Pro 3 and made the necessary improvements to deliver a truly capable 2-in-1 device. I'm not ready to toss my trusty laptop, but I'd be more likely to tote the Pro 4 for work-related travel and other mobile productivity.

Here, we take a closer look at the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 3, and separate the differences between the two. Do you have a Surface or considered it? Are you committed to your laptop? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

(All photos: Kelly Sheridan/InformationWeek)

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