While Microsoft will not reveal specifications until launch, parts manufacturers and supply chain leaks indicate that the following updates will be included:
- Intel 7th generation Kaby Lake low energy processors with three models – Core m (dual-core), Core i5 (dual-core, two threads) and Core i7 (quad-core, eight threads). Kaby Lake has faster clock speeds, higher turbo frequencies, better battery life and importantly native support for 3D, 4K@60fps, H.264, HEVC, 10-bit and 8-bit video, and HDCP 2.2 support.
- 12.3” (same size), 3:2 ratio, 4K resolution screen (4K in 16:9 format is 3840 x 2160 pixels). It is likely to be 4320 x 2160 approx. to maintain full-screen width when playing 16:9 movies. It is unlikely to move from IPS Touch to Super AMOLED just yet.
- USB-C, 3.1 with Thunderbolt. It is likely the Core m model will have one for charging/data and a USB 3.0 full-size port for data. All will retain the full-size USB3.0. mini-Display Port, and Surface Ribbon connector for a docking station and keyboard functionality.
- LTE as a definite option.
- DDR4 ram starting with 16GB and up to 32GB, m.2 - 512GB to 1TB SSD, plus SD card support.
- Magnetic charge Surface pen (stylus) that will only work on Surface Pro 5 (or later).
- Fingerprint reader standard on the optional keyboard/cover but rumours of wider key spacing and a larger glass trackpad – improving on an already excellent keyboard.
- Base Core m starting at US$899.
- First to ship with the Windows 10 Redmond 3 update.
ASUS, Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Samsung are all now making hybrids and in many respects, these brands have taken the Surface design concept further.
For example, HP’s kickstand — U-shaped instead of a full panel — allows it space to fit more inside. It also has the new EliteBook x2 that is a Surface Pro on steroids for enterprise use.
Whoever makes a Surface Pro design no longer matters as Microsoft has improved the specs in the Pro 5 series.
Microsoft recently announced a new power base for its popular Surface Book so it is unlikely that we will see a Kaby Lake refresh on that in the first half of 2017 – more likely by Q3, 2017. In any case, Surface Book remains in short supply, especially the i7 model, as demand exceeds supply, especially following an oversubscribed MacBook trade-in offer.
Its Surface Studio will ship soon in Australia after a sell-out on release in the US.
Microsoft has also announced that Windows 10 will soon run on Qualcomm’s new 835 ARM processors. This is more likely to affect plans for a Surface-style smartphone and perhaps a lower cost 10” Surface tablet – it won’t have an impact on the Pro 5.