Monday, 06 Feb 2023

Surface Pro 9 review: Microsofts best tablet if you pick the right one

Surface Pro 9 review: Microsofts best tablet if you pick the right one


Surface Pro 9 review: Microsofts best tablet  if you pick the right one

Microsoft's latest Windows 11 tablet gets faster and easier to fix in the Surface Pro 9, while offering more options than ever before. But is it still the best PC tablet going? Only if you pick the right one.

Microsoft has brought its two high-end tablet lines under one model name. The standard Surface Pro 9 costs from £1,099 ($999.99/A$1,649) without a keyboard and continues where the Surface Pro 8 left off in 2021, fitted with new faster 12th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 chips and an improved internal design.

But it is joined under the same banner by the £1,299 ($1,299.99/A$2,599) Surface Pro 9 5G, which is the continuation of Microsoft's Surface Pro X line using ARM-based chips similar to those in your smartphone. It is a very different proposition with some serious trade-offs.

The latest Surface Pro 9 machines are 12g lighter to last year's models but otherwise look almost identical to their predecessors. They are modern, well made and come in a range of nice colours, with Microsoft's excellent kickstand out the back for propping the tablet up at a wide range of angles.

The good 13in display is slightly brighter than last year and can dynamically switch between a 60Hz or 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling while balancing battery life. The keyboard and Slim Pen 2 stylus are the same as last year with little to fault, except that they're not included in the box and cost an additional £260 as a bundle.

Inside, the tablet has been made more repairable. It has an easier to replace battery and user-upgradeable storage in a little flap in the back, and a service manual and spare parts are being made available. It is not quite the user-repairable ideal demonstrated by the Framework laptop, but it is a big step in the right direction from Microsoft.

The one negative is the removal of the headphone socket, leaving a USB-C dongle (not included) or Bluetooth as the only options. Using a range of Bluetooth headphones released in the past two years with the Surface generally worked well, though call audio quality is worse than if using a wired headset.

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