OCT 18, 2021 / Android

Microsoft expands its Surface range of devices and jumps back into the phone game

For nearly a decade now, Microsoft has produced its own line of (mostly) laptops under the Surface branding. Recently, Microsoft announced new Surface devices, which is in line with what notebook makers manage on an annual basis.

The difference this time around was that Microsoft announced a lot of new Surface devices, encompassing upgrades to existing and known Surface lines, as well as genuinely new and unusual devices.

Starting with the improved devices, there’s a new Surface Pro in the form of the Surface Pro 8. Like the prior generations this is a tablet PC with an inbuilt kickstand and optional clip-on keyboard. I’ve never quite understood why Microsoft doesn’t simply bundle its type keyboard with each Surface device, but it does claim the new model is even more rigid than prior generations, which should aid in durability. The new Surface Pro 8 devices won’t land in Australia until early November, at which point they’ll sell with pricing starting at $1,649 depending on configuration.

Microsoft’s also announced an upgrade for its smaller Surface line. The new Surface Go 3 runs on Intel Pentium 6500Y processors with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of onboard storage. The 4GB RAM/64GB model will sell for $629, while the fancier 8GB RAM/128GB model will cost $849. Again, if you want a keyboard it’ll cost you extra. The Surface Go is more of a portability model for those whose computing needs are modest.

If you need that kind of portability but more power – and especially better battery life – then the Surface Pro X might be more your style. Based on ARM processors, the Surface Pro X has been on sale here in Australia for some time with 4G LTE compatibility, but early next year we’ll see a new Surface Pro X model with only Wi-Fi on board. Those models should be cheaper than the current versions, but pricing has yet to be announced.

All of those models are essentially upgrades to existing Surface models, but Microsoft’s also expanding the range. For those who need a more powerful version of the Surface Pro, there’s the Surface Laptop Studio. This is an unusual laptop variant with a fold-out 14.4 inch 120Hz capable display and either Intel Core i7 or Core i5 11th generation processors. Microsoft hasn’t announced how much the Surface Studio Laptop will cost, but it’ll become available in Australia in early 2022.

You won’t have to wait that long for the newest member of the Surface family, however, because in late October Microsoft will re-enter the mobile phone market in Australia. Its last effort was the somewhat stillborn Windows Phone/Windows Mobile device range, largely based around the designs and business it purchased from Nokia under the Lumia branding. Windows Mobile never got huge traction in the smartphone market even though Windows itself has been dominant for decades now.

That’s why Microsoft’s new phone, the Surface Duo 2 is an Android device. If you’re wondering what happened to the original Surface Duo, it never made it out of the US, but the Surface Duo 2 will land on Australian shores in late October. What makes the Surface Duo 2 different from most other Android phones is that it’s a foldable, somewhat like Samsung’s recently launched Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. Where Samsung’s phone has screens on the outside and inside, the Surface Duo 2 has only internal screens, closing rather like a book and then opening up to reveal two 5.8 inch 1344×1892 pixel screens. Microsoft’s claim is that it’ll be able to run full screen Android applications on both screens, marking it out as a productivity device first and foremost. It’s going to need to be, given that the asking price starts at $2,319.

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Alex Kidman
Tech Journalist