New reports indicate that Microsoft could be preparing to launch the Surface 3, a refreshed version of the mini tablet that it announced back in 2012 that competes directly against Apple’s iPad.
TKNews, a social media account and accompanying YouTube channel was the first outlet to begin reporting that there may be a Surface 3 on the way, saying anonymous sources it spoke with indicated that Microsoft had plans to reveal a Surface 3 sometime “before holidays.”
That’s all the information that the outlet provides, but a separate report from Neowin, a Microsoft enthusiast website that’s been accurate in the past, uses the information the YouTube channel provided as a foundation for their own claims. Neowin says that sources it talked to have confirmed that a Surface 3 is coming to rival Apple’s iPad Air at some point in the near future.
“The Surface 3 is expected to be slimmer and lighter than the model it replaces, featuring the new multi-stage kickstand from its bigger brother, and also including support for the Surface Pen for the first time.” The bigger brother the site refers to is the Surface Pro 3, the Intel-powered Windows tablet that Microsoft introduced to the world this past summer. Both reports seem to focus on an October announcement for the Surface 3, or whatever it’ll be called eventually.
If both of these reports are accurate, we could be looking at a Surface 3 announcement in the next few weeks and a Surface 3 release date in the next month. In fact, the Surface 3 release date would have to be in the next month for both reports to be accurate about Microsoft having plans to release the device for the holiday buying season. Typically, new device announcements don’t happen after late October.
Both reports agree on the launch of the Surface 3, but diverge on the topic of a second device: the Surface Mini. This past summer a Surface Mini with a 7-inch or 8-inch screen was all some tech sites could talk about. Many of those tech sites indicated that Microsoft had plans to launch the Surface Mini alongside the Surface Pro 3.
That never happened, leading many to believe the reports were bogus. Then Microsoft started shipping the Surface Pro 3 and buyers noticed that the product manuals included with the tablet indicated Microsoft had plans to release a Surface Mini. It’s Neowin’s belief that the Surface Mini was shelved because Microsoft couldn’t come up with a decent use case for it. TKNews is saying that the same sources who talked with it about the Surface 3 think that the Surface Mini will still launch this year.
How much either of these devices will cost remains unclear. That being said, if Microsoft is still trying to compete with Apple’s iPad, than the Surface 3 will need to be available for around $400. Today, the Surface 2, costs $449. That price doesn’t include the Surface’s signature keyboard accessory.
The first generation of Surfaces that Microsoft launched alongside Windows 8 roughly three years ago, didn’t exactly set the world on fire. The Surface was meant to take on the iPad with a combination of great battery life and PC-like extras. The full-size USB port and kickstand certainly helped it grab attention, but Microsoft’s decision to make the Surface keyboard a $120 add-on didn’t help sales figures. It also didn’t help that the first generation Surface suffered from performance issues. The Surface 2 addressed all of those issues and so far sales seem to be higher than they were for the original. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t publicly discuss Surface sales numbers and they can’t be anywhere near the sales numbers of Apple’s iPad line of tablets.
The Surface 2 sells without its keyboard cover for $449 at the Microsoft Store.