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Smaller, cheaper Surface tablets spotted in FCC filings

by Mark Tyson on 4 July 2018, 14:11

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Surface

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Some newly unearthed FCC filings back up previous reports of a smaller, cheaper Surface tablet arriving in H2 2018. Reports from back in May pointed to the likelihood of such a device launching later in the year. Central to the reasoning behind the launch of a new 10-inch Surface tablet, beyond the emerging clues, is that Microsoft wishes to combat Apple iPads in the education market.

To recap May's lower-cost Surface report, which was published by Bloomberg, smaller and cheaper Surface tablets, based around 10-inch screens will launch later this year. The source said that the new Surface would have more rounded edges, USB-C, have approx 10 hours battery life, and be about 20 per cent lighter than the Surface Pro. The new Surface line would be Intel-powered.

More Microsoft Surface devices and accessories on the way?

ZDNet has developed the story further using information gleaned from sources in the wake of Bloomberg's report, such as the newly discovered FCC filings. Well known Microsoft and Windows reporter Mary Jo Foley has indicated that the new Surface devices will come packing an Intel Core m processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Thanks to the lower specs and reduced BOM, Microsoft will be able to sell these devices for approx half the price of a Surface Pro.

The FCC filings appear to confirm the use of an Intel SoC, as the device has driver firmware for a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module - which wouldn't be needed for an Arm-powered SoC. Another clue to the lower powered nature of the new Surface tablet comes from its 24-watt power supply, compared with the latest Surface Pro's 36-watt power supply. There is expected to be an LTE version of the new smaller Surface too.

Users of the new tablets will likely be on the hunt for matching accessories and thus Microsoft is designing cheaper versions of the keyboard cover, stylus and mouse to suit.

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Some OpenCL benchmarks comparing the purported $400 Surface with a $1300 MacBook 2017 have been shared on Twitter.