The Surface Pro 7 is an update of the excellent Surface Pro 6 with new processors and, finally, a USB-C port.
That means the design of the new Surface Pro 7 hasn’t changed since the 2017 Surface Pro 5, with Microsoft taking an “if it ain’t broke” approach. It’s competitively priced at £699 and up – but you have to pay at least £125 for the keyboard if you want one – which annoyingly is not included in the standard price.
Microsoft’s unique design language continues to stand out. Well-made computers with sharp-looking lines, lightly textured magnesium bodies with rounded corners and the company’s unrivalled kickstand on the back.
The 12.3in screen is still crisp and beautiful, but the large bezels around the sides now look a little dated compared to the Surface Pro X, traditional laptops and mobile tablets. All versions are available in Microsoft’s platinum grey colour, while some are also available in black, which is definitely nicer.
At 775g without the keyboard, the Surface Pro 7 is just shy of 150g heavier than the 12.9in Apple iPad Pro with similar dimensions. With Microsoft’s excellent 310g Signature Type Cover attached that brings the tablet to 1.085kg, which is lighter than most laptops including the 1.25kg MacBook Air and 1.265kg Surface Laptop 3.
The keyboard is the same as last year too, making it one of the best on any laptop, let alone a tablet, with excellent key feel, travel and stability, while the trackpad is small, but smooth and responsive. It is disappointingly still not included in the price, costing £125 in black or £150 in red, platinum or blue Alcantara.
The £99 Surface Pen is the same, again making it one of the best styluses available – precise, with low-latency, tilt and plenty of pressure levels. It magnetically attaches to the left side of the Surface Pro 7, which is good, but not on the same level as clever the new Slim Pen tray in the keyboard for the Surface Pro X.
Screen: 12.3in LCD 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI)
Processor: Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 (10th generation)
RAM: 4, 8 or 16GB
Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB
Graphics: Intel UHD (i3) or Intel Iris Plus (i5/i7)
Operating system: Windows 10 Home
Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing, Windows Hello
Connectivity: Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5, USB 3.0, USB-C, headphones, TPM, microSD
Dimensions: 292 x 201 x 8.5 mm
Weight: 775 or 790g (i7 version)
Processing and battery life
The Surface Pro 7 comes with either Intel’s 10th-generation i3, i5 or i7 processors. While the i3 will be fine for light usage, most will want the Core i5 or i7 versions, which are considerably more capable.
The version tested had a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and performed as you would expect from a high-end tablet PC or laptop. It handled general computing with no slowdown at all, even with 10 applications open with lots of tabs in Chrome and several large images open and being worked on in Affinity Photo, comparing favourably to Apple’s 13in MacBook Pro and Dell’s XPS 13.
But the fans were considerably more noticeable than the same Core i7 version of last year’s Surface Pro 6, meaning that the Surface Pro 7 likely runs hotter. With light computing they were not audible, but when connected to a 4K monitor or when running slightly more intensive applications they were noticeable in quiet rooms. The tablet never became overly hot to the touch.
Battery life was slightly disappointing, with the Core i7 version lasting around seven hours between charges, which wasn’t quite long enough to complete some work days without reaching for the charger. The Core i5 version should have longer battery life.
Charging the Surface Pro 7 wasn’t quite as quick as the Surface Pro X, but it will reach 80% from dead in about 60 minutes and fully charge in just under two hours using the included Surface Connect power adapter. Charging via a 45W USB-C charger happened at a similar rate, so you have two good options for charging the tablet.
None of the components, including the battery are user replaceable, except for the detachable keyboard, and repairs must be performed by authorised service providers.
The big new change for the Surface Pro 7 is the introduction of USB-C, finally. The modern, industry-standard port is a jack of all trades and replaces the miniDisplay Port of older Surfaces devices. USB-C allows you to charge the Surface, connect any number of accessories including displays, drives, ethernet adapters and so on. You can also connect it to a USB-C dock for power, displays and accessories all from one cable.
It is not Thunderbolt 3-compatible, but most will be fine with the standard bandwidth and functions of USB-C, it’s just a shame there’s only one of them.
A standard USB-A port takes care of older accessories, while the Surface Connect takes the included power adapter but can also be used to connect to a Surface Dock and other Microsoft accessories. A microSD card slot is also very welcome, particularly for photographers.
The Surface Pro 7 ships with a standard version of Windows 10 Home with device encryption
The tablet no longer supports on-screen interaction with Microsoft’s Surface Dial accessory
The Surface Pro 7 comes with various different specifications starting at £669 for a Core i3 with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
The Core i5 with 8GB of RAM costs £789 with 128GB of storage or £1,035 with 256GB of storage, the Core i5 with 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage costs £1,259.
The Core i7 versions all have 16GB of RAM and cost £1,299 with 256GB (as tested), £1,649 with 512GB and £2,024 with 1TB of storage.
All versions are available in platinum with some available in black.
The Surface Pro 7 is arguably the best windows tablet money can buy, it’s just not that big a leap over the Surface Pro 6.
The form, design, microSD card slot, kickstand, Windows Hello and simply the way it works are still winners in 2020. The screen is still great, however the bezels around it are functional but look a little dated compared to the Surface Pro X.
The big new thing is the addition of a USB-C port, which is well overdue. It’s a shame it’s not a full Thunderbolt 3 port, but I suspect most won’t care. The battery life on the Core i7 version is not class-leading, so buy the Core i5 version if you want more like a day’s work without the charger.
The biggest downside is that the essential keyboard is not included with the tablet, which pushes the price up by at least £125.
The Surface Pro 7 is what last year’s Surface Pro 6 should have been. It’s not cheap, but the Surface Pro 7 is best Windows tablet you can buy.
Pros: great screen, good battery life, brilliant keyboard (essential additional purchase), microSD card reader, excellent kickstand, Windows Hello, solid build, easy to carry, USB-A and USB-C
Cons: no Thunderbolt 3, fairly expensive, keyboard should be included, Core i7 version fans are more audible