Microsoft's impressive new Surface Pro 7+ is here, but not everyone can buy it

Microsoft's impressive new Surface Pro 7+ is here, but not everyone can buy it
Because the Surface Pro 7 is more than a year old, everyone was naturally expecting for the Surface Pro 8 to come out next. Rumored just last week for a potential February announcement and fully detailed from a US pricing standpoint over the weekend, Microsoft's upgraded 2-in-1 detachable tablet is already official... under a surprising name.

For the first time in the nearly nine-year history of the Windows-powered hybrid computer family, Microsoft has taken the wraps off a Plus-branded version of an existing Surface model. Unfortunately for regular consumers, the Surface Pro 7+ caters exclusively to businesses and schools, which means a "normal" Surface Pro 8 anyone can buy without restrictions of any sort could still be in the pipeline.

Until something like that sees daylight, enterprise and education customers will be happy to know the Surface Pro 7 Plus is slated for a commercial US debut as early as January 15 (this Friday) starting at a fairly reasonable $899 price. That's a whopping 150 bucks higher than the entry point of a "standard" Surface Pro 7, but the hike is entirely justified by a surprisingly lengthy list of notable improvements and add-ons.

More power, more juice, same old design

First and foremost, the outdated 10th Gen Intel processors inside the 2019-released Windows 10 tablet are replaced with 11th Gen Core i3, i5, and i7 options guaranteeing a solid jump in raw power and graphics performance, as well as enhanced energy efficiency. The latter upgrade enables a massive battery life boost from up to 10.5 hours to a maximum of 15 hours between charges for a device that incredibly looks identical to its predecessor.

We're not just talking a similar design language here, mind you, but the exact same dimensions shared by the Surface Pro 7 and Pro 7+, as well as virtually identical weight numbers. Alas, that means Microsoft is yet to rival the razor-thin screen bezels of Apple's latest iPad Pro generation and Samsung's newest Galaxy Tab S flagship

For better or worse, the 12.3-inch PixelSense display with a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels and a 3:2 aspect ratio is also unchanged, and the same goes for the decent but short of impressive selection of ports including one USB-C, one full-size USB-A, a 3.5mm headphone jack (huzzah!), and a microSD card reader on Wi-Fi-only models that buyers of LTE-enabled variants will have to do without.

Options, options, and more options

That's right, unlike its forerunner (and several other previous Surface Pro generations), the Pro 7 Plus comes with built-in cellular connectivity but only in conjunction with an Intel Core i5 chip at $1,149 and up. 

Expect the LTE Advanced technology to reduce the battery endurance score by around an hour and a half, and expect Microsoft's first 5G-capable device to arrive... at some point down the line.

The aforementioned $899 entry-level configuration, by the way, packs 8 gigs of memory, compared to the modest 4GB RAM count of the cheapest Surface Pro 7 version, with 16 and 32 gig options also set to go on sale later this week (through the appropriate channels).

Last but certainly not least, the Surface Pro 7+ stands out from its cousin and predecessor with removable solid-state drive (SSD) options ranging from 128GB all the way up to 1TB for security and control over your data. All upgrades considered, it's really hard to understand why Microsoft doesn't want to sell more of these bad boys, at least for the time being.

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