Remember Windows RT? We certainly do, but we don’t miss it at all. Microsoft tried to do something different when they first introduced its Surface tablets by reserving the full-blown desktop experience to its Pro line – and the tablet-optimized experience with its standard, non-Pro versions of the Surface. It resulted in the first Microsoft Surface, and subsequently, its successor in the Surface 2. Apparently, consumers didn’t take too kindly of Windows RT’s limiting experience, especially when other PC makers eventually offered cheaper tablets that ran the full Windows experience. For its latest offering, the Surface 3 ditches Windows RT altogether and takes nearly everything we love about Surface Pro 3, but presents itself as a more affordable package.

The package contains:

  • Microsoft Surface 3 LTE
  • microUSB power supply
  • Quick start guide
  • Safety & warranty documents


Staying true to the Surface lines’ foundational design traits, it’s a full-blown PC in a liberating, compact package.

Microsoft didn’t change up the recipe with the Surface 3, as it employs the same angular design language of its predecessors. It’s seriously a design we all know and associate with the Surface line, evident in its magnesium chassis and adjustable kickstand. While it’s far more liberating to carry around than other laptops and ultrabooks, it’s still thicker and heavier than some of today’s prized tablets. To its credit, though, we’re gladly accepting of its size considering it attempts to be more of a hybrid mobile computing device running full Windows 10, than say, your ordinary touchscreen-only tablet.

The kickstand continues to give the Surface 3 more versatility than some other tablets, since it provides us with a hands-free video watching experience, but there are now offers 3 preset angles – with one of them giving us the necessary angle to use it in our lap comfortably. One notable change to the design is the decision to go with a standard microUSB port for its charging, as opposed to the proprietary magnetic connections we’ve come to see in the series. The good in this is that it’s an easy replacement in the event it goes bad or goes missing, but it doesn’t offer the same safety protection as the magnetic connection if it’s accidentally yanked off. With the LTE version, there’s a SIM slot located on the bottom left area of the tablet.

Type Cover

Transforming the Surface 3 from a tablet to a hybrid laptop is achieved by picking up the any of the Type Covers, which is great if you prefer the usual typing experience over touch interaction. The chicklet styled keys might make the layout cramped, but it at least offers reasonable tactility and travel to make typing very smooth and natural. And oh yeah, it’s back-lit too!

At the same time, the Type Cover doubles as a useful protective cover for the screen, and automatically turns off the screen when it’s closed over. However, it costs an additional $130 to pick it up, which undoubtedly jacks up the Surface 3’s ownership cost if you choose to go with this traditional typing experience.

Surface Pen

And there’s also the Surface Pen! Aside from being a useful thing for jotting down notes, its other purpose is to act almost like a mouse with its hovering and right click functions.

Now that the magnetic connection for the charging port is no more with the Surface 3, it means that we’ll have to be extra cognizant where we place the Surface Pen when it’s not being used – or just attach it to the Type Cover by fastening it into the small groove on the keyboard. Just know you’ll need to dish out an additional $50 to pick it up.


Aside from its weak brightness output, the screen actually carries several high-quality characteristics.

Even though it adopts the same 3:2 screen aspect ratio as the Surface Pro 3, it’s been whittled down in size and resolution. So, the result here is a 10.8-inch ClearType 1920 x 1080 display. On the numbers side, it isn't the sharpest thing with its 214 ppi pixel density, but in practical use, it’s still effective for everyday use such as typing up reports and surfing the web using the tablet, just as long it’s being used within reasonable distance. Its details deficiency only manifests if we’re to get very up close and personal to the screen.

Impressively, Microsoft has fashioned on a high-quality display onto its Surface 3 – one that achieves favorable marks in various categories. In particular, its ~6300K color temperature and gamma value of 2.17 both indicate that. Even better, the screen is able to reproduce all colors accurately in the sRGB color spectrum chart, showing us that it’s been perfectly calibrated. The only area of opportunity with it, though, is the fact that it only achieves a maximum luminance of 359 nits, which makes for a daunting challenge using it outdoors where the sun poses some issues with its visibility.

And it’s also incredibly accurate with its 10 point multi-touch detection. We really can’t complain about the screen aside from its weak brightness output, so it goes to show that the love didn’t just stop at the Surface Pro 3.



1. yann

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Dear John V., Please stop making reviews to other platforms than iOS. It is pretty seen how much Apple fan you are. You copare full platform device vs cutted iPad Air limited platform and compare heavy multitasking??? Please, stop do this ugly and incompetent reviews. Make review to iPads and iPhones.

10. TerryTerius unregistered

I think what we should be asking for is neutral people. Only having fans of any given platform reviewing those platforms is absolutely retarded.

13. yann

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Agree with you. If depends on, John V. will not write even a sigle word. All so called writers here are fans of Apple or someone make them write this way. Anyway it is wrong. I remember hands on Sony Xperia Z5 article.... Totally stupid! P.S. I'm not Android fan... Nor Apple... I use windows phone.

25. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

Not everyone, Ray, for example. I like his reviews, he should review the popular phones more often. I'd rather have him review Apple devices instead of John.

30. strudelz100

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Interesting. You use Windows Phone and show up to sh*t on John V. when the Windows device review doesn't go as YOU imagine it would in your fantasy world. No Bias here.

35. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Interesting.. There is a lot of truth in what he says.. Sometimes fans of a certain platform can have a point too.. You know just like you do on other topics?

22. guest

Posts: 372; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

More Pro than any iPad

27. Mister-Z-

Posts: 175; Member since: Sep 07, 2015

John V, another iFanatic.

29. strudelz100

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Dear yann. You are a complete loser for attacking someone who provides content that you spend YOUR WORTHLESS LIFE reading. I mean look at yourself closely man. Pretty pathetic comment. Instead of being like whiney little baby that spilled his BaBa when authors upset you. So sad man you make me chuckle out loud.

36. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

You could go elsewhere.. Its called passion for certain things and honestly for you to think you know someone's life based off a Comment it makes you sound sad

41. yann

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Dear strudelz100, Are you John V. undercover? Or his lawyer? Defender of some kind? My life isn't worthless, how about yours? Trolling on every comment against this malicious "review"? Live your life, not someone else life. I've Surface 3 and i know how good and bad is. The author, obviously can use only Apple devices and it is so obvious. Surface have problems with the weight, not so comfortable keyboard, but man, if you ever use this, you will know one thing - productivity! This is lighter portable PC in tablet shape. But you never even tried it, right?

37. cheetah2k

Posts: 2297; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Why the fcuk are you comparing a full desktop OS surface with a friggin iOS tablet with a half cut os? I give up on this 5hit because its just a waste of time...

48. TheWerewolf

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 31, 2015

I'm not sure what you're talking about. The review only compares performance specs between the iPad Air 2 and the Surface 3. Given that this is MSFT's low end tablet - it's right in the same market at the iPad and a lot of people buy iPads... so it's fair comparison. The only time he mentions the iPad in the actual main article is to complain about Win10's camera app, and he doesn't exactly compliment iOS' camera app either. In terms of 'multasking' - here what he said: "In our real world testing, however, we’re able to get approximately 6 to 7 hours from each charge. Honestly, that’s not that bad of a tally for a tablet running Windows 10, as the multi-tasking element here with the platform is the real thing – whereas with other platforms, it’s still more like apps switching." He's *complimenting* the Surface 3 for getting so much battery life when it has to do real multitasking unlike iOS and Android tablets. Even pricing - on which most reviewers slam the Surface 3, he says this: "$500 cost is pretty agreeable for a tablet running full Windows 10" - hardly a negative comment. Overall, this is actually a fairly positive review and is in line with other reviews including those on PC oriented sites like Windows Central. The Surface 3 is a nice tablet, but it has weaknesses. For the record - Windows user here and I've worked with Microsoft on projects (I wrote some of Office, for example) and I own a Surface Pro 3 - the only tablet I've ever carried with me everywhere - everyday. So sorry - not sure what your problem is - but it might help if you criticised what the author said instead of just calling him names...

2. Wulfgardr

Posts: 73; Member since: Oct 29, 2014

Good review. The Surface 3 is a great product and I like it despite owning something different. There's room for improvement, but having full Windows 10 + portability and versatility, capped at 600 bucks is nice. It's a good time to be a tech enthusiast!

3. ianbbaa

Posts: 332; Member since: Mar 20, 2013

Does the new iPAd Pro have such a great thing as integrated kick stand is? When yes i am gonna change to iPad Pro, when not i ll keep my SP3. I have also iPad mini 2 - can anyone tell me why any webpage on safari reloads everytime even i jump very quickly to another app and then back to safari and weppage must reload for 3 secs or more....surface or any other s**tty 2gb ram android/win tablet doesnt do that.

38. cheetah2k

Posts: 2297; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

iPad mini 2. not enough ram. and CAN'T multitask.... SP3 so much better.

43. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

I should remind you that iPad pro runs IOS and surface runs desktop OS there's a big app gap between them like a really big one and if your up to gaming Windows is the only choice.


Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Surface Pro 3 best tablet on the market!

5. ianbbaa

Posts: 332; Member since: Mar 20, 2013

And i am wondering why PA came up with S3 review just a day after new iPads were announced...with 8 points only for S3 where all other ipads will score 9,0 - 9,5 for sure....S3 is here for long time...does addition of LTE anyhow changed the first batch of S3s? Seems like right timing to place S3 with just 8 points in test where everybody is hot on new ipads right now...

8. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

How about the Godd***ed mother******* OnePlus Two Review? Chris P posted an unboxing video the 31st of August. Wtf

44. hound.master

Posts: 1044; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

Well it's pretty f**king hard to get your hands on a oneplus phone. Bit that's not true about surface 3.

6. MaryPoopins

Posts: 324; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

Dear John V Please stop writing. Thanks - The Internet

31. strudelz100

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

You read it. Jokes on you. And bitching about it won't help. Just turn in your avatar and go on your way back to the cave you currently reside.

34. MaryPoopins

Posts: 324; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

No? :/ It's not our fault you're all butthurt and have to cry about it. There there (pats on head) you'll grow up soon, I'm sure.

7. sip1995

Posts: 1771; Member since: Feb 07, 2014

Oh, it seems that you don't know sh!t about Windows talets and the Surface line...

9. mahima

Posts: 743; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

and when you do review ipad pro, please don't give more than 7 for the sake of fairness

11. ninja_master

Posts: 306; Member since: Feb 27, 2015

Should be 9 at least

12. Tuxedo

Posts: 356; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

This thing was released on May 5th of 2015 and NOW, two days after the new iPad announcement, you publish this rubbish review? Not fair guys, you are way too biased.

39. cheetah2k

Posts: 2297; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

LTE version was just released...

14. gaming64 unregistered

This pretty much sh8ts allover the iPad Pro.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Surface 3
  • Display 10.8" 1920 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 3.5 MP front
  • Processor Intel Atom x7, Quad-core, 1600 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB

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