On Tuesday, Microsoft is widely expected to unveil three new smartphone handsets and a second-generation wearable. However, potentially the biggest and most important device waiting to make its real-world debut will be the Surface Pro 4.
Microsoft’s Lumia phones and phablets are getting better and better with each iteration and the three phones -- set to be the entry-level Lumia 550 and flagship 950 and 950XL -- will be on a par with anything running Android in terms of processor power, screen resolution and camera capabilities. The 950XL, for instance, is expected to sport a qHD 5.7-inch display, an octa-core Snapdragon chip and incredible battery life.
They will also be the first handsets with the latest version of Microsoft’s Window 10 mobile operating system for seamless integration across devices -- push documents from a tablet to a PC or files from a phone to a notebook -- preinstalled.
But, as good as these phones will be, Microsoft has left it too late to enter the smartphone market -- even if the app selection is growing all of the time -- and so they are going to be niche products in the US and Europe, at least.
The same can’t be said of the Surface Pro. Over the past three years it has been quietly defining what the tablet of tomorrow will look like and what it can do. “Microsoft definitely validated the Windows tablet market with the Surface Pro 3 and its related products,” said Strategy Analytics chief analyst, Eric Smith.
If any further proof were needed, look no further than recent product launches from Apple (the iPad Pro) and Google (the Pixel C). Both sport big screens and detachable keyboards and, in the case of the new iPad, stylus input.
And while Apple’s entry will no doubt raise awareness of oversize, preformat tablets, among families and firms alike, “We see Microsoft leading the growing pack of professional grade tablets,” continues Smith.
Therefore, expect the Surface Pro 4 to be lighter than its predecessor, boast a better battery life and, thanks to the latest generation Intel processor, be even faster. There’s also a very strong possibility that the device will be available in a choice of screen sizes -- 11-inch and 14-inch and that on-board storage could be increased to as much as 1TB.
However, as the official unveiling is scheduled to kick off at 11am ET in New York on October 6, we don’t have long to wait to find out exactly what the latest Surface will offer.