Since 2013, there have been persistent rumors that Microsoft had plans for a small form factor tablet dubbed the Surface Mini. In the end, the device was never released but images of a prototype have been posted to the web, giving us a pretty clear idea of how the company intended to expand the Surface line.
Several images of the Surface Mini were posted earlier on Friday on Windows Central. This iteration of the device was apparently intended to launch in 2014, alongside the Surface Pro 3, but it was canceled just weeks before it was set to be officially unveiled.
The Surface Mini is said to closely resemble a smaller version of the Surface Pro 3 in its portrait orientation. It is outfitted with many of the standard features of the Surface line, like a kickstand that folds flush against the body of the hardware, and support for the Surface Pen.
In fact, the Mini would have been much more reliant on the touch interface than its bigger siblings. The device would have relied solely on touch input, as Microsoft reportedly had no plans to offer a Type Cover accessory for users who would prefer a traditional keyboard.
The Mini also differs from other products in the Surface line in that its rear side and a portion of its bezel are covered in a felt-like material. This component of its design looks like a case, but it is actually a part of the tablet itself and cannot be removed.
The Surface Mini was set to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with 1GB of RAM, an Adreno 330 GPU, and had access to 32GB of internal storage, with a MicroSD slot to provide extra capacity. Its 8-inch display would have had a 1,440 x 1,080 resolution.
While much of this information was already known, it is very interesting to get a look at a near-final version of the hardware. Given the success of the iPad Mini and the demand for devices that occupy the space between a smartphone and a conventional tablet, it will be interesting to see whether or not Microsoft takes another stab at the Surface Mini somewhere down the line.