If you’re looking for the latest Microsoft Surface 2-in-1 tablet in 2021, you’ll come across two flagship devices up for sale. There’s the Surface Pro 7 from last year, and this year’s Surface Pro 7+.
Although Microsoft officially intends the Surface Pro 7 + to be purchased by educational and enterprise customers, you can still buy one directly
Surface Pro 7+ is a small refresh of the Surface Pro 7, but if you must have the latest and greatest from Microsoft, it’s the one to buy right now. But if you’re unsure of that decision, here’s a look at how Surface Pro 7 + compares to the Surface Pro 7, in terms of design, performance, portability, and more.
First things first: The prices. There’s not much difference in this area as both tablets are an expensive venture. However, the Surface Pro 7 has a cheaper starting configuration. That changes when you move to mid-range and high-end configurations where the difference isn’t huge.
Surface Pro 7+ Wi-Fi models start at $900, for a lower-powered Core i3 model with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. You can then push the price all the way up to $1,300 for a midrange model with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, or a 256GB SSD.
Surface Pro 7 is a bit cheaper to start. It starts at $750 for a Core i3 model with 4GB of RAM. The mid-range will get you up to $1,200 for a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage.
In both models, the Type Cover and Surface Pen are not included in this price.
Visually, the Surface Pro 7+ does not look very different from the original Surface Pro 7. It’s the changes that are inside the machine that matter. You’re still getting that same super slim design and a built-in kickstand that lets you push the tablet back to 165 degrees, a long-time feature of the Surface lineup that sets it apart from an iPad Pro.
In terms of numbers, Surface Pro 7+ comes in at around 1.73 pounds in weight and about 0.33 inches in thickness. It also features Microsoft’s signature unibody magnesium design and support for the optional Type Cover keyboard and the Surface Pen. Both Surface Pro 7+ and Surface Pro 7 also come in platinum or black color, so there are no differences there.
In addition to the similar design, both Surface Pro 7+ and Surface Pro 7 sport the same display size. Unlike Surface Pro X, the bezels on the two devices are still a bit thick. The display comes in at 12.3 inches and with a resolution of 2736 x 1824. On both tablets, the screen is also a 3:2 aspect ratio, leaving you more vertical room for multitasking.
The design difference between Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 7+ comes down to what’s inside. Like the Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop 3, it’s possible to upgrade the SSD storage inside of the Surface Pro 7+. There’s a small door under the kickstand, where you can insert a SIM card ejector tool, unscrew the SSD, and put a new one on. So, if upgradability is your thing, the Surface Pro 7+ might be your best bet as you can’t do this on Surface Pro 7.
We also want to mention that while you won’t see it, but Microsoft says that it has tweaked the internal design of the components inside Surface Pro 7+ to improve battery, as well as add support for LTE. We get into this later in the portability section.
If you’re all about having the best system performance, then the Surface Pro 7+ will be for you. It’s not that the Surface Pro 7 wasn’t an excellent performing tablet (we praised it for having a jump in performance over the Surface Pro 6,) but Surface Pro 7+ has the latest and greatest 11th generation chips from Intel inside. These chips are known as Intel Tiger Lake. The Surface Pro 7 has the last generation’s Intel Ice Lake chips.
We haven’t tested a Surface Pro 7+ in our labs, but Microsoft is claiming that there’s a big performance jump with Intel Tiger Lake between the Surface Pro 7 and the Pro 7+. The company mentions that you can power professional-grade software and essential business apps 2.1 times faster than before. That’s mainly thanks to Intel Iris Xe graphics, which boosts the performance of the integrated GPU inside Pro 7+.
Note that you’ll only get this performance jump on Core i5 and Core i7 models, however. The Core i3 model comes with standard UHD graphics.
Intel claims a total of 30% improvements in processing power, and 80% in graphics between Tiger Lake and Ice Lake generations, but take that with a fine grain of salt. When we tested last year’s Surface Pro 7, we were still impressed. Thanks to two extra cores, it managed to complete a 4K video clip in Handbrake 24% faster than what was on the Surface Pro 6. You can expect the Surface Pro 7+ to perform the same, if, not, better.
Again, keep in mind these tablets don’t have dedicated graphics, so your mileage will be limited regardless of which one you choose.
Anyway, in terms of performance, you’ll also have to account configurations. Surface Pro 7+ comes with options for either 8GB or 16GB of RAM on Wi-Fi or LTE models, and 32GB of RAM on the Wi-Fi-only model. Storage comes in at either 128GB or 256GB on Wi-Fi or LTE models, and 512GB or 1TB on Wi-Fi-only models.
Those configurations of Surface Pro 7+ are a step up from the Surface Pro 7. Surface Pro 7 maxes out with 16GB of RAM and also has a 4GB RAM model. If you want maximum performance, Surface Pro 7+ is for you. For more balanced computing, pick the Surface Pro 7.
The final thing to take into account between these tablets is portability. In this aspect, Surface Pro 7+ and Surface Pro 7 are almost neck and neck. However, Surface Pro 7+ has some advancements that matter, when it comes to battery life, as well as connectivity.
Across both tablets, you end up getting the same ports. You’ll get a Surface Connect Port for charging, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a USB-A port for printers and USB drives, as well a MicroSD card slot for storage expansion. Note that the microSD card is only available on the Surface Pro 7+ Wi-Fi models. All Surface Pro 7 models will have it on board.
Elsewhere, the Windows Hello IR camera, a 1080p webcam, dual-far field Studio Mic, and 1.6-watt stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos are the same on both models.
The big difference between models comes down to battery life. Microsoft promises 10.5 hours on the Surface Pro 7 (we got less than that in our tests.) Surface Pro 7+ ups that up to 15.5 hours, though we did not test one yet to prove the claim. The Verge notes that Microsoft has upgraded the battery’s capacity from 46.5 watt-hours to 50.4 watt-hours for this change.
Another big difference between models comes down to LTE connectivity. For the first time since the Surface Pro 5 (which Microsoft calls Surface Pro), Microsoft has brought back LTE options to the main Surface lineup. You’ll find the LTE option on the Intel Core i5 model of the Surface Pro 7+ only. If you’re always out and about and don’t want to depend on Wi-Fi, then this Surface Pro 7+ model is for you.
For most people, the Surface Pro 7+ would be a better buy. It is a bit more future-proof as it comes with Intel’s latest processors inside, and also has better battery life or the option for LTE as well as more RAM and the option to update storage easily.
The Surface Pro 7 is still good, but it’s stuck on older processors, and lags behind in battery too.
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