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Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review




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Surface Pro 4
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  • Surface Pro 4
  • Surface Pro 4
  • Surface Pro 4


Our Score:



  • Great screen for consumers
  • Robust performance
  • Solid battery life
  • Untouched version of Windows 10


  • Type Cover costs £110 extra
  • Missing key features for designers

Key Features

  • Intel Core processor
  • Bundled Surface Pen
  • Optional Type Cover
  • 12.3-inch display
  • Manufacturer: Microsoft
  • Review Price: £749.00

What is the Microsoft Surface Pro 4?

The Surface Pro 4 is Microsoft's latest high-end tablet/laptop hybrid. Its incredible desirable design and powerful hardware still, more than a year on, make it one of the most desirable devices on the market today.

Updated: Since I first reviewed the Surface Pro 4, the market has changed somewhat, with numerous rivals arriving on the scene. To its credit, the Surface Pro 4 has remained Trusted's favourite 2-in-1, but the latest entry into the laptop market could be seriously tempting for fans of Microsoft hardware looking for an upgrade. The Surface Laptop, announced in May 2017, is everything that was great about the Surface Pro 4 but in laptop form, starting at under £1000. You can read more about it in our guide to the Surface Laptop.

There are more games afoot, too: Microsoft has announced an event for May 23 that looks likely to be some sort of hardware reveal. While the Surface Pro 4 is still an excellent piece of kit, it's well overdue a refresh, so my money's on a Surface Pro 5. It might be worth waiting to buy until then, although with the number of discounted Surface Pro 4s on the market right now, you won't be losing out if you buy the current-gen model right now.

Below continues my original review from late 2015.

Buy Now: Pre-order Surface Pro at Microsoft starting from £799

Watch our iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 4 comparison video:

Related: Everything you need to know about the Microsoft Surface Pro 5

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – Design

The Surface Pro 4 doesn’t rework the wheel on the design front. The tablet section of the Surface Pro 4 looks almost identical to the Pro 3 from a distance. It has the same metallic-grey magnesium finish; the same adjustable kickstand; and only slightly more svelte 292 x 201 x 8.4mm dimensions.

Some will view the lack of immediately noticeable changes as a negative, but for me it’s no bad thing. The Surface Pro 3 breathed new life into the Microsoft series of devices when it replaced the boring, boxy black design of the Surface Pro 1 and 2 in 2014, and it remains one of the nicest-looking convertibles on the market.

The Surface Pro 4 Intel Core i5 model I reviewed was also suitably satchel-friendly, weighing a meagre 786g – the Intel Core M variant weighs an even more modest 766g. It also has the same USB 3.0, mini-DisplayPort and microSD connection options as the Surface Pro 4, meaning that it will happily meet most users' connectivity needs.

If you take a more thorough look at the Surface Pro 4, however, you’ll realise that Microsoft has addressed several niggling issues with the design. The most obvious of these being the Surface Pen’s new docking mechanism.

Related: Best laptops 2015

Surface Pro 4

In theory, the docking system works in the same way it did on the Surface Pro 3, using a magnetic lock to hold the stylus on the tablet’s short side. I wasn’t a fan of the system on the Pro 3, because the magnetic lock was quite weak and the pen would detach itself when met with even the slightest of nudges. The position of the lock itself was even more annoying, since it placed the pen over the tablet’s physical power and volume keys.

These flaws have been fixed in the Surface Pro 4 by first, moving the power and volumes keys to the tablet’s top, long edge; and second, by increasing the strength of the locking magnet. Using the Surface Pro 4 as my main laptop and tablet, the Surface Pen never once detached itself from the device, and proved capable of clinging to the tablet section even when the Pro 4 was thrown into a fairly full satchel and lugged around London.

You can pick up the Pro 4 with either 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of SSD storage. The wealth of cloud storage services available on Windows 10 means that running out of space won't be a concern for the majority of people.

These changes may sound insignificant, but it's systemic of Microsoft’s overall strategy with the Surface Pro 4. The company has made a series of subtle improvements that are small when viewed on their own, but add up to create a vastly improved user experience overall.

Dead Words

November 23, 2015, 9:43 pm

There's also a 1TB SSD option.
Nice review. The Surface reviews here are always a tad strange because they get such praise yet the entire review is written like they only got a 7/10 instead of a 9/10. Still, pretty good, well-written, unbiased review.


November 23, 2015, 11:11 pm

I agree nice review, I own the SP3 and intend to keep it for now as it works sufficiently for me. As a side issue I definitely prefer the SP series to the new SB series I find the surface product just works.

Kulti Vator

November 24, 2015, 9:33 am

Nice device - impressed with the feel and responsiveness of the new stylus. This may be the device that prompts me to ditch my Cintiq+laptop combo and travel a lot lighter!

Will probably hold out for benchmarks on the i7 edition - that 540 GPU in the i7 is quite a bit beefier than the 520 in the i5, so it'll be interesting to see how the performance & battery life compare.


November 24, 2015, 10:33 am

Sometimes it feels to me like they are specifically picking things to mark it down on. The type cover keyboard for example...no surface has ever sold with a keyboard that didn't cost extra. I find this a bit of a moot point, especially as you can easily plug a usb keyboard in to it and your sorted.
As a business tool, you can buy a usb dock for it and it will be good to go.

Dead Words

November 24, 2015, 12:22 pm

Or use a Bluetooth keyboard.
The point is, the keyboard is still cheaper than Apple's keyboard for the iPad Pro and is actually better to use. Keeping it separate means we get a choice on color and there ARE bundles that include the Type Cover. I think how Microsoft is doing it is best, as I'd rather buy a Type Cover separately and get the color I want (or get a fingerprint scanner) rather than pay extra to get it bundled with the Surface and only get black.


November 24, 2015, 1:25 pm

Agreed. I like having the option as well.
Also, don't you have to spend £79 on the Pencil for the Ipad Pro?? It doesn't get marked down for that!

Curtis Quick

November 24, 2015, 3:42 pm

Honestly, the composite score should be above 9. Not only is the SP4 the best Windows tablet yet, it's also the best productivity tablet yet. Asked to mark it down for not providing a keyboard is not fair as the top iPad and top Android productivity tablets also don't bundle their keyboard (and they cost much more as well without providing a trackpad or adjustable screen angle). There is so much greater capability that the SP4 provides with its full featured desktop OS compared to the mobile OSes that the other top tablets offer that there really is no contest. I currently use an SP3 and I make daily extensive use of the digital pen without the issues the author mentioned. Also, while I'm sure the SP4 type cover is much improved, my current keyboard cover its quite good for my daily needs. Honestly, even the lesser Surface 3 is more than a match for the best the competition has to offer.

Dead Words

November 24, 2015, 9:55 pm

And the Surface Pen comes bundled with the Surface Pro 4 (and Pro 3)...so where's the argument?


November 30, 2015, 8:37 pm

I may be wrong, but as an owner of the SP3, the following sounds incorrect. I don't believe I can magnetically dock my SP3 pen to the SP3. I don't have the pen handy to check this...

"In theory, the docking system works in the same way it did on the Surface Pro 3, using a magnetic lock to hold the stylus on the tablet’s short side. I wasn’t a fan of the system on the Pro 3, because the magnetic lock was quite weak and the pen would detach itself when met with even the slightest of nudges. The position of the lock itself was even more annoying, since it placed the pen over the tablet’s physical power and volume keys."

Joseph Murdock

January 26, 2016, 3:27 pm

What detailed review. Appreciate it.

You did briefly touch upon Surface Pen but I was looking for some in-depth review on the performance of the pen and its use-cases. May be a hands-on review by an artist would have been great. While I was searching for that, I came across this site fanreviews.co and found some video reviews by the users. There's an in-depth video by a graphics designer touching all aspect of using surface pen and more videos on other aspects as well. If I was searching for it am sure there are others also looking for it so thought of sharing it with you guys here - https://fanreviews.co/mobil...

Hope this helps to others.

YP Actually

March 31, 2016, 4:51 am

Does the surface Pro 4's keyboard works on virtual machine (ubuntu/linux/win7)?

Alastair J. Archibald

July 5, 2016, 10:52 am

Coburn would agree with you. He was pointing out the fact that you have to pay extra for the Apple Pencil when you splash out for the iPad Pro (as well as a keyboard) , but the reviews never mark it down for that.
It's true: I read reviews on the iPP and they never, ever mention the need to pay extra for a keyboard and pen. Yet ALL the reviews on the Surface Pro moan about exactly the same thing.


December 6, 2016, 11:23 am

Big discounts are starting to show I got the surface pro 4 i5 4gb 128gb + keyboard for £699

Matt Philpott

December 27, 2016, 12:51 pm

Where was that from Barry? You still happy with it?

Mark Goodson

January 19, 2017, 11:46 am

I've had my Pro 4 for a couple of weeks now. It's a good bit of hardware spoiled by the software. On the plus side it's light, has a good screen and the clip on keyboard works better than it should. Handwriting notes into OneNote works well. On the "meh" side is the battery life... 3 to 3.5 hours depending on what you're doing. It is also very slow charging. But the Windows 10 on the Pro is a pain. The transition from docking station use to tablet and back is messy leaving windows disorganised and icons in the wrong place.

Also Microsoft is back to it's old dirty tricks. Even if you set Chrome as your default browser (despite multiple warnings that you really, really should use Edge) and Google as your default browser, if you use Cortana it will always open Edge with Bing regardless. There was a Chrome extension that let you fix this but the latest OS "upgrade" killed this... big surprise. Likewise if you are working in tablet mode and using the onscreen keyboard predictive text only works with MS apps. I tested this with Evernote, Chrome/gmail and various note-taking apps... no predictive text. Write an email in Outlook and miraculously it starts working.


May 27, 2017, 4:31 pm

battery life 8/10.
so other brand/device you will score them 800/10 according your analysis ?

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