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Microsoft Surface Pro 6 review

The best one yet, but only just

(Image: © TechRadar)

Our Verdict

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 is faster, longer lasting and now comes in a sleek, new black shell and … that’s about it. It’s a better device than last year, but it isn’t the generational leap some were hoping for. If you already own a Surface Pro 2017, this upgrade isn’t worth the cost. Otherwise, it’s the best Windows tablet money can buy.

For

  • Quad-core processing
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent new color option

Against

  • Still no USB-C
  • Dated USB 3.0 port
  • Few meaningful improvements

When the Surface Pro 6 came out in October 2018, it completely skipped the ‘5’, which led us to expect some kind of radical change for the Surface Pro 6 – or at least one or two of the changes we’ve been asking Microsoft for since the Surface Pro 4 debuted in 2015. 

After all, when the Surface Pro 2017 was released without a number, Microsoft announced that there would be no ‘Surface Pro 5’ because it would only exist when it brought enough of an experiential change to the product line to deserve the number in the title.

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Unfortunately, that wasn’t necessarily the case. Still, we wouldn’t say that the Surface Pro 6 is devoid of enhancements. The Surface Pro 6, after all, has a faster processor and much longer battery life. It’s just that the fact that it’s worthy of the number when the Surface Pro 2017 wasn’t, is a tough pill to swallow. 

Some more radical changes should, however, appear on the Surface Pro 7, at least according to a recent patent that shows off a thinner Type Cover. That, plus the changes within the Windows 10 May 2019 Update and beyond, makes us curious about what the next Surface will be like. 

However, beyond improved silicon and that beautiful black color option, the Surface Pro 6, as it exists today, doesn’t change the formula – not even the dated USB 3.0 port. So, where does that leave potential tablet buyers?

(Image credit: TechRadar)
Spec Sheet

Here is the Surface Pro 6 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.4GHz boost)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display (Contrast ratio: 1,500:1, 100% sRGB color, 10-point multi-touch, 3:2 aspect ratio)
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, microSDXC card reader (UHS-I), headphone/mic jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy)
Cameras: 8MP rear-facing, auto-focus camera (1080p HD); 5MP front-facing, 1080p HD camera
Weight: 1.7 pounds (771g)
Size: 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches (292 x 201 x 8.5mm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

The Surface Pro 6 price starts at AED 3,759, which is right in line with the pricing for the Surface Pro 2017, albeit a tad pricier. The tablet is available for purchase right now across major retailers in the UAE and online.

Just keep in mind, much like with previous models, the Surface Pro 6 doesn’t include the Surface Pen nor the Type Cover and that, regrettably, will probably never change.

The Surface Pro 6 we reviewed here, as listed on the right, will cost a whopping AED 5,299, thanks to the upgraded storage – from 128GB on the base model to the 256GB listed here. That’s quite a price bump for just 128GB of extra space.

From there, the Surface Pro 6 can be customized with up to an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. If you really want to max the Surface Pro 6 out, you’re looking at a giant price tag of AED 8,099.

Likewise, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2017) calls for a bit less, which will get you a 2,732 x 2,048 pixel display powered by Apple’s A10X SOC and with 64GB of flash storage. The iPad also doesn’t include a stylus or a keyboard, which again is an added cost.

On paper, the Surface Pro 6 remains the better value in that you’re getting more of a full computer for only a few hundreds of dirhams more. However, it’s definitely a closer race than it’s ever been.

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Design and display

Besides for the stunning new black color scheme that’s nice to touch, just about nothing has changed about the Surface Pro design from the 2017 model to its successor. The tablet measures only 0.33 inches thin and weighs a mere 1.7 pounds – again, the same as last year's model.

The Surface Pro 6 has all the same ports and wireless options as its predecessor, not to mention the exact same Type Cover. We’re fine with the latter since the Type Cover is terrific – it’s the most impressive accessory of its kind that we’ve used yet.

However, we’re seriously disappointed by the absence of USB-C this time, and it’s not even about any obvious benefits of the platform. Microsoft has been gating faster data transfers and wider docking capabilities behind the proprietary Surface Connect port for a while now, forcing users who need that speed and expansion to pick up a Surface Dock accessory, adding more to the cost.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Even the included USB 3.0 is behind the curve of USB 3.1 – the standard in 2019 – which is twice as fast at transferring data than the former. This isn’t ok: it’s now costing consumers more money than necessary to unlock the full flexibility of a device that Microsoft claims can serve as their one and only computer.

On a slightly more positive note, the display, though otherwise largely unchanged, is slightly improved in one area. The Surface Pro 6 display now has a stronger contrast ratio of 1,500:1 compared to the previous model’s 1,300:1 figure.

This should be a bonus to both content creators and consumers alike, with deeper blacks than ever and even brighter colors that certainly makes movies more impressive, and possibly makes media editing easier and more accurate for content creators.

First reviewed November 2018

Images Credit: TechRadar