Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Cheaper, lighter Microsoft Surface tablets may be coming this year

Cheaper, lighter Microsoft Surface tablets may be coming this year

Taking the lead from an increasing number of smartphones, the cheap Surface will also feature a USB-C port for charging and syncing.

By releasing a cheaper Surface model, Microsoft is trying to gain a bigger share of the low-priced tablet market, which Apple recently tapped into with its latest iPad version.

"Apple's 10.5" iPad Pro with 64GB now sells at $649 with a Smart Keyboard cover and Microsoft will reportedly introduce a 10" Surface tablet at $400 for 64GB without a keyboard cover and likely $549 with it. According to a report from Bloomberg, the new tablets will sport screens sizes of 10 inches, which is around the same size as the 9.7-inch iPad and are expected to start from a price of $400.

The question on Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay's mind, though, must be: What does a line of lower-end Windows tablets do to the Surface brand? According to reports, Microsoft may be willing to sacrifice battery life on the upcoming devices by up to four hours to enable its new lineup of devices to be slimmer and more portable. While we have mentioned above that these Surface tablets might feature SoCs from Qualcomm, Bloomberg reports that Intel is going to be the main supplier, but there were no details concerning which chips are going to be present in them.

With the smaller, thinner construction with rounded corners as well as the more affordable price, it's clear that this model is meant to be a direct competitor to the more-popular iPad. I think the target market of students and schools is correct, but some perceived threat from iPads isn't the reason that Microsoft is launching a cheaper device: It's all about Chromebooks.

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Right now, the cheapest Surface is the Laptop, which starts at $799.

There will also be less-expensive version of the company's keyboard cover, stylus and mouse. Microsoft is planning multiple models, including versions with 64 and 128 GB and models that can connect to LTE networks.

The iPad will remain a significantly more affordable option, starting at just $329 - or $299 for those in education.

The new Surface tablets will debut in 2H18.

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