If you are looking for the latest Microsoft Surface 2-in-1 tablet in 2021, you will come across two flagship devices for sale. There's the Surface Pro 7 from last year and this year's Surface Pro 7+.
Although Microsoft officially intends to purchase the Surface Pro 7+ from educational and corporate customers, you can still buy it outright
Surface Pro 7+ is a minor update to Surface Pro 7, but if you need the latest and greatest from Microsoft, buy it now. If you're unsure of this decision, check out how Surface Pro 7+ compares to Surface Pro 7 in terms of design, performance, portability, and more.
First things first: the prices. There isn't much of a difference in this area as both tablets are an expensive proposition. The Surface Pro 7, however, has a cheaper start-up configuration. This changes when you move to medium and long range configurations, where the difference isn't that big.
Surface Pro 7+ Wi-Fi models start at $ 900 for a lower-power Core i3 model, 8 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. You can go up to $ 1,300 for a mid-range model with an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, or a 256GB SSD.
Surface Pro 7 is a little cheaper to start. It starts at $ 750 for a Core i3 model with 4GB of RAM. The mid-range gets you up to $ 1,200 for a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage.
Both models do not include the Type Cover and Surface Pen in this price.
Visually, the Surface Pro 7+ does not differ that much from the original Surface Pro 7. It depends on the changes inside the device. You still get the same super slim design and a built-in kickstand that lets you slide the tablet back 165 degrees. This is a longstanding feature of the Surface range 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 around 0.33 inches thick. It also features Microsoft's signature unibody magnesium design and support for the optional Type Cover keyboard and Surface Pen. Both Surface Pro 7+ and Surface Pro 7 are available in platinum or black, so there is no difference.
In addition to the similar design, both Surface Pro 7+ and Surface Pro 7 have the same display size. In contrast to Surface Pro X, the frames of the two devices are still a bit thick. The display is 12.3 inches and has a resolution of 2736 x 1824. Both tablets also have an aspect ratio of 3: 2, so you have more vertical space for multitasking.
The design difference between Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 7+ depends on what's inside. As with the Surface Pro X and Surface Laptop 3, it is possible to update the SSD storage in the Surface Pro 7+. There is a small door under the stand, into which you can insert a SIM card ejector tool, unscrew the SSD and put on a new one. So if updatability is your thing, Surface Pro 7+ might be your best bet because you can't do it with Surface Pro 7.
We'd also like to mention that while you won't see it, Microsoft says it tweaked the internal design of the components in Surface Pro 7+ to improve battery life and add support for LTE. We'll get into this later in the portability section.
If you want the best system performance, the Surface Pro 7+ is for you. It's not that the Surface Pro 7 wasn't a great-performing tablet (we praised it for its leap in performance over the Surface Pro 6), but the Surface Pro 7+ has the latest and greatest 11th generation chips from Intel. These chips are known as Intel Tiger Lake. The Surface Pro 7 has the latest generation of Intel Ice Lake chips.
We haven't tested a Surface Pro 7+ in our labs yet, but Microsoft claims there is a big leap in performance between the Surface Pro 7 and the Pro 7+ with Intel Tiger Lake. The company mentions that you can run professional software and critical business applications 2.1 times faster than before. This is mainly thanks to the Intel Iris Xe graphics, which boost the performance of the integrated GPU in Pro 7+.
Note, however, that you can only get this leap in performance on Core i5 and Core i7 models. The Core i3 model comes with standard UHD graphics.
Intel claims that processing power has improved by 30% overall and graphics has improved by 80% between generations of Tiger Lake and Ice Lake. Take this with a fine grain of salt, however. When we tested the Surface Pro 7 last year, we were still impressed. Thanks to two additional cores, it was possible to complete a 4K video clip in Handbrake 24% faster than on the Surface Pro 6. You can expect the Surface Pro 7+ to perform the same, if not better.
Again, keep in mind that these tablets don't have dedicated graphics, so regardless of which one you choose, your mileage will be limited.
However, when it comes to performance, you also need to consider configurations. Surface Pro 7+ has options for 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM on Wi-Fi or LTE models and 32 GB of RAM on Wi-Fi-only models. Storage is either 128 GB or 256 GB for Wi-Fi or LTE models, and 512 GB or 1 TB for Wi-Fi-only models.
These configurations of Surface Pro 7+ are an evolution of Surface Pro 7. Surface Pro 7 offers a maximum of 16 GB of RAM and also has a 4 GB RAM model. If you want maximum performance, the Surface Pro 7+ is for you. For a more balanced calculation, choose the Surface Pro 7.
The last thing to consider between these tablets is portability. In that regard, Surface Pro 7+ and Surface Pro 7 are almost neck to neck. However, the Surface Pro 7+ offers a few improvements that are important for both battery life and connectivity.
You get the same ports on both tablets. You get a Surface Connect port for charging, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a USB-A port for printers and USB drives, and a MicroSD card slot for storage expansion. Note that the microSD card is only available on Surface Pro 7+ Wi-Fi models. All Surface Pro 7 models have it on board.
Otherwise, the Windows Hello IR camera, a 1080p webcam, a dual far field studio microphone and 1.6 watt stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos are the same in both models.
The big difference between the models lies in the battery life. Microsoft promises 10.5 hours on the Surface Pro 7 (we got less than that in our tests.) Surface Pro 7+ increases this up to 15.5 hours, although we haven't tested any to prove the claim. The Verge notes that Microsoft increased the battery capacity from 46.5 watt-hours to 50.4 watt-hours for this change.
Another big difference between the models is in the LTE connectivity. For the first time since the Surface Pro 5 (which Microsoft calls the Surface Pro), Microsoft has put the LTE options back into the main interface of Surface. The LTE option is only found on the Intel Core i5 model of the Surface Pro 7+. If you're always on the go and don't need WiFi, this Surface Pro 7+ model is for you.
Surface Pro 7+ wins for most people
For most people, the Surface Pro 7+ would be a better buy. It's a bit more future-proof as it comes with the latest Intel processors and also offers better battery life or the option for LTE, plus more RAM and the option to easily update the memory.
The Surface Pro 7 is still good, but it's stuck on older processors and remains in the battery as well.