Skip to main content

Announcing Surface 3

Written By published March 31, 2015

When we developed Surface Pro 3, we set out to design the tablet that can truly replace your laptop – even your high-end laptop. Today we feel both fortunate and proud that the vision of Surface has become a reality with so many people using Pro 3 and loving the experience.

As we planned the next addition to the Surface family, the questions to answer for our customers became simple. What product would we build to be sure we could make the very best of what we built in Surface Pro 3 available to many, many more people? We started with what we’re known for — a great tablet that works as a laptop, the ability to run all Windows apps including full Office, and a pen experience that really sets Surface apart. We knew we would offer all of this in a more affordable package but decided at the outset that we would make no compromise on maintaining the beautiful fit and finish, the craftsmanship that so many love in our Surface products.

The result is Surface 3, as well as a mobile-broadband version, Surface 3 (4G LTE). It’s the thinnest and lightest Surface we’ve ever shipped. It runs full Windows, including desktop applications. It includes a one-year subscription to Office 365 to help you really get down to work. And it starts at just $499.

It feels like yesterday that Surface came onto the scene, but the products you see today are the result of years of iteration through many development cycles. We have used that time to listen to our customers and to learn from them. We’ve also built on all the past work of our engineering, design, software and manufacturing teams, mastering the processes that allow us to offer products that are both beautiful and incredibly powerful. You will see and feel this in every detail of Surface 3.


Surface 3 with Dark Red Type Cover
Surface 3 with Dark Red Type Cover

The best of a tablet

Surface 3 features the same beautiful design and premium materials as Surface Pro 3 in a more compact and efficient package. It is thin (just 8.7 mm) and light (1.37 pounds or 622 grams) and has a 10.8-inch screen. Compared to the 12-inch Surface Pro 3 it is slightly smaller and it feels great when you’re using it as a tablet. The 3:2 aspect ratio that we first introduced on Surface Pro 3 is also used here, and, like its larger sibling, it feels natural whether you’re holding it in portrait mode for reading or writing a quick note with the pen or in landscape mode to watch a movie or play a game. The screen on the Surface Pro 3 is not only beautiful to look at — with incredibly accurate colors and clarity from multiple viewing angles — but also offers a world-class multitouch and pen experience. All that we did to make the Pro 3 screen one of the best in the industry is present in Surface 3, and you’ll appreciate this as you work and play on it.

Surface 3 also has front- (3.5MP) and rear-facing (8MP) cameras that both capture 1080p video. The rear-facing camera now features autofocus to take better photos but is also particularly useful for capturing images of documents, barcodes and the like. The battery will last up to 10 hours (our test results are based on video playback) so that it will see you through your work or school day with ease. New with Surface 3 is a Micro USB charger, which means it uses the same connector as most mobile phones. The included 13W charger will be the fastest charging option, but if your battery is running low you’ll be able to use your phone charger as well.

Like every Surface before it, Surface 3 has a kickstand that very capably supports the device when you need it and totally disappears when you don’t. This kickstand has three preset positions — a narrow angle that’s great for working at a traditional desk, an intermediate angle that is designed for sitting on the couch or using the device on your lap, and a wide angle that provides a natural writing or drawing canvas.

The capabilities of a laptop — including full Windows and Office

Surface 3 runs full 64-bit Windows 8.1 and will be available with Windows Pro for business customers. It will be upgradable to Windows 10 for free when it’s available. With full Windows, it will run the desktop applications you depend on for work or school. This point is so important to understand. You are not compromising anything when you buy this device. For my kids, they can now do everything they are asked to do at school and still play the PC games they love on this device. When you click in the Surface 3 Type Cover, the tablet becomes a laptop. Surface 3 will also include a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal, including full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote as well as 1 TB of OneDrive storage.

Type Cover for Surface 3
Type Cover for Surface 3

A thoughtful assortment of well-made accessories has created much of the versatility of Surface from the very beginning, and that continues with Surface 3. The Surface 3 Type Cover gives you a typing experience that is unmatched by any other tablet and really does turn your tablet into a full laptop. You can also use the Surface 3 Docking Station to instantly create a full desktop workstation, connecting easily to an HD monitor, a printer, an external mouse and keyboard, or any of a huge range of peripherals. It is designed to allow you to work the way that best suits your style and circumstances. Surface 3 also includes a full-size USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort and a microSD™ card reader.

Surface 3 and Surface 3 Docking Station
Surface 3 and Surface 3 Docking Station

Surface 3 is powered by Intel’s newest system-on-a-chip, the Quad-core Intel® Atom™ x7 processor, the highest performing Atom processor on the market. It features a unique combination of burst mode and advanced power management – meaning it delivers performance when a given task requires it, but scales back to conserve power whenever possible. It also doesn’t require a fan for cooling, which allows the device to be thinner and quieter. If you do very demanding work – things like editing and rendering video or complex 3D modelling – then the power and performance of a Surface Pro 3 is for you. If the majority of your work is less intense – working in Office, writing, using the Internet (using IE, Chrome, or Firefox!), and casual games and entertainment, then you’ll find that Surface 3 delivers everything you need.

Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3
Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3

The Surface Pen — silver, blue, red, black

It has been really awesome to see how our customers have embraced the pen for things like taking notes, marking up files for reference and collaboration, and creating amazing digital art. Surface 3 supports the same pen experience as Surface Pro 3, including 256 levels of pressure sensitivity for accuracy and detail. In the case of Surface 3, the pen will be sold separately and it will now be available in colors — silver, blue, red and black.

Surface pens in blue, red, black, and original silver
Surface pens in blue, red, black, and original silver

The feedback from students particularly has been incredible — even those who use the Type Cover to take the majority of their notes appreciate the ability to grab the pen and sketch a quick diagram or to underline and make margin notes on one of the many .pdf files they’re assigned to read with an app like Drawboard PDF, which will be pre-installed on every Surface 3.

Since we first launched the pen, we’ve also seen some amazing app experiences created specifically for the pen that let you go far beyond the capabilities of a mouse and keyboard or touchscreen. These include OneNote from Microsoft, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and games like the New York Times Crossword app. Today we’re excited by the arrival of StaffPad in the Windows store — a music composition app designed specifically for Surface because of the power of the Surface Pen. It recognizes your handwritten music, and converts it into a beautifully typeset score and even lets you play it back, drawing from a full orchestral sample library. It’s an amazing use of the pen.

Surface 3 for business customers

As we have with past versions of Surface, we’ve shown the device to some commercial and institutional customers already, and the reception has been great. Not every business needs the power of Surface Pro 3, or it’s not needed in every part of the business, and for those organizations Surface 3 will be a strong choice. We made sure that in addition to being portable and productive, Surface 3 also offers the security and manageability features our commercial customers depend on. Even before its availability, educational institutions like University of Phoenix, as well as companies such as BASF, Emirates and Prada, have committed to purchasing and deploying Surface 3 across their organizations because they see the value it can bring to their employees and students. It’s still early, but even at this stage it’s exciting to see feedback from businesses that will deploy the new device in creative ways:

“Having explored multiple platforms, we are confident that Surface 3 meets the expectations of our experienced and professional flight crew,” said Captain Alan Stealey, Divisional Senior Vice President, Flight Operations, Emirates. “The device’s innovative design and functionality proves to be the choice for our EFB (Electronic Flight Bag) initiative.”

All these elements combine to create a new Surface that benefits from and builds on the innovation in past versions of the product. The Surface team and Microsoft is super proud of the new device, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to make the Surface experience available to more people at a more accessible price. Pre-order is available starting today through Microsoft Stores, and select retailers, and it will be on sale beginning May 5 with availability in 26 markets by May 7. Before then, you can experience Surface 3 starting April 1 — every Microsoft store will have devices on hand to try. I invite you to come and check it out and can’t wait to hear what you think.

Panos Panay

Corporate Vice President — Microsoft Surface