Microsoft Surface Pro 9 Review: A Competent 2-in-1 Device
Microsoft Surface devices are 2-in-1 hybrid, high-performance devices. They can serve as a laptop or tablet due to their features and depending on your needs.
Being lightweight and portable, you can enjoy them in tablet mode. They have full-featured keyboards and trackpads to make them run full desktop applications like a laptop. They also come with a stylus pen, a detachable keyboard, and a built-in kickstand, allowing you to operate them like a laptop, tablet, studio, and more.
The versatility and efficiency of Microsoft Surface devices are not talked about enough. These two unique features have put the brand in front of a competitive market, appealing to professionals, students, and tech users. Microsoft does an excellent job improving the features of its Surface devices with every upgrade.
This article analyzes the design and performance of one of the latest Surface devices – the Microsoft Surface 9 Pro.
Note: The Surface Pro 9 we review in this article differs from the 5G version with an SQ3 ARM processor.
Design and Build
Microsoft Surface Pro 9 retains the standard appearance of previous devices – slim, slick, and lightweight. Weighing less than 2 pounds with a dimension of 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches, the tablet computer is portable and fit for use in various environments.
Judging the size by holding the device close to your face, like a tablet or a mobile phone, would be difficult. But this isn’t a surprise because the Surface devices were created to be more of a laptop replacement than an upgrade for mobile devices. And this is evident in the fact that previous Surface Pro devices have Windows installed instead of mobile operating systems like Android or iOS.
The adjustable kickstand and detachable keyboard give it a firm grip on table tops and any other surface (including your lap), making it easy to use wherever you find yourself. The anodized aluminum casing, which perfects the device’s aesthetics, is available in four attractive colors – Sapphire, Forest, Platinum, and Graphite.
The power and volume buttons have now been relocated and placed side-by-side at the top left of the screen. There are two thunderbolt ports on the left to connect with hard drives, USB hubs, docking stations, and other accessories, while the power port sits alone on the mid-right.
Noticeably, the headphone jack doesn’t appear beside the power port or anywhere else on the Microsoft Surface Pro 9. There is also a two-point connector beneath the keyboard, and that’s all for the edges of the Surface 9 Pro.
The tablet computer also has a front and auto-focus rear camera capable of shooting 1080p, 4k videos. The front camera comes installed with custom Windows studios effects like Eye Contact, Portrait Background Blur, and Automatic Framing.
Alone, the Surface Pro 9 is slim and portable, allowing you to use it without a hitch. However, Microsoft provides specific accessories highly compatible with the Surface Pro 9.
Although these accessories are sold separately, they allow for easier, more effective, and more enjoyable use of the Surface device. The keyboard and stylus pen are the most common accessories, and you probably know this already if you have used any of Microsoft’s Surface devices.
Microsoft Surface 9 Pro uses a Surface Signature Keyboard with a custom pocket at the top for the Slim Pen 2. When attached to the tablet, the keyboard allows you to use the Surface Pro 9 like a computer, although you will have to keep up with the keys’ flatness and the trackpad’s scantiness.
The keyboard is necessary to use this tablet computer like a laptop, and it can also double as a cover for the screen when the device is not in use. The stylus pen also allows you to perform various touch-based activities like writing, drawing, reading, researching, etc.
A docking station, Pride kin, wireless mouse, wireless headphones, and wireless earbuds are other accessories that make your experience with the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 enjoyable and worthwhile. Since the tablet computer only comes with two thunderbolt ports, it is impossible to directly connect with TVs, ethernet, and other devices that do not use a Thunderbolt port.
However, the docking station allows you to connect with various devices, including external speakers, and it can be used as a source of power to charge your Surface Pro 9. A wireless headphone or earbud allows you to listen to audio and videos from the tablet computer seeing that Microsoft has removed the headphone jack in this version.
Microsoft also recognizes the LGBTQIA+ communities and hence created a custom skin to give these communities more visibility as they use the Surface Pro 9. The skin design incorporates the flags of 34 LGBTQIA+ communities in such a fashion that relays a need for unity in society.
The Surface Pro 9 retains the 13” PixelSense™ Flow Display and the 2880 x 1920 (267 PPI) screen resolution of the Surface Pro 8. The contrast and aspect ratio are 1200:1 and 3:2, respectively, and the sRGB color profile has a refresh rate of up to 120Hz.
The Surface Pro 8 and 9 also share the Adaptive Color feature that allows them to reduce or increase the file size by showing the most vivid colors to preserve the image quality. They also have a 10-point multi-touch, meaning the screen can sense up to ten simultaneous touches and respond to them.
The Dolby Vision® support is the last display feature that the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 shares with its predecessor. This feature provides more colors, contrasts, and depth for creators to add to their visual works. Overall, it ensures the devices join a growing list of intriguing gadgets in 2023.
As an upgrade, the Surface Pro 9 comes with Auto Color Management ensuring that all on-screen colors have a consistent appearance regardless of how they were designed on the software. The tablet computer also uses the thin Gorilla® Glass 5, designed to have enough damage resistance to withstand a drop from up to 1.6 meters.
Storage and Performance
The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 uses a 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 or i7-1235U processor. The processor chip functions on two performance and eight efficiency cores, meaning the tablet computer is designed to be more efficient than performative.
The device can run multiple software without lagging, heating up, or making fan noise. Intel’s Iris Xe Graphics powers the device’s graphics, and you won’t have any problem with this unless you are a gamer or involved in activities that require sophisticated graphics.
Microsoft has upgraded the RAM to LPDDR5 RAM, and users will have to choose from the 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB options for their device storage. The internal storage is a removable SSD drive ranging from 128GB to 1TB.
With these specs, the tablet computer might get slightly heated after using it for a long time, but you would barely notice the temperature difference if you use the keyboard and stylus. Overall, the Microsoft Pro 9 performed lower than average gaming computers, so if you consider buying it to play games, you might have to reconsider.
Connectivity and Compatibility
The only means of connecting to the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is through either USB-C Thunderbolt ports, the power port meant for charging the device, or the Surface Type Cover port for connecting the keyboard.
Speaking of the keyboard, the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard does not only provide storage space for the Surface Slim Pen, but it also allows wireless charging of the pen. And speaking of the pen, the Surface Slim Pen 2 was explicitly designed for the Surface Pro 9, and the device supports tactile signals from the stylus pen and Microsoft Pen Protocol.
The tablet computer uses an 802.11ax WiFi standard with backward compatibility to function with previous WiFi devices. The BlueTooth 5.1 wireless technology makes it easy to locate and connect wireless devices. The Surface Pro 9 is also compatible with Surface Adaptive Kits, Microsoft Adaptive Accessories, and Microsoft Accessible Devices & Products.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 9’s battery is a break in the cloud for the tablet computer. According to Microsoft, the 47.7Wh battery lasts an estimated 15.5 hours after a full charge. Although this is a drop from the estimated 16 hours for the previous version, it is understandable since the Surface Pro 8 carries a 51.5Wh battery.
Like every other battery-powered device, you must remember that the battery consumes faster with intense usage. So, you should not expect the Surface Pro 9 to last up to 15.5 hours if you play games or use heavy software.
Software and Security
The Surface Pro 9 also runs on Windows 11 and uses Windows Hello face recognition for security when you want to unlock the device and authentication while using software. The operating system also supports Android apps that can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store. However, only a few Android software are available for download, and most of the best streaming services of 2023 – like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video – already have a Windows version.
The device also incorporates new edge swipes that allow you to access the start menu by swiping up from the bottom center or bottom left of the tablet computer. Swiping in from the left opens the Widgets menu, and if you try from the other side, you will get a drop-down bar containing all your notifications. You can even arrange your Windows by tapping and holding one window and dragging it to the top of the screen.
Aside from Windows 11, the Surface Pro 9 comes preloaded with Microsoft 365 Apps, an Xbox app, and a 30-day free trial for both software.
You Should Buy a Surface Pro 9 If…
You want something portable with long battery life.
With a slim design and a battery that lasts for more than half of the day, the Surface Pro 9 is your companion for long-distance travel, or you have a long day ahead without any chance to charge your device. The device’s efficiency gives you a good experience, and the battery ensures that the experience lasts as long as possible.
You fancy a detachable keyboard and a stylus pen.
It is impossible to deny that some people love switching between a tablet and a computer by detaching the keyboard from the Surface device. The stylus pen also allows you to operate the device and perform extra functions like writing and drawing. If this description fits you, then the Surface Pro 9 is for you because, in your case, the device integrates the features of a tablet, computer, notebook, drawing book, and pen.
The Surface Pro 9 Is Not for You If…
You are a gamer or a graphics-inclined person.
If you enjoy playing games or your job requires a device with heavy graphics capacity, you might need to find another tablet computer that fits this purpose. Check out some of the best gaming gadgets out there that could meet your needs.
The Bottom Line
The Surface Pro 9 shares similar features with its sibling, the Surface Pro 9 5G. However, it costs less, and you can get one for as low as $999.99. You must understand the cost does not include accessories like the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard and Slim Pen 2. You will have to buy these accessories separately to get the best out of your Surface Pro 9.