Surface Book 3: what we want to see

It’s unsurprising that the Surface Book 3 is one of the most anticipated devices right now. With the original Surface Book being such a great success, and the elegant Surface Book 2 refining on that winning formula enough to give the MacBook Pro a good run for its money, there’s palpable excitement for the release of the line’s third installation.

Since the Surface Book 2 came out at the end of 2017, 2020 seems like a good bet for the Surface Book 3 – especially since 2019 came and went without even so much as a peep of this next iteration. In fact, we’re starting to see leaks such as the ones from @_rogame on possible Surface Book 3 configurations.

So, it’s time for us to dive into everything we know and everything we want to see from the Surface Book 3, from a higher resolution display and Thunderbolt 3 to cutting edge internal components. Will the Microsoft Surface Book 3 be the best laptop once it’s released? If Microsoft takes what made what the Surface Book line such an excellent series and builds upon that, then quite possibly. Keep this page bookmarked as we’ll update this page with any news, leaks or rumors that surface. 

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The would-be third Surface Book 2-in-1 laptop
  • When is it out? Hopefully some time in 2020
  • What will it cost? Likely as much as – if not more than – the current model

surface book 3 in motion

We’re still hoping that Microsoft will showcase the Surface Book 3. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface Book 3 release date

The Surface Book 2 was rolled out in late 2017 so it’s already got a few years under its belt. However, based on the release pattern of Surface devices that aren’t the Surface Pro and the recent configuration leaks, we expect a Surface Book 3 release date of sometime in 2020.

Three new Surface devices were released in late 2019 – the Surface Pro 7, Surface Pro X, and Surface Laptop 3 – but there wasn’t any sign of a new Surface Book. If you also account for the fact that Microsoft has recently given the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 a quad-core processor, we don't expect to see a Surface Book 3 right away.

While Microsoft did release three new Surface devices in 2019, we saw no sign of the Surface Book 3. Ever the optimists, we're hoping that 2020 will feature a Surface Book 3 release date.

surface book 3 in motion

Fingers crossed that the would-be Surface Book 3 sticks well within the same price range as its predecessor. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Surface Book 3 price

Since there’s no concrete information about the Surface Book 3 right now, we don’t really know what to expect when it comes to how much it will cost.

Looking at the pricing of the Surface Book and the Surface Book 2, however, we can certainly speculate. Currently, due to a new lower-storage model, the 13.5 inch Surface Book 2 starts at $ 1,199 or £1,149, while the 15-inch iteration stays at its $ 2,499 or £2,349 (AU$ 3,649) price tag. If you ask us, that’s already plenty pricey.

We won’t likely see a price drop. However, fingers crossed that the would-be Surface Book 3 sticks well within that price range, as anything more would already be too expensive for many users or potential buyers.

Surface Book 3 patent

An image from a patent shows what the writing surface could look like of the Surface Book 3

Surface Book 3 design

Microsoft's recent Surface devices have been playing it pretty safe when it comes to design, so there's a very good chance that the Surface Book 3 will look a lot like the Surface Book 2.

However, a new patent has been discovered that suggests the Surface Book 3 could come with a radical new design.

The patent appears to show a detachable keyboard with a panel on the back that could be used for sketching and note taking with a stylus. The user can use to write down notes or perhaps use it as a graphics tablet for hand drawing and sketching.

While this isn't confirmation that the Surface Book 3 will incorporate this new detachable keyboard in its design, it's certainly an exciting prospect. We'd love to see Microsoft really innovate when it comes to the look and performance of the Surface Book 3.

surface book 3 tablet mode

Microsoft has to make better use of the room provided it with the 15-inch Surface Book. (Image credit: Microsoft)

What we want to see in a Surface Book 3

A Surface Book 3 release still seems far away, though a 2020 release does seem likely, since we don’t have much solid information on what to expect. So, all we can do right now is put together a wish list, if you must, of what we would like to see improved in this follow up.

Here are the features we’d like to see in the Surface Book 3, based on speculation, leaks and rumors.

More powerful internals
The Surface Book was the most powerful and sophisticated laptop that Microsoft had designed up to that point, so we’d appreciate to see up-to-date components all around. Now that Intel has been shipping its Ice Lake processors and we’ll start seeing them in laptops before the end of the year ­– not to mention, Nvidia has rolled out its Super RTX graphics this summer – the Surface Book 3 could hypothetically be among the most powerful devices to hit the streets.

In fact, thanks to the leaks from @_rogame, we’ve seen configurations with both Ice Lake and an unnamed (possibly Tiger Lake) chips. However, the configurations do seem to come with Nvidia GTX 1650 Max Q and 1660 Ti Max Q so we’ll see if it can handle 4K gaming.

Use the extra space accordingly
Microsoft could fit the Surface Book 3 with either an expanded keyboard with the number pad or top-firing speakers with deep bass chambers. The point is, Microsoft has to make better use of the room provided it with the 15-inch Surface Book chassis. Right now, it’s just wasted space waiting to be utilized.

Thunderbolt 3, please
The Surface connector on the Surface Book 2 is, without a doubt, versatile. However, it’s time for Microsoft to incorporate Thunderbolt 3 via USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 provides faster file transfers, and also works as a one plug hub for all monitors and other peripherals you could want to connect. If the Surface Book 3 is actually going to compete with the best there is, especially in 2019 or 2020, it needs to jump on board with this growing standard.

The good news is that looks like this might actually happen. Microsoft has patented a magnetic USB-C connector that would kind of function like the existing magnetic Surface charger. Whether or not it will actually support Thunderbolt 3 remains to be seen, but we don’t see why it shouldn’t.

Better power management
One of the biggest flaws of the Surface Book 2 15-inch is that it couldn’t play games without draining its battery on top of pulling charge through its Surface Connector. Microsoft told us that this was because of the device being designed specifically for creatives and not for gaming. But, this is the same company that also gave it a built-in Xbox controller receiver, so that excuse seems like a total cop out.

Regardless of who the next iteration is made for, it should come with improved power management so as to not dip into its battery reserves for extra juice.

A 4K display would be nice
The Surface Book 2’s screen comes in at 3,240 x 2,160 (260 ppi) at a 3:2 aspect ratio on its 15-inch model. It’s a stunning display, to be fair. However, while it does come close to hitting that 4K mark, true 4K assets are becoming standard, and digital creators, for whom the Surface Book is designed, will want a screen that mirrors the sharpness at which they produce content.

All accessories included
For what it’s charging for its current – and will charge for its future – Surface Book products, Microsoft should include all of the essential accessories in the box. Yes, that includes the innovative Surface Dial, alongside the Surface Pen, in this case. It’s only fair for what is essentially a luxury item.

Black color option
The Surface Book 2 is already an exceptionally stunning device, but now that Microsoft revealed the Surface Pro 6 and the Surface Laptop 2, we would love to see the next premium 2-in-1 adopt the black color option as well.

Just imagine, a Surface Book 3 that might not only give the MacBook Pro 2018 a run for its money, but one that has a more striking color option than the Space Gray on the latest Apple flagship.

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