Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: 5G for the price

Depending on the model you choose, Surface Pro 9 is either a powerful laptop/tablet hybrid built for the home or office, or a durable 5G machine designed to get work done on the go. I spent the better part of a week testing the latter version and found that its always-on connectivity and excellent battery life come with some serious sacrifices.

No matter which Surface Pro 9 you buy, you’ll enjoy an updated version of our favorite 2-in-1 laptop with a great display, a versatile design, and great features for those willing to splurge on accessories. Best-in-class keyboard and stylus experience. But not all styles of this flexible notebook are created equal, and if you choose the wrong one, you could be disappointed.

An excellent Windows 2-in-1 (if properly configured)

The Surface Pro 9 is an excellent Windows 2-in-1 laptop for work, streaming, and sketching, and it’s a great upgrade for those with the Pro 7 or earlier. Unless you absolutely need cellular connectivity, skip the 5G model and opt for the cheaper Intel version.

Tried and true design (now in color!)

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Mike Andronico/CNN

The Surface Pro 9 sticks to the same solid design as last year’s model, our favorite 2-in-1 laptop. Its aluminum body is strong yet lightweight, its flexible stand allows it to transform from a laptop into a near-flat drawing canvas in an instant, and the tablet comes in some fun colors for the first time. I won’t lie, I was bummed that my review unit came in the same old silver, as the new sapphire and forest options look beautiful in photos (the graphite option is back too, if you prefer something darker). Considering the new iPad Pro is still limited to silver shades, I’m glad to see some of the more popular options available with the Surface Pro 9. I’m also just a sucker for blue.

I also like that the new Surface colors are complemented by a range of matching optional Signature Keyboards ($180 alone; $280 for the Slim Pen 2), so you can mix and match or create a clean, unified look. If you’re upgrading, most older Surface Pro keyboards will still work, too.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

Microsoft’s detachable keyboard — which attaches to the Surface with a simple, satisfying magnetic clasp — still feels as good as ever, with springy keys and a soft-touch Alcantara coating keeping my wrists comfortable during long typing sessions. I also appreciate that the keyboard provides a little nook for the Surface Slim Pen 2 at the top. Not only does this charge the stylus and keep it neatly out of sight when you don’t need it, but it’s also a much more secure solution than magnetically hanging the pen off the side, like on the iPad Pro.

Excellent display and pen experience

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Mike Andronico/CNN

The Surface Pro 9’s display is the same as last year’s model, and it’s arguably excellent. I like the way my mouse cursor glides smoothly across the screen thanks to the fast 120Hz refresh rate, and the many hours of sports and YouTube videos I watch on the device look colorful and crisp. The top and bottom display bezels on the Pro 9 are still a bit thicker than I’d like (especially from the near-seamless iPad Pro), but it still has a great screen — when you drop a pen, it Really come alive to it.

I tested the Pro 9 with the $130 Surface Slim Pen 2, which provided the best stylus experience I’ve had on a tablet. Microsoft’s Advanced Pen has advanced haptics built in that do a good job of simulating the feel of whatever virtual tool you use, whether it’s a pencil or a paintbrush. I’m no artist, but doodling on Microsoft’s 13-inch tablet feels great, and more satisfying than the more static experience you get with the Apple Pencil on the iPad or the S Pen on the Galaxy Tab. I also appreciate that the Slim Pen 2 has physical programmable buttons on the front and back, which I find to be more reliable than the tap-based controls on the $129 Apple Pencil 2 for things like changing tools and undoing actions.

Samsung’s S Pen (included in the Galaxy Tab S8 series) gets bonus points for its extra features — like the ability to translate text by simply hovering over it — but it’s just great for note-taking and on digital screens. As far as drawing goes, there’s nothing better than Microsoft’s stylus.

Amazing battery life and a good enough webcam

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Mike Andronico/CNN

While the 5G-based Surface Pro 9 I tested didn’t offer the best performance (more on that later), it made up for it with really good battery life. Microsoft’s 2-in-1 withstood 11 hours, 43 minutes of 4K video playback on our battery test, beating top Windows laptops like the Dell XPS 13 (8:31), while nearly double what we got from the new iPad Pro M2 (The device will last all day on the road, a desirable feature for a 5G laptop designed to let you work from anywhere. We haven’t tested the Intel-based version of the Pro 9, but based on our experience with similar machines, if You choose a more powerful processor, and the battery life should be affected.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

The Surface Pro 9’s 1080p webcam is very good, taking sharp selfies on par with the Dell XPS 13, but not as sharp as the MacBook Air M2. It let me make everyday video calls without issue, and its integrated Windows Hello feature allowed me to easily log into my machine with a quick face scan. The Pro 9’s rear 10-megapixel camera is relatively blurry and dim compared to the average smartphone, but I’m not sure how many people are running around taking pictures with a 13-inch tablet in their hands.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

The Surface Pro 9 comes in two flavors, one powered by an Intel processor that delivers the type of performance you’d expect from a mainstream laptop, and one with Microsoft’s SQ3 chip that trades sheer speed for cellular 5G capabilities that let you surf the web anywhere — Even without Wi-Fi. I tested the latter model and the sacrifice you make for constant connectivity is immediately apparent.

My SQ3-powered Surface Pro 9 unit felt sluggish out of the box, as even basic operations like entering text in Slack or organizing emails occasionally seemed frustratingly slow. I wouldn’t say this version of the Pro 9 is completely unusable—my daily split-screen multitasking was fine—but I expect better performance from a machine that starts at $1,300.

Those unstoppable speeds were backed up by our benchmark tests, where Microsoft’s 2-in-1 consistently trailed the competition. On the Geekbench 5 single-core test, a good measure of a laptop’s basic productivity, the Pro 9’s relatively low score of 1,122 was about 22 percent lower than our Intel Core i5-powered Dell XPS 13, up to The 40 percentage is slow than our hit performance from the MacBook Air and iPad Pro from M2 drive. Even last year’s Surface Pro 8, we used the previous Intel Core i7 processor for testing in a single -core test. Our Surface Pro 9 model couldn’t even run the graphics portion of Geekbench 5, so don’t expect to do a lot of light gaming (unless you’re streaming from the cloud) or video editing.

The Surface Pro 9 5G’s battery life is great, but if you can live with slightly less battery life without a cellular connection, I highly recommend getting the Intel-based model.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

If you own a Surface Pro 8, there’s no reason to upgrade this year.This is actually the same as the equipment released by Microsoft in 2021, but the processor selection is different. Some new color options even fever ports than the previous model. While the Pro 9 still features the same two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and the proprietary Surface Connect charging port, it also ditch the headphone jack — forcing you to either rely on Bluetooth headphones or pick up a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter. While the trend is becoming common in mainstream tablets and laptops, you can still use the headphone jack on the latest MacBooks, and Dell at least offers a free adapter for the jack-less XPS 13.

Surface Pro 7 owners will enjoy a nice boost when upgrading to the Pro 9, as you’ll get a smoother 120Hz screen, a sleeker design, thinner display bezels, and more USB-C ports. But folks stuck with the Pro 6 or earlier will see the biggest leap here, as the Pro 9 will finally bring you into the modern age with a USB-C connection and significantly improved performance and battery life.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

The Surface Pro 9 ships with Windows 11, Microsoft’s recently released operating system, which brings a much-needed visual update to Windows while offering a host of useful multitasking and general quality-of-life improvements.The problem is that it is completely designed for the mouse and keyboard, which makes the Pro 9 not as good as the independent tablet

There’s no dedicated tablet mode like Windows 10, which means you have to manually navigate the software’s relatively small icons and menus to get anything done. It feels like a laptop touch screen without keyboard, which is far from the intuitive and friendly navigation of your intuitive and friendly navigation that you get on iPad Pro. The Surface Pro 9 really comes to life when you connect the excellent Signature Keyboard — it has the best stylus experience when you pair it with the Slim Pen 2 — but if you choose not to spend the money, the whole thing looks Just like an extra $ 280 of a piece of expensive brick, you need to turn it into a real computer.

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dell xps 13 2022 1

iPad Pro M2 11-inch product map


13-inch, 2880 x 1920 PixelSense display

13.4″ 1200p display (touch optional)

12.9 inches, 2732 x 2048 liquid Retina XDR display


12th Generation Intel Core i5/i7 or Microsoft SQ3

12th Generation Intel Core i5/i7

Apple M2


8GB / 16GB

8GB / 16GB / 32GB

8GB / 16GB


128GB / 256GB / 512GB

512GB / 1TB SSD

128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB


1080P network camera, 10 mega pixel rear camera

720p webcam

12 mega pixels ultra -wide camera (front); 12 mega pixel width, 10 mega pixels ultra -width, ProRES support (rear)


Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (2), Surface Connect

Thunderbolt 4 usb-c (2), including USB-C to USB-A adapter

Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (1)


11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches, 1.94 lbs

11.63 x 7.86 x 0.55 inches, 2.59 lbs

11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches, 1.5 lbs


Sapphire, Forest, Silver, Graphite

brown sky

space gray, silver





The Surface Pro 9 is an excellent 2-in-1 laptop, especially if you’re buying your first Surface or upgrading from a Pro 7 or older — but only if you pick the right model. Unless you absolutely need a constant 5G connection, or can live with mediocre performance in exchange for battery life, I’d point the vast majority towards the Intel version. Its starting price is $ 1,000, and it should provide a slightly better speed of at least $ 1,300 5G version. Considering that you need to pay an additional $ 280 to buy keyboards and pens to truly make full use of this machine, this price gap is particularly significant.

If you just want a great Windows laptop, the Dell XPS 13 (starting at $1,000) can get your money’s worth without splurging on extra accessories. If you primarily want a powerful tablet to replace your laptop, the iPad Pro (starting at $800) can’t be beat when it comes to performance. I also strongly recommend that the Surface Pro 8 (starting at 800 US dollars), which is generally similar and often discounted last year, is not so fast, but there are headphone jacks. But for anyone else willing to spend their money on the best detachable Windows laptop — especially for drawing and sketching — the Surface Pro 9 is already the best. Of course, if you configure it correctly.

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