Microsoft unveiled a new Surface Pro model at the CES 2021 event. Unfortunately, it isn’t the Surface Pro 8 that many might have been hoping for. Rather, it is the Surface Pro 7 Plus that Microsoft is offering even though you will be hard-pressed to make out which is which.

However, while the new Surface Pro 7 Pro Plus sports a nearly identical exterior as its predecessor, the interior has gone for a thorough refresh. To start with, there is the new 11th gen Intel core processors at work here, starting from the Core i3 to Core i5 for the mid-tier model to all the way up to Core i7 processor for the top-of-the-line Pro 7 Plus variant.

Interestingly, it is only the Core i5 model that comes with an optional LTE connectivity thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 LTE modem that it comes with. There is no 5G though. The Wi-Fi-only models offer a microSDXC card slot though the same is replaced with the nano-SIM card slot for the LTE models.

Another advantage with the Pro 7 Plus is the larger battery it comes with. There is now a 50.4 Wh battery on board in place of the 46.5 Wh battery that renders service in the Pro 7. The bump in battery capacity together with the frugal Intel 11th gen chips lead to better battery times right away, which stands at a little over 15 hours compared to the 10.5 hours that the Pro 7 was capable of. The Thermal Design Model too has been updated, which liberated more space to fit in a larger battery.

The other huge improvement to be seen with the new Pro 7 Plus is the fitment of a removable SSD memory. The display though will be the same 12.3-inch PixelSense panel with rather thickish bezels on all sides. Microsoft said they opted to keep the same external design to ensure commonality with the existing Surface Pro 7 range. This in turn should help new users to get started with the Pro 7 Plus right away. Ports continue to be the same too, which includes a USB-C and a USB-A port along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack. No Thunderbolt as yet for the Surface Pro range.

Microsoft however stated the new Pro 7 Plus will be available only to business users and students. No word yet if general consumers will be offered the tablet at a later date though the company stated the new Pro 7 Plus isn’t designed to offer its best when plugged into the domestic internet connection at home. Hence the decision to exclude the general public from being offered the tablet.

Price and availability

Price starts at $899 for the Core i3 model having 8 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage. Thereafter, the Core i5 model with LTE starts at $1149 while the Coe i7 version which can have a max of 32 GB RAM and 1 TB of SSD will cost $2799.

The Pro 7 Plus will go on sale from Jan. 15 itself in the US followed by other countries like Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.