Behind the design: An engineer’s tour of the new Surface Pro with LTE Advanced


Delivering on a state of the art LTE architecture while remaining true to the design heritage of Surface, is a significant milestone. It required that the engineering team develop a number of breakthrough engineering and design techniques as shared by Tim Golik, Director of Surface Program Management, on Microsoft Mechanics.

Merging Surface Pro design heritage with always on connectivity

The Surface Pro with LTE Advanced is the latest in the Surface Pro line, which was announced this past summer. If you are not familiar with the Surface Pro, it's our versatile and ultra-light device that transitions seamlessly between laptop and tablet, and the successor to the Surface Pro 4, that gives you even more mobility and performance.

The new Surface Pro offers 50% more battery life than the Surface Pro 4, is capable of 13.5 hours in a single charge, and runs at full power with Intel's 7th generation processors, making it 20% faster than Surface Pro 4.

We also added an additional 15 degrees of kickstand travel that allows the device to go into Studio mode. Further, with the addition of a new enhanced color mode, the PixelSense display is capable of displaying vivid colors without altering skin tones or delicate colors.

The Surface Pro with LTE Advanced goes even further. It supports 4G LTE and is capable of download speeds of up to 450 megabits per second making it the fastest LTE-enabled laptop in its class.1

An unlocked device, the experience of connecting to the internet is like roaming with your phone. Your device remains connected and switches between Wi-Fi and LTE networks automatically almost anywhere on the planet.

To preserve the design principles of the Surface Pro, the engineering team built the LTE architecture from scratch, marking a deliberate shift from the use of readily available off-the-shelf modules which would have increased the thickness and weight of the device.

The team custom built a set of 7 antennae to support 4G LTE bands globally and placed them in the smallest LTE tablet bezels on the market today, without compromise to the size of the device or the display.

Key to this accomplishment was the development of an industry first process to join polycarbonate and magnesium into a single gapless and stepless fusion of premium materials.

To preserve even more space and power, as Tim demonstrates, the team leveraged the new Pro's fan-less passively cooled design to incorporate a custom LTE-advanced modem platform in the space where the cooling fan would have been.

Superior productivity and extensibility

The engineering team chose the state of the art Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X16 LTE modem for the New Pro because it has many features that are not yet deployed on mobile networks meaning that it can be configured for today's world with expandability for the future. The new Pro with LTE Advanced has Cat 9 connectivity and is configured to support 20 frequency bands that cover most LTE carriers around the world.2

To keep you always connected you have the choice of using either a Nano SIM card or an embedded SIM – also known as an eSIM. Using an eSIM, you can go to the Windows store and purchase the service that you want from available service providers to connect you to the LTE network without buying a physical sim card.

Of course, having a device that is always connected, also brings manageability and security benefits. You can send updates, configure policy and manage devices immediately because the device is always online.

These are just a few of the highlights of the design of the new Surface Pro with LTE Advanced. You can learn more here and by watching the full episode as part of our Microsoft Mechanics series design and management of Surface devices here. Also, be sure to follow us on @MSFTMechanics for the latest updates.

1. Comparison of Surface Pro with LTE Advanced modem capability of up to 450 Mbps download speed to 12" and 13" LTE-enabled laptops and 2-in-1 computers Cat 6 modem maximum download speed of up to 300 Mbps.

2. Comparison of supported bands and modem speed for Surface Pro with LTE Advanced vs. 12" and 13" LTE-enabled laptops and 2-in-1 computers. Service availability and performance subject to service provider's network. Contact your service provider for details, compatibility, pricing, SIM card, and activation. See all specs and frequencies at Surface.com.

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