Surface Pro 9 5G Review – Should I buy it?
This is the new Surface Pro with the sq3 processor, a collaboration between us based mobile, processor, giant, Qualcomm and Microsoft. So this is the 5G version of the Surface Pro 9 and it uses an arm based processor, the sq3 and the Wi. Fi only version has an Intel processor. The Intel version of the pro 9 has a 12th generation core i5 or i7, and it runs Windows. 11, like any other PC, but this one – the 5G runs Windows 11 on arm similar and just as powerful, but there are some differences to be aware of, and there are some advantages and some disadvantages of the platform that Ill discuss. The version that Ive received has 16 gigabytes of RAM and a 256 gigabyte SSD, which is about the sweet spot for a mobile worker. Like me, physically, you can tell it, apart from the Intel version by these antenna lines, and you can see them around the edges of the device compared to the Pro 8. The USBC Thunderbolt 4 ports have been moved over to the left side and the volume and power buttons have returned back to the top, just like they were on the earlier Surface Pro Models. Now, before I go on, I want to point out that Im, not a professional YouTuber or a tech blogger. I have a real job, delivering technology, training and coaching to real people, doing real jobs too. I go to meetings. I do a lot of presentations.
I travel for work. I mentioned that because I see a lot of content created by people who create YouTube videos for a living and thats a great and worthy occupation, but its not what most people do with their Computing devices and as a result, I think that most of the videos That I see around products like surface dont, do the device or the users justice so heres. What Ive found with the Surface Pro 9 5G. The early days of Windows on arm devices like the Surface Pro X, were for enthusiasts. Only things were tricky. Apps were limited. Those that did work were often sluggish, and you could forget about things like printing, but the platform showed promise and those enthusiasts who hung around were eventually rewarded with the 64 bit app support that came under Windows, 10 and later Windows 11 on arm 2.. So I got right into setting up the device and installing my favorite apps, the device actually shipped with the windows. 11 2022 mid year, update also known as 22 H2. The out of box experience is smoother and slicker than it ever was before in Windows, even including the option to set up based on a previous backup. I opted not to restore as I wanted to have that full first time, experience like all Surface Pro since the Surface Pro 4. The pro 9 has a Windows, hello, face recognition, camera so that I can log in without a password.
The windows, hello setup, was quick and easy, and I was set up and logging into the Surface Pro 9. With my face in just a few minutes, I activated office and opted into the office insiders program. The beta channel to test out the upcoming OneNote features like transcription and improved inking the Surface Pro 9 5G. Like the other Surface Pro 9, and the Pro 8 has a 13 inch, 3×2 120 hertz display that supports the new slim pen 2, with its haptic feedback. At last, the combination of this incredible pen Hardware is matched with the capabilities of the software. The new ink mode in OneNote makes writing in portrait mode a pleasure. This is where youll really feel at home with a slate tablet that reflects the size and ratio of an A4 sheet of paper. The 3×2 display is brilliant for note, taking in portrait or landscape and now with 120 hertz and practically zero lag. The slim pen 2 feels remarkably like riding with pen on paper. There are even subtle, haptic feedback signals from the pen that make the page feel like it has texture if you bought the pro 9 5G for note taking in one note, you wouldnt be disappointed, especially when this update ships into the mainstream soon Music. I went to the Microsoft store and downloaded some of my favorite multi platform apps like shaper 3D and Concepts those apps performed brilliantly. As expected, like Microsoft Office, they have been compiled by the developers to run specifically for arm processors on the older Surface, Pro X models.
I didnt have much luck with printers printer manufacturers. Typically, dont publish specific drivers for Windows on arm devices, so you had to try and work around that with the generic printer driver now Im, not a fan of printing, so that didnt bother me too much, but with the pro95g I searched for my brother color laser Printer, it found it straight away and it installed a printer driver within seconds. I was printing prints came out in color as expected, and it printed on both sides. Now not every printer will have good compatible printer drivers, so your mileage may vary, but there are many ways that you can get past printer driver limitations. If you experience them, you may need to be a bit resourceful. I use Microsoft Edge for web browsing and my browser profile imported. All of my extensions history, bookmarks and collections when I opened it Edge, runs natively on arm processors, so I didnt notice any major difference when browsing on the pro 95g, if youre still using Google Chrome. You probably know very well that it is a massive resource hog and battery life Destroyer its one of the key reasons that I moved to Microsoft Edge. Also, Google dont compile Chrome for arm processors, so itll be emulating further penalizing performance and battery life not only is Edge running natively. It has a setting called efficiency mode. Now you can use that mode to optimize battery life when youre on the go.
I also use Edge because its really pushing the boundaries with multimodal web browsing with things like inking on web pages and PDFs and read aloud mode. It all worked exceptionally well on the pro 95g wanting to go beyond the apps that I knew would work well. I installed one password in the past. It worked on Windows on arm, but it was frustratingly slow with emulation. There has been a new version of one password since I last used it on the Pro X, and I was impressed at how this work worked on the pro 95g, even though it wasnt natively compiled for the arm processor. You almost couldnt tell that the app was being emulated at all. As a part of my 3D print workflow, I use ultimaker Cura to slice and prepare 3D models that I build in shaper 3D for 3D. Printing Cura is a multi platform app that is built on the electron framework. The electron framework has been ported to Windows on arm, but we rely on electron developers to build their apps forearm on the framework. The cura team has not yet done that, but it is an open source project. So theres always the possibility that someone in the cura Community will do that. At some point, however, it did work. Fine on the Surface. Pro 95g Cura in its default setup is always slow to load and it wasnt noticeably slower on the pro 95g next I went to clip champ the simple video editor that was developed here in Brisbane Australia and was recently purchased by Microsoft.
Its a clever video editing package – it is a progressive web app, but it uses local and Cloud resources to get the job done. I loaded up a 20 gigabyte video project to see how it performed editing within the app was occasionally glitchy, but it was mostly smooth sailing exporting a video was slow going, but thats not a reflection on this device, its something that needs to be improved in the App on all platforms, not just windows on arm, while I was in the Microsoft store, I noticed that the Windows subsystem for Android was finally officially available here in Australia yeah, so I installed it and the Amazon store app so that I could download the Android Kindle App onto the device, the Amazon app store is extremely disappointing in Australia, its virtually bare, but it is possible to hack your way around this limitation and directly install Android apps. What I found was that the Kindle app ran very well on the sq3 processor. It was Snappy felt, responsive and the processor overhead to run Android on top of Windows was remarkably small, usually less than 10 percent. In the evening I watched a couple of episodes of an old favorite series and I was blown away by the sound of the pro 9.. It was loud, clear and crisp Dolby Atmos spatial sound design by default and video looked great. But with that high resolution 120 hertz display that was to be expected at home, I charged the device with a PD charger that I bought from Amazon.
Well, leave our affiliate links to these products below by the way, and although the device ships with a proprietary surface, connect charger, I find that I very rarely use it with my Surface devices these days next day in the office, I connected the pro 9 to the Philips widescreen display on my desk. This display connects directly into either one of the pro 9 lines, two Thunderbolt USBC ports and it can charge the device at 90 Watts using the PD standard too. According to the Battery app Id be at full charge in 1 hour and 30 minutes from 20, no need to carry a power cord or to have the dock on the desk. Just this one Monitor and cable for everything, oh and by the way, the monitor also has some USB a ports on the back, so that you can connect other wired devices, its effectively a dock and a display, and it worked like that on the pro 95g, I Went about loading up Microsoft, teams and Outlook, which pushed the processor a little bit during setup, but still never over 80 percent, and it barely ever felt warm even at that level, once they are set up, they worked as expected. The pro9 5G offers some unique features. Thanks to its arm processor design, that includes what they call an npu or a neural Processing Unit. The npu is used to deliver multimedia features like voice Focus, automatic video Framing and a very smooth hardware based background blur with minimal impact on power, consumption and performance.
Youll find that the background blur that you are label in the surface app on the pro 95g is a lot better than the dodgy cutout that teams or even Zoom, can do in software. Another benefit of the arm platform is that its extremely efficient at video, encoding and decoding, and that has become a pretty important aspect of modern work with all of the video conferencing that we do now. You can test the new video features in the camera app and they work really smoothly there. Initially, I had a few glitches with getting video to work on teams, but I cant say for sure that that wasnt a problem with teams as it does happen sometimes over the week, though I did a lot of video calls. People noticed the background blur because it was so good and occasionally they would notice the movement of the automatic video framing. I found that that was a lot less aggressive on the Surface Pro 9 5G than it is on other devices like the iPad Pro that made it a lot less distracting on a call. It was hard for me to tell if the voice Focus feature made. Much of a difference because the other surface devices with their dual far field studio microphones, do a pretty good job of filtering out noise in conjunction with teams anyway, and I wasnt about to bring a hairdryer or a drill to my meeting to test it out in The short time that I had with it, whereas Intel processors tend to run hot when youre video conferencing, the pro 95g, does not, and that means that it doesnt need a fan, and it also means better battery life when youre watching stuff or video calling and thats One of the key advantages of going to arm over Intel processors on a teams call I was able to happily run multiple applications and collaborate on a whiteboard and the device never showed any signs of weakness.
Like all previous surface pros, this one has a camera on the back too its a simple 10 megapixel camera that can do 4K video. I use it mainly to take photos of documents and whiteboards and there is an office lens mode thats built into the camera, app that detects the edges of your documents and squares up the shot like a scanner, its very handy to have and most laptops. Of course, dont have a camera on the back back on the microphones I tested out captions in PowerPoint. When I present, I always turn on live captions, so that people can clearly understand me. With my Surface Pro 8 Ive been presenting in PowerPoint and standing five or six meters away from the device and the captions still work incredibly well, I had the same experience here as I expected and if Im presenting to an audience that speaks another language natively, I Make sure that I run my captions in that language using live AI powered translations, its not perfect, but we dont, let perfect be the enemy of good and the potential here for communicating with people more effectively is very good. With Windows: 11. 22 H2. You can even run system wide captions through the live captions app. What an amazing assistive technology! I set up my own caption style for the app so that I could see it clearly and then I tried it out. Can you imagine how game changing it is for people with a hearing impairment to have this built into their device? Now I type more than half of this 4 000 word script using the dictate feature in micro, us off OneNote, while at my home office and in one of our quiet spaces at work.
Creating a script like this is really well suited to voice dictation and dictating Microsoft. Office in Windows. 11 Works incredibly well to even understand very Broad and specific accents. Like my Aussie draw, it can even understand the difference between an Australian and a New Zealand accent and Im tipping that most of our audience outside of those two countries wouldnt be able to tell a difference. I also tested the upcoming transcription feature of OneNote. If you havent seen this, yet it is game, changing OneNote transcripts will allow you to record and transcript your in person meetings. You could already do this on a teams meeting and it links the transcript and the recording to the notes that you take in the meeting. This will allow people to stop typing in meetings and to focus on being together, itll change, the entire feeling of meetings, not to mention their efficiency. Now Ive never met anyone who wants to do more meetings, and I think that the use of technology has turned many meetings into a complete, ineffective debacle, but features like transcripts in OneNote in conjunction with skill. Build trained people have the potential to change that youll need a device thats up to the task of identifying and differentiating between multiple people. Speaking in a room, this one is and its not hard to see that in future, this Tech will be used to identify and suggest action items from meetings. Kind of like Outlook does with Viva insights.
This has the potential to really change the way we meet. This feature will Mark the inflection point where technology stops being a barrier in meetings and actually becomes assistive. Can you now start to imagine how important those two little microphones and the npu are in this new Surface Pro 95g, I learned about the importance of high quality microphones when I visited Microsofts human factors Lab at Redmond for the first time back in 2017., they have An anechoic chamber in the lab that is registered with the Guinness book of records as the quietest place on Earth, its fascinating and disconcerting to be in a room which registers at 20 decibels of sound because the hairs inside of your ears stop moving theres, simply nothing. There to stimulate them, and it feels like the pressure that you might feel on a plane. Flight and Microsoft have facilities like this, not just so they can be in the Guinness Book of Records, but so that they can build and test microphone systems like the one that we find here on the Surface Pro 95g. In my experience, these microphones blow away anything else that youll find in an equivalent device, but I think that most people have not yet thought to test the microphones on their devices, let alone to choose a device based on the microphone experience. But when you see features like live, captions, voice, dictation and transcription and action, you suddenly realize that these things were far more important than they ever were before, and that microphones should be high on your device decision list.
Along with the pen experience the touchscreen, the cameras and the keyboard and the touchpad, most people YouTubers judge these devices based on the keyboard alone and some random benchmarks. You wont change the world following those reviewers throughout the whole week. I kept an eye on the CPU usage. I never once saw it hit 100, even though I was throwing a lot at the device. Now I dont care about benchmarks. I care about coming up with new ideas, creating collaborating problem, solving getting things done and the Surface Pro 9 5G has plenty of power for that, and as more app developers Target windows on arm itll become even more impressive. The other advantage that arm has is connectivity and thats. Thanks to companies like Qualcomm whove invested billions into connectivity Technologies like 4G and 5G. Theyve done that on armed platforms and as a result, the Microsoft sq3 chip can have 5G connectivity, not as a separate, add on module but integrated right into the processor. This is faster and more efficient and although it didnt get to test 5G, as I only had a 4G sim card to use for the week, moving between Wi Fi and 4G LTE was pretty seamless. Okay, so theres lots to love about the pro 9 5G. But what didnt go well well, over the first couple of days when I was setting up the device, I did experience some weird pauses only a couple of seconds each, but it seemed like the device would lock up and then come back again watching the task manager.
I could see that it wasnt a performance issue, but some sort of bottleneck or glitch a firmer update, arrive, Wi, Fi Windows updates and that seemed to fix the issue. Dropbox still dont make an armed version of their Windows. Sync client OneDrive is a better alternative for most things these days anyway, and it works on the pro 95g. You can still access Dropbox via the web, but thats not a very elegant solution. Google drive desktop sync is also exactly the same. This type of app cant be emulated, so it needs to be compiled specifically for Windows on arm now I deliberately didnt mention Adobe apps yet because theyre armed device support has been well. I can only say appalling way. Back in 2019, Adobe demonstrated the new Fresco digital, drawing app on the Surface Pro X and then never released it once or twice a year for three years, so Im going to pop up into the Adobe support forum and say, hey were working on it still. Nothing eventually Adobe did release a somewhat complete version of Photoshop and Lightroom for Windows and arm its Lightroom that I want the most, but after installing it through the Adobe Creative Cloud app, I just kept getting a bunch of Errors. I didnt get it working now. We could blame Microsoft. Often the hardware for this, but Id say that the issue here firmly sits with Adobe. Most other apps have just worked with Adobe. Not much is on offer and not much Works.
They dont offer any video editing apps for Windows and arm. Yet not even Premiere Rush, which would be a great addition to the Pro X and the pro 95g. So all up the situation with Adobe is disappointing, and this underlines a major problem with moving to an arm based device. We are relying on software developers to support it at least to some extent, and that is a little bit of a chicken and egg conundrum. The developer will say, but there are no windows on arm users and theyd be somewhat right, because important apps are not there. For them to use and unlike Apple Microsoft, wont Force millions of users to Simply switch platforms at their whim. Theyll continue to support both Intels x86 and arms risk architecture, thereby creating a competitive situation where everybody ultimately wins and remember that there are Intel versions of the pro 9 available, albeit why for only versions. But if you want Intel and always on 4G, Microsoft are keeping the Pro 8 LTE in production, so you dont have to switch to arm if your apps and infrastructure dont support it. Yet weve seen how healthy competition has transformed Microsoft, it has forced them to be less bureaucratic and antagonistic theyve become far more customer, focused and agile than they could have ever been without Fierce competition from Google, Amazon and apple Intel could do with some of the same Itll be interesting to see how they answer this challenge over the next few years.
Developers should keep in mind that Apple need competition in the arm. Pc space too history does inform astute software developers that Apple loves nothing more than to devour a market that was created by anyone who gets enough attention on their platform. Just ask Netflix, Spotify and tile. If youre developing an app solely for Apples platforms, the clock is ticking for your company until Intel comes up with some Miracles arm is the future of desktop Computing at least mobile desktop Computing? I dont see arm PCS replacing high end Intel desktops for some time yet and with this Surface Pro 9 5G and the latest version of Windows 11 on arm. It feels like the time for arm is now so, if youre, a meeting Note Taker using Microsoft, OneNote and Office 365 user, a road warrior who needs simple fast, always on connectivity, A teams, video conferencer who wants better battery life and a better look on the go. Then this might well be your next device but check with a real surface expert before you leap and if youre here in Australia or New Zealand thats the team here at ASI Solutions. We joined this company because they do more with surface than anyone else in Australia.