Microsoft has yet to officially announce the successor to the popular Surface Pro 3, but the rumored Surface Pro 4 is expected to improve upon the design that helped Microsoft enjoy a successful fourth quarter in 2014.
How can the tech giant enjoy repeat success? For one thing, Microsoft can follow through with the rumors suggesting that the Surface Pro 4 will have 4G LTE cellular functionality on the upcoming laptop/tablet hybrid.
And another way, of course, would be to boost the already impressive specs. The Surface Pro 4 is already expected to enjoy an aesthetic redesign, but more power under the hood would certainly help push units. The Surface Pro 3 already features an impressive 2160 x 1440 screen resolution, but display enthusiasts know that those numbers don't mean everything. If Microsoft is going to go for something to beat the Surface Pro 3's display, it will need to focus on the hardware that Samsung has used on its Super AMOLED quad HD screens, especially if the speculated 13- or 14-inch display is a reality.
The Surface Pro 4 has also enjoyed rumors of a smaller and more portable 8-inch model, too. It wouldn't be as heard to beef up the pixels per inch on such a small display, but word is that the 8-inch model may be categorized in an entirely different model called the Surface Pro 4 Mini.
On the processor side of things, rumor has it that Intel's new Core M Broadwell chip will be featured in the Surface Pro 4, which would be a welcome upgrade both in power and portability. The Core M's fanless operation allows less real estate and a cooler running temperature, which is a huge improvement over the Surface Pro 3's Haswell chip which is said to provide 30% more energy consumption than the Core M.
This also means that we can expect to see the Atom 64-bit chipset and Windows 10 right out of the box, if all goes according to planned rumors. Windows 10 has already been shown off during an event earlier this year, and is expected to hit Windows machines by this fall, so if that's something that will be featured on the Surface Pro 4 as a pioneer product, that means we may see the tablet hybrid hitting stores around that same fall timeline.
As for RAM, the Surface Pro 4 is expected to hit 16 GB, but storage capacity and other key features are unknown at this time.
Microsoft just recently dropped the price of the Surface Pro 3 by $100, presumably in preparation for the announcement of the successor. This means that the five versions of the Surface Pro 3 that are enjoying this sale include the Intel Core i5 128 GB edition for $899, the Intel Core i5 256 GB edition for $1,199, the Intel Core i7 256 GB edition for $1,449, and the Intel Core i7 512 GB edition for $1,849. The entry-level Intel Core i3 64 GB edition's price is still holding strong at $799, though.
Microsoft has already shown off some impressive sales numbers that are in large part thanks to the Surface Pro 3's success. The company's Q4 2014 revenue growth was at eight percent over 2013's Q4, and the Surface Pro line itself has grown 24 percent in revenue since last year. That makes the Surface Pro line one of the most successful product lines for Microsoft right along with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
The Surface Pro 4 is expected to retail at around $899 for the large version and around $599 for the rumored 8-inch mini version.