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Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review

The tech giant refines a winning formula for its top tablet, adding more speed and 5G.

Last updated: 24 March 2023

CHOICE verdict

Surface Pro upgrades tend to be incremental, which each successive model improving on the previous one in key areas. The Surface Pro 9 follows this theme of gradual evolution, with the usual upgrades including the next-generation processor. This time around there's also the addition of 5G cellular. Ultimately it's a case of making something that's already very good just that little bit better. The Surface Pro 9 is great for watching media when holding it as a tablet, and adding the keyboard with touchpad is pretty much a no-brainer for most people, as it gives you a more-than-decent experience using the device as a laptop.

Price: From $1398

Surface Pro 9 hero

For many people the optional Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 ($429.95) will be a must-have add-on that turns the tablet into a very capable laptop alternative.

Microsoft's Surface Pro 9 is here – so how does it compare to the Surface Pro 8 we reviewed in 2022?

This newer tablet adds a 12th gen CPU, the latest Wi-Fi 6E, optional 5G connectivity, and a couple of extra colours. It also comes with Windows 11 Home.

Note, however, that this time around we opted for the entry-level model, which has a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-1235U and Intel Iris Xe graphics. The 8GB of memory (RAM) should be fine for general use, but the 128GB storage is on the small side, leaving only a meagre 82GB free space for the user.

An extra $150 will get you 256GB of storage, which is recommended, as the Surface Pro 9 also lacks an SD card slot. But more than just the extra storage, models with 256GB or more are built on the Intel Evo platform, which sets guidelines for hardware, performance and battery life.

Surface Pro 9 performance

We found the Surface Pro 9's performance a bit of a mixed bag compared to the previous model we tested, though this could be due to it being an entry-level model with 128GB storage (the Surface Pro 8 we tested was an Intel Evo 256GB model).

CPU performance for the Surface Pro 9 was up, as you'd expect from a next-generation processor, but graphics performance was slightly down. Storage read speed was up, storage write speed was slightly down. We also found that the battery life test result was down from 5hr 26min for the Pro 8 to 5hr 07min for the Pro 9. 

Surface Pro 9 rear

Connectivity includes two high-speed USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports and the standard Kickstand allows for considerable layback, which is useful for writing and drawing without the keyboard attached.

The overall ease of use and comfort levels are the same thanks to the optional Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 ($429.95), and the quality of the case and 13-inch glossy screen with 2880 x 1920 pixel resolution is still there.

Touchscreen performance is smooth (with finger and Slim Pen 2), and connectivity options include two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports. The standard Kickstand allows for considerable layback, which is useful for writing and drawing without the keyboard attached.

It's a very good tablet, and also a very capable laptop if you add the optional keyboard

A good point is that this is still one of the few (perhaps only) tablets to allow for its internal storage to be upgraded, but with two USB-C ports (also rare for tablets), upgrading the internal storage may be unnecessary.

The bottom line is that the Surface Pro 9 is a very good tablet (and laptop, with the optional keyboard) but if you already have a Surface Pro 8, there's little reason to upgrade to the Surface Pro 9 unless you want the 5G capability. Otherwise, it's probably best to stick with the Pro 8 for the extra battery life, or go for the 256GB Evo platform model.

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.