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Microsoft Surface 7 Pro+ Review: Still the Leader

by Duey Guison  July 11, 2021

Review Verdict: The Microsoft Surface 7 Pro+ is still the leader when it comes to 2-in-1s in the Philippines. The Surface’s trademark form factor lets you use it in different modes (with or without the keyboard), and the Type Cover keyboard has one of the best functional designs out there.

Pros:

  • Integrated LTE-A connectivity
  • Efficient battery life
  • Type Cover is one of the best detachable keyboards out there

Cons:

  • Fanless design has its limitations
  • Very limited port selection
  • Limited SSD upgrade options

Despite practically inventing the 2-in-1 category in 2012, it was only until late last year when Microsoft made the Surface series of computers official in the Philippines. The top-end Surface Pro 7+ showcases the best of Microsoft’s renowned 2-in-1 computers and aims to challenge the supremacy of the excellent Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i. We’ve spent quality time with Microsoft’s best slate the past few weeks, and here’s what we think of it:

Design

Surface computers are known for their no-nonsense, minimalist design approach, and the same goes for the Surface Pro 7+. You get a premium anodized aluminum for the whole body, with the bottom part (where you have a block-ish Windows logo) acting as a sturdy kickstand.

Behind the kickstand are two covers: the rectangle one is for the SSD, and the smaller slot on the side is a NanoSIM slot for LTE-A connectivity. Despite its form factor, we like how the Surface Pro 7+ has an upgradable SSD slot in case the 256GB SSD that comes with it isn’t enough for your needs. There are caveats here though, as the SSDs aren’t user-replaceable – you’ll have to order a replacement SSD only via an authorized Microsoft Surface reseller or Surface specialist. As of this writing, replacement SSDs are initially available only in the US.

On the top part, you get an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus and support for Full HD video. Running through the sides of the upper part of the Surface 7 Pro+ are vents to dissipate heat. Like its predecessors, the Surface 7 Pro+ uses a fanless design.

The Surface Pro 7+ has very limited port selection: you get a headphone jack on the left side, while on the right you get a USB-C port, USB-A port, and a proprietary Surface connector. Despite using an 11th-generation Intel processor, you don’t get Thunderbolt 4 support with the Surface Pro 7+’s lone USB-C port. The included adapter has an extra USB-A port for charging your devices. At the bottom, you have POGO pins for the Type Cover, which you have to buy separately.

Keyboard

The Type Cover is different from other detachable keyboards out there with its dual magnet design. Aside from the magnets surrounding the POGO pins, there is a magnet bar that clips the Type Cover into the bottom bezel of the Surface Pro 7+. This is a very good functional design, as it lifts the keyboard for a more comfortable typing position and is a clever way of hiding the rather thick bottom bezel. Microsoft has been using this design since the Surface 3 series, and we’re puzzled as to why most 2-in-1 laptops with detachable keyboards do not employ the same approach.

Consistent with the Surface Pro 7+’s design language, you get well-spaced backlit keys that have a decent amount of travel for a keyboard cover. The rather small trackpad is not the best one out there, and we recommend using a mouse (or make the most out of the Surface Pro 7+’s touchscreen) if you are going to do a lot of work with it.

Display and speakers

Thick bezels aside, the Surface Pro 7+ has a spacious 12.3-inch display with a productivity-focused 3:2 aspect ratio and a 2736×1824 resolution. It is higher than Full HD, and the display itself is sharp and renders colors vibrantly. Its touch interface is accurate even when just using our fingers–to make the most out of it, you will need to buy the Surface Pen separately.

The top bezel houses a 2-megapixel webcam that supports Windows Hello. Unlike most computer webcams out there, the Surface 7 Pro+ supports Full HD video, giving you better quality during video calls.

The two front-firing speakers are housed at the left and right bezels. Overall sound quality is great, and I’d say they are at par (if not slightly better) than the stereo speakers of the iPad Air 4th generation. The soundstage gives good emphasis on the mids and highs and surprisingly delivers a decent amount of bass despite its design. Even at high volume levels (above 80%), audio fidelity is crisp and clear.

Internals and Battery Life

While the Surface Pro 7+ has a variety of configuration options, the model that is officially sold in the Philippines has a Core i5-1135G7 processor, Iris Xe Integrated graphics, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage, along with a Snapdragon X20 LTE modem. Our review unit is slightly different, as it came with 16GB RAM.

Compared to the Yoga Duet 7i and its Core i7-10510U processor, the Surface Pro 7+ performed better in Geekbench CPU and CineBench R20 benchmarks because of its higher-clocked cores and a more modern 10nm process (vs 14nm on the Core i7-10510U). The Surface Pro 7+ floored the Yoga Duet 7i in Geekbench CPU and 3DMark Fire Strike because of the superior performance of the Iris Xe over Intel UHD integrated graphics.

Thanks to the Iris Xe integrated GPU, the Surface Pro 7+ is capable of general productivity and light-to-medium multimedia work. Because the Surface Pro 7+ employs a completely fanless design, it has a tendency to heat up faster than usual, leading to thermal throttling when using it for a prolonged period. It is not a big issue at all, provided that you manage your expectations when you intend to use the Surface Pro 7+ for serious multimedia work.

Making the Surface Pro 7+ stand out in the Philippines is that it is one of the few 2-in-1 computers that have LTE-A connectivity. This lets you be productive with the Surface Pro 7+ even without a WiFi connection–as long as you have an LTE signal. I tested the Surface Pro 7+ using a Smart SIM, and it worked flawlessly, especially in times when our home broadband encountered issues.

Battery life is one of the big positives for the Surface Pro 7+, as Tiger Lake’s 10nm architecture makes the most out of its 46.5wHr cell. Our video loop test got us a battery life of 5:50 hours–or a hair under 6 hours–which is a decent number considering that you have a rather powerful set of internals that is paired with fanless, passive cooling. Charging the Surface Pro 7+ can be done either via the included adapter or USB-C, and it takes a little over two hours to fully top up the battery.

Wrap up and conclusions

Our Microsoft Surface 7 Pro+ review for the Philippines reveals that it deserves its premium price tag. While it is expensive for a computer rocking a Core i5 processor AND has no included keyboard out of the box, the main selling point of the Surface Pro 7+ is its built-in LTE-A connectivity for keeping you productive even in places where there is no WiFi, along with an upgradable SSD. There may be mixed thoughts on the latter given its caveats, but we will still take an upgradable SSD any time of the day.

Being one of the pioneers of 2-in-1 laptops, the Surface Pro 7+ is still a leader, especially with how its optional Type Cover balances both form and function–with Apple’s expensive Magic Keyboard for iPad only rivaling it.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ Review Philippines Price

The Surface Pro 7+ is priced at Php 74,690 and comes with a Core i5-1135G7 processor, Iris Xe Integrated graphics, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage. The Type Cover is priced at Php 7,290, while the Surface Pen is priced at Php 5,075.

The Surface line and its accessories are sold by the following resellers: Phil-Data Business Systems, Inc., Nexus Technologies Inc.Accent Micro Technologies Inc.Advance Solutions Inc., and ePLDT Inc. 

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