Microsoft amps up hardware with 5G phone, pro laptop

<p><p>Microsoft introduced an end-to-end revamp of its Surface devices, including an update to its popular two-in-one laptop models, part of a push to be a bigger force in computer hardware.</p></p><p><p>The new lineup, unveiled at an event Wednesday, refreshes three of its hybrid laptop-tablet devices, adds 5G to its Surface Duo phone and launches a new pro-focused Laptop Studio device.</p></p><p><p>The tech giant is gearing up for the holiday season, looking to challenge devices from Apple, Samsung Electronics and Google.</p></p><p><p>While some consumers and technology analysts were skeptical of Microsoft’s entry into personal-computer hardware after a multidecade focus on software, the Redmond, Washington-based company has seen its portfolio and market share grow.</p></p><p><p>Still, Microsoft hasn’t entered the realm of the top six computer makers, according to recent data from Gartner Inc.</p></p><p><p>The industry is dominated by Lenovo Group, HP and Dell Technologies, which have more than 15% of the market each. Apple, Acer Inc. and Asustek Computer, meanwhile, hold 5% to 10% apiece.</p></p><p><p>In July, Microsoft reported $1.5 billion in quarterly device revenue, its lowest in a year.</p></p><p><p>So the company is looking to rebuild momentum and make fresh inroads into the market.</p></p><p><p>A key part of that push is the Surface Pro 8, the latest version of Microsoft’s original tablet-laptop hybrid device.</p></p><p><p>It has new main and graphics processors that the tech giant says will fuel a 40%-plus gain in performance and 74% faster graphics.</p></p><p><p>The screen is also 11% larger at 13 inches<span class=”print_trim”>, and has a higher 120-hertz refresh rate for smoother scrolling.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The device’s camera system has also been improved, and it’s getting Thunderbolt 4 ports for faster data transfers over cables.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The Surface Go 3, the company’s low-end tablet, will get faster processor options and an extra hour of battery life.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>While the Pro 8 and Go 3 rely on Intel Corp. processors, Microsoft is continuing to use Arm Ltd.-designed chips in its Pro X line.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>That model is gaining a cheaper Wi-Fi-only option, rather than using cellular connectivity, and a lower $899 price. That’s $100 less than the previous version.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The Pro X had been criticized for limited software support, but Microsoft says its new Windows 11 operating systems will bring it more apps.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Adobe Inc., Zoom Video Communications Inc. and others also are working on offering additional support.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The most significant new product from Microsoft is a Surface Laptop Studio, replacing the company’s Surface Book.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The Surface Book had a tablet-like screen that detached from a laptop base, but the Laptop Studio has a display that can tilt or close into a tablet while connected to the base.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The laptop-tablet crossover has a 14.4-inch screen and is essentially a laptop version of its Surface Studio Desktop – where the screen can tilt down for easier drawing or video viewing. The company says the machine’s processors – Intel’s 11th generation Core H Series and Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce RTX graphics – are some of its speediest to date.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The company also touted the system’s speakers with Dolby Atmos technology.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Microsoft’s new Duo phone rivals the latest swath of foldable devices from Samsung and will compete with Apple’s iPhone 13 line and Google’s upcoming Pixel 6 phones.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The new laptops also beat Apple’s next-generation models to market.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>That company plans to unveil its biggest revamp to the MacBook Pro in about five years over the next several weeks, Bloomberg News has reported.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Apple started selling faster iPad Pros earlier this year, while a new entry-level iPad and revamped iPad mini went on sale this month.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Microsoft’s follow-up to its first phone, the Surface Duo, addresses complaints about two key features: cellular connectivity and cameras.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The new model adds 5G support and a dedicated rear-camera system.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The first model used 4G and relied on the same cameras for videoconferencing and taking pictures.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The phone has two distinct screens that fold open, unlike Samsung, which has one consistent display.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The new screens open up to 8.3 inches, versus 8.1 inches on the original model.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Microsoft’s first Duo phone was mostly a flop and drew criticism over its sluggish processor, buggy software, complex user interface and hefty $1,399 price tag.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>The phone’s poor sales led to Microsoft eventually cutting the price to $699. The new version, though, will cost $1,499.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Microsoft also showed an updated Surface Slim Pen with improved writing and drawing performance, a new mouse, and stickers that can be placed on its devices for better accessibility</span>.</p></p>