7.9/10
Informr score
The Microsoft Surface 3 currently has an Informr score of 7.9 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 18 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

What's good

  • Premium build quality
  • Full Windows OS along with access to all apps and software
  • Keyboard attachment feels natural
  • Good contrast and brightness on display
  • Fairly robust speakers

What's bad

  • Keyboard attachment sold separately
  • Unable to handle heavy multi-tasking and 3D games
  • In tablet mode not touch-screen friendly
  • Track pad on keyboard too small

Despite losing nearly a billion dollars on the Surface RT, Microsoft continues to refined and tweak the hybrid tablet/laptop device. The Microsoft Surface 3 is a downgraded version of the Surface Pro 3, the most obvious change being its size. It measures 12 inches x 7.4 x 0.4 inches and weighs 622grams without the keyboard attachment. Like its predecessors it comes with a magnesium alloy casing and beveled sides giving it what experts call an industrial aesthetic. The included kickstand now also comes with three positions instead of two and it comes equipped with a full USB 3.0 port.

Across the bottom is the magnetic connector where the keyboard attaches. In order to accommodate the smaller size of the Surface 3 Microsoft has also shrunk down the size of the attachment. While critics found it a bit narrow they add that it feels good to type on as the keys are responsive with a good "bounce." The downside, however, is the small trackpad. Forbes states, "…you're better off using touch to navigate around the interface." Besides the keyboard, the Surface 3 now offers stylus support. The functionality is identical to the larger Surface Pro 3. Reviewers found it fairly accurate and natural to write with though they wish Microsoft had included a dedicated location to stow it. Unfortunately, both the stylus and the keyboard are both sold separately, which upset critics. While the stylus might be optional, they add the keyboard is a necessity especially for those who actually want to use it as a true hybrid device.

The 10.8 inch display offers a quad HD resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels for a pixel density of 213ppi. While this doesn't land it in the Retina category, experts still found it quite sharp, especially at the distance laptops are normally viewed. They also add the excellent contrast, bright back light and accurate colors make up for the slight lack of resolution. Digital Trends states, "The Surface 3's screen is incredible given its…base price." For those who plan on watching videos, experts describe the speakers as "strong" and "robust" with maximum volume loud with barely any distortion.

Although a hybrid device, many reviewers found it failed as a tablet. While the inclusion of a full Windows operating system makes is useful in laptop mode, they discovered it often was unwieldy when utilizing touch screen. They often found windows would open, close, minimize or maximize for no apparent reason. And of course, when compared to Android or iOS platforms, the Windows app store still lacks apps.

Armed with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom quad-core processor and 4GB of RAM, the Surface 3 did not blow experts away with its speed. While they found it acceptable during light tasks such as typing and browsing the web, once they began heavily multi-tasking they noticed significant lag and hitches. They also add applications often loaded very slowly and most 3D games were practically unplayable. Still CNET adds, "…as a secondary or travel computer, it's certainly more than fast enough." Battery life is a bit better than the Surface Pro 3 with experts able to get around almost two day so life during light to medium usage.

Reviewers have mixed feelings on the Surface 3 as it offers good ideas with not so great execution. Wired states, "On one hand, the Surface 3 is a triumph. It tries to do a great many things, and does them serviceably…But…you can do better than the middle ground." Giz Mag adds, "While the Surface 3's power and screen size are merely "good enough" for a laptop, it balances things out with the most portable and tablet-friendly package we've seen in a Surface."


Operating system
Windows
Processor
2.4 GHz
Screen Size
10.8"
Camera
8+ MP


What the Critics Are Saying...


PhoneArena

The Microsoft Surface 3 can be best summed up as that hybrid computing device, one that offers the portability and travel-friendly package of a tablet, but also leverages the power of a full desktop platform. It might not be razor thin, or incredibly swift with its performance, but it blends enough...

- John V., PhoneArena
TechSpot

The full metal body of the Surface 3 makes it one of the best designed, most attractive Windows tablets on the market. Throw in great features like the three-position kickstand, the hidden microSD card slot, the full-sized USB port, the 3:2 display, and Microsoft has nailed the design of this tablet...

- Tim Schiesser, TechSpot
TechRadar

The Surface 3 is everything the Surface 2 should have been, and a sensible alternative to the Surface Pro 3 if you don't need full Core-series processing power. Featuring a bright, clear display, an alluring magnesium-alloy build, excellent Surface Pen support and just enough juice to run your progr...

- Kane Fulton, TechRadar
What Mobile

You can do with it as you please, and everything, apart from the low-power processor, has been future proofed for the launch of Windows 10. Of course how many of those naysayers haven’t already bought another tablet to surf on the sofa and stay in touch on holiday remains to be seen. If you&rs...

- Alex Yau, What Mobile
Mobile Choice

The Surface 3 occupies a very curious space in the gamut of smartphones, tablets, phablets and smartwatches. It is the srt of hybrid device that negates the need for atleast 3-4 gadgets from your bag in one clean swipe.

- Mobile Choice team, Mobile Choice


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Quick view

Screen Size
10.8"

The Microsoft Surface 3's screen size is 10.8 inches with x pixels resolution.

Processor
2.4 GHz

There is a Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Quad core 2.4 GHz processor (CPU).

OS

The tablet runs on proprietary operating system firmware.

Camera
8+ MP
You can take photos or capture video with the tablet's onboard 8+ megapixel camera. There is also a secondary front facing camera with 3+ megapixels resolution.
Storage
64/128 GB

Internal memory is 64/128 GB. An external, MicroSD, MicroSDHC, microSDXC (up to 128 GB) expansion slot is available for increased storage capacity.

Battery
Unknown

The tablet is powered by a battery.

Surface 3 Specs

Overview
Release date May 5, 2015
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kingdom
Mobile / Cellular Data
No (Option available)
Networks
No
SIM card size
No
Dual SIM No
Operating System No

Compare Windows Tablets

Processor Intel Atom x7-Z8700 Quad core 2.4 GHz
Internal Storage 64/128 GB
RAM 2 GB
ROM No
Hearing Aid Compatible No
TTY/TDD No
SAR Unknown
Languages English
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included AC Charger, Manual
Power & battery
Battery Capacity No
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Battery Charge Time Unknown
Video Playback Time Up to: 10 hours
Internet Use (Wi-Fi) Unknown
Internet Use (Celluar) Unknown
Reading Time Unknown
Standby Time Unknown
Physical Characteristics
Material Plastic
Colors Gray
Dimensions [H x W x D] 26.7 x 18.7 x 0.9 cm (10.5 x 7.4 x 0.4 in)
Weight 622 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Unknown
Rugged design No
IP Rating No
Display / Screen
Type Color
Technology LCD
Colors 16.7 million
Resolution x pixels
Pixel density 214 pixels
Size 10.8 inches
Sensors Ambient Light, Proximity, Motion / Accelerometer, Gyroscope
Graphics Yes
Themes No
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Additional Display Features Capacitive touch screen
Input / Navigation
Touchscreen Yes
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key No
Mute Key No
Predictive Text Entry Unknown
Physical keyboard No
Text-to-Speech No
Screen Reader No
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control Yes
Fingerprint Sensor No
Call Management
Wi-Fi Calling No
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) No
Contact List Capacity Depends on system memory
Multiple Numbers Per Contact Email address, Other fields
Contact Groups Yes
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser Yes
Email Client Yes
Email Protocols POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Microsoft Exchange
Additional Email Features -
Messaging No
Connectivity
USB Yes
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth 4.0
Bluetooth Profiles OPP/FTP
Bluetooth Audio Codecs SBC
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
WiFi Encryption No
Mobile Hotspot No
WiMAX No
Memory Expansion Slot Yes
Expansion Slot Info MicroSD, MicroSDHC, microSDXC
PC Synchronization No
TV Out No
DLNA Support No
NFC No
Camera
Main Camera
Aperture
Unknown
Resolution
8+ megapixels
Dual lens
No
Zoom
Yes
Flash
No
Additional Main Camera Info
Auto focus
Video Recording Formats
3GP / 3GPP, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, WMV
Video Recording Parameters
Front Camera
Resolution
3+ megapixels
Zoom
Yes
Additional Front Camera Info
No
Video Recording Parameters
Audio / Video
Audio Playback Yes
Audio Formats MIDI, MP3, MP4, eAAC+, AAC+, AAC, WMA, WAV
Radio No
Video Playback Yes
Video Playback Formats 3GP / 3GPP, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, WMV
Streaming Video Yes
External Speakers Yes
Headset Jack 3.5mm
Custom Ringtones Yes
Vibration Alert Yes
Apps
To-Do / Task List No
Calendar Yes
World Clock No
Alarm No
Stop Watch No
Timer No
Calculator Yes
Currency Converter No
Document Viewer Yes
Viewable document types DOC, DOCX, PDF, PPT, PPTX, XLS
Weather Yes
Stocks No
Maps No
NotePad Yes
Voice Memos / Recorder Yes
Games Downloadable
Apps Downloadable
Included Software / Apps -
More
Additional comments Variations:

128GB storage model
RAM: 4GB
Related Links Microsoft Surface 3 Reviews
Where to buy Microsoft Surface 3
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