Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: a truly transformable 2-in-1 laptop

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 can be used just as comfortably as a laptop as it can a tablet

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: woman with orange background using blue tablet
(Image credit: Microsoft)
T3 Verdict

If you want a tablet that you can use just as easily for computing, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is a great choice. It may not pack the same level of power as more traditional laptops but it's also much more lightweight than any of those.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Easy to use as a tablet

  • +

    13-inch PixelSense Flow display

  • +

    Uses Windows 11

  • +

    Available in a 5G option

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not as powerful as elsewhere

  • -

    Lacks an SD card slot and extra ports

  • -

    Surface Pro Signature Keyboard comes separately

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To cut to the chase of this Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review - this is one of the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy, but it is not actually that different to last year’s device. If you’re wondering whether you should upgrade, I can tell you now that it won’t be worth it, whereas if you’re buying one for the first time then this is marginally better than the Surface Pro 8 so you'll be better off choosing this. 

When it comes to 2-in-1 PCs, most of Microsoft's competitors opt for the 360-degree hinge design where you push the screen back to turn the computer into a tablet. The downside is they aren’t anywhere near as comfortable to use as a slate. 

By creating a Windows 11 tablet that you can snap a keyboard onto when you want to do some computing, Microsoft has pretty much resolved that pain point. And given that they're now on the 9th generation of the Surface Pro, it has worked out very well for them. 

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 has high-end specs and a premium design making it one of the top choices of transformable tablets. In this review, you can find out everything you need to know about it before you buy one, including a detailed look at its design, screen, performance and battery life. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: price and what’s new 

You can buy the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 now directly from the Microsoft website in your region, starting from $999 in the US, £1,099 in the UK and AU$1,649 in Australia. 

Naturally, the price will differ depending on the processor you choose and the amount of storage you’re after, and you can buy this with 5G support as well which adds to the price. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see the best deals on it from across the web right now. 

Following on from the Microsoft Surface Pro 8, the Surface Pro 9 has had a few small upgrades under the hood but it’s largely quite a similar slate. The latest 12th Generation Intel Core processors have been put in and you get Wi-Fi 6E for speedy internet connectivity. The slate comes in a few new colourways now too, including Sapphire and Forest as well as the usual Platinum and Graphite. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: design and screen 

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: kickstand open on blue tablet

(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft hasn’t really changed the design of the Microsoft Surface Pro 9, because if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The only differences are the two new colour options, those being Forest green and Sapphire blue. I took a look at the latter and I have to say I loved it - the light shade of blue they’ve used is bold without being over the top, while the glossy aluminium makes this look every bit the premium slate, and the mirrored Microsoft logo in the middle is both simple and stunning. 

To prop it up, there’s a kickstand which stretches across the whole width of the device, so it does feel stable and only moves when you want it to. You can move it up to 180 degrees which means you can position the screen exactly how you need it for the task at hand. 

Measuring 287 x 209 x 9.3 mm and weighing 879g, it’s a manageable size for a tablet but it's super slim and lightweight for a laptop, even with a Surface Pro keyboard attached. It’ll slot right into your bag without weighing you down on your journeys and it won’t be too much of an issue to hold while you use it, even if it’s not quite as small as some slates. 

Around the frame, you’ll find two USB-Cs with Thunderbolt 4 support for power delivery and for connecting to external displays, as well as a Surface Connect port and a Surface Type Cover port. It’s a shame there isn’t more there, like an SD card slot to expand the storage or an HDMI, but you can't have it all! 

On the front, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 screen is surrounded by relatively thick black bezels, the top bezel is slightly thicker to house the 1080p webcam. Because of that, it doesn't look quite as neat and tidy as some of the best tablets.

The display itself is a 13” PixelSense Flow display with a resolution of 2880 x 1920p (267 PPI) and it has a 3:2 aspect ratio. Bright, sharp and vibrant, I found it looks good across all sorts of content so I could see every inch of a Netflix show even in the dark corners and buy new clothes online safe in the knowledge that the display portrays accurate colours. The shape of the screen also meant that you can fit a lot of a document or webpage onto it at once, I found that helped a lot during the workday in particular. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: close up of tablet screen

(Image credit: Future)

Another pluspoint is the touchscreen, especially when you use the Slim Pen 2 which you can buy separately to the slate alongside the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard. 

I found the Slim Pen 2 connects as soon as you take it out of its garage on the keyboard, and the flat design felt very comfortable in my hand. It also has some nifty little features. For instance, by pressing the button on the top of the pen, you're taken directly to the whiteboard app where you can jot down notes or sketch out drawings. 

There are some slates that will give you even more accuracy when it comes to drawing and writing (like the Huawei MatePad Pro). But in saying that, this one still manages enough precision that those with the talent would be able to create some pretty cool pieces on it.  

The separate keyboard works well too. It magnetically snaps onto the bottom edge of the tablet, and you can use it flat on a table or it can be used slanted which I think makes for a much more comfortable typing experience on your wrists. The keys have a satisfying click to them and they’re well spaced out to avoid mistyping in any way.

But the same issues remain as on the Surface Pro 8 whereby the keyboard isn’t as stable as elsewhere because it’s so thin and moves a little as you press each key. Another issue I had with it was that because you need to rely on the kickstand to prop it up, the whole unit is a little too wide to use comfortably on your lap, especially in comparison to a regular clamshell laptop.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: performance and battery 

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: tablet with a keyboard

(Image credit: Future)

Loaded with a 12th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 that I tested out was one of the mid-tier models. You can choose to buy it with this CPU or with an Intel Core i5, with up to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage.

For a tablet, I was impressed with the performance, but for a laptop, it was a little underwhelming. Ultimately this will be able to cope with some tasks more than others. For example, word processing, note-taking and web browsing were all a breeze, the Surface Pro 9 didn’t even break a sweat. But on the flip side, gaming and more complex creative tasks like video editing were a bit more of a challenge. 

When I ran Geekbench 5, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 picked up scores of 846 in single-core and 4,568 in multi-core, while in 3D Mark’s TimeSpy test, it managed 1,377. That's not really any different to the Surface Pro 8 and means in terms of performance, this isn't anywhere near as good as more traditional 2-in-1 devices like the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 or the Lenovo Yoga 9i 14

As you’d expect, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 comes loaded with the latest Wi-Fi 6E for the speediest possible internet connection, as long as your router at home supports it. Some models of the slate come with 5G as well for those who want to stay connected wherever they go, but that will cost a pretty penny more.

I found that the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 battery lasted a decent amount of time each day, usually, more than half the workday which bodes well for those who plan to use this out and about a lot. 

To compare it more directly to other options, I ran a video playback test on it where I downloaded and played a TV show at full brightness for 2 hours to see how far the battery dropped. From that, I discovered that the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 would have lasted over 5 hours. Granted that's not the best of the bunch but it'll still be plenty for most.

When you do go to recharge it, it’ll take just over an hour and a half if you were to use the charger included in the box. What’s great is that the charger itself is quite small so you’ll easily be able to pop it in your bag in the morning without it weighing you down in any way. 

For video calls, the 1080p FHD front camera does the job. I came across clearly to those on the other end, although of course, you can’t expect the quality to be as good as if you were to buy a separate webcam. 

The 10MP rear camera on the other hand is pretty good quality. It won't replace your phone camera but it takes decent shots that look relatively detailed, especially when you snap photos in daylight.  

Loud and accurate enough for streaming TV shows and movies, the 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos do an equally good job. When it comes to music the sound is perfectly fine, but it will unsurprisingly be improved by a separate speaker or pair of headphones.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: verdict 

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: Windows tablet on a white background with stylus

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Just like the devices that came before it, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is as good as it gets for tablets that transform into a laptop and vice versa because it works just as well in both forms. 

While it may not be the most portable tablet or the most powerful laptop, it does offer a happy medium between the two - something you don't often get elsewhere. 

To make the most out of everything the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 has to offer, you will definitely need to invest in the Surface Pro Signature Keyboard. Not only will it allow you to type on it as you would a regular PC, but the included stylus will also mean you get the most out of the touchscreen display as well. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 review: also consider 

For an even more advanced 2-in-1 PC, take a look at the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio - instead of snapping the keyboard on and off, you simply fold the screen over the keyboard. It’s a truly 2-in-1 PC, but to add to that, it’s very powerful with a stunning screen. You will have to pay a fair amount of cash for it, though.

If it’s more of a tablet you’re after then the Apple iPad Air (2022) is the best one for most people. It’s super slim and lightweight with plenty of power thanks to the M1 chipset under the hood. There’s a 10.9-inch screen, a stunning design, a 5G option and you can buy a keyboard accessory if you do need to use it like a computer every now and then. 

Yasmine Crossland
Reviews Writer

Reviews Writer for T3, Yasmine, started writing reviews in 2019 and is always knee-deep in the latest tech products. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her tending to her plants and planning her next big trip.