Microsoft's Surface Pro LTE: Everything you need to know

When Microsoft announced the new Surface Pro at an event in Shanghai this May, it promised that a cellular model will be available later on this year. Since then though, not much has been said about it, but at the company's Ignite 2017 conference this week, it's been speaking up about the upcoming cellular variant.

Yesterday, we broke the news that the Surface Pro LTE will be made available on December 1, and that it will come in two different configurations, both with a Core i5 processor: 4GB RAM and 128GB of storage, and 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage.

Of course, that's not all that there is to know, and while you have questions, we have answers.

You might recall that the Core i5 model is fanless, and the modem is placed where that fan would be. That's why there's no Core i7 model, and there won't be.

For another thing, the Surface Pro will include a Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 modem - the very same that's in the Snapdragon 835 chipset - which means that it will support gigabit LTE. Microsoft says that you can expect up to 450Mbps download speeds, compared to the average 50Mbps that users see.

This is an important note. As we know, Windows on ARM PCs are coming, and those will use the Snapdragon 835. Until now, we didn't know what kind of LTE modems the Intel Always-Connected PCs would use, and now we can verify that they'll be on par with the ARM PCs.

That also means that there will be GPS, which is included with the Qualcomm modem. This means that if you need to, you can use the Surface Pro for navigation, among other things.

Also, there will be only one cellular configuration, rather than a US and a global model, and there are seven cellular antennae. There will be one set of LTE bands for everyone, which should be great for international travelers. And Microsoft said that it will work on all LTE networks, although it backtracked on that a bit.

The Surface Pro LTE is still in certification with some carriers. While it will be compatible with all networks, that doesn't mean that it will be certified by them all. For example, on networks like Verizon, if a device isn't certified, the carrier blocks it.

The tablet will have both an electronic SIM and a nano SIM slot, the former allowing users to set up their network through cellular. Luckily, it turns out that you will be able to just pop a SIM card in there and get going.

Microsoft also says that this really shouldn't affect battery life. The Surface Pro gets up to 13.5 hours of battery life with eight or nine hours of real-world usage, and that shouldn't change. When using LTE only, it should get 90% of the battery life.

For most end users though, none of this really means anything. Ultimately, you're getting the exact same Surface Pro that you would have - in 4GB or 8GB RAM configurations with a Core i5 - but it will have the benefit of being connected to the internet all of the time, and you won't have to go through the trouble of setting up your phone as a mobile hotspot while you're out.

Update: This article was updated with additional details, including that the device will have a nano SIM slot.

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