The Surface Pro 2017 might very well be the best hybrid device of the year.

Surface Pro 2017: Microsoft Hits Its Stride And Delivers LTE, Starts The End Of The iPad Pro Series [Opinion]

For a while, it appeared that Microsoft was losing touch with its hardware business, failing to release new devices despite a massive sales slump during the past quarter. Now, it seems like Microsoft has just been pulling everyone’s leg, as the Redmond-based tech giant has released not one, but two new Surface-branded devices, the Surface Laptop and the Surface Pro 2017, the latter being the spiritual successor to 2015’s critically acclaimed Surface Pro 4.

Microsoft is quick to state that the Surface Pro 2017 is not by any means the Surface Pro 5. This was stated by Microsoft VP of devices Panos Panay, who declared that the Surface Pro 5 does not exist as of date. Unsurprisingly, the VP’s statement was met with a collective sigh of disappointment among fans of the Surface series, with many stating that Microsoft is starting to become far too passive with regards to its devices. As it turned out, however, Panay’s statement was only partly true, as Microsoft was on the verge of releasing the next product on the prestigious hybrid line, the Surface Pro 2017.

The lack of a number notwithstanding, the Surface Pro 2017 is pretty much what the tech community expected the Surface Pro 5 to be. It has a better screen, superior battery life, an upgrade Surface Pen, and more attractive Surface Keyboard and it is equipped with Intel’s seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors, which are significantly faster and more power-efficient than the Skylake chips found on the Surface Pro 4. Microsoft did not stop here, however, as the device also came with a few tricks up its sleeve.

Unlike its predecessors, the Surface Pro 2017 is equipped with a special hinge that allows the device to sit almost flush on a table, much like the Surface Studio. This would be a valuable feature for users who would utilize the device for graphics creation. Together with an improved Surface Pen, the Surface Pro 2017 would likely stand as one of the most wanted devices among graphic designers across the market.

One thing that has truly caught everyone by surprise, of course, is the Surface Pro 2017’s LTE features. Rumors about an LTE version of the powerful hybrid device have been going on for some time now, though such speculations were never confirmed. During the unveiling of the Surface Pro 2017, however, Microsoft was quick to point out that the new flagship hybrid would be able to access the internet without depending on a Wi-Fi connection.

With LTE, the Surface Pro 2017 has placed itself as the biggest competition of Apple’s iPad Pro series, according to a Forbes report. Unlike the iPad Pro, however, the Surface Pro has the advantage of being equipped with a full-fledged operating system, which completely brings the device’s productivity potential to a whole new level. Over the past couple of years, the only edge that the iPad Pro really had over Microsoft’s devices was its capability to access the internet through cellular data, as well as its superior battery life. Now that those two features have been addressed by Microsoft with the Surface Pro 2017, Apple’s enterprise-grade tablets have lost their advantage.

Then again, the battle between the Surface Pro series and the iPad Pro line is far from finished. While the Surface Pro 2017 completely wipes the floor with the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple is slated to reveal the 10.5-inch iPad Pro 2 this coming June at the WWDC 2017. If rumors about Apple’s new flagship slate prove true, there is a good chance that the device would prove to be a formidable match for Microsoft’s newest 2-in-1. With both devices in the market, the hybrid industry would never be the same.

[Featured Image by Microsoft]