Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: small Windows 11 tablet can’t keep up

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Microsoft’s smallest tablet PC gets Windows 11, newer chips and a tiny terms chopped but truly needed much to marque it worthy the investment.

The Surface Go 3 has a tempting starting terms of £369 ($399/A$629) – £30 little than its predecessor – but the cheapest exemplary is saddled with a tiny magnitude of dilatory velocity storage, making the mid-range 128GB exemplary the existent starting point, and it comes successful astatine £499. Neither comes with the £99 keyboard, which is indispensable for specified a machine. Still, it is Microsoft’s cheapest instrumentality down the £549 Surface Laptop Go.

Nothing connected the extracurricular has changed since past year’s Surface Go 2. It is the aforesaid size and weight, has the aforesaid good-looking 10.5in screen, magnesium body, large kickstand, stylus enactment and larboard selection. It is simply a tiny tablet that is casual to transportation but inactive provides a afloat PC acquisition present moving the caller Windows 11.

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The tablet is good made with an fantabulous kickstand for propping it up similar a laptop oregon for watching videos. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Inside, the Go 3 has been upgraded. You person a prime of an Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y, which is overmuch faster connected insubstantial than its predecessor, oregon a 10-generation Core i3 processor, which is astir the same. Both are precise overmuch astatine the little extremity of the market, based connected older technology.

In testing, the apical Go 3 exemplary with a Core i3 spot felt beauteous dilatory astatine times, occasionally hanging erstwhile attempting to bash things specified arsenic installing apps oregon updates. On much than 1 juncture I ended up opening files doubly due to the fact that thing had happened for agelong capable that I assumed I had missed connected the archetypal double-click attempt.

The tablet handles airy duties specified arsenic connection processing oregon browsing acceptably, and volition negociate photograph editing and akin tasks with a spot of patience. But trying to bash thing other portion connected a video telephone brought it to its knees.

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Fully charging the tablet with the included 24W Surface Connect charger took much than 3 hours, reaching 50% successful astir an hour, which is slower than its predecessor. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Battery beingness is poor. Used for airy enactment with recommended powerfulness settings and 70% surface brightness, it lasts lone 4 hours. That’s with lone a fewer tabs unfastened successful Chrome, utilizing the Typora substance exertion and Evernote. Switching retired Chrome for Microsoft’s Edge browser extended the artillery by astir an hr but that is inactive shorter than its predecessor.

Specifications

  • Screen: 10.5in LCD 1920 x 1280 (220 PPI)

  • Processor: dual-core Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y oregon 10th-gen Core i3

  • RAM: 4 oregon 8GB

  • Storage: 64GB eMMC oregon 128 SSD

  • Graphics: Intel UHD 615

  • Operating system: Windows 11 Home

  • Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing, Windows Hello

  • Connectivity: Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5, USB-C, Surface Connector, microSD, headphone socket

  • Dimensions: 245 x 175 x 8.3mm

  • Weight: 544g (without keyboard)

Sustainability

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Windows Hello look designation is inactive arsenic bully arsenic ever, spotting you and unlocking the tablet reasonably quickly. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Microsoft does not supply an expected lifespan for the Surface Go 3’s battery. Batteries successful akin devices typically support astatine slightest 80% of their archetypal capableness aft 500 afloat complaint cycles. The tablet is mostly repairable with an out-of-warranty work interest of £2547.10 and a artillery replacement interest of £186.98.

Microsoft would not remark connected the usage of recycled materials successful the machine. It operates recycling schemes for aged machines, publishes a company-wide sustainability report and a breakdown of each product’s biology impact.

Windows 11

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The redesigned Start paper squeezes much icons into a smaller space, truthful it is simply a amended acceptable for the 10.5in surface of the Go 3. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Windows 11 is marque new, and it feels it. There are immoderate unsmooth edges that request smoothing out, specified arsenic the inconsistent acheronian mode with bright-white dialog boxes, but wide it fits amended connected the Go 3’s tiny surface than Windows 10.

Much of the interface is much touch-friendly. The Start paper is centrally placed and overmuch much condensed. The touch-screen keyboard is importantly improved and the caller three-finger gestures for switching betwixt apps oregon getting to the desktop are precise welcome.

The modern speedy settings sheet that pops up from the task barroom is utile arsenic are the caller drawback layouts, which rapidly tile 2 apps successful assorted sizes broadside by broadside connected the screen. You can’t, however, entree the much varied sizes of the drawback layout via touch, lone with a pointer, and I recovered myself wholly ignoring the caller slide-out widgets pane arsenic it did not truly adhd capable to the acquisition to punctual maine it was there.

The changes to the Microsoft store are welcome, too, with apps from much developers present available, specified arsenic Disney+, making it the cardinal spot to get programs from and support them updated automatically.

Price

The Surface Go 2 starts astatine £369 ($399/A$629) with an Intel Pentium 6500Y processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC retention oregon £499 ($529/$849) with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of faster SSD storage.

The mentation with the faster Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD costs £569/$629. The Surface Go Type Cover costs an further £99.99 ($59.99/A$149.95).

For comparison, the Surface Pro 8 starts astatine £999, Apple’s iPad starts astatine £319 and the iPad Air starts astatine £579. Similarly sized Chromebooks commencement astatine astir £250-£300.

Verdict

The Surface Go 3 looks nice, feels large and has a batch of imaginable arsenic a mini tablet that offers a afloat Windows 11 PC experience.

But it is hindered by dilatory chips with inconsistent, laggy show and a mediocre artillery life. The contention has moved connected importantly since the original Go and Go 2 launched but Microsoft has not kept up.

The cheapest Go 3 has lone 64GB of slower eMMC storage, which is simply not capable for a bully acquisition connected Windows adjacent if you store media and files connected a microSD card. That makes the £499 it costs for a exemplary with an capable 128GB of SSD retention the existent starting price. Buy it with the indispensable keyboard and the terms goes up to £600.

While they whitethorn not beryllium arsenic compact oregon bully looking arsenic the Go 3, you tin get overmuch much susceptible Windows laptops for £600 from companies specified arsenic Lenovo, Acer, HP and others, portion that overmuch wealth buys a lot of iPad, Chromebook oregon Android tablet.

The Go 3, therefore, lone makes consciousness if you simply indispensable person a tiny Windows 11 tablet and are prepared to wage implicit the likelihood for it.

Pros: slim, light, bully screen, large kickstand, decent speakers, USB-C, Windows Hello, afloat Windows 11 Home, microSD paper reader, wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.

Cons: slow, inconsistent performance, abbreviated artillery life, nary USB-A ports, £100 keyboard indispensable but not included, Windows 11 not afloat baked, comparatively expensive.

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The caller split-screen options successful Windows 11 are bully additions but you tin lone entree the basal layouts via touch. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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