Microsoft Surface Go 3 review: A portable and versatile 2-in-1, but battery life disappoints


Microsoft’s 10.5-inch Area Go three weighs 544g (one.2lbs) devoid of the Style Deal with keyboard.

Graphic: Microsoft

The hottest model of Microsoft’s diminutive two-in-one tablet/laptop computer, the Surface Go three, has the common exceptional Area develop good quality and industrial design and style, and is externally indistinguishable from the Surface Go two. The two most current Area Go versions have a marginally larger-resolution 10.5-inch screen (1920×1280 vs 1800×1200) than the original Area Go.

The buyer model of the Area Go three commences at $399.ninety nine, when the ‘for Business’ model, with more safety and administration features, and optional LTE mobile broadband, prices from $499.ninety nine. 


The Area Go three prices from $399.ninety nine (Style Deal with and Area Pen not incorporated).

Graphic: Microsoft

The new Surface Slender Pen ($129.ninety nine) will perform with the Area Go three (as will any Area Pen), but the keyboard hasn’t been up-to-date with the charging very well. If you have the keyboard from an more mature Area Go model, it’s just the same Type Cover ($84.ninety nine). Neither pen nor keyboard are incorporated in the tablet’s selling price.


  • The most reasonably priced Area device
  • Outstanding 10.5-inch screen
  • Large-good quality webcam and speakers
  • Main i3 processor solution

You should not Like

  • Disappointing battery everyday living less than mainstream workloads
  • Keyboard and stylus not incorporated
  • Not the best showcase for Windows eleven

Just one USB-C (not USB 4) port additionally the three.5mm audio jack and a MicroSD card slot less than the kickstand suggests you might be plugging in 1 peripheral at a time. But the Area Join port suggests you do not have to pick concerning a peripheral and charging, even though you can nonetheless demand around USB-C if you need to have to. Networking is the hottest Wi-Fi six (802.11ax, which is newly supported in Windows eleven) and Bluetooth 5.. 


The Area Go three (remaining) has a slimmer screen bezel than the initial-generation model (appropriate), but is unchanged from the Area Go two.

Graphic: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

The consistency is deliberate. Holding the sort element and port placement the identical is an gain for organisations that acquire extras like protecting cases. Different healthcare and emergency services in the British isles are making use of Area Go as a lightweight and incredibly moveable solution, for illustration, as are call centres exactly where the modest footprint, small selling price and means to travel an external check are crucial. 


Area Go three keeps the ports and buttons in the identical place as the primary Area Go (best device in just about every graphic).

Images: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

The front-facing webcam is nonetheless a 5MP model that can file 1080p at 30fps, but that was now 1 of the far better laptop computer webcams about, very easily beating the 720p cameras in lots of laptops. The 8MP rear digital camera is wonderful for snaps but not a patch on what’s in the ordinary smartphone. The Windows Howdy 3D digital camera is also exceptional, recognising us in a selection of lights problems as shortly as we turned the device on. The Dolby Audio stereo speakers sound superior for both of those songs and movie phone calls. 

The Area Go three might glimpse unchanged externally, but within the circumstance, there is certainly a spec bump. We seemed at the best-conclude model with an Intel Core i3-10100Y processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage. This prices $629.ninety nine in buyer guise, or $679.ninety nine as a ‘for Business’ model. More cost-effective buyer versions have a Pentium Gold 6500Y with 4GB RAM/64GB eMMC ($399.ninety nine, but might struggle with overall performance) or 8GB RAM/128GB SSD ($549.ninety nine). 

The new Main i3 CPU delivers a respectable advancement on earlier Area Go versions. It’s incredibly usable for mainstream business enterprise applications, searching and movie meetings in Teams, but (as noted below) the Windows eleven interface isn’t going to always come to feel as speedy and performant as the benchmark effects may possibly lead you to expect. Interestingly, we noticed far better benchmark overall performance when making use of the Go 3’s possess charger, alternatively than the (formal, Microsoft) charger from an earlier-generation Area. 

Battery everyday living, as always, depends on what you might be undertaking. Actively playing movies relies on heavily GPU hardware acceleration, so it’s really incredibly electrical power economical and we have been ready to participate in movies continually for marginally lengthier than Microsoft’s claimed eleven several hours. But with the screen set to only 36% brightness, net searching, making use of Twitter, copying documents and making use of Workplace applications like OneNote and Outlook utilised up 75% of battery everyday living in just less than two several hours. Battery saver kicked in that this place and we bought another 75 minutes of perform accomplished, introducing up to a disappointing three several hours and fifteen minutes. For comparison, an primary Area Go functioning Windows 10 with only 50% demand gave us two several hours of perform in similar problems. 

Of system, with a tiny, lightweight tablet like this, you might not be settling down to perform for several hours, but grabbing the Go for a couple of minutes at a time and then closing the lid. We found the Go three was nonetheless a bit extra electrical power hungry than the primary Go in people circumstances (making use of up eleven% of the battery in 22 minutes alternatively than six% in eighteen minutes), so you might want to slip a battery bank into your bag when you might be out and about. 

Windows eleven

Microsoft informed us that the Arm-based Surface Pro X will be the only Area that ships only with Windows eleven on other equipment like the Area Go three, customers will have the option, but our evaluate unit arrived with Windows eleven. We have been ready to install the new Windows Subsystem for Android and run applications like Amazon Kindle and (by sideloading the Google Participate in Retail outlet) Geekbench, all of which ran just as very well as standard Windows applications. In point, when we utilised the Android model of Geekbench, the scores have been virtually comparable on some runs. 


Sketchbook functioning on Area Go three with Windows eleven: an Android application that ‘just works’.

Graphic: Mary Branscombe / ZDNet

On a modest screen like the Area Go three, cellular phone applications are not out of place (they are unquestionably optimised for contact) and the smartphone-style Windows eleven interface might make extra perception — swiping around the edges of the screen to open widgets and notifications is extra organic on a tablet than a laptop computer, for illustration. If you like Windows eleven, you can like it on the Area Go three. 

But the joy of the Area Go has always been that it’s a authentic Computer system that can run conventional Windows workloads — just in a tiny, mild and slender deal. So if you discover Windows eleven annoying on a larger sized screen, you might not like it substantially far better in this article. 

We found the Windows eleven contact affordances this sort of as a substantial invisible border about home windows, which is meant to make them simpler to transfer or resize, really bought in the way. That’s due to the fact they block what’s driving the border — like a browser tab you can see but not close or find. 

Windows eleven might also disguise the real overall performance of the Area Go three. Some of what we in the beginning considered was weak hardware overall performance was down to the incapability to find and open applications reliably with contact. And when we connected the keyboard, emphasis would randomly change from 1 window to another or transfer the cursor randomly within textual content, when we have been in the middle of typing. That’s disappointing for a new working method on what’s usually nice new hardware.


Graphic: Microsoft


Like the preceding versions, the Area Go three shines as a moveable device: it’s fantastic for doing the job on an airplane tray desk or a crowded train, and for throwing in a backpack or the kitbag in the again of a automobile. Having said that, battery everyday living appears to have regressed possibly due to the fact of the new Main i3 CPU or Windows eleven.  

The significant-good quality 220ppi PixelSense screen can make watching movies fun, and the speakers and webcam make for exceptional movie phone calls in Teams. But you can absolutely want to decide the larger-spec Main i3 model, and except if you might be a Windows eleven admirer or really need to have a individual Android application, Windows 10 may possibly be the far better option right until extra of the kinks are ironed out. 

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