Microsoft's Surface 2 with AT&T 4G LTE coming March 18 for $679

Microsoft's Surface 2 with AT&T 4G LTE coming March 18 for $679

Summary: Microsoft will make its promised 4G LTE-enabled Surface 2 tablet available in the U.S. starting March 18 for $679.

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There's good news and not-so-good news about Microsoft's Surface 2 with 4G LTE.

The good news is it's available starting tomorrow, March 18, at Microsoft retail stores, MicrosoftStore.com and Best Buy in the U.S. The not-so-good: The $679 estimated retail price, reported last week by WPCentral.com, is correct. And that's for an ARM-based Surface 2 with no keyboard/cover included.

surface2at&t

Microsoft officials said last fall that the company would be bringing to market a 4G LTE-enabled version of its Surface 2 tablet in early 2014. At that time, Microsoft execs said AT&T and Vodafone would be providing the LTE service.

A 64 GB Surface 2 sells for $549. A 32 GB Nokia 2520 ARM-based tablet sells for $499 with no contract and $399 with an AT&T contract. (There is no 64 GB version of Nokia's 2520.)

AT&T is not offering a version of Microsoft's Surface 2 with subsidized contract pricing, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed. The Surface 2 with LTE is unlocked, but a "qualifying" AT&T plan is required for use on AT&T. 

I realize the Surface 2 with LTE comes an integrated kickstand, support for a MicroSD card and 64 GB of storage compared to Nokia 2520's 32 GB. But $679 plus another $80 (for a first-generation Touch Cover) to $200 (for a Power Cover)?

Microsoft is aiming to position the Surface 2 primarily as a competitor to the iPad Air and MacBook Air devices.

The Microsoft spokesperson provided this statement when I asked about the company's thinking around pricing for the Surface 2 with LTE:

"Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) offers an unparalleled value for the price, especially when you consider pre-loaded Office, 200GB of free OneDrive (formally known as SkyDrive) storage, free Skype calling and unlimited Skype Wi-Fi. Now with LTE capabilities, Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE) is the most productive tablet on the planet for personal use on the market, and we’re proud to offer it for a competitive price of $679 USD."

The Surface 2 with LTE has all the same features and specs as the current Surface 2. It is based on an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor; features a 10.8-inch screen and weighs about 1.5 pounds (without the keyboard/cover). It ships with Windows RT 8.1.

The Surface 2 wtih LTE is capable of accepting any GSM micro-SIM card, but works only on the following bands: 2G GSM (Quadband: 850/900/1800/1900); 3G UMTS (Bands 1, 2, 5); and 4G LTE (Bands 4, 7, 17), according to Microsoft's spec sheet.

Update: Microsoft's Surface 2 with LTE is the first member of the Microsoft Surface family to include GPS support -- something Microsoft surprisingly isn't touting publicly. Paul Thurrott of the Windows Supersite mentioned this to me today and Microsoft verified with the following statement from a spokesperson:

“With Surface 2 (AT&T 4G LTE), we are proud to offer the first device in the Surface family with standalone GPS, assisted GPS and GLONASS.”

Topics: Microsoft Surface, Microsoft, Nokia, Tablets, ARM, Windows 8

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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32 comments
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  • *face-palm*

    $679... Plus your contract... For the RT version.

    now that's uncompetitive. At that price an atom chip was essential so you could have a software edge on its rivals. Compared to the ipad air, galaxy tab, xperia tab z it's a lot to pay for office. Compared to the nomia 2520 it's just a lot to pay
    MarknWill
    • Uncompetitive

      Does your definition of "uncompetitive" mean "comparable value to the LTE competition, at equal or lower prices"? You did mention the iPad Air, which is definitely more expensive at 829$ (and that doesn't include a keyboard either).

      I'd agree that any LTE tablet is not competitive compared to wifi-only tablets combined with tethering.
      Sacr
      • The fact that you can get the Nokia Lumia 2520

        For as low as $399, with a $100 carrier subsidy, makes this price a nonstarter. There's no way that the cellular radios should add $130 to the price.

        Also, I hope they at least added GPS to the unit as well. At this point the only reason to get a surface 2 over the Lumia 2520 is if you need the additional onboard storage.
        Sam Wagner
      • At least the iPad Air is functional, while the "Surface 2" is a doorstop.

        Facts do not favor the Surface.
        I hate trolls also
        • A doorstop?

          It appears to be doing a better job with our DM's then the iPad did.

          Doesn't that make the iPad the "doorstop", now?
          William.Farrel
      • You do realize they are talking about an RT??

        This is for a Surface RT .... which pretty much makes it almost totally useless for anything.
        wackoae
    • The Surface 2 is unlocked.

      "AT&T is not offering a version of Microsoft's Surface 2 with subsidized contract pricing, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed. The Surface 2 with LTE is unlocked, but a "qualifying" AT&T plan is required for use on AT&T. "

      The 2520 is subsidized.
      ForeverCookie
  • Why bother since

    everyone has a smartphone already, just enable mobile hot spot and use laptops and tablets all you want. My ATT hotspot is free, but even if you have to pay for hot spot its cheaper than getting LTE tablets. However - the Surface 2 is a good device with kick stand, power cover, and USB support if your going to need a LTE tablet.
    Sean Foley
    • Funny story.

      I actually used a Verizon Hotspot and connected it to my RT to charge.

      It worked and was recognized.
      ForeverCookie
    • Pretty much how I see it

      Otherwise, you've got a ten inch cell phone. I don't use a tablet that way, it only comes out at times when I have WiFi around, or as a companion to my phone.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Why bother

      nuff said
      FrankInKy
    • Agreed.

      a standard Wi-Fi enabled Surface (or iPad or Android tablet) used in conjunction with a hospot is how our DM's use their Surface tablets.

      The best part is they can use it with any device without having to have data plans for every single device.
      William.Farrel
    • @Sean Foley Well we agree on something here.

      "just enable mobile hot spot and use laptops and tablets all you want".
      deathjazz
  • Assuming 64GB

    What's the price on the 32GB w/ LTE any indications?
    rdbean
  • Death wish

    I honestly wonder if someone at Microsoft is secretly sabotaging the company? What else can explain these breathtakingly poor strategy decisions? These people can't be THAT ignorant of the market, can they?

    I'm eager to try a Windows Phone, and am off contract, but for several years they seem unable to cut a deal with Verizon. Still using my iPhone 4... now 3-4 years old. Time to switch, to either iPhoney 5 or Samsung. Microsoft is about to be pushed back two years by this customer.

    I'm eager to drop the iPad toy, and get a Surface Pro. But no LTE is a non-starter, and lack of NFC just augments the frustration.

    Tethering is certainly an option, but I travel to China often, and tethering is not a realistic option with Verizon. Verizon's international plan is intended for people that have more money than sense. I just buy a China Mobile SIM card for my iPud and have full connectivity for dirt cheap.

    Would love to do that with a Surface Pro... but no go.

    And have
    Gongzuokuang
    • Verizon Windows Phone

      I am not sure what you have been looking at, but there are a number of Windows Phone devices on Verizon now, including the current "flagship" device, the Nokia Lumia Icon.

      I have a feeling there will be a lot more interesting options released/announced at Blend next month.
      The-Bytemaster
    • M$ still has the monopoly mind set

      Until they wake up to the competition, and their current perilous state, they wont improve their market offerings or set a price point that is competitive.

      I'm sure others will argue that statement but I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary.
      FrankInKy
      • Of course others will argue that statement

        because there is a realistic price point, and an unrealistic price point, the latter we're seeing in reference to companies like HTC that aren't doing to well trying to sell the cheapest G$$gle powered phone at next to nothing profit price points.
        William.Farrel
    • @Gongzuokuang

      "I'm eager to drop the iPad toy, and get a Surface Pro."

      Hey, let me know how your 'toy' Surface Pro goes? I have a room sized supercomputer at my house for "real work", like weather forcasting and nuclear physics simulation. ;)

      I have news for you - all tablets are "toys", or if they aren't fun like one, they are not right. Use a laptop.
      deathjazz
      • Your definition of a real computer is a bit ridiculous.

        Who has a supercomputer at home? Also, why is it room sized? Especially considering you can get a relatively small device with 4 NVIDIA Tesla cards that probably has more computing power than your room sized computer. Very few people have that computing need. For what is it, the Surface Pro 2 is a very capable tablet.
        Sam Wagner