File this under “I’m not shocked” but Microsoft has confirmed today that the Surface 3 tablet will cease production by the end of December. The Surface 3 first launched way back in the spring of 2015, and after its review it quickly jumped to the top of the stack in the Windows tablet space. The design, excellent display, and 3:2 aspect ratio still makes it one of the best sub-$500 Windows tablets today.

So the news that it’s going to cease production in six months is not especially exciting – after all it will be going on two years old by that point. The real question is what is going to come next. The Surface 3 is a Cherry Trail Atom design, with a quad-core x7-8700 processor. The successor to Cherry Trail has been axed by Intel though, leaving a big gap in Intel’s lineup. They have confirmed that Apollo Lake will be available for tablet makers, but it’s certainly not a drop-in replacement for Cherry Trail.

Certainly this long after Surface 3 launched, there is plenty of room for improvement. USB-C has become more commonplace, and could easily replace the micro-USB charging which was a major hindrance on the Surface 3, leading to excessive charge times. One of the biggest issues with the Surface 3 was the sub-par storage performance, and on a new model it would be great to see NVMe based storage. The Surface 3 is also 50% thicker and heavier than the iPad Air 2, but it does have a built-in kickstand of course.

Surface 3 on top of Surface Pro 3

We’ve not had any indication from Microsoft on a replacement device, so there’s no indication whether this model will be updated with a refreshed Surface 4, or just cancelled outright. The lack of a new Atom processor might force their hand. While it would be great to see this appear with a new Core M based part, unless Intel revamps that lineup, the pricing of that CPU would likely be the death knell of this smaller Surface device.

If you were looking at one of these, the 128 GB storage option also includes 4 GB of memory, and the price has dropped to $399/$449 without LTE. Stock is limited. It’s still one of the best Windows tablets around, despite its shortcomings.

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  • ImSpartacus - Friday, June 24, 2016 - link

    So if production ends in december, then that hits retail channels a couple months later, right?

    By then, we're nearly in Spring, which queues MS up to release a "Surface 5" (erm, 4?) replacement.

    I'm definitely feeling the "I'm not shocked" vibe.
  • bill.rookard - Friday, June 24, 2016 - link

    Well, it might actually be time soon to replace my HP Touchpad...
  • chrisb2e9 - Friday, June 24, 2016 - link

    You still have yours? I overclocked mine. Not by a lot, but enough that it eventually became unstable. I still have it, and it does work if I underclock it a bit. But the fact that I can never think of a reason to even charge it, means that I see no reason to buy a tablet at all.
  • piroroadkill - Saturday, June 25, 2016 - link

    I'm replying right now from my TouchPad, still works a treat. Have Android Marshmallow installed on it, and it runs way smoother than with webOS.
  • Spunjji - Saturday, June 25, 2016 - link

    This has been the fate of every single HP Touchpad that I'm aware of. Overclocked, sat half-dead on a table somewhere.
  • Samus - Saturday, June 25, 2016 - link

    Probably explains why mine still works, kept it mildly overclocked to 1.5ghz (the stock speed of the white model Touchpad, by the way) and modified the kernel scheduler to reduce background priority. Really the only problem I have with it is cosmetic. The speaker grills are suffering the infamous cracking bezel issue.

    Overall it's interesting a 5 year old tablet is still so relevant. Other tablets don't seem much faster, even with octa core "dual quad/big little) configurations because Android and it's app ecosystem don't seem to care for more than 2 cores. The single threaded performance of the Snapdragon S3 is pretty good at 1.5ghz.
  • mkozakewich - Monday, June 27, 2016 - link

    I'd just missed the fire sale, and this is making me jealous. That would have been years of use.
  • A5 - Saturday, June 25, 2016 - link

    I actually traded mine and my wife's in to Amazon a few years ago for like $40 a pop.
  • piroroadkill - Saturday, June 25, 2016 - link

    Oh, and it gets used pretty much every day, and sits on the dock to charge..
  • SpartanJet - Saturday, June 25, 2016 - link

    Dear god how can you stand using adroid on a tablet its such a terrible tablet experience feels like every app is a blown up phone port. Plus that thing is so slow now. webOS was so much better. I actually replaced mine with the surface 3 couldn't have been happier Windows 10 is fantastic on it.

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