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New name, same hardware: Microsoft has been using the exact same LG Philips panel for its Surface Pro series for the past three years

New name, same hardware: Microsoft has been using the exact same LG Philips panel for its Surface Pro series for the past three years (Image source: Microsoft)
New name, same hardware: Microsoft has been using the exact same LG Philips panel for its Surface Pro series for the past three years (Image source: Microsoft)
The two-year old Surface Pro 5 offers essentially the same display experience as the latest Surface Pro 7 down to colors, contrast, brightness, response times, and more.

When you buy the latest iPhone or MacBook, you'd expect them to have better displays than last year's models even if the improvements are mostly marginal. At the very least, they should offer better displays than models that are two years or older. Had the flagship iPhone from 2019 come with the exact same display as the flagship iPhone from 2017, fan response probably wouldn't have been so kind.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, this is exactly what we're seeing on the 2019 Surface Pro 7. Launched earlier this month, the model supplants the 2017 Surface Pro 5 and 2018 Surface Pro 6 with brand new Intel Ice Lake-U processor options. On the flip side, it uses the same 12.3-inch LG Philips LP123WQ112604 IPS panel that dates back to the 2017 Surface Pro 5. This means that display characteristics like response times, colors, contrast, resolution, and brightness have not improved between three generations of Surface Pro devices as shown by our table below.

One might argue that since the Surface Pro 7 utilizes the same chassis as the Surface Pro 6, it's ok for it to have the same display year-over-year. This point-of-view is flawed because OEMs like MSI, Dell, Asus, and others often use the same chassis designs across several years but with updated display options to keep revisions fresh. Microsoft could have at least offered a brighter display to give older Surface Pro owners more reasons to upgrade.

Expect our full review on the Surface Pro 7 Core i5-1035G4 to come soon.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Core i5-1035G4
LG Philips LP123WQ112604, IPS, 12.3, 2736x1824
Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Core i5, 128 GB
LGPhilips LP123WQ112604, IPS, 12.3, 2736x1834
Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) i5
LG Display LP123WQ112604, IPS, 12.3, 2736x1824
Response Times
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
34.8 (16.8, 18)
42 (22, 20)
42 (20, 22)
Response Time Black / White *
26.4 (13.2, 13.2)
25 (14, 11)
29 (18, 11)
PWM Frequency
21550 (24)
20800 (50)
21000
Screen
Brightness middle
480.4
463
417
Brightness
485
450
401
Brightness Distribution
91
83
88
Black Level *
0.48
0.32
0.29
Contrast
1001
1447
1438
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5
3.76
3.63
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
7.72
7.35
6.74
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
2.44
2.68
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
5.9
3.18
2.18
Gamma
2.38 92%
2.53 87%
3.09 71%
CCT
7805 83%
6994 93%
6767 96%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
60.3
59
63
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
93.2
90
99
Total Average (Program / Settings)

* ... smaller is better

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 11 > New name, same hardware: Microsoft has been using the exact same LG Philips panel for its Surface Pro series for the past three years
Allen Ngo, 2019-11-16 (Update: 2019-11-16)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.