Microsoft Surface 3 4G LTE Edition Available Today in U.S.

The cellular-enabled tablet appears on these shores just days before Microsoft's big Windows 10 launch. Two unlocked versions, 64GB and 128GB, are available.

Surface 3 tablet

The 4G LTE-capable version of Microsoft's Surface 3 tablet, first announced in March, is finally available in the United States, the company announced on July 24.

"We offer two unlocked versions--64GB and 128GB versions—through Microsoft stores, authorized resellers and partner retailers," said Brian Hall, general manager of Microsoft Surface, in a statement.

"U.S. Microsoft stores also have AT&T and T-Mobile SIM cards on hand to help you connect quickly to your network and get down to work."

Before hitting the United States, Surface 3 (4G LTE)—as Microsoft is branding the hardware—was released in June in Japan. Earlier this month, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Spain followed suit, although Microsoft limited its availability to business customers.

In addition to Microsoft's retail locations, consumers in the United States can pick up the tablet at AT&T stores. "Additionally, beginning July 31, T-Mobile will sell to business customers through their @Work channel," Hall added.

The 10.8-inch Surface 3 is the "the thinnest and lightest Surface we've ever shipped," claimed Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Microsoft Surface, during the March 31 announcement of the device. Compared to the larger, 12-inch Surface Pro 3, which weighs in at 1.76 pounds, the Surface 3 weighs 1.37 pounds (622 grams).

Despite early stumbles, Microsoft is making progress with its productivity-focused Surface tablet line.

"We more than doubled Surface revenue to nearly $900 million this quarter, capping off a year in which it delivered more than $3.6 billion in revenue. Both consumers and enterprise customers love this device," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in a conference call while discussing the company's fourth-quarter fiscal 2015 earnings.

Amy Hood, Microsoft's chief financial officer, noted strong business demand for the Surface 3. "Enterprise sales accelerated this quarter and sales of Surface 3 were particularly strong to educational customers. Our differentiated products as well as improved discipline and execution helped to improve gross margins by $450 million this quarter and $1.3 billion in fiscal 2015," she said.

Unlike the WiFi-only Surface Pro 3, the newer tablet is available with 4G LTE cellular connectivity—for a $100 premium—enabling users to work anywhere in their wireless carrier's coverage area and in places with inaccessible or nonexistent WiFi networks. Starting at $499, the device is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom x7 processor running at 1.6GHz or 2.4GHz in burst mode.

Surface 3 is similar in many respects to its larger stablemate, but there are some notable differences beyond its more compact form factor.

The tablet features a three-position kickstand instead of the Pro 3's "friction hinge" that allows users to settle on any angle. Also, the Surface Pen stylus, included with the Pro 3, is sold separately with the Surface 3. Surface 3 is available in a 64GB version with 2GB of RAM and another with 128GB of on-board storage and 4 GB of RAM. The 4G LTE version of each brings the total number of available configurations to four.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...