Microsoft is about to unveil its next generation of gadgets at a blowout press event in New York City on Tuesday. While the company hasn’t exactly done the best job of keeping the new hardware under wraps, there’s bound to be at least some surprises.
There are a few announcements we can almost certainly count on: two new smartphones called the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, a Surface Pro 4 tablet and a redesigned Microsoft Band fitness tracker.
Others are a bit trickier to predict. The event promises to be all about Windows 10 devices, which could encompass virtually everything the company makes these days. We could hear news on the Xbox One, the TV-like Surface Hub and possibly even an update on the famed HoloLens augmented reality headset — which still doesn’t have a launch date.
The event is a big deal for Microsoft, as it looks to build on a so-far successful Windows 10 software rollout with some compelling hardware to boot. The company has long struggled to find its way in the devices business, especially when it comes to smartphones. This event, and the upcoming holiday shopping season, will be Microsoft’s latest chance to show us some cool gadgets and continue to establish that hardware reputation it craves.
GeekWire will be on hand in New York this week to cover all the news — and we’re told there will be a lot of it. The event kicks off at 7 a.m. PT on Tuesday, so circle back for updates and reviews.
In the meantime, check below for a wrap-up of what we’re expecting to see on Oct. 6.
Lumia 950 and 950 XL
There’s almost no doubt that Microsoft will debut two new smartphones this week, after the company accidentally listed the devices in its online store for a brief time last week.
The postings didn’t reveal everything that will be inside the phones, but we now know there will be a 5.2-inch Lumia 950 and a 5.7-inch Lumia 950 XL. Both come with a 20 megapixel camera and 32GB storage, with an SD card slot for expansion.
Previous leaks suggest the phones will support Qi wireless charging and USB Type-C, the latest standardized port that will allow new types of connections between smartphones and USB peripherals. Rumor also has it the phones will come with Microsoft’s new Continuum feature, which lets you use your phone like a PC by connecting it to a mouse, keyboard and larger display.
These phones will also be the first hardware built for the Windows 10 Mobile operating system, which is still in development.
Microsoft Band 2
This one is another safe bet, as rumors have been circling for months that Microsoft is planning a redesigned followup to its Band fitness tracker. Spanish tech site MicrosoftInsider.es, has even published renderings of what the wearable will look like.
GeekWire can confirm these renderings are accurate. We’ve seen a Microsoft executive wearing a prototype of the Band 2 with a metallic finish, curved display and less obtrusive batteries. We haven’t been able to confirm any rumors pertaining to the functionality or inner workings of the device.
Microsoft’s foray into the wearables business was the $199 Band, a cross between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker that debuted last year. It lacked third-party apps like the Apple Watch boasts, but delivered more features than a typical fitness tracker such as email and push notifications.
The company’s second try at a wearable appears to fix a lot of these issues. The curved display and less obtrusive batteries should make it less awkwardly shaped and more comfortable.
We still don’t know what to expect in terms of new features baked into the Band 2, though ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports her sources have said the Band won’t run the Windows 10 operating system.
Surface Pro 4
We’re due for a new high-end tablet from Microsoft, after its successful Surface Pro 3 debuted during summer of 2014 as “the tablet that can replace your laptop.”
Several sites are reporting the Pro 4 will be unveiled at the Oct. 6 event, but it is not expected to be drastically different from the previous model.
Microsoft has promised businesses using the devices that the “next generation” in the Surface Pro line will be compatible with current power adapters, docking stations and keyboard covers, according to The Verge’s Tom Warren.
It would be hard to keep that promise without sticking with the same ports, similar display size and basic form factor we saw in the Pro 3. More likely, we’ll see a lighter design, improved display, updates to the guts powering the tablets and maybe even some new features like a fingerprint scanner.
Even as there’s so much the tech world thinks it already knows about what Microsoft plans to unveil this week, there’s always the possibility that the company has another secret or two.
While we’re not banking on another surprise entry into a new product category, like the company did with HoloLens in January, there are a few other announcements we’ll be looking out for.
Top of my list will be more details about the company’s augmented reality project. Microsoft has said the HoloLens will debut during the “Windows 10 timeframe,” but that could be anywhere between today and years from now.
The company is going to have to give some more details at some point, and it is hard to imagine a better time than this kind of blowout hardware event.
This week’s press event will be live streamed, so check back on Tuesday for that video feed and more details live from New York.