Microsoft may not be calling the Microsoft Surface Duo a smartphone, referring to it as a “communication device” on stage. However, it’s still shaping up to be everything we’ve ever wanted from Microsoft’s much-anticipated phone.
Judging from what we’ve seen at the October 2019 Surface event and in the emulator, it certainly sounds like one, considering its function and features.
Microsoft has also now revealed a Surface Duo release date of September 10, along with a price: $1,399 (about £1,070, AU$1,960).
The Microsoft Surface Duo can make calls and be folded up to a size that fits comfortably in one hand and in your pants pocket. Plus, it runs on Android, per Wired. Microsoft has been working with Google to create a version that runs seamlessly on a dual screen device. And, it seems that the company is really getting behind it, with Hiroshi Lockheimer, senior vice president of Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, Photos and communication products, tweeting an image of it.
However, it’s highly likely that Microsoft has a few surprises that disqualify it from being considered a proper phone. There’s already more to the Surface Duo than its phone function. It boasts dual 5.6-inch screens, but when unfolded, it can be used as an 8.3-inch tablet-like device. It can also be bent farther than flat – the full 360 degrees – for a front-to-back viewing mode.
In fact, the Surface Duo strongly resembles another new device introduced during the October 2019 event – the Microsoft Surface Neo, a larger dual-screen tablet that runs a version of Windows 10 optimized for the two-display setup.
Again, it already sounds like an amazing device. In fact, Brian Sozzi, Editor-at-Large of Yahoo Finance, called it a “darn slick device” after he recently spotted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella using an early version. Here’s all we know about the smaller smartphone thus far, which we’ll be refining as information comes in over the next 12 months.
Microsoft Surface Duo key facts
- What is it? The new foldable smartphone from Microsoft
- When is it out? September 10
- What will it cost? $1,399 (about £1,070, AU$1,960).
Microsoft Surface Duo price and release date
The Microsoft Surface Duo will hit the streets on September 10. Microsoft also announced a price, and as we suspected for a dual-screen device, it’s pretty expensive: $1,399 (about £1,070, AU$1,960).
However, we don’t know whether it will be sold by carriers on contract. This might be contingent on whether the device is considered a phone at all, and fit in that product category.
Microsoft Surface Duo design, display and features
The Microsoft Surface Duo looks exactly like a shrunken version of the Microsoft Surface Neo, a dual-screen tablet also introduced at Microsoft’s October 2019 event. But as a smaller handheld device that allows users to make calls, the Surface Duo is arguably a foldable phone.
The Surface Duo has two 5.6-inch screens, but unlike other foldables, its displays are made of Gorilla Glass – just split by a very visible hinge. While that means it isn’t quite as seamless an experience as the Huawei Mate X or the just-launched Samsung Galaxy Fold, using tried-and-tested durable glass might keep the Surface Duo from experiencing issues seen by early foldables – for instance, the Galaxy Fold’s plastic display is still breaking, even after its refinements.
Unfolded, the Duo stretches to 8.3 inches – which is just larger than the iPad Mini 5 with its 7.9-inch display. It can be bent farther than flat – the full 360 degrees, allowing for front-to-back glass. The opposite is true, too, as the Duo can be folded shut, with no exterior screen…the first handheld device in a long time that won’t need a cover to protect its screens.
The Duo will run Android – presumably Android 11 – which introduced support for foldable screens. Microsoft said on stage that the Duo would be compatible with all Android apps, and it’s currently working closely with Google to make Android apps that are suited to the dual screen setup.
An emulator has already gone out to developers to simulate the dual screen functionality of The Duo. Thanks to a hands-on look from Neowin, we’ve already gotten a sneak peak at what the UI might look like, some of the Microsoft and Google apps, and how multitasking will work. And since we’re still a long way off from the actual release date, this should be a good sign that there will be plenty of dual-screen apps ready to populate The Duo once it’s released.
We also now know that the Surface Duo will come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, and 6GB of memory, which is a bit disappointing for a flagship 2020 device, to be honest.
We’re a bit worried that the Surface Duo has been in development for too long, and mobile hardware has advanced past what will be featured in this supposedly cutting-edge device.
Microsoft also confirmed to us that it will be a 4G device – so 5G is currently out of the question, which will disappoint anyone hoping for the latest and fastest mobile connectivity.