Microsoft finally unveiled its first ‘Surface Phone’ in 2019 and it now looks like we won’t have much longer to wait until we get the Surface Duo in our hands. Here’s everything we know so far, including reported features and possible release dates.
Surface Duo isn’t your typical phone. It’s a take on the foldable, with two screens that fold together and close up like a book. It’s a unique look, and one that could offer a bit of variety in the tired mobile design space.
Microsoft Surface Duo Release Date could be a lot sooner than we thought
When Microsoft originally announced the Surface Duo late in 2019, we were given a ‘Holiday 2020’ release. While we’ve seen lots of tech delayed in 2020, including the Surface Neo, it actually seems like the Duo might be coming sooner than we had expected.
The device has passed through both FCC (via DroidLife) and Bluetooth SIG certification, something that usually happens a couple of weeks before a phone gets a release, and it has increasingly been teased by Microsoft personal throughout the last few months.
Windows Central’s Zac Bowden tweeted (above) that Microsoft was planning on releasing the device before Samsung launched its next foldable, which we assume is going to be the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Rumours suggest this is coming on August 5 alongside the Samsung Galaxy Note 20. A launch date before that seems unlikely now, but it could always happen.
According to The Verge, Microsoft was set to talk in-depth about these dual screen devices at the Build conference earlier in the year, however that event didn’t happen in its usual guise.
What is the Surface Duo? Specs, design and performance
The Surface Duo device packs two 5.6-inch displays which fold onto each other like a book, in a way not too dissimilar to the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Unlike the Fold, the Surface Duo has two distinct displays rather than a single one. It’s best compared to the Dual Screen option offered alongside certain LG phones, though it’ll likely be a lot slicker due to fact the secondary display isn’t simply a clip-on case
This rids it of an annoying crease and should ensure it doesn’t run into the same issues as the Fold. With the screens folded out, the display stretches 8.3-inches.
Having the device fold in also gives it a certain level of protection. The exterior design is very similar to other Surface products, with a silver look and large Microsoft logo.
While the Surface Neo runs Windows 10X, the Duo is a purely Android-based device. This is hardly surprising, as it instantly gives Microsoft access to apps and developers without having to start from scratch.
During the initial launch event, Microsoft said it has worked with Google on the product and is working with developers to ensure apps work and can take advantage of the unusual screen arrangement.
Related: Best Android phones
Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the exact specs that’ll power the Duo, but thanks to some information from Windows Central we have a good idea of what it might include. According to the report, the Duo will be powered by the Snapdragon 855, pack 6GB RAM and 256GB storage. The displays are said to be AMOLED and the battery a 3460mAh cell that’ll charge via USB C.
There is also said to be an 11-megapixel f/2.0 camera, fingerprint scanner and support for Surface Pen.
The obvious omission seems to be 5G connectivity. This wasn’t a huge deal when the Duo was first announced, but it is now commonplace on Android phones ranging from budget options to high-end models. You’ll also notice the Snapdragon 855 is no longer the flagship Qualcomm SoC, so it’ll be interesting if Microsoft updates to the 865 before release. The above Windows Central information seems to imply it won’t, as the design was finalised before the 865 came out.
A more recent Windows Central report again emphasises there will not be 5G, wireless charging or even NFC.
Related: 5G in the UK
The Surface Duo software could be its biggest win
Microsoft has worked to make its launcher mimic that of Windows, with a similar wallpaper and more squared-off icons. Microsoft currently has a Launcher available on the Google Play Store, so this will likely form the basis. It looks like Microsoft will install its own apps on the Duo, including Edge browser and the Office suite.
The best way to get a basic overview of how the software will work is to watch the above video. This comes from an emulator of the SDK released by Microsoft.
As it’s a dual-screen device, you can have apps open on one screen and not the other. It also looks like you’ll be able to customise the homescreen and make one portion always display the ‘Shelf’. There seems to be lots of customisation options (even down to altering the search bar look) and it’s a very clean UI.
Microsoft Surface Duo – Price
Microsoft has yet to mention any pricing for the Surface Duo. It’ll be interesting to see how much this phone comes in at, and we’d suspect it’ll be at least on par with the high-end £1049 iPhone 11 Pro. Samsung currently sells the Galaxy Fold for £1800.
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