We originally started telling you about a dual-screened Surface phone that was appearing in Microsoft patents as far back as 2017. Here we are roughly three years later and the device, known as the Surface Duo
, is now available from T-Mobile, AT&T, and the Microsoft Store. Thanks to a revolutionary 360-degree hinge and the partnership between Microsoft and Google
, the Surface Duo is quite the productivity tool as Microsoft’s Office apps are optimized to take advantage of the form factor. The two 5.6-inch AMOLED displays create a tablet-sized 8.1-inch screen when opened to 180-degrees.
Check out Microsoft’s new Surface Duo ad
The Surface Duo runs on Qualcomm’s previous-generation Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform and is equipped with 128GB/256GB of storage; that works out to a price of $1,399.99 and $1,499.99 respectively (24 monthly payments of $46.67/$50). A 3577mAh dual battery keeps the lights on and there is no support for 5G service. An 11MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture handles your photographic needs. Android 10 is pre-installed with an update to Android 11 expected soon.
On Friday, Microsoft released a new 60-second television ad for the device titled “A new way to get things done.” The commercial, which you’ll probably see when viewing sporting events on TV this weekend, highlights several features of the Surface Duo including the fact that it runs all Android apps. Yup, there is no “app gap” with this Microsoft handset. After all, the death of Windows Phone was very much due to the fact that the platform’s app storefront had shelves as empty as the ones inside the local Piggly Wiggly the day before a hurricane. With the Surface Duo in your hands, you can run two apps side-by-side and even create pre-selected pairs of two related apps that automatically load side-by-side with the tap of one icon.
As we’ve pointed out, for $1,399.99 you don’t get the latest chipset, nor is the phone 5G capable. And while Microsoft’s advertisements like to show how the Surface Duo works with all of the currently available generations of the Surface Slim Pen, Surface Pen, and Surface Hub 2 Pen, you’ll go nuts trying to find one of these in the box. That’s because purchasing one of the digital writing instruments for the phone is optional. For example, the Surface Slim Pen will cost you an additional $111.14 at the Microsoft Store.
The commercial also points out that you can drag and drop between apps and even play Xbox together while apart. Holding the Surface Duo in landscape, the top screen can show the game display while the bottom screen streams live video of your opponent. And the hinge allows you to create different modes such as tablet mode, tent mode, compose mode, book mode, and peek mode. You can find the one that makes watching streaming video or doing other tasks more comfortable for you.
If Microsoft is encouraged by the numbers put up by the Surface Duo and decides to release a sequel, we would imagine that the next iteration of the device will feature a more current chipset, a better camera system, and 5G support. That is what Samsung
did with the Galaxy Z Flip 5G
; so if you’re unsure whether to dip your feet in the dual-screen pool and purchase the Surface Duo, you might want to hold off to see whether Microsoft plans on producing a mid-generation refreshed model.
At this point in time, the most interesting question about the Surface Duo is whether it will be perceived as a direct rival to foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold
, the Galaxy Z Flip
, and the Motorola Razr
. Or does the difference between a phone with a foldable screen and one with a dual-screen mean that the two different form factors attract two different types of users? We might not know the answer to that question for a few months yet.