Microsoft Surface Duo is now official. The software giant has announced the launch of an important device because it represents the return of the company to the mobile phone market and Microsoft’s premiere in the new category of next-generation folding devices.
Microsoft Surface Duo was the icing on the hardware event that the company held at the end of 2019, where it showed the updates for the Surface Pro 7, Surface Laptop 3 or novelties such as the Surface Pro X and the Surface Neo. In principle, Christmas 2020 was cited as the launch date. In times of COVID where product delay is the norm, it may surprise the four-month advance in launch, something that can be explained by the hardware of the terminal and an obvious outdated for a top of the range of 2020.
Satya Nadella said years ago, when Microsoft exited the mobile phone business in the face of the Nokia and Windows Mobile fiasco, that they would come back when they had something “unique and innovative” to present that set itself apart from the competition. You will give your opinion if it has complied, but we fear that this Duo is only the first attempt at what will come later. And so they have recognized Microsoft officials in the announcement: “Surface Duo is a first-generation device and we are still in the early stages of exploring where we could go next.”
Microsoft Surface Duo, features
The device is just as we had been announcing. Halfway between mobile and tablet, with a double screen format, it is similar to the Surface Neo, with an identical external finish, but with a smaller size. Although Microsoft does not want to classify the Duo as a simple mobile but rather as “a device for mobile productivity”, it is clear that it is a smartphone by format, features and the use of an operating system such as Android.
Its design is well known to you. It has two independent displays with technology 5.6-inch PixelSense (AMOLED) and joined by a set of hinges that will allow movements up to 360 degrees. Unfolded, it offers a massive diagonal of 8.1 inch. Dual displays are undoubtedly key to the functionality of the Surface Duo, and Microsoft says users can view two apps at once or run them together on both displays.
The chassis is built on a magnesium alloy, a compound that Microsoft has used throughout the Surface line and that provides lightness, resistance and great appeal. The rounded corners stand out with the Surface logo presiding over the external cover, in a really attractive white (Glacier) finish as we have seen in recent months.
As for the internal hardware, the chipset is confirmed Snapdragon 855 as the engine of the device. It was Qualcomm’s star of 2019 and it’s still a good development, but there are already a lot of models with two superior Qualcomm SoCs (Snapdragon 865 and Plus), including other foldable ones like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold2. Its use in Microsoft’s flagship would have been expected considering its price. Surely the guys from Redmond have not arrived on time and the advance of the launch on the scheduled date has been forced not to launch the terminal even more outdated.
Nor do they thrill 6 Gbytes of RAM, well below the amount installed on the top of the Android range. Apple has done wonders on iPhones with less memory, but we don’t know if this Duo will be just as optimized considering the needs of the dual screen and Google’s operating system. Better on internal storage with two versions of 128GB and 256GB. It does not reach the possibilities of other flagships either, but they must be sufficient.
It uses a dual battery with a capacity of 3,577 mAh. Seems short for a dual screen device, but Microsoft assures that it will provide autonomy of up to “15.5 hours of local video playback” and “up to 27 hours of talk time.” We will see. In terms of cameras, it only mounts an 11 MP (f / 2.0) sensor, a rarity for a modern smartphone.
And it doesn’t have 5G either. Although the new mobile broadband networks are not yet as widespread as promised, a terminal of this price cannot afford not to offer support for them. Important components such as Wi-Fi 6 or less relevant such as NFC or lack of stereo speakers are also missing, but that adds to the rest of the hardware deficiencies. Taking into account the sale price, the Microsoft Surface Duo does not exactly stand out in this section as you will see summarized in its main specifications:
Separate displays: Two 5.6-inch PixelSense Fusion Display AMOLED panels, with a resolution of 1800 x 1350 pixels (4: 3), 401 PPI Unfolded screen: 8.1-inch PixelSense Fusion Display AMOLED, with a resolution of 2700 x 1800 pixels (3 : 2), 401 PPI Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 RAM: 6 GB Storage: 128 – 256 GB UFS 3.0 Camera: 11 MP sensor, f / 2.0, 1.0 µm, PDAF with 84 degrees of diagonal FOV and optimization for AI Connectivity: USB Type-C 3.1. Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, 4G-LTE. GPS. On-screen fingerprint sensor. Open dimensions: 145.2 mm x 186.9 mm x 4.8 mm Closed dimensions: 145.2 mm x 93.3 mm x 9.9 mm Weight: 250 grams Battery: Dual with 3,577 mAh Operating system: Android 10
Microsoft Surface Duo, software
It’s the only Android-governed Surface and the only Microsoft own-brand hardware that doesn’t work with Windows. Something that would have been unthinkable until a few years ago, but that today is perfectly understood considering that Microsoft has adopted Android as its reference system in mobility and has produced dozens of apps. Product Manager Panos Panay was not cut off on the announcement: “We have partnered with Google to bring the best of Android inside the Surface Duo.”
And why not Windows 10X? A group of users signed a petition on Change.org for Microsoft to develop a Surface Duo with Windows 10X and deliver “what it has promised for years: a new Windows smartphone.” It has not been possible for various reasons. Microsoft’s new system is not ready and indeed the Surface Neo has been delayed. In addition, it does not have enough applications to power a smartphone.
As Panay says, the Surface Duo brings together the best of Microsoft and Google in one product. In other words, the device is designed to offer the most important applications and services of both. The list of pre-installed apps is huge:
Microsoft Outlook Microsoft Teams Microsoft OneDrive Microsoft Edge Microsoft OneNote
Microsoft To Do Microsoft News Microsoft Authenticator
Microsoft Bing Search Intune Company LinkedIn Portal Microsoft Solitaire Collection Surface Audio
Google Search Google Assistant Google Calendar Google Drive Google Duo Google Photos Google Play Movies & TV Google Play Store Google Maps Chrome Gmail YouTube YouTube Music Contacts Messages Phones Files Clock Calculator Sound recorder Spotify
And some others from Microsoft specific for the operation of the dual screen. Too many apps and too many repetitions, duplicating web browsers, video conferencing tools or double search engines.
Microsoft Surface Duo, availability and price
The terminal can now be reserved in the US Microsoft Store for expected availability on September 10 and in two configurations:
With 128 GB of storage capacity: $ 1,399
With 256GB of storage capacity: $ 1,499
Microsoft will deliver the Duo with accessories such as a special protective case, a Surface Pen stylus, a USB Type-C charger, and the Surface EarBuds. Supports all generations of Surface Slim Pen, Surface Pen, and Surface Hub 2 Pen.
In principle it will be released in the United States and we do not know when it will reach the international market. Despite its undoubted appeal and what it brings to the new generation of folding devices with flexible displays or dual displays, it will cost to sell taking into account its high price, an internal hardware from 2019 and without 5G features, something that is not typical of a current flagship. And for the most staunch Microsoft fans, without Windows.
It’s hard to find the “unique and innovative” adjectives that Nadella promised, but it is important that Microsoft returns to the mobile industry with its own device and a focus more on a professional rather than a consumer audience. It is only the beginning. Samsung was not exactly right on the launch of the Galaxy Fold, but it was the beginning for more advanced folding. It is certain that Surface Duo 2 is already in development, as is Windows 10X for the Surface Neo, which in future generations could replace Android.