The Surface Duo was first presented almost a year ago. In October 2019 Microsoft showed first details of its dual-screen Android smartphone, which has two separate OLED displays on the inside. After months of uncertainty, during which, among others, Microsoft’s managers could be seen in public with the device, it has now been announced that the Surface Duo will be available at a price of $1,399.
According to The Verge pre-orders are accepted today at AT&T, Best Buy, and the Microsoft Store in the US. The official launch date is September 10th, 2020. However, prices and dates for an international launch are not yet known.
Probably the most important technical detail of the Surface Duo are the two displays with 1,800×1,350 pixels inside with display diagonals of 5.6 inches each. The 3:2 format of the two combined displays results in an 8.1-inch display with a total of 2,700×1,800 pixels.
The two halves of the housing are connected by a hinge, but the two displays are split in two and not connected to each other, as is the case with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. The dangers of a flexible display are thus eliminated.
Surface Duo with Snapdragon 855 but without 5G
The processor is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 with 6 GB RAM. Microsoft does not use 5G in the Surface Duo, so users are limited to LTE. NFC or wireless charging is also not available. The internal memory of 128 or 256 GB for data and apps cannot be expanded.
The camera is also rather limited. The Surface Duo only has a single 11-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 lens and a 7x “superzoom”. The camera allows video recording in up to 4K at 60 frames per second. Electronic image stabilization protects against unsteady hands.
Somewhat surprising is also the comparatively low battery capacity. The two batteries, which are each housed in one half of the case, offer a total of only 3,577 mAh. For comparison: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra offers 4,500 mAh. Microsoft promises that this is still sufficient for 15.5 hours of video playback.
Surface Duo: Software to make intelligent use of displays
In addition to the hardware, the software also plays an important role in the dual-screen smartphone. According to Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, all Android apps should be able to run on the Surface Duo as before without any modifications.
However, developers will be able to optimize their apps for the two displays. Microsoft has done this, for example, with its own Office apps and OneDrive. Amazon is also offering a customized Kindle app.
Furthermore, Microsoft has developed an intelligent solution to improve working with two displays. If it detects that a link has been tapped on one display, it opens on the other screen. An example is the opening of a link from a mail – this opens in the browser on the other display.
Microsoft has worked closely with Google to adapt Android to the dual-screen smartphone. The software interfaces developed in the process are to be made available in Android for other companies in the future to promote such devices and foldables in general.