In collaboration with Google, Microsoft has created its first dual-screen Android device, the Surface Duo. The new “foldable” phone costs $1399, and it’s available starting September 10, 2020.
The Surface Duo is not an attempt to reinvent the phone, instead it is a pocketable device with two screens that brings together the Microsoft 365 services, some of the familiarity of Windows 10, and the full library of Android mobile apps to help you be more productive on the go.
The new device features two 5.6-inch OLED displays connected using a 360-degree hinge design that creates an 8.1-inch canvas, which you can also use individually or together, across a variety of modes. The displays are designed to work like a multiple monitor setup, which in theory should help you be more productive.
It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB of memory and up to 256GB of storage. Also, there is a two-piece 3577mAh battery that sits behind the two screens, and according to the company, you’ll get up to 15.5 hours of video playback, up to 27 hours of talk time, and up to 10 days of standby battery.
Surface Duo specs list
Here’s the list of specs for the Surface Duo:
|Surface Duo specs|
|Dimensions||Open: 145.2 mm (H) x 186.9 mm (W) x 4.8 mm (T)
Closed: 145.2 mm (H) x 93.3 mm (W) x 9.9 mm (T at hinge)
|Display||Dual PixelSense Fusion Displays open: 8.1” AMOLED, 2700x1800 (3:2), 401 PPI
Single PixelSense Display: 5.6” AMOLED, 1800x1350 (4:3), 401 PPI
Display Material: Corning Gorilla Glass
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform optimized for the dual-screen experience|
|Storage and memory||128GB UFS 3.0
256GB UFS 3.0
|Network||WiFi-5 802.11ac (2.4/5GHz)
LTE: 4x4 MIMO, Cat.18 DL / Cat 5 UL, 5CA, LAA. Up to 1.2Gbps Download / Up to 150Mbps Upload
GSM/GPRS: GSM-850, E-GSM-900, DCS-1800, PCS-1900
Location: GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou, QZSS
|Camera and video recording||Adaptive camera 11MP, f/2.0, 1.0 µm, PDAF and 84.0° diagonal FOV optimized with AI for front and rear
Auto mode with low-light & HDR multi-frame photo capture and dynamic range scene detection
Super resolution zoom, and super zoom up to 7x
Portrait mode with adjustable depth control
4K video recording at 30 fps and 60 fps
1080p video recording at 30 fps and 60 fps
HEVC and H.264 video recording formats
Gyro-based digital video stabilization
|Video conferencing||Microsoft Teams and Skype video conferencing up to 1080p at 30fps
High CRI LED Flash for both front and world facing photo and video scenarios
|Battery life||Up to 15.5 hours of Local Video Playback
Up to 10 days of Standby Time
Up to 27 hours of Talk Time
|Battery capacity||3577mAh (typical) dual battery|
|Battery charging||Battery charging using 18W in box power supply|
One Nano SIM
(AT&T locked device will not support eSIM)
Dual Ambient Light Sensor
|Security and authentication||
Biometric lock type: Fingerprint reader (1:100K FAR <3% FRR)
Lock type: Swipe, PIN, password
Security applications pre-loaded on device: Microsoft Authenticator
|Exterior||Exterior Material: Corning Gorilla Glass
|Operating system||Android 10|
|Software||Microsoft preloaded applications:
Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Office Lens, PDF Reader, and more
Microsoft To Do
Microsoft Bing Search
Intune Company Portal
Microsoft Solitaire Collection
Microsoft Surface Duo UI core features:
Dual screen windowing
Microsoft 365 Feed
Microsoft SwiftKey Adaptive Keyboard
Your Phone Companion - Link to Windows
Google preinstalled apps:
Google Play Movies & TV
Google Play Store
HBO MAX (AT&T)
AT&T TV (AT&T)
My AT&T (AT&T)
Call Protect (AT&T)
Amazon Shopping (AT&T)
|Video playback||Video Playback Formats: MKV, MOV, MP4, H.265(HEVC), AVI, WMV, TS, 3GP, FLV, WEBM
Wireless: Chromecast support
Wired: DisplayPort over USB-C. Supports video out when connecting via HDMI Adapter
|Audio||Mono speaker, Dual Mic noise suppression and echo cancellation optimized for productive use in all postures
Best-in-class Full Duplex communication for voice calls in hands-free mode
Audio formats supported: 3GP, MP3, MP4, MKV, WAV, OGG, M4A, AAC, TS, AMR, FLAC, MID, MIDI, RTTL, RTX, OTA, IMY
Qualcomm aptX Adaptive
|Pen and inking||Supports all in market generations of Surface Slim Pen, Surface Pen and Surface Hub 2 Pen
Simultaneous Pen and touch are supported
|Countries, carriers, and compatibility||Countries: U.S.
Unlocked device: AT&T and T-Mobile
Locked device: AT&T
|Language support||Android 10 supported languages|
|In the box||Surface Duo
Surface Duo Bumper (Color: Glacier)
Surface Duo USB-C Power Supply (18w)
Quick Start Guide
Warranty and Compliance Guide
SIM Ejector tool
Although the tech specs hardware should be enough to use the device as advertised, the Surface Duo includes a 3577mAh battery which is relatively small compared to the 4380mAh on the original Samsung Galaxy Fold. Also, the Duo does not include 5G or NFC support, and it only includes a single 11-megapixel camera.
In addition to the hardware, Microsoft has also made a lot of tweaks to the version of Android that comes with the Duo. For instance, even though, it’s running Google’s mobile operating system, the interface has been tweaked to have a Windows-like feel with the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, desktop-like experience with shortcuts, square icons, and the ability to work with apps side-by-side.
The main reason Microsoft went with Android is because of the app ecosystem in the Google Play Store, and it’s committed to support the device and apps with updates for three years, similar to other companies like Google and Samsung.
With Surface Duo any Android app will run out-of-the-box without any modification. However, Microsoft has updated its Office apps, Microsoft Teams, and OneDrive to span correctly across the two screens, and third-party apps, such as the Amazon Kindle app have been adapted to make it like if you were reading a real book. Developers can also tweak their apps to take advantage of the new display layout on Surface Duo and other devices coming in the future.
The company has even created algorithms to predict how to open apps on different displays. For example, if you’re on one display, and you’re opening a link, it’ll fill the other display. You’ll also find other interesting features, such as an onboard keyboard that will appear on the screen with the input field that shrinks slightly to the edge, so the letters are within reach of your fingers. Also, there is a feature known as app groups that allows you to create custom shortcuts to launch a pair of apps together on each screen at the same time.
Of course, the Office apps have been customized to help take advantage of the new layout. For instance, when using the Microsoft Edge browser, you can drag text to the other screen and drop it on Microsoft To Do to create a list.
All these hardware and software ideas are not new, since we have heard and seen various attempt, but it appears that out of the collaboration between Microsoft and Google, the Surface Duo may just be the first device to pull it off.
The new software implementation won’t be exclusive to the Surface Duo, since the company revealed that the tweaks have been implemented in the Android codebase, which means that they will be available for any company that wants to create similar experiences.
The Surface Duo is the thinnest Surface that Microsoft has ever created, and you can order it now from the Microsoft Store, Best Buy, and AT&T.
It’ll be available first in the United States starting September 10, and only in the AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon networks.