Late last year in October, Microsoft had announced the Surface Duo, the company’s first ever Android device and first-party smartphone (if you can call it that) release in years. What makes the Surface Duo special is its symmetric dual-screen nature and 360° hinge mechanism that allows the device to fold itself shut like a book – to fully opening itself up with two opposing displays. Today Microsoft is finally making the Surface Duo available for pre-order – although availability will be limited to the US.

Microsoft Surface Duo
  Surface Duo
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 
1x Kryo 485 (Cortex-A76) @ 2.84GHz
3x Kryo 485 (Cortex-A76) @ 2.42GHz
4x Kryo 485 (Cortex-A55) @ 1.80GHz

Adreno 640 @ 585MHz
DRAM 6GB LPDDR4X
Display Dual 5.6" solid OLED with 360° hinge
1800 x 1350 (4:3)

Unfolded 8.1" effective diagonal at 2700x1800 (3:2)
Size Height 145.2 mm
Width 93.3 mm (closed) - 186.9 mm (open)
Depth 9.9mm (closed) - 4.8 mm (open)
Weight 250 grams
Battery Capacity 3577mAh total (dual cells)
Wireless Charging -
Rear Cameras
Main 11MP 1.0 µm
f/2.0
Telephoto -
Wide -
Extra -
Front Camera -
Storage 128 / 256 GB UFS 3.0
I/O USB-C
Wireless (local) 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5.0 LE + NFC
Cellular (Category 12/5)
DL = 1200Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
Other Features It folds
Dual-SIM 1x nanoSIM + eSIM
Launch Price $1399

Starting off with the uninteresting stuff – the internal hardware of the Surface Duo isn’t all that exciting as it features a last generation Snapdragon 855 SoC. Given the device’s early announcement last year it seems Microsoft took a long time to bring the device to market. We’re seeing a standard amount of DRAM and storage space with 6GB and either 128GB or 256GB options. All in all there’s nothing too special about the internals here and are in line with 2019 flagships.

The device’s key characteristic is naturally its symmetrical folding design with two 5.6” 1800 x 1350 resolution OLED screens. Although we call this a folding device, this doesn’t actually apply to the displays as they’re two distinct units covered with solid glass.

Further unique to the design is the hinge mechanism which is symmetrical as well – it allows for a full 360° tilt of the two sides, meaning you can have the device either fully shut, or you can have it fully opened with both screen facing outwards.

Microsoft opted for relatively unusual form-factors here as the screens are each 4:3 – and when opened up it gives you a sort of effective 8.1” diagonal 3:2 surface to work with.

The dimensions of the device come at 145.2mm height in portrait mode, and one side is 93.3mm wide, which opens up till 186.9mm. Each half is extremely thin at only 4.8mm meaning that even when folded it remains a relatively reasonable 9.9mm in thickness.

The device’s 360° folding nature means that the internal screen surface can face completely outwards, and Microsoft took advantage of this for their camera design, of which the Surface Duo only has a single unit. The 11MP 1µm pixel f/2.0 standard wide-angle unit is relatively conservative in specifications, but that’s the compromise that had to be made to fit into a 4.8mm thick chassis and not having the possibility to employ a camera bump.

Microsoft positions the Surface Duo as a productivity device, and its first-party applications such as the Microsoft 365 suite will be optimised for the experience. This seemingly will be the deciding factor as to how the Surface Duo will be received, as it represents quite a niche device market.

The Surface Duo is available for pre-order now at a very high price of $1399, with availability only in the US and compatibility with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, with availability starting September 10th.

The device’s high price and relatively lacklustre specifications will likely result in limited adoption amongst users- and the device in general feels more like an experiment than a product that’s aimed at commercial success.

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  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - link

    Being niche doesnt give the excuse to vastly overprice a device unless there is also demand for such device. A first gen device wont have that demand. Especially with so many hardware shortcomings.

    I mean small battery, last gen processor, no expandable storage, no wi fi 6, no headphone jack (despite being a very large device), running android instead of windows (especially with android 11 clamping down on storage capabilities of apps). Too many downsides, there are already tons of android phones out there with better processors and batteries from proven manufacturers.
    Reply
  • nico_mach - Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - link

    You're making a good point until the end. The list of 'proven manufacturers' for Android is vanishingly small now. Samsung. Nokia? The pre-Chinese era makers are gone or dodgy (LG, HTC, Moto) and the Chinese makers are not proven and are looking worse. Regardless of whether you trust Huawei, you can't count on them providing Android or new phones reliably, right? Not their fault, maybe, but there it is.

    Microsoft is one of the largest, most successful companies in the world with a decent hardware business and they qualify as 'proven' more than most. $1400 is a stretch even for a 'concept' phone, but at least they are a reliable, proven vendor.
    Reply
  • BedfordTim - Thursday, August 13, 2020 - link

    The Chinese makers are proven but I would pay extra for a well supported MS device.
    I am due a new phone and the choice is far from easy.
    I tried Apple who have lovely hardware but apps are either missing or I will need to buy them again.
    The obvious choice of Huawei is caught up in the trade war.
    Samsung offer full Your Phone support but their recent flagships have weird specs and terrible user reviews.
    That leaves Xiaomi and Oppo but they only offer phablets.
    In all likelihood I will get something like a P30 as a stopgap until there is a good option.
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, August 13, 2020 - link

    I disagree. Motorola has made good dependable low and midrange phones for years. Their high end is more hit or miss, but their E, G, and X lines are good, so is the Z line.

    LG has had a rocky past, but the V60 shows a lot of promise. If their design decisions trickle down into midrange designs, LG may have another shot.

    Samsung obviously, and their market share is HUGE.

    Nokia makes some good phones as well, just not high end ones.

    Really HTC is the only shaky phone maker. I dont count the chinese phones because gray market imports are a no-go for me in the first place.

    The point here is that MS has repeatedly dropped the ball on windows phone. Their ARM surfaces went without support for years now. If you buy a android phone froma current phone maker, you can expect it to work for 5+ years without issue. MS? Well, the Duo is a unique design, who knows what software bugs will creep up when MS pulls a google and looses interest. Same for the battery, many high end and midrang ephones you can get the batteries replaced, a low selling surface device not so much. Replacement batteries for the lumia 950s were nearly impossible to find, and those were removable FFS!
    Reply
  • hansmuff - Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - link

    Agreeing with you. This is the price of Samsung's flagship phone and of course doesn't provide the same in camera or speed but addresses a totally different audience anyway. I think the price is just right.

    I kind of like this thing.
    Reply
  • YB1064 - Thursday, August 13, 2020 - link

    The list price is insane. Worth about 500 bucks tops and only if it comes with a backpack. Reply
  • CaedenV - Thursday, August 13, 2020 - link

    Half expected though. Every 1st gen Surface device has been insanely priced for what it is, and by the 3rd gen the features have either risen to meet the price, or the price has come down to meet what the product really does.
    I really like this idea though! I had an unreasonable love for my old Windows Phones, and would not mind trying out their flavor of Android... just not for over $1000. I don't spend more than $400 for phones these days (typically 1-2 year old flagships), so this will need to drop to the $6-800 range before it gets my interest.
    Reply
  • thetrashcanisfull - Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - link

    Other features: it folds

    lol
    Reply
  • drexnx - Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - link

    gonna post exactly this.

    lol.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - link

    It's a nice touch Reply

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