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Microsoft Surface Duo phone release date, news, features

Microsoft Surface Duo
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Microsoft Surface Duo is shaping up to be everything we’ve ever wanted from Microsoft’s much-anticipated phone. Even if Microsoft isn’t officially calling it a smartphone.

Unveiled at the October 2019 Surface event and recently shown off in an emulator, the Surface Duo certainly sounds like a phone considering its features. Not only can it make calls, but it can also be folded up to a size that fits comfortably in one hand and in your pants pocket. Plus, it runs on Android, per Wired. However, Microsoft referred to it as a “communication device” on stage, so we’ll see if there are any surprises that disqualify it from being considered a proper phone.

To be fair, there’s more to the Surface Duo than its phone function. It boasts dual 5.6-inch screens, but when unfolded, it can be used as an 8.3-inch tablet-like device. It can also be bent farther than flat - the full 360 degrees – for a front-to-back viewing mode. In fact, the Surface Duo strongly resembles another new device introduced during the October 2019 event - the Microsoft Surface Neo, a larger dual-screen tablet that runs a version of Windows 10 optimized for the two-display setup. 

Again, it already sounds like an amazing device. In fact, Brian Sozzi, Editor-at-Large of Yahoo Finance, called it a “darn slick device” after he recently spotted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella using an early version. Here’s all we know about the smaller smartphone thus far, which we’ll be refining as information comes in over the next 12 months.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Surface Duo price and release date 

The Microsoft Surface Duo will hit the streets in time for the 'holiday 2020' season, so likely before December 2020. We don’t know how much it will cost, or which regions it will be released in first. Hint: with two screens, it'll be expensive.

We also don’t know whether it will be sold by carriers on contract. This might be contingent on whether the device is considered a phone at all, and fit in that product category.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Surface Duo design, display and features

The Microsoft Surface Duo looks exactly like a shrunken version of the Microsoft Surface Neo, a dual-screen tablet also introduced at Microsoft’s October 2019 event. But as a smaller handheld device that allows users to make calls, the Surface Duo is arguably a foldable phone.

The Surface Duo has two 5.6-inch screens, but unlike other foldables, its displays are made of Gorilla Glass - just split by a very visible hinge. While that means it isn't quite as seamless an experience as the Huawei Mate X or the just-launched Samsung Galaxy Fold, using tried-and-tested durable glass might keep the Surface Duo from experiencing issues seen by early foldables - for instance, the Galaxy Fold's plastic display is still breaking, even after its refinements.

Unfolded, the Duo stretches to 8.3 inches - which is just larger than the iPad Mini  5 with its 7.9-inch display. It can be bent farther than flat - the full 360 degrees, allowing for front-to-back glass. The opposite is true, too, as the Duo can be folded shut, with no exterior screen...the first handheld device in a long time that won't need a cover to protect its screens.

The Duo will run Android - presumably whatever comes after Android 10, which introduced support for foldable screens. Microsoft said on stage that the Duo would be compatible with all Android apps, and it’s currently working closely with Google to make Android apps that are suited to the dual screen setup.

An emulator has already gone out to developers to simulate the dual screen functionality of The Duo. Thanks to a hands-on look from Neowin, we’ve already gotten a sneak peak at what the UI might look like, some of the Microsoft and Google apps, and how multitasking will work. And since we’re still a long way off from the actual release date, this should be a good sign that there will be plenty of dual-screen apps ready to populate The Duo once it’s released.

That sets it apart from the larger Surface Neo, which will run Windows 10X - a forked version optimized for dual-screen activity. 

(Image credit: Microsoft)

More Microsoft Surface Duo news to come

Prior to its reveal on stage, the Surface Duo hadn't even been rumored - Microsoft successfully kept the phone under wraps, which is an incredible feat these days. 

Still, the company hasn't revealed too much about its new handheld, so we're anticipating more news and rumors to surface (har) before the Duo launches in late 2020. Keep checking back as we hear more about Microsoft's fantastic new device.