Microsoft initially promised that the dual-screen Surface Duo mobile device would be launching at the end of 2020, just in time for the holiday season, but there are rumblings that it could now go on sale as early as April or May.
Inside sources speaking to Windows Central (opens in new tab) report that Microsoft wants to bring the launch window forward in order to make the most of the buzz around the device – and to avoid releasing a 4G gadget in a market where 5G has become the norm.
Much of the work on the Surface Duo is done, apparently. It runs Android 10, with a few extra customizations, and that software has been in the wild since last August. A few finishing touches are all that's required.
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The hardware is pretty much set as well, according to the insiders. Different configurations of the Surface Duo are going to be available, but they'll all be based around the Snapdragon 855 processor, which means no support for 5G connectivity.
Four or five Gs
While you'll struggle to get a strong 5G signal in all but a few limited spots around the world at the moment, Microsoft knows that it doesn't look good in terms of futureproofing if its folding Surface Duo device launches without it.
Getting the gadget out earlier than planned would mitigate that problem to some extent – by the time that 5G does become widespread, a Surface Duo 2 might be just around the corner, though that probably depends on how the first one does.
It's going to be interesting to see how the split-screen interface works on the phone (though Microsoft is definitely not calling it a phone): we've already seen leaks that show how a quick 'peek' at the displays will reveal your notifications.
The much bigger Microsoft Surface Neo – running Windows rather than Android – is also due out before the end of the year, but as yet there's no indication that Microsoft is thinking about bringing forward that particular launch.