Microsoft Surface Duo: All you need to know about the new Surface Phone

It's a dual-screen foldable that's an Android tablet and phone in one
Microsoft Surface Duo: All you need to know about the new Surface Phone
Microsoft Surface Duo: All you need to know about the new Surface Phone

The Surface Duo is here. That is every thing you need to know about the phone-tablet hybrid – a ‘Surface Phone’ in all but name.

Microsoft had been rumoured to be engaged on a Surface Phone – since not less than 2016. The Microsoft Surface Duo is that gadget and Microsoft did counsel to Pocket-lint it has been in Development for fairly a while.

The Duo is a dual-screen, foldable Android-based gadget. As such it is a different proposition to present foldable phones and straight-up mini-tablets, such because the iPad mini.

Surface Duo is an thrilling gadget in idea, but the reviews have been combined – though Time referred to as it “probably the greatest innovations of 2020” – so must you be enthusiastic about one now the worldwide roll-out has begun?

What’s Surface Duo?

  • Foldable pill that can be used as a Phone
  • Based round Google Android

At its 2019 Surface release occasion, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, demonstrated how Duo can do every thing you’d count on from a modern smartphone and pill.

As an illustration, you need to use it to play with apps and make calls, and it could even slot in your pocket. However, Panay stated the company would not view the brand new Surface Duo as a smartphone – regardless of its potential for use for calls.

In a submit to release Surface Duo within the US, Panay added some extra background to the creation of Surface Duo: “After we created Surface seven years in the past, we needed to problem conference by redefining expectations for what a productivity gadget needs to be, and what it ought to do. Put merely, we needed to assist folks get issues performed.

“We did not got down to mix two present gadgets – the pill and the laptop. We had a vision for the way we might take the perfect parts of every to create one thing totally new. To search out that exmobileent intersection of {hardware} and software that unlocks a extra intuitive technique to work and create.”

Yep, Microsoft needs this to be a completely new kind of gadget, able to giving one thing different to the consumer than the company’s present 2-in-1 Surface gadgets. The thought is to attraction to those that prefer to be productive on their smartphones, but who struggle to finish complicated duties away from a laptop – the Samsung Galaxy Be aware crowd, in different phrases.

Microsoft is clearly apprehensive to pitch this as a Phone due to its earlier struggles in that market (remember Windows Phone?). while Surface laptops and tablets are profitable, Microsoft’s forays into mobile gadgets have been disastrous.

Microsoft didn’t make successful of its own mobile working system, and its buy of Nokia in 2013 was one of many largest company fails in historical past, inflicting Microsoft to write-off $7.6 billion. It lastly stopped its Windows Phone effort in 2017.

Surface Duo price and release date

  • Out there from AT&T, Microsoft Store and Finest Buy within the US
  • 18 February 2021: Out there in UK, Canada, France, Germany

As we talked about, Microsoft revealed the Surface Duo in October 2019 – but with the warning that it would not be on sale for a while to return.

That point got here to the US market in 2020 – it is still obtainable from AT&T, Microsoft Store and Finest Buy. Microsoft has also announced it will likely be coming to the UK, Canada, France and Germany – obtainable from 18 February 2021.

The US price started at $1,399, which simply six weeks after release dropped to $1,199. From February 2021 the worth is lower still, at $999.

The UK price would not see a beneficial Kilos-to-{Dollars} conversion in any respect, with £1,349 being the beginning asking price.

So, sure, the worth is excessive – but is not ridiculous in comparison with high-capacity variations of rivals, such because the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely.

Surface Duo software

  • Android with a light skin Based on Android 10
  • Development now in home

Surface Duo runs Google Android, albeit a closely skinned version of the mobile working system. It really reminds us of Windows 10 X that might be coming to another dual-screen Windows gadgets. The Duo provides standard Android apps (through the Google Play Store) and you’ll Position or settle for calls too.

Microsoft says it’s persevering with to enhance the software, saying that – through App Annie data – it’s now the third-largest developer for the Android ecosystem globally.

The transfer to Android is, in fact, fascinating. while Windows mobileular limped alongaspect for many of its life till it was put out of its distress, the “new Microsoft” has taken a vastly different method to the world’s thirst for smartphones since CEO Satya Nadella took over the lead of Microsoft from Steve Ballmer in 2014.

As a substitute – alongaspect its Windows 10 effort – it has targeted on developing mobile apps that work nicely on Apple iOS and Android. It has partnered with Apple previously to convey WorkPosition to the iPad as a part of Apple’s iPad Pro drive and now it has teamed up with Google for this gadget. Sure, there is a Google search bar on the house screen.

Microsoft says it needs to assist form the dual-screen class “by offering consistency in the way in which prospects expertise it and builders design apps.” And Panay made it clear Microsoft is working with Google so as to add options to Android to allow this to work extra seamlessly.

You’ll be able to create your individual App Teams to robotically open your most popular suite of apps and Microsoft says that over 1,000 different distinctive teams have up to now been created. “We have heard from prospects who open their Surface Duo as quickly as they get of their automobile,” says Pete Kyriacou, vp of Microsoft Gadgets “with Spotify taking part in on one screen while Google Maps guides them to their destination on the opposite. There are quite a few possibilities for ownizing your Surface Duo expertise.”

Some apps have been customised especially for Surface Duo – in addition to Microsoft WorkPosition, TikTok and Spotify will present you movies or allow you to play music on one screen whilst you browse on the opposite, while the Amazon Kindle app lets you learn off the dual-screen similar to a guide.

Apparently, Microsoft is now operating the Android Development itself after initially contracting the work elsewhere by way of a third-party referred to as Movial. Again in July 2020, Microsoft acquired Movial so has been working to convey lots of its staff in home.

Panay suggests a number of different methods to make use of Surface Duo: “Position Surface Duo’s screen like a tent and watch video hands-free. Use Surface Duo in Compose mode to shortly reply to an mail, or tilt it into portrait for a extra immersive technique to scroll by way of net pages or pictures. Pair your Surface Duo with a supported Bluetooth controller to play video games on Xbox Sport Go Final. Or simply take notes with the Surface Slim Pen, bought Separately.”

Surface Duo screens

  • Twin 5.6-inch (1,800 x 1,350 decision) OLED screens with 4:Three aspect ratio
  • Can work Separately or as an 8.1-inch single (2,700 x 1,800) 3:2 screen
  • Designed with no external screen
  • Surface Pen support

The Surface Duo looks quite a bit like Microsoft’s bigger dual-screen (and MIA) Windows 10X-powered Surface Neo, but it surely’s extra pocketable. It options two 5.6-inch screens calibrated together for color and luminance. It rotates on a bespoke 360-degree hinge in order that it really works as an 8.1-inch pill with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Separately, the screens have a 4:Three aspect ratio.

The screen is 4.8mm thick, so folded together it will be 9.6mm. while that is thicker than most flagship phones, it is still decent. However, we are able to see some criticism on the horizon for the thick bezels on the high and backaspect of the screens. In case you thought it regarded outdated in 2019, then virtually two years on at precise release it looks much more so.

The gadget can fold together to guard the screens, or open up in order that each screens will be concurrently used. You’ll be able to even have the gadget closed with one screen dealing with out, like a Phone. Corning’s Gorilla Glass is used but there might be a canopy within the field.

As we talked about, every screen can run two different apps on the similar time. You’ll be able to even use one of many screens as a keyboard – the most likely situation – or sport controller.

The “peek” feature exhibits you notifications, which seem on the precise aspect of the screen so you’ll be able to cope with them with out having to fully open the gadget. For calls, you can even open the Surface Duo totally to accept an incoming name.

Surface Duo hardware

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 platform, 6GB RAM
  • 64GB storage (up to 256GB optional)
  • It is a 4G gadget, no 5G connectivity

The Surface Duo prototype featured a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor. So while we believed it could use the newer Snapdragon 865 within the final version, it would not. Which, once more, by 2021 requirements is now generations behind. Like lots of the different key specs it is disappointing for the hefty price tag.

There might be no 5G version – it is 4G only for now – but this may absolutely change sooner or later. There is a bodily SIM slot quite than being eSIM solely.

The Duo has 6GB of reminiscence and 64/256GB storage sizes. Charging and data connectivity is through USB-C. There is a fingerprint reader, too.

As with different foldable gadgets there are two batteries, providing you with 3,577mAh in complete – which is disappointing contemplating the bigger 4,380mAh capability within the Samsung Galaxy Fold. There is not stellar battery life in consequence – especially since there are two separate screens. Microsoft has previously stated that you’re going to get all-day battery life, but we expect the jury could be very a lot out on that.

Surface Duo camera

  • Single 11 megapixel camera, f/2.0 aperture
  • Video support up to 4K

As with different tablets (with the notable exception of the iPad Pro) the cameras aren’t best-in-class – but ought to still present an honest expertise.

There’s an 11 megapixel sensor that supports 4K and Full HD video at 60fps – but there is not a second one on the surface. It also options picture stabilisation (digital not optical) plus a 7x digital zoom and HDR support.