Here Comes the Surface Duo

Posted on August 8, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Microsoft Surface, Mobile with 76 Comments

With Microsoft expected to formally launch the Surface Duo in coming days, some promotional renders have leaked via Twitter.

As I noted on Twitter myself, Microsoft MVPs were invited to attend a virtual Surface briefing, presumably for Duo, on August 12. The images below are from ace leaker Evan Blass on Twitter , which I found courtesy of Neowin.

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Comments (78)

78 responses to “Here Comes the Surface Duo”

  1. nicola

    boy, those bezels...

    • reefer

      In reply to nicola:

      Yeah, not nice at all. Still having a hard time imaging the consumer need for Duo. Its more geared towards office types, business that is.

      • r4961

        In reply to reefer:
        What are my choices and what is the level of palm rejection development in a "new" device?
        If I have to have the same exact display dimensions, and I plan on doing ALOT of work with the stylus while in and out of airports, subways, and on the move, then please, please, give me the bezels. I now have a surface area just large enough to rest my moderately-larger hands and fingers as I -- again -- try to be PRODUCTIVE.
        Develop better palm rejection and in later editions of the phone, THEN increase the display size (as bezels perhaps shrink) without reducing the surface area I need to write on.
        If I just want to use it as Nintendo DS emulator for games, though, then, sure, take the bezels away immediately.
        Clearly, the continual bezel complaints havent put an ounce of thought into using a stylus to do more than jot a quick note, which is something my multiple Galaxy Notes have failed at due to the size of them.
      • VancouverNinja

        In reply to reefer:

        This is the interesting attack vector - how many consumer users are business people ?

    • scovious

      In reply to nicola:

      The bezels you are referring to, at the top and bottom of the screens block out areas of the device which your fingers cannot reach without loosing grip on the device.

      You must love having to shift around your hands trying to reach all the distant corners of the various 21:9 phones. Most people like UI elements both visible and accessible though, so this design is quite pragmatic.

    • michael_goff

      In reply to nicola:

      Am I the only person not bothered by bezels?

  2. dexman335

    As a Verizon Wireless customer, I would like to be able to, at least, consider the Duo as the replacement for my aging Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

    Microsoft opted to forgo CDMA certification for the last group of Lumia smartphones thus rendering them irrelevant to customers of Verizon Wireless, Sprint and US Cellular.

    Now that VZW has mothballed that legacy network, there doesn't seem to be a reason for Microsoft to NOT submit the Duo for acceptance into VZW's 4G network.

    With the lack of concrete information coming from Microsoft, my guess is that the Duo will be announced out of the gate as an exclusive AT&T device with "more carriers coming in the months ahead". ?

  3. mclark2112

    I don't know, just not feeling this thing.

  4. rmlounsbury

    Provided this isn't off thr charts expensive I'll probably move to this. But given it's dated specs and likely average camera it's DOA if it is north of $999.

    I'd assume this ends up being $1500 or more which is too expensive for dated internals the Duo has.

  5. GCalais

    No foldable display and with those very thick bezels? This looks dated.

  6. rheuser

    I am eager to buy one if I can afford it.

  7. VancouverNinja

    In reply to ndelena:

    If you re-watch the Panos launch of the device he said we would be surprised by the cost. I am waiting for it to be moderately priced at the low end of premium.

  8. gpmpapas

    I've been running Notes since they came out. If it had 2 screens wouod never switxh. Did hard fan. But to replace a phone and tablet with one compact is awesome. I agree it's geared to business clients mostly.

  9. mtalinm

    having had the amazing Galaxy Fold for a year now, I cannot imagine wanting to have the screen split down the middle. the whole point is to have a large screen for reading pages and watching videos. What are they thinking?

    • r4961

      In reply to mtalinm:

      tbh,...I think they were thinking about more than you and what you like to do with phones.

      Can you believe that although we're going back to circa 100 BCE for the 1st binded books in history,...our society's youngest kids are getting ready to begin classes following the same basic 2-page/turn format? With all the tech and possibilities we have in 2020, no less?

      There's something to be said for things that aren't broke. In all of its glory, the Galaxy Fold does not and cannot adapt to such a format. 1st and foremost, look at it's form factor. Seam down the middle or not, the aspect ratio simply does not connect with this form factor.

      If I were planning to take a bunch of high-def photos going around town in the morning, followed by watching Youtube, movies, and toying around on Social Media, I think a new Fold would probably be my pick. However, that's just not me at the moment. I don't take pictures, I spot-check what's going on on social media on my computer instead of off so as to not get too absorbed into it, and I enjoy watching videos on the same since I'm not into needlessly straining my eyes.

      But I actually plan on doing WORK on 1 of these as a student that has a great amount of handwritten problems to work out. That will probably be done on OneNote on the bottom display as I scroll through the pages of pdf books, powerpoints, and tutorial videos on the top display.

      Does your device even have a stylus right now to begin with? No. Do I want less surface area for viewing/reading books? No. Would I enjoy the slim form factor of both "skinny" sides of that device once I want to use it as a 2-page, folded book? No.

      I think you get gist of what I am saying by now. Great toy for you, doubt,...but I've got a little work to get done.

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to mtalinm:

      Galaxy fold is cool tech but the screen format is wrong in my books. Microsoft got the sizing right and apps will work very nicely across these two screens. They are thinking that there is a percentage of the 1 billion + Windows users that would like a Microsoft mobile device like this - and they are correct about that.

      • mtalinm

        In reply to VancouverNinja:

        do you have one? it's amazing. it's a true Kindle replacement. You can read web pages and they're not "skinny.' and of course, everything from YT to Prime Video to Netflix looks fantastic. editing Word and PowerPoint docs is also great on the large screen.

        None of this would work with the screen split down the middle. I could see that working in a few cases - maybe for having your list of emails on the left pane and active email in the right pane. other than that, I'll wait to be convinced. for now, it sounds like they are being different for the sake of being different.

        • dbp

          In reply to mtalinm:

          Dunno. I could see web pages and books working similarly if you turn the thing so the fold is horizontal.

          Not sure whether this appeals to me or not. I love the ability to do inking, though, so I could be convinced.

  10. rafaelsolmaker

    Usual complaints: "Oh the bezels are so large yadda yadda", "it's not thin enough bla bla bla", "Samsung/Motorola/Whatever manufacture did it better with foldable screen wobble wobble" and all the superficial stuff that people can't understand what this phone is aiming for will gonna say for sure.

    Other than that, finally a dual screen phone that made sense (mostly). Hope it's good quality hardware-wise (hinges are a nightmare for any product) and software-wise as well, otherwise is a big no-no for me. I just abandoned WP few months ago, I was the last to jump the ship and I don't want to be burned by MS again.

    • omen_20

      In reply to rafaelsolmaker:

      All of those issues you downplayed will make absolute sense if this device comes out anywhere near as expensive as the Galaxy Z line.

      Personally, I don't foresee Microsoft baking in dualscreen support better than Google. There is a Pixel project, per leaks, that is targeting a dualscreen/foldable for next year.

      Microsoft's potential advantages could be more than 3 years of support and updates, and a better onboarding experience for company phones.

  11. glenn8878

    Dual screen for Android, but not for Windows (yet).

  12. minke

    I just don't see the advantage for me personally. Doesn't solve any problem I have with a regular smartphone. If I need a productivity tool I'll switch to something with a real keyboard and a larger screen.

  13. derekaw

    It will sell as well as the galaxy folding phones.

  14. anoldamigauser

    In reply to VancouverNinja:

    There is a single camera above the right screen.

  15. Jorge Garcia

    People knocking it for the bezels don't understand just how much goodness this thing is packing for being such a slim device. Stuff has gotta go somewhere...and those aren't just garden-variety hinges, either.

  16. Rob_Wade

    I'll be candid....I hope this thing crashes and burns in a spectacular way. It's such a stupid idea and even worse implementation.

    • illuminated

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      You must be real inspiration for people around you :)

      Let's see how that device works and if there are any advantages. It is great to see companies try something instead of repeating the same thing over and over and over again.

  17. anthonyfear

    I'm excited about this product and I'm in the prime target audience for it. But I've been burned many times by being an early Microsoft adopter. I'm also anticipating it's going to be crazy expensive, so I'm unlikely to rush into purchasing one.

    Will watch progress eagerly, but might wait for V2 to confirm MS and developer commitment and give them time to reduce those bezels :-)

  18. drjohnnyray

    The duo could be useful as a portable device for Telemedicine, having one screen for the patients electronic chart, and the other screen for video chat. But, like any other Microsoft device, will it be supported, or die on the vine, (zune, windows phone, etc)?

  19. Jorge Garcia

    Like the wonderfully prophetic (yet Vaporware) Vulcan Flipstart had, this thing REALLY needs a tiny display on the outside that would let you see notifications and swipe them away. It would prevent many, many anticlimactic and wasteful openings and closings :)

  20. ponsaelius

    They will be demoing a dual screen version of TikTok to push the youth sales.

  21. gpmpapas

    I think this will be THE business phone....

    • VancouverNinja

      In reply to gpmpapas:

      I think it will take over where businesses truly care about security and are the ones paying for the phones for their employees. All smart phones today are are really consumer devices; you nailed it as this is a business smart phone.

    • mtalinm

      In reply to gpmpapas:

      "toy" SMH...this is the sort of arrogance that caused MSFT to miss mobile in the first place.

      I edit word/excel/ppt documents on my phone. why would I want the screen split for that?

      I remote into a compute server and edit script files on my phone. why would I want the screen split for that?

      I can see two use cases for a split screen:

      1. you're on Zoom and you want to check email at the same time
      2. you get a lot of emails and so you want to have the list on the left panel and the current message on the right panel.

      plenty of email readers have solved #2. #1 is enabled via on-demand split screen. again, SMH and I expect the Duo will be yet another failure.

      (I say this BTW as someone who has owned nearly every Surface device. not a msft hater)

  22. michaelmdiv

    I think this design would have been an instant hit, if it was released three, four, or five years ago.

  23. JerryH

    I'm sure this is technically very competent and all, but I still just can't see what the use case is for the device. I guess we'll see; I've been surprised by what takes off in the market before.

  24. ngc224

    After all these years, there is no way Microsoft would exclude regular Microsoft fans from this virtual Surface briefing.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to ngc224: As a former MVP, we would have been thrilled to have MS give us a heads up before the general public on any news. Doesn't hurt anyone else and throws an exceptionally loyal and enthusiastic group a bone. Hope they did this.

  25. codymesh

    I have a feeling that this device will be more of a hit then whatever folding thing samsung/whoever else have been working on.

  26. sherlockholmes

    And it surely will cost as much as a Galaxy S20. No thanks.

  27. bryan1up

    It’s a business device. I can see it being popular with businesses.

  28. docpaul

    I want one.

    Weird though MS canceling Cortana for Android rather than using this as a chance to promote her as default.

  29. will

    i kinda of wished they would release a Surface Uno, candy bar phone, with a similar design but for those that want just the single screen.

  30. pdhemsley

    Slightly dumb question, but how will you type on it? Will the keyboard span both screens or just one? I’m not sure that typing on the move (as opposed to sitting down, at a desk) will be especially easy. Time will tell!

  31. JCerna

    Is it true they are making the same mistake as they did with windows phone and making it exclusive to At&t. Hope not because At&t ignore and made fun of any customer who came in to get a windows phone.

  32. mattbg

    Google search box? This better run Bing or I'm out.

  33. curtisspendlove

    I have to admit, if any Android device could tempt me out of my Apple Zen might be this one. :)

  34. TFinch

    A lot of medical students, myself included, were excited by this device when it was announced. I don't think there's a better use case for two screens like this than for advanced students (professional or graduate) who need to balance study materials and notes side-by-side. No one is going to be happy about losing an external camera, a critical and core function of cell phones, but what will really make or break this for our use case will be stylus support (for notes and annotating lecture slide PDFs) and real-world performance. Nearly all apps used by professional students (OneNote, PDF annotation software, LiquidText, etc.) are designed and run better on iOS than android unless you are sporting a truly beefy-spec'd phone, and as rumors go, the Duo isn't packing the latest and greatest. I'd love to ditch the cramped split-screen of an iPad mini for this, but I need to be convinced that it'll meet my needs.

    So. For my use case? Very interested, a bit wary, and hoping it does well enough for me to ultimately buy into an improved second generation of the device class.

  35. redstar92

    Looking forward to this. Kindle, email, calendar, todo, teams on this will be money

  36. navarac

    I'm not even excited now I can see it up close.

  37. anoldamigauser

    I can see why they are not marketing it as a phone, since, these days, the camera is a primary function of a phone. It simply is not for this device.

    Placement of the single camera over the right screen seems a weak point for regular users, "Err...excuse me while I unfold my phone fully so I can take this picture." Not that it would be much better with a rear facing camera, since one would still have to open the device to take a picture. Microsoft has gone from the company that insisted on a dedicated camera button for quick shots, to the other extreme.

    If it could run 10X, I would consider it as a hyper portable computing device for travel; but I have no interest in running an Android device. For those who do not mind Google's constant hoovering of data, though, I could see this being a nice option for mobile computing. It would just require another device for photos.

  38. Shel Dyck

    considering how badly microsoft launcher behaves on LG and other dual screens, I'd be really worried about poor first impressions being made.

  39. anderb

    $1400US for the base model. It's dead, Jim.

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