Microsoft Surface Duo Spotted Out in the World (Now with Video)

Posted on February 9, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Mobile with 54 Comments

Update: As several have noted in the comments and forums, there is a video available now as well. –Paul

A Twitter user snapped a photo of someone using a preproduction Surface Duo on a commuter train in Vancouver. Naturally, everyone is overthinking this.

“Hey, not sure if interesting, but I just saw a guy in Vancouver’s SkyTrain playing around with Surface Duo,” Israel Rodriguez tweeted. Got photos and videos.”

Not sure if it’s interesting. Hilarious.

The still image he posted shows a Surface Duo in a person’s hands. Completely meeting my expectations, that person is only using one of its displays. The other just shows the Android home screen.

He’s also propping up one side of the device on his leg, no doubt because using the surprisingly large-looking device with one hand would be difficult. But you can clearly see the thickness of the device, plus the hinge in the middle. It seems like more a tablet than a phone, frankly.

Some bloggers—who approach such photos as a cryptozoologist does a purported photo of Bigfoot—believe they see a flash on the top of one display. That’s because Microsoft never discussed whether it would even have a front-facing camera and, well, we gotta over-analyze the details. I agree it looks like one.

We’re also hearing the first rumors that Surface Duo might even ship sooner than expected. That is, sometime in the first half of the year instead of for the holiday season. If that’s the case, I’ll further guess that the first release will be for developers. And what the heck, Microsoft is hosting its annual Build developer show in May.

You gotta dream.

Tagged with

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (58)

58 responses to “Microsoft Surface Duo Spotted Out in the World (Now with Video)”

  1. mclark2112

    I don't think it is propped on his leg, the perspective is funny. But looking at the distance to his left leg, and the size of his hand, I think the device is much closer tot he camera than his legs. So the device is actually smaller than it would appear, if comparing it to his right leg.

    I do however agree, I am not sure how I would use dual screens on a phone-size device. Humans can't truly multitask, so even if one screen is just a bunch of alerts, it would just be a distraction from what you are actually trying to focus on.

    That being said, I am still somewhat intrigued by this form factor, but I'm mostly interested in the Duo's big brother. I can see that being a little more useful. But, since it will be running a gutted version of Windows, and its success will rely completely on developers interest, I am not too bullish on it being around for long.

    I already hate the limitations (mostly legacy software such as VPN clients, or other older work apps) of my Surface Pro X.

    • wright_is

      In reply to mclark2112:

      Yes. Multiple screens can be good in some situations. I do a lot of work where I have to research something and keep notes, great, left side reference, right side notes. I do a lot of support, so reference information or documentation to be filled out on the left, TeamViewer session, remote server etc. on the right.

      But a mobile screen is too small for anything serious, so I don't think it will be that popular.

  2. plettza

    Completely meeting my expectations, that person is only using one of its displays. The other just shows the Android home screen.

    I didn't know Android apps currently support dual-screen devices. Maybe the app he was using doesn't support dual screen which is why Microsoft is trying to pique developer interest in adapting their apps to dual-screen devices.

  3. Nick Vlittas

    I personally CAN'T WAIT..... it may be a disaster but what Surface product has been? Panos and the crew usually don't come up with clunkers. Great work whoever came up with this!!! Maybe it will get to market before the Holidays.

  4. lbcatpjs

    You all know that whoever is in the picture must be let go - fired or resign - for this leak, right? It’s a violation of the tenting agreement that people sign before getting access to Surface devices before they are public.

  5. docpaul

    I want one! Because... reasons.

  6. brduffy

    I don't hate this idea. I think there can be many situations where an app can take advantage of both screens in a user friendly way. But that does not mean it will happen. MS needs to lead the way with high quality apps that do just that and hope that other developers pick up from there.

  7. cseafous

    I am liking the hardware a lot. If I was using this one handed and only needed one screen, I would probably fold the other screen all the way back so that the entire device would fit in my hand. But I could see holding it like this in some scenarios. One thing I hate is when I am in the middle of something and the screen switches because someone is calling me. That shouldn't be problem with this device. And if you need to look up something while on a call or video chat, you don't have to leave the screen (which freaks out meeting apps like ReadyTalk or Zoom).

    The biggest drawback for me is no outside screens. If I want to see notifications, answer the phone, navigate a music or podcast app, I have to open the device. I can do most of these things from my smart watch but that is not a solution for everyone and shouldn't be counted on when you are designing a device.

  8. illuminated

    It is very difficult to guess if it is better than just a one-screen tablet or a phone. I would have to use duo for some time to say for sure. It looks quite interesting but it is difficult to know if it is annoying or delightful,

  9. VMax

    Honestly, I don't even care about the dual screens. Having used Windows Phone/Mobile as long as I reasonably could and feeling like it was working with me, and now being about six months into using Android and constantly feeling like it's working against me, if there's any indication that Microsoft has customised Android to a significant degree, I'll buy one and just keep it folded with one screen unused.

  10. rstyles

    Time to sell all that Day-Planner stock!

  11. Daekar

    I think this is something you either get or you don't. As someone who uses multiple PC monitors 99% of the time, it is inexplicable that someone might not understand the benefit of more than one screen.

  12. Stoicjim

    There's a full video on Youtube.

  13. prettyconfusd

    Am I the only one who finds it creepy he was just filming this person using their phone and zooming in on their messages and emails?

    Yes, it's cool to see the device in action but I hope the "photographer" makes sure none of the owners personal information is visible in any high-res photos/videos he releases.

    In other thoughts, I love the way this device looks - depending on camera specs (and if it definitely has pen input) and the carrier/price options in the UK I would jump at getting one.

  14. Rob_Wade

    After watching this video....hard pass. I just have zero use for something like this.

  15. brduffy

    The form factor looks fine. It looks thin enough. I guess with that hinge you could just leave it open so that you don't have to open the thing every time you receive a phone call. Sometimes phone calls require interaction with the number pad. I don't know, I'm cool with it as long as the phone operation is smooth and does not require me to make any more moves to answer the phone than I do now.

  16. glenn8878

    Surface Pro broke in half. Half as useful. Microsoft doesn't have a WOW user interface to take advantage of the dual screen tablet. They should panic.

  17. Jim Lewis

    At points in the video, the Duo user has stuff on both screens. Also, as to camera, I haven't been following Duo stuff closely but if both screens are active when the thing is folded completely back on itself, the screen with the camera can face away from the user, the other screen can be the user's viewing screen for the camera. So on a dual screen device like the Duo, flip 360 degrees to "open" one screen, a single camera can both be used as a front-facing "selfie"/Skyping camera and a rear-facing photo/video camera depending on how much you've opened the device, what screen you're facing when you use the device, etc. OTH, if they gave the thing a 2nd camera on a 2nd screen, because of 3D angles between the 2 screens, they could possibly turn it into a better 3D scanning device than just a "cycloptian" arrangement of lens on the back of a single phone-sized device. Maybe that's a future Surface Duo-like device... Since the iPad Pro is supposed to come out with more 3D capturing/AR display capability, it'll be interesting to see where things go.

  18. steam960

    Why would I buy a Surface device to wind up with only an Android system? Can't Microsoft get a processor similar to the SQ1 in this thing that can handle Windows 10X?

  19. gogogodzilla

    It's definitely not resting on the users leg.

  20. reformedctrlz

    I think it may be somewhat niche, but the two screens could end up being situationally very useful. Personally I hate large phones, but having a phone that can flip entirely over and keep a small footprint when you don't need it would be a great way to have a bigger phone (aka small tablet) when you want it while keeping a small footprint.

    Also, from experience, both Android and Apple have terrible multitasking UI, but what MSFT has built on the two screen device looks rather amazing. While people can't truely multitask" we do our darndest an awful lot of the time. Even simple things like watching a video while replying to a message. Looking up restaurants will video calling. Having both Maps and Music visible while driving.

    I don't think this phone will be for everyone, for but the people who want it they will love it, and I think that is where Surface does well. The biggest problem I can think of with this phone will be making sure the processor can keep up with both displays and if MSFT stays on top of updates. Pricing will also be a big deal - I think if they can nail sub $1300 with good storage configs they'll have a sweet spot.

    Personally, I enjoy my Pixel 4 with its small size and simple form factor, but I keep being drawn to this device and can't help but be tempted. I'm very interested in seeing what MSFT shows off with the Neo/Duo this year, but I'm currently expecting to pick up one of them later this year.

  21. javial

    I really don't know how bad is Microsoft doing things since 2010: Windows 8.x, 10; Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019; Skype 8, Office 2013-2019, Visual Studio 2013-2019, Exchange Server 2013-2019, XBox One, etc.

    I remember when Windows 98 allows multimonitor and multiple PCI Graphics Card. In that 1998 year i configure my PC with 3 graphics cards and 3 monitors running impressive under Windows 98. Allows me a big desktop and options to resize any windows and any program to extend through the 3 monitors. Or put 3 differents windows or programs maximized one per monitor. There are no programs specifically developed to use or allow more than one monitor, but runs very well and impresive in multimonitor configurations because all the multimonitor support and management is do by the underlaying OS, in this case Windows 98.

    And now Microsoft is showing a new mobile OS to support dual screen and develops and SDK to build specific dual screen apps.

    Given that most mobile devices will always be with one screen, who is going to risk developing apps for a few with 2 screens?

    Doesn't Microsoft have the capacity to develop an OS with support for multiple screens and that any app already developed works and adapts correctly to multiple screens like Windows?

    I think that since 2010 Microsoft has been losing its head and north and there is no longer anyone smart even with a little common sense in that company. They have had to replace intelligence and common sense with AI and telemetry.

  22. bnyklue

    I still don’t see why anyone would actually use this thing.

  23. Chris_Kez

    The Twitter user says he has video. That would be much more interesting than this photo.

  24. PeterC

    I just showed a bunch of the senior leadership team ..... outlook in split screen mode on my iPad, with calendar in one view and mail in the other, and then the Duo picture above of the device it will run on. Discussed using other apps in other windows, note taking, Skype, voice etc.

    Totally sold and a done deal. Just gotta get the price reasonably right. I accept it’s not for everyone, especially desktop jockeys who aren’t required to be that mobile, but for those that are it’s barely a questionable purchase.... really.

    These are not consumer phones, and should not be valued against such devices in my opinion, they’re a foldable iPad with “phone capabilities”.....

    • SvenJ

      In reply to PeterC: I'm surprised the senior leadership team was impressed. I can do that on my Surface Go, Pro, and any other Windows PC. Run in Tablet mode my Go does that quite well. Windows already allows that split if you have two screens. You can span a single application over two screens as well, the main and external monitor, already. These are just smaller, cell phone sized screens. I really don't see much 'exciting' here in that respect. They could have done this years ago with Windows Mobile or Windows Phone. I had foldable phones that had a screen on one side and a keyboard on the other. Replace the keyboard with another screen and you got it, along with the associated progression of hardware, resolution, processors, memory, etc.

  25. Travis

    The Nintendo DS family has sold over 154 million units in its lifetime. There must be some people out there that like dual screens. Count me as one of them.

  26. VancouverNinja

    It appears thinner than my iPhone, and looks light. We are developing sales team mobility applications and the single screen phone format is not good for true mobile productivity.

    When we explored spreading out an app across two screens it made the app. Many mobile workers are carrying phones and tablets or laptops; for a majority of a sales person’s needs this will eliminate the requirement to use a tablet or laptop for many scenarios and make accomplishing tasks very efficient.

    They may still need to keep a laptop or tablet for a presentation but quickly getting their tasks done will not require either of them anymore. And for some sales people this could end up being the only device they require in the field.

    Once single screen film becomes viable for mobile phones, within this decade, it will render tablets absolutely redundant and they will generally disappear and only be used for vertical market applications.

  27. eric_rasmussen

    I'm imagining this could be useful for developers too. You'd need to carry a Bluetooth keyboard with you, but an ssh session on one screen and a web site on the other could be pretty useful. It sounds silly because then why don't you just carry a laptop, but in this situation it means you only need one charger and you're also not reliant on WiFi availability.

  28. crp0908

    What is that line across the Android home screen? Does this device have a cracked screen already?

  29. roknrolldog

    The question is where and how did he get the Surface Dua and where can I get one

Leave a Reply