- Microsoft on Wednesday announced that the Surface Duo will launch on Sept. 10 starting at $1,399.99.
- The Surface Duo is Microsoft's two-screened Android phone.
- It allows you to run two apps side-by-side in different screens that are split by a 360-degree hinge.
Microsoft on Wednesday announced that the Surface Duo will launch on Sept. 10 starting at $1,399.99.
The Surface Duo, as a quick refresher, is Microsoft's two-screened Android phone that was first announced in October 2019. It allows you to run two apps side-by-side in different screens that are split by a 360-degree hinge. It's one of the most exciting devices coming out in the coming months, since it offers a totally new type of form factor for a phone.
It's also Microsoft's very latest attempt at the smartphone market, where it hasn't had much success since the iPhone launched. Earlier Microsoft devices largely failed because they didn't have access to a huge ecosystem of apps for Microsoft's now-defunct mobile operating system.
Microsoft seems to have learned from those past mistakes and is smartly using Android on the Surface Duo. That means it will have access to all Android apps at launch, and some will be super-powered to take better advantage of the two screens.
Microsoft's big argument here is that people need phones with two screens. All of the Office 365 apps will automatically span to provide more content when they're opened across both displays. In Outlook, for example, you'll see your inbox on one side and a detailed view of each message on the right. It's also working with other companies to help build apps that use both screens on the Surface Duo. Amazon Kindle has been updated to let the device function like a book, with pages on both sides. Microsoft said it also worked with Spotify.
With the 360-degree hinge, you can prop it up to watch TV. Or, you can pick it up again and watch YouTube on one side and open Slack (or Microsoft Teams or anything else you want) on the other side. These are all new use-cases that seem compelling, especially in Microsoft's demos, but which Microsoft will need to prove are worth $1,399.99.
The screens, at least on paper, appear to have sharp resolutions and were specially designed by Microsoft to run side-by-side and maintain the same color accuracy. Inside, it has Qualcomm's high-end Snapdragon 855 processor, though most devices have moved on to a newer Snapdragon 865+ version. It supports 4G LTE, but not the next-generation 5G networks that you may want in a device if you're planning to keep it for a few years. And while it has a fingerprint reader for unlocking the phone, it lacks NFC for mobile payments while you're out shopping. There's no wireless charging.
It's a tough time to launch a gadget that costs that much.
The U.S. unemployment rate is 10.2% and the Surface Duo is priced more than some laptops. It's as expensive as a new flagship phone, though without the latest processor and cellular technology you come to expect from it. On the other hand, with more people at home, people may be looking for new devices to take advantage of the time working from the couch, outside or with family.
The Surface Duo will be sold directly through Microsoft's website, from Best Buy and by AT&T. A more expensive $1,499.99 version will include 256GB of storage instead of the 128GB in the starting model.