Microsoft’s long-awaited dual-screen smartphone finally has a UK release date – sort of. Read on to discover all there is to know about the Surface Duo, including the price, specs and when it’ll launch.
The Duo is Microsoft’s first phone since the Lumia and Windows Phone and the first to feature a dual-screen design.
It’s been more than a year since Microsoft first teased the device alongside the Surface Pro X and the Surface Neo at its Surface event back in 2019.
While the Neo was delayed earlier on in the pandemic to allow Microsoft to focus on developing Windows 10 and its web services during this time, the Duo doesn’t appear to have suffered any similar pushbacks.
The phone is already available in the US and Microsoft has plans to launch it in other parts of the world for the New Year, with UK, France, Germany and Canada launches pencilled in for early 2021.
When will the Surface Duo come out?
The Surface Duo will be available in the UK in early 2021. Microsoft announced the launch in a blog post on December 15, revealing that the device would also be coming to Canada, France and Germany at the beginning of this year.
While we don’t have an exact date yet, Microsoft has promised to share more information at the start of this year so we shouldn’t have to wait long to hear more about the release. You can sign up on Microsoft’s website to be notified as soon as the Duo becomes available.
The company officially launched the Surface Duo in the US on September 10, with pre-orders open from August. There were initial concerns that the smartphone would be delayed to 2021 as the Surface Neo had been, but it appears as though this wasn’t the case in the US.
Microsoft Surface Duo – Price
The Surface Duo is priced at USD $1399 (~SGD $1843). This means the Surface Duo will likely sit just above Apple’s high-end iPhone 11 Pro, and far below Samsung’s premium Galaxy Fold.
What is the Surface Duo? Specs, design and performance
The Surface Duo device packs two 5.6-inch displays which fold onto each other like a book, in a way not too dissimilar to the Samsung Galaxy Fold. Unlike the Fold, the Surface Duo has two distinct displays rather than a single one. It’s best compared to the Dual Screen option offered alongside certain LG phones, though it’ll likely be a lot slicker due to fact the secondary display isn’t simply a clip-on case
This rids it of an annoying crease and should ensure it doesn’t run into the same issues as the Fold. With the screens folded out, the display stretches 8.3-inches.
Having the device fold in also gives it a certain level of protection. The exterior design is very similar to other Surface products, with a silver look and large Microsoft logo.
While the Surface Neo runs Windows 10X, the Duo is a purely Android-based device. This is hardly surprising, as it instantly gives Microsoft access to apps and developers without having to start from scratch.
During the initial launch event, Microsoft said it has worked with Google on the product and is working with developers to ensure apps work and can take advantage of the unusual screen arrangement.
Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the exact specs that’ll power the Duo, but thanks to some information from Windows Central we have a good idea of what it might include. According to the report, the Duo will be powered by the Snapdragon 855, pack 6GB RAM and 256GB storage. The displays are said to be AMOLED and the battery a 3460mAh cell that’ll charge via USB C.
There is also said to be an 11-megapixel f/2.0 camera, fingerprint scanner and support for Surface Pen.
The obvious omission seems to be 5G connectivity. This wasn’t a huge deal when the Duo was first announced, but it is now commonplace on Android phones ranging from budget options to high-end models. You’ll also notice the Snapdragon 855 is no longer the flagship Qualcomm SoC, so it’ll be interesting if Microsoft updates to the 865 before release. The above Windows Central information seems to imply it won’t, as the design was finalised before the 865 came out.
A more recent Windows Central report again emphasises there will not be 5G, wireless charging or even NFC.
The Surface Duo software could be its biggest win
Microsoft has worked to make its launcher mimic that of Windows, with a similar wallpaper and more squared-off icons. Microsoft currently has a Launcher available on the Google Play Store, so this will likely form the basis. It looks like Microsoft will install its own apps on the Duo, including Edge browser and the Office suite.
The best way to get a basic overview of how the software will work is to watch the above video. This comes from an emulator of the SDK released by Microsoft.
As it’s a dual-screen device, you can have apps open on one screen and not the other. It also looks like you’ll be able to customise the homescreen and make one portion always display the ‘Shelf’. There seems to be lots of customisation options (even down to altering the search bar look) and it’s a very clean UI.