When Microsoft unveiled two dual-screen devices late last year, the company said they would both ship in time for the 2020 holiday season.

I guess Microsoft never said which holiday.

According to a report from Windows Central, the Surface Duo dual-screen smartphone with Android 10 software and Microsoft’s custom user interface could be ready to ship by this summer. So maybe it’s an Independence Day thing?

Windows Central says “multiple contacts” that are “familiar with the matter” say that the hardware and software are already close to finished — prototype hardware is already finished, and Microsoft may be able to put the finishing touches on the phone’s software by early April.

Under the hood, the Surface Duo is said to have the kind of specs you’d find in a 2019 flagship including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and at least 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for the entry-level model (or more of each on higher-priced versions).

Shipping as soon as possible seems like a good idea for a phone that has Qualcomm’s best smartphone processor from last year rather than the new Snapdragon 865 chip that powers many of this year’s flagships.

That said, using the older chip also sidesteps Qualcomm’s requirement that phone makers us a Snapdragon X55 5G modem in all devices with the Snapdragon 865 processor… for better or worse. Windows Central suggests that it’s a bit odd for a company to launch a new flagship without 5G in 2020… but 5G network coverage is still spotty at best in the US and non-existent in some parts of the world. So it might be a few years before 5G support is really a must-have feature for phone users.

But the key selling points for the Surface Duo aren’t specifically tied to things like the processor, memory, and storage. If you’re interested in this phone, it’s for at least one of two reasons:

  • Hardware: The Surface Duo features two 5.6 inch displays and a 360-degree hinge. Unfolded, it’s like an 8.3 inch tablet (with a line down the middle). You can use it as a phone, tablet, book, or in tent or stand modes. It also supports a Surface Pen.
  • Software: It’s the first Android phone from Microsoft, featuring support for millions of apps from Google Play, but with customizations from Microsoft designed to make it more dual-screen friendly (and familiar for folks who use Windows, Office, and other Microsoft apps and services).

As for Microsoft’s other dual-screen device, the Surface Neo is probably still on track to ship during the fourth quarter of the year. That’s the company’s upcoming foldable Windows 10X tablet with an Intel Lakefield processor.

Since both the OS and the chip are still works in progress, it’s unlikely that the Surface Neo will launch ahead of schedule.

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15 Comments

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  1. Why can’t they make a smaller pen and have it stowable inside the device? To me, that would make the pen more usable since you don’t need to carry it separately.

  2. What a let down. I was really hyped about this thinking it was going to run WoA but it turned out to be just another Android phone.

  3. As a UMPC with built-in mobile broadband fan, this would have been an immediate buy if it ran Windows 10 on ARM instead of Android. At this size, I wouldn’t mind not having a physical keyboard and mouse pointer (I wouldn’t use the pen since it’s not stowable into the device).

    1. My only problem with the idea of a device like this running Windows 10 Arm is that Windows (and software that runs on Windows) doesn’t have as much respect for data usage as Android does.

    2. Yeah. At least for my wants, I’d buy this if it ran desktop Windows. I don’t see the dual-screen thing to be worth it for just an Android phone.

    3. This would have been great. The main reason I visit this is site are for news about UMPCs running desktop OS’s afterall.