The Microsoft Surface Duo is a dual-screen Android smartphone that folds up like a book, supports a Surface Pen, and will come pre-loaded with Microsoft apps. It’ll be the first Microsoft-branded smartphone since the company killed off its Windows 10 Mobile operating system, and while the Surface Duo was originally expected to ship in time for the 2020 holidays, recent reports suggest it could be ready to go as soon as this summer.

Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the phone’s actual specs yet. But the folks at Windows Central report that they’ve obtained a list of the hardware specifications for the Surface Duo.

Apparently the phone is at the point where Microsoft is testing it by allowing employees to request a Surface Duo to take home and use, and Windows Central implies that its sources may be some of those employees with access to pre-production phones.

That said, the hardware is said to be pretty much finalized, which means there probably won’t be many surprises when the Surface Duo eventually goes on sale.

So what can we expect?

Displays 2 x 5.6 inch, 1800 x 1350 pixel AMOLED
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM 6GB
Storage 256GB
Camera 11MP ƒ/2.0 1.12um
Battery 3460 mAh
Ports USB-C
OS Android 10

The phone will also reportedly have a fingerprint sensor and nanoSIM card slot, but no headphone jack or microSD card reader.

Overall the specs look… interesting. On the one hand, last year’s flagship processor, 6GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage should be enough to offer decent performance. But you’d think a phone with two displays would have a larger battery.

Shipping a flagship phone in 2020 with just a single camera also seems like a strange move — although if it’s a good camera, that might not be much of an issue. The new iPhone SE and Google’s Pixel 3a show that you can take some pretty great pictures with just a single-lens smartphone camera.

There’s still no word on how much the phone will actually cost though, so it’s not clear whether it makes more sense to compare the Surface Duo to modern flagships (priced at around $800 and up) or mid-range models more like the iPhone SE and Pixel 3a.

Microsoft’s decision to opt for a Snapdragon 855 hints that maybe this thing won’t be super expensive. But it’s likely that decision wasn’t made to save money so much as it was to avoid having to include a 5G modem in this phone. Qualcomm requires device makers who use the newer Snapdragon 865 chip to also use a separate Qualcomm 5G modem.



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15 Comments

  1. As a UMPC fan, this would have been a great form factor for Windows 10 UMPC.

    For my Android phone needs, I’d just get some low-end/mid-range Android phone with a single screen. I don’t see myself doing much with an Android phone that would warrant more than that.

  2. I’m not sure what’s the smaller market: a dual screen Android phone or a dual screen Windows 10 UMPC.

    I’m part the UMPC market myself it’s a shame this is running Android.

  3. I’m really surprised to see every time this device is mentioned, everyone wants it to run Windows 10. I disagree completely. As much as it would be neat to see this running Windows 10, I’m just not confident in Windows 10 fulfilling my mobile needs. I’m happy to see that it is running Android.

    Windows 10 doesn’t have the ability to respect mobile data as much as Android does. This isn’t really an OS-specific complaint, but more about the software ecosystems of each OS. Both OS’s have the ability to identify a network as being “metered”, but its still up to each bit of software to follow that scheme. I just can’t get past the idea that most of my software will just download updates or large chunks of data whenever they feel like it.

    Even Microsoft only claims that when you set a network as a “metered connection”, only “some” Windows updates will be prevented from downloading automatically.

    Also, from a usability standpoint, think of all the software that you might want, and what that software looks like on a Windows 10 device. I would want Discord and Slack apps, but the Windows versions of those apps are meant for much larger screens. They would be terrible on a screen this small. Also, not having a Youtube app is a major loss (their mobile website is terrible).

    Also, what options for web browsers do I have with a UI suitable for that screen size? Chrome doesn’t offer a Windows 10 version with a mobile-optimized UI. You’re going to have a tough time with that desktop UI.

    I personally don’t use any social networks, but I’ve heard lots of complaints about the lack of social network app support on Windows 10. Instagram is practically app-only, their web client is crippled to make you use an app. The Windows 10 app for Instagram has consistently been years behind iOS and Android versions, sometimes to the point of being unusable. Facebook doesn’t necessarily need an App, but Facebook Messenger really benefits from an App. The Windows 10 version of the Facebook messenger app is mostly neglected by Facebook and its worthless.

    Windows 10 might be ready for mobile use, but its software ecosystem has never been ready, and in my opinion, it never will be ready. Microsoft isn’t pushing it to be a mobile OS anymore, so why would any app developers focus on its mobile needs? Microsoft pushing a niche device like this isn’t the time and place to make that push. If Microsoft wants to give Windows 10 another try in this segment, they are going to need something more mainstream in concept.

  4. Not sure if there’s going to be much demand for a dual screen Android phone. Others haven’t been that successful and, of all companies, I doubt MS will turn that around.

    If this was going to flop anyway, it would have been nice if it ran Windows 10 as a UMPC (ie. not phone purposes). I’d buy that not expecting a successor.

    1. Yeah, I’m guessing the sales for this Android phone from the point-of-view of a large corporation like MS is going to be considered a failure.

      So, yeah, if they’re going to make a “failed” product anyway, I’d totally buy a small dual screened UMPC running Windows 10 knowing that a second version isn’t likely to be released.

    2. I think the same. If MS was going to make a doomed device anyway, I’d buy this one-off if it ran Windows 10 for mobile PC purposes.

      I don’t think there’s much demand for a multi-screened Android phone. At least not enough for a company as large as MS.

  5. Dear Brad,
    Will you be testing out the new surface go 2 tablet? I am curious if it will be a good device for streaming my screen for OneNote with zoom for remote teaching. Thank you!

    1. The Surface Go 2 is a pretty mainstream device. Just search for reviews. I’m planning on getting the LTE version with the Core m3 CPU myself.

      I have the Go 1 LTE with 8 GB RAM. On paper, the Pentium 4415Y of the Go 1 and the 4425Y of the Go 2 seem to be similar. So reviews on the Go 1’s performance might be on par with the lower end Go 2. It seems most Go 2 reviews are for the higher end model.

      I don’t use OneNote nor Zoom on my Go 1 so I can’t comment on that.

    2. Hi, Go 1 user here. I use it as my daily driver for both work (IT) and leisure, and I can confirm, that OneNote and Zoom are both working as expected. Recording screen can get a bit wonky depending on what else you have running. As an example of the power of the tablet I’ve been playing Anno 1404 on full resolution with no problems. Go 2 with the m3 processor will be even more powerful, so don’t worry.

  6. I was extremely excited for a dual screen android device but those specs put a dampener on it. Cpu, ram, storage are all fine but that feels like a small battery for what the device is trying to power. I guess they’re trying to make it thin rather than long-lasting, a shame if they’re really going for a productivity device.

    Still with those specs there’s always a chance it will come in cheap, maybe £500 given the price of some other qualcomm 855 phones. I doubt it because Microsoft but there’s a chance.

    1. It doesn’t seem like MS is marketing this as a budget phone. I don’t think this phone will sell much. In the end, it’ll be an expensive mid-range device with a 2nd screen slapped on.

    2. Agreed. I was going to buy one but the tiny camera is a killer for me.
      Still these are only rumours.

  7. At this size and form factor, I’m seeing this more as a UMPC than a smartphone. It’s too big and awkward for an always with you phone. I’d rather get a smaller single screened Android phone for that.

    As an almost always with you UMPC, Android is too limited for me and, unfortunately for me, the UMPC market is too small for MS to address. Although, I doubt MS will grab much of the Android phone market with this device anyway.

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