The Microsoft Surface Duo is one of the most unusual smartphones of the year. It’s an Android-powered phone made by Microsoft and loaded with Microsoft software, making it the blueprint for Microsoft’s future in the mobile space now that Windows Mobile is dead.

It’s also a dual-screen phone that you can fold it in half like a book or flip open to use two screens together as if they were a single 8.1 inch screen.

Plus it supports an optional Surface Slim Pen for note-taking and drawing.

All of that has helped Microsoft generate a lot of buzz for the Surface Duo since the company first announced the phone in late 2019. Now the Surface Duo is available for pre-order and scheduled to ship September 10th. But there’s a catch — this thing is not cheap.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Microsoft is charging $1400 for a Surface Duo with 128GB of storage, and $1500 for a 256GB model.

Both versions feature otherwise identical specs, including:

DisplaysDual PixelSense Fusion Displays
Each display: 5.6” AMOLED, 1800×1350 (4:3), 401 PPI
Combined/opened: 8.1” AMOLED, 2700×1800 (3:2), 401 PPI
Display Material: Corning Gorilla Glass
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM6GB
Storage128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.0 storage
Camera11MP f/2.0 1.0 µm PDAF and 84 degree FoV
4K video recording at up to 60 fps
Battery3577 mAh (Up to 15.5 hours local video playback)
Charging18W
WirelessLTE 4×4 MIMO Cat 18 DL / Cat 5 UL
AT&T, T-Mobile (unlocked)
AT&T, Verizon (locked)
WiFi 5
BT 5.0
USBUSB 3.1 Type-C
AudioMono speaker
Dual microphones
SecurityFingerprint sensor
Dimensions145.2mm x 186.9mm x 4.8mm (open)
145.2mm x 93.3mm x 9.9mm (closed
Weight250 grams

Those specs fine… but a bit underwhelming for a phone in this price range, even if it’s one of the few dual-screen phones ever to ship.

Microsoft Surface Duo

But Microsoft is positioning the Surface Duo as a premium product that integrates with the company’s apps and services. It’s not just a device that ships with Android 10, Google Play support, and the ability to do just about everything you can do on other Android phones. It also includes Microsoft apps and services, some of which are available on other phones, and some of which are unique to the Surface Duo:

  • Dual screen windowing
  • Adaptive modes
  • App Groups
  • Microsoft 365 Feed
  • Dynamic dock
  • Universal Search
  • Adaptive Camera
  • Microsoft SwiftKey Adaptive Keyboard
  • Your Phone Companion – Link to Windows

The Surface Duo also comes with Microsoft Office, Outlook, Teams, OneDrive, OneNote, Edge, Bing Search and other apps pre-installed, including professional the all-important Microsoft Solitaire Collection.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Unsurprisingly, the phone will be compatible with Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate game streaming service (formerly known as Project xCloud). And it’s designed to fully take advantage of the multi-display setup.

You can view apps on a single screen or unfold the tablet to see two apps at a time, one on each display. You can also span apps across both screens at once.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Basically, the idea is to bring the benefits of dual-screen (or large) monitors to the mobile space: some people are more productive when they don’t have to constantly flip back and forth between full-screen apps. That appeals to me, as I spend most of my work day staring at a bunch of windows scattered across multiple screens. But at a time when you can pick up a pretty good Android phone for $349, I’m not particularly interested in paying four times as much for a model with a second screen and pen support.

The pen, by the way, costs $145, although it’s currently on sale for $111 when you pre-order it alongside the Surface Duo.

I’m glad Microsoft is trying something different at a time when most smartphones are starting to look the same (slimmer bezels, better camera, rinse and repeat). I just wish the company were trying more affordable things. At least it’s cheaper than the $1,980 Samsung Galaxy Fold.

The Surface Duo is available for pre-order from the Microsoft Store and Best Buy. AT&T will begin taking pre-orders on August 13 at midnight Eastern Time.

The phone will only be available in the United States at launch. Microsoft has not yet announced pricing or availability details for other regions.

via Windows Blog

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign

or...

Contribute via PayPal

Join the Conversation

20 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. I would rather get two decent separate devices, (eg. OnePlus Nords) and use them side by side with some software to connect their screens.
    But that’s just me.

  2. I’d pay this price if it ran desktop Windows 10 with decent performance and battery life. Not going to pay this for an Android phone.

    1. I’d totally be on board for a Windows 10 device in this form factor. I’d live with not having a physical mouse pointer and keyboard for such a device.

  3. With a price tag of $1,400 the target audience are enterprises. And no security-minded enterprise runs Google. Plus you have to have both Google and Microsoft accounts to use the software.

    1. Thats not true at all, lots of large companies use Google G-suite instead of Exchange. It was estimated in 2014 that more than 60% of fortune 500 companies use G-suite. I’m willing to bet that percentage has grown since then.

      I work for a software company that uses only G-suite, and we’ve successfully obtained every security credential required in our industry.

      Exchange is definitely more common within more long-established companies, as they are often heavily invested in Exchange because they’ve built so many integrations into that platform with their other software.

  4. I was initially impressed with this but they blew it with the price. If you must choose a ludicriously expensive smartphone, the note 20 ultra is a significantly better device overall: 120hz, s pen built in, NFC, solid cameras, 5G, SD865, virtually no bezels, 4500 mAh battery 12gb ram, and can double as a desktop PC with dex. Being unique doesn’t always get an instant pass.

  5. This price is absolutely insane for the rumoured specs. Most rumours are suggesting a single 11mp camera, and a base model with 64gb of storage. The confirmed Snapdragon 855 is almost 1.5 years old at this point. The rest of the specs are extremely lackluster.

    Why is it that the Surface Pro X runs a “Microsoft SQ1” chip (which is essentially just a more-powerful Snapdragon 855), and starts at $999, but the Surface Duo runs a less powerful version of the same SOC, and costs 40% more? Of course these are very different products, but the Surface Pro X is decidedly more high-end.

    Did it really cost that much to engineer a hinge, and have a team of devs throw together your own flavour of Android? It can’t be as much as it cost to make Windows 10 for ARM.

    I think its just because companies think they can charge an insane tax for a product as soon as it enters the Smartphone market knowing that most customers won’t ever face the sticker price. Case in point: the iPad LTE models compared to iPhones. The two product lines run essentially the same hardware (minus the different display panels), but the phones cost drastically more. The answer? Mobile phone providers subsidize the cost of the phones, so smartphone makers essentially get to hide another few hundred dollars of cost into the price.

    The same kind of price gouging exists in the eyeglasses industry. Luxottica monopolizes almost the entire industry, and most eyeglasses purchases are paid for by health insurance. So they basically get to charge you $500 for a $20 product, knowing that there is an enormous buffer of insurance coverage that will absorb much of the price.

    1. I’m not sure why you’re still going on rumored specs. We now know that the phone has SD855/6GB RAM/128GB or 256GB storage/11MP camera, etc… (see the spec table in the article)

      1. Ah thanks for pointing that out Brad, it looks like I didn’t see your spec table when I first read the article, I assumed we were still working on rumours 😛 I think I was reading it in a browser that I use for web development, and it screwed up the CSS probably.

        128gb is a little better, but I’m still nowhere near gonna buy this phone. I’m not spending $1400 on a phone that

        Has a camera from 2015
        Lacks alternate cameras for wide or telephoto shots
        Lacks 5G
        Lacks Wifi 6
        Lacks a MicroSD slot
        Uses an SOC 1.5 years old

        I’m not above using this phone, infact I don’t really need all those things. But I ain’t spending $1400 on it. Hard pass.

        This was the only upcoming flagship phone that was actually going to convince me to get another flagship phone. I think I’m going to stick to mid-range phones for a while. I’m too cheap and pragmatic for the crap being pulled in the smartphone world these days 😛

        1. Yeah, I’m fascinated by this phone for a lot of reasons… and I’m probably going to buy a new phone this year to replace my aging Pixel 2. But at that price, this will definitely not be my next phone.

          1. Brad and Grant, remember this is USD +$1,400.

            When this ships overseas they will factor in shipping, handling, merchant fees, and taxes. That will balloon the price. And when it does hit shelves, remember that the natives will have to buy using their own currency and buying-power.

            So I can see this easily becoming a USD $2,000 product overseas. And considering their buying-power it will be more akin to someone in the USA paying USD +$6,000 for this, especially considering the current economic conditions.

            I mean the Apple iPhone X was ridiculous back in 2017. That thing seems reasonable compared to this and the lame Note 20 Ultra. Things have just gotten noticeably worse, it’s literally a joke.

          2. @Kangal (I was not able to reply to Kangal’s post for some reason), speaking of overseas pricing and purchasing power, the pre-order page clearly states this is a US only product yet exclusive to AT&T and T-Mobile.

      2. Also, Microsoft issued a statement about the lack of NFC, and while its obviously just a corporate BS boilerplate statement, it might be a bit telling of why the phone is so lackluster overall.

        “Surface Duo does not currently offer NFC. The role of any first-generation design is to focus on fundamental scenarios that solve customer challenges. Surface Duo is purpose-built for mobile productivity and giving people new ways to complete complex tasks while away from their computer. With this core priority complete, we will listen to customer feedback and apply that lens to future iterations of the product.”

        Sounds like they didn’t have the resources and experience to release a fully-featured phone in a reasonable timeframe. I mean the Snapdragon 855 isn’t getting any younger.

    2. I argue that Luxottica monopolizing almost the entire eyeglass industry is not entirely a correct statement. I was curious about it so naturally I’ve looked into the issue and what I’ve found is what you’ve said that indeed they may have an almost monopoly on the higher end of the eyeglasses market (designer brads) there is a whole other markets of more affordable brands which may work just as fine for much less the only difference they not being designed by a famous designer. Warby Parkers for $100. It’s like comparing a Toyota to a Mercedes. They compete is different markets.

      As for the Surface Duo. From the spec sheet they seem certain top want to fit into 250 grams in weight. I’m a little worried about the battery life but I’m totally fine with it only having one camera. The hinge rotates to (to or at?) a 360 degrees so you can you it either as a selfie camera or world facing camera. As long as they use the software and AI magic of the Pixel lineage.

      My main complaint is the price just for like everyone else. Man I’d totally love this device as it is given it has a decent battery life (but I doubt it) for something like half its asking price. I don’t care if it’s only a Snapdragon 855 as long as it’s a sufficiently power efficient chip but I’m not used to high end phones anyway.

  6. I used to really want a folding device when the mobile versions of websites were terrible. Those days are over, so spending $1,400 is too much for me.

  7. Sadly I don’t see this succeeding unless they seed it you purple in areas where it could be a real benefit (in the hope that others see its and buy it).

    But the software experience would have to be superb.

    Otherwise you can get a similar experience (albeit with a lower resolution and a bigger middle bezel) with LG’s V60 and Velvet phones. They both support a dual screen format with a folding form factor. Apps can be made to spread across both screen or you can use one on each screen or use split screen on each screen for three or four simultaneous apps (are least according to the reviews), use the second screen as a game pad in games or to prop it up when watching a video.

    Oh, and they both support Wacom AES pens.

    The Velvet (with a snapdragon 765G) is supposedly about half the price of the Duo and the V60 (Snapdragon 865) can be had for 800 including the second screen case.

    Which means that for almost twice the price the software experience would need to be vault superior to justify the price. Especially since according to reviews the LGs have some software dual screen optimizations of their own (like if a chat/messenger app isopen the keyboard has a button to send a screenshot of the other screen directly with one click/tap.

    Sorry, not shilling for LG but my ZTE Axon 9 Pro suffered a fall and the charging port has died so I’ve been looking into phones with desktop like experiences when connected to external monitors. Which as far as I know limits me to specific models from ZTE, Huawei, LG and of course Samsung. I’m also waiting to see if the Pixel 5 will have the rumoured desktop experience (thankfully wireless charging still works so I can wait to replace my phone).

    But right now the top contenders for my money are the LG phones and maybe the Pixel 5. Especially since the cheaper the better (and nothing over a thousand with tax). I HAD been intrigued by the Duo until I saw this price.

    1. “Sadly I don’t see this succeeding unless they seed it you purple”

      What does it mean?

      The LG with the dual display accessory is 100 grams heavier than the Surface Duo if anyone cares about that not to mention it sporting a more useless (for my taste), 20.5:9 aspect ratio. It’s true that it is priced closer to what I’d pay for the Surface Duo.