MicrosoftMicrosoft is launching its Surface Duo dual-screen Android phone on September 10th, priced from $1,399. After months of Microsoft executives teasing the device on Twitter, the company is now allowing anyone to preorder the Surface Duo today in the US. Preorders will be available at AT&T, Microsoft’s online store, and Best Buy.
While Microsoft had revealed the design of the Surface Duo back in October, the company has kept the specs relatively secret. The device includes two separate 5.6-inch OLED displays (1800 x 1350) with a 4:3 aspect ratio that connect together to form a 8.1-inch overall workspace (2700 x 1800) with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Unlike foldables like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, the Surface Duo is using real Gorilla Glass, and the displays are designed to work in a similar way to multiple monitors on a Windows PC.
One big question over the Surface Duo has been the camera. Microsoft is using an 11-megapixel f/2.0 camera, which will include auto modes for low light, HDR multi-frame captures, and a “super zoom” up to 7x. Both 4K and 1080p video recording will be supported at 30fps and 60fps, with electronic image stabilization. There’s only a single camera on the Surface Duo, which can be used both for video calls and as a main camera.
The basic Surface Duo hardware also consists of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. LTE is available on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, but there’s no 5G support at all. Microsoft is also shipping a bumper cover in the box, designed to protect the Duo.
Microsoft is also including two batteries in the Surface Duo, split beneath both displays. Overall there’s 3577mAh of capacity, which is considerably less than the 4500mAh found on Samsung’s single-screen Note 20 Ultra and even the 4380mAh on the original Galaxy Fold. Despite this, Microsoft is promising “all day battery life,” which means up to 15.5 hours of local video playback, up to 10 days of standby time, and up to 27 hours of talk time. We’ll need to fully test the device during our review, but the capacity here does leave a little cause for concern as the device is powering two screens, not one.
“It’s probably one of the sexiest devices we’ve ever built,” says Windows and devices chief Panos Panay in a press briefing ahead of today’s launch. “It does things that single-screen devices can’t do, period.” Panay’s vision for the Surface Duo is to improve productivity on the go, and Microsoft has also been doing some interesting work on the software side to compliment the hardware.
Any Android app will run on the Duo without modification, thanks to the choice of two separate displays. “Any app has to run,” says Panay, and it was obviously important to support everything Android from day one. Developers can also optimize the layouts of their apps to really take advantage of the two displays and span across them. Microsoft has tweaked its own apps like the Office suite and OneDrive to span the displays, and third parties like Amazon have also done work on the Kindle app to make it feel like you’re reading a book by flicking pages across the two screens.
Microsoft is also using algorithms to predict how to open apps on different displays. “There is an algorithm in there that’s very smart and trying to be predictive,” explains Panay. “If you’re on one screen and you’re invoking a link, it will fill the other screen.”