Microsoft used its Surface event to announce a suite of new hardware, including the dual-screen Surface Duo – Microsoft’s return to the phone market.
In what is a nod to the dominance of Android and IOS (76.24% and 22.48% respectively according to statcounter), Microsoft is returning to the phone market having abandoned its Windows 10 Mobile operating system.
The dual-screen represents a different take on the current spate of foldable phones, with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold being one of the most prominent examples. That phone suffered an ignominious initial launch, with products being recalled due to ease of breakage. Samsung subsequently relaunched the phone with improved levels of protection, but any lingering doubt in the technology has been cleverly sidestepped by Microsoft’s dual-screen solution.
Quite pointed in the company’s press materials is the refusal to refer to the duo as a phone, despite its capacity to make calls and its reliance on the Android operating system. In Microsoft’s defence, it is unusually large, verging on the designation of phablet.
Such a move likely reflects Microsoft’s decision not to compete directly with other phone manufacturers, owing to the dominance of Samsung, Apple and Huawei. Instead, Microsoft is playing up the Duo’s status as a pocket-sized member of the Surface family of touchscreen-enabled hardware.
Microsoft has traditionally targeted its Surface products towards the productivity crowd, as a mix between a laptop and a tablet, and the Duo is no different, with the company highlighting the utility of dual screens in both enabling multi-tasking and enhancing focus on a single task when put together.
Specifications are thin on the ground, except for the screens, which are 5.6 inch separately and 8.3 inch when put together. The device’s launch is more than a year away, with the Surface Duo slated to release in “holiday 2020”.