Rumors had been swirling for a little more than a year that Microsoft was getting back into the mobile device space after what can only be described as a colossal failure with their Windows Phone initiatives.
No one expected them to unveil a game changing new device with dual screen capabilities, however – and no one expected them to offer a new mobile device that was running the competing Google mobile operating system Android.
On October 2, 2019, however, Microsoft lit the technology community on fire when they not only announced that the Windows Phone rumors were legitimate but actually showed off a prototype of what the new device is going to look like and possibly be capable of – all while fitting it under the umbrella of their wildly successful Surface product lineup of Microsoft hardware.
Called the Surface Duo, the device is expected to hit consumer hands in late 2020 with most believing that the technology giant out of Seattle is going to make sure that people have an opportunity to purchase this new device before the holiday season.
While details regarding the pricing structure and final build of the hardware has yet to be unveiled, what we know about this device already is absolutely jaw-dropping. This is an amazing piece of new technology that features the stunning industrial design Surface products have become known for but also takes advantage of the latest and greatest developments in the world of Android (and interesting capitulation from Microsoft for sure).
Incredible Dual Screen Configuration
During the product announcement, the audience audibly gasped when given an opportunity to see the device itself rather than leaked product renders and potential designs that had been floating around the internet.
At first blush, the new Surface Duo looks a lot like a traditional mobile device though it features the minimalist and streamlined design language that other Surface products have brought to the table. A lot of silver, a lot of black, and a lot of clean lines and rounded edges.
Opening up the phone, however, unveils to independent 5.6 inch LED displays that sit side-by-side. These two displays are connected by a mechanical hinge that does not feature the “flex technology” that other open touchscreen devices on the market today have – a departure from the industry norm but one that Microsoft has initiated very strategically.
You see, this definitely isn’t the first double screen phone to hit the market in the last few years but it just might be the best new dual screen phone because of that hinge and radical approach to a dual screen configuration.
By implementing independent 5.6 inch displays that can share elements between one another, working separately but also working in tandem as the user sees fit, there is no need for flexible touchscreen material to be implemented between the screens.
That material was seen as a major leap forward technologically a handful of years ago, but lately phones utilizing that sort of seamless approach have illustrated the flaws of that material and the engineering behind it.
With the Surface Duo dual screen set up you won’t have to worry about flipping open your phone and the screen cracking right down the middle, but you also won’t have to worry about a wide gaping seam between these independent screens, either.
This really is the best of both worlds and allows for a lot of new flexibility and adaptability that dual screen phones haven’t had before.
Microsoft Promises the Best of Android Features
Aside from the 360° mechanical hinge that combines these two independent screens together the next biggest surprise from the folks at Microsoft was the implementation of Android as the operating system here.
As highlighted above, Microsoft spent a mountain of money trying to make Windows Phone the number one mobile operating system in the world and failed spectacularly. The project was eventually scrapped entirely, and while the bones of that project inevitably led to the creation of the Surface Duo this is about as far from those Windows Phones as you can get.
Microsoft promises to implement one of the most pure Android experiences possible outside of the phones Google makes themselves (the Pixel lineup) while at the same time incorporating elements of Windows 10X – a brand-new mobile operating system that’s designed for exactly these types of hybrid devices.
This means that you’re going to be able to take advantage of all your favorite Android applications right out of the box with a phone that has hardware specifically designed for this operating system but that you’re also going to be able to leverage Windows 10X applications and technology as well without having to mess around with dual booting nor any other inconveniences.
One of the most striking parts of the product announcement event was the ability for this phone to multitask with two separate applications running on each screen independently. This isn’t all that new in the world of dual screen phones, but what is completely new – and unique to this Microsoft device alone – was the ability to run Android applications on one screen and Windows 10X applications on the other with absolutely no downside in performance whatsoever.
Consumer Reaction Has Been Glowingly Positive
The potential for this device to be a real industry game changer is off the charts, and the second that preorders open up it’s likely that this phone is going to fly right off of the shelf.
Microsoft wanted to have this device ready to rock and roll by the end of 2019 but realized that it wasn’t quite where they wanted it to be.
Instead of shoving it out the door early they have instead decided to sit back for another 12 months, really refined the hardware and the overall experience, and guarantee that when this phone is available for purchase it’s going to be the biggest, baddest, and most exciting mobile device money can buy.
Technology websites all over the internet are already clamoring about the possibilities that the Surface Duo will make a reality by the time it launches.
Some have questioned whether or not the unique form factor and 360° hinge is going to be as easy to use as traditional “single screen” devices are right now – but the overwhelming majority of people are ready to get their hands on this piece of hardware and give it a test drive for themselves.
If you are in the market for a new mobile device and have the opportunity to wait another 12 months or so it’s not a bad idea to wait until Microsoft unveils a little bit more information about the Surface Duo.
Expect them to begin making more concrete announcements and specifications available in about six month’s time, with plenty of marketing and advertising lead up to the 2020 holiday season (traditionally begun in late November) to let you know that this new device is on its way.
The last time Microsoft dabbled in the world of mobile devices that they were forced to fold up shop pretty quickly.
The odds are very good (VERY good) that this is not going to be the case this time around. If the Surface Duo is able to do to the world of mobile phones and tablets what the Surface hybrid device lineup did to the world of tablets, laptops, and PC gaming, we are looking at a major disruptor in the tech industry pipeline right now.