Once Microsoft first designed its own phones, we got the incredible Lumia 950 and 950 XL— a couple of smartphones that were supposed to usher in Windows 10 Mobile era, but couldn't actually do the job. Now the company is trying to make its mark again in phones, but we didn't see exactly coming with a device: a dual-screen Android phone that looks like a smaller Surface Neo.
For now, the specifics are quite sparse, but this is what we know. Every side uses a 5.6-inch panel that comes together with a 360-degree hinge, and when it's time to make a phone call, you can easily flip one of the displays behind the other to make it easier for the Duo to handle. Whether you can flip back a screen to use a single screen for standard Android apps at this stage is not obvious, but it's a very safe bet you can make.
Wired also pointed out that, like most of the flagships we've seen this year, the Surface Duo uses one of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chipsets — that's probably not a bad option, but as the smartphone goes on sale during the 2020 summer season, it's going to be a full generation behind the curve.
Between now and then, the time will be spent encouraging programmers to cook up creative dual-screen interactions, though it's wondering what they might look like. The nearest comparison available right now is the Galaxy Fold from Samsung, which at best allows you to run multiple devices on a single device— hardly any of Samsung's technology looks particularly optimized to take advantage of that single big screen. If nothing else, you can expect the very, very good Android applications set from Microsoft to grow when they reach the official release date of the Duo.
While it's easy to see it as just a (very interesting) mobile, Panos Panay, Microsoft's corporate computer vice president, emphasizes that it's first and foremost a proper layer. Panay said.
"We absolutely know scientifically that you will be more productive on two screens"
The focus on getting things done on various screens was also last time Microsoft's philosophy worked. One of the main sketches for its earlier Windows 10 Mobile platform is Continuum, which allowed users to connect their Windows phones to external screens, increase them with Bluetooth keyboards and mice, and achieve the standard Windows experience effectively. While other smartphone manufacturers later launched their own Android mobile modes, the concept did not actually spread beyond its initial niche.
Microsoft is looking at where the mobile industry is going this time instead of sticking to traditional computing principles. Before we get a real sense of what the Surface Duo is capable of, it's going to be a while yet, yet one thing is clear: people will be more curious about this thing than they ever were about a Lumia.