At the Microsoft 2019 event in NYC, the company unveiled its next generated of Surface Devices that will hit the market in 2020, including the dual-screen Surface Neo tablet. The Windows software also had one more surprise: the Microsoft Surface Duo, a smaller Android smartphone with two screens. The company was careful not to provide much detail about the Surface Duo, which will be accompanied by another large dual screen device called the Surface Neo.
Microsoft Product Chief Panos Panay said
This product brings together the absolute best of Microsoft, and we’re partnering with Google to bring the absolute best of Android in one product.This is industry pushing technology.
Microsoft tried its hands-on mobile operating system for two decades without success. With the high competition of Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, the company gave up on the effort two years ago and moved to expand its Office software and other services to rival devices. Now, it is ready for its first Android smartphone launch.
This is the first time we are hearing about this product. The Surface Neo is a larger tabled sized device while the Duo is made for handheld used with two 5.6 inch displays split by a visible center hinge and unfolds into a bigger 8.3-inch split screen. In that sense, it will not be as seamless as the Huawei Mate X or the Samsung Galaxy Fold. But with a Gorilla Glass protection, it might give an edge over the Galaxy Fold’s plastic display problems.
Microsoft is partnering with Google for bringing “the best of Android into one product”, Panay said. This means the Surface Duo will be able to run every single app in the Android ecosystem. “With Surface Duo, we are building upon Android to marry cutting edge hardware with familiar software and services”, Microsoft explains in its blog post. We’re excited to work with developers and the industry to create the next wave of dual-screen computing and unlock a new era of mobile creativity”.
Interestingly, Microsoft wouldn’t label it as a phone and instead calls it a “communications device”. The Windows blog mentions the duo can take phone calls but didn’t mention whether it will support SIM cards and sold by carriers as smartphone-categorized devices. Going by the listed specs of the Surface Neo, the Duo may feature the same Custom Intel Lakefield processor that packs Intel Gen11 graphics.
The company didn’t give an exact launch date but it said it will be available on holiday 2020. Microsoft isn’t the first company to make a smartphone with two displays but it is sure hoping to make a triumphant return.