Microsoft Surface Duo: Rumors, release date, price and what we want

We said we would expect the Surface Duo to start somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500, but we hope the price is closer to the low end of that range.

Rumors of a dual-screen Microsoft Surface device had been circulating ever since the Courier concept blew everyone away back in the fall of 2009.

By Sean Riley

But it was still a bit surprising to see Microsoft take the stage last October and announce two folding, dual-screen devices in the Surface Neo and Surface Duo.

The Surface Duo, in particular, marked a reentry into the smartphone market a couple of years after the company finally acknowledged that Windows 10 Mobile was no longer in active development. (Microsoft doesn’t want you calling the Duo a smartphone, though.) 

The foldable, dual-screen Surface Duo will hit the market as foldables generate a lot of interest, but, due to high costs and disastrous durability for some early efforts, we have yet to see one of these devices succeed in the mainstream.

Can Microsoft, in its return to the mobile market, deliver the first foldable that is worth buying? Let’s take a look at everything we know so far about the Surface Duo.

Price and release date

Pricing is one of the remaining mysteries of the Surface Duo.

And while Microsoft is trying to position this device as a very different offering from anything currently on the market, we can at least make an educated guess on the price based on some other recent foldables.

The Surface Duo doesn’t rely on an actual folding screen, so we don’t anticipate the stratospheric pricing of $2,000 and beyond that we saw with the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei’s Mate X. LG’s somewhat similar dual-screened smartphone, the LG V60 ThinQ 5G, is projected to come in at under $1,000 when it ships this spring, with reasonably comparable internals to the Surface Duo.

We would assume a premium over that pricing, as Microsoft is in a stronger position than LG and the Surface Duo has both some unique features and, from what we can tell, superior fit and finish to the V60. With all of that said, a starting price of anywhere between $1,200 and $1,500 fits what we know so far.

When Microsoft announced the Surface Duo in October of last year, the company said the device would be “coming holiday 2020,” and its official page for the Surface Duo still makes this claim. However, reports from Windows Central in February claimed that the device is ahead of schedule and could ship this summer.

This would likely place the launch time frame around July or August, but it’s possible the outbreak of the new coronavirus (causing the disease COVID-19) will push the device launch back to November. We may hear more regarding both the price and launch date for the Surface Duo at a rumored spring Microsoft event for the Surface Book 3 and Surface Go 2.

Design and specs

While Microsoft is adamant that you should not call the Surface Duo a smartphone, doing so is hard to resist. The device appears to use the same components as other modern smartphones, runs Android (albeit, a custom version of Android 10) and makes phone calls.

That said, the design of the Surface Duo is certainly unique. It has a powerful, 360-degree hinge that allows you to fix the device’s twin, 5.6-inch screens in any position. Unfolded, they form an 8.3-inch display (separated, of course, by the hinge) that can either display information independently on each screen or go full screen across the two of them. According to Zac Bowden of Windows Central, the resolution of each screen is 1350 x 1800, which should be sufficient for a device this size.

Naturally, everything worked flawlessly in the promo video for the Surface Duo, but some video of a prerelease unit in the wild similarly impressed us with how easy it was to flip the device between its various modes. However, it certainly showed some software kinks that need to be worked out.

That same video showed off a flash to accompany the single camera that is found above the right screen.

This is one area where Microsoft is definitely taking a different approach with the Surface Duo, as most smartphone buyers are accustomed to double- or triple-camera arrays (or more) in their devices these days. Microsoft’s Panos Panay boasted about the single camera, calling it a “world-class” camera, but we don’t have any specifics on it yet. More

By Sean Riley