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Microsoft creates buzz with Surface Duo, but will it fizzle out before it’s available?

"When nothing goes right, go left."
Microsoft creates buzz with Surface Duo, but will it fizzle out before it’s available? Posted on October 7, 2019
"When nothing goes right, go left."

The news of the week last week was probably the surprise announcement by Microsoft of its Surface Duo phone. Ok, so the CEO doesn’t want you to call it that. 

Still, the two-screen foldable device is seen by most as, yes, a phone. Afterall, yup, it runs on Google’s Android operating system. That itself is newsworthy (and we will come to that later).

It’s been quite a few years since Microsoft’s fateful venture into smartphone, and it didn’t end too well for the Bill Gates baby. And while Gates is no longer the CEO, the company is still nonetheless doing great, and it is good to see that it is trying to push the limits of tech, in the spirit of its founder.

So, what do we make of this Surface Duo device?

“Surface Duo is a new dual-screen device that fits in your pocket,” Microsoft says on its website. “With two screens connected by a revolutionary 360° hinge, Surface Duo brings together the best of Microsoft and Android to reimagine productivity on the go.”

Each of the conjoined screens is 5.6 inches long, 4.8mm thin, and gives you a total screen size of 8.3 inches when extended. It can make phone calls, runs – as mentioned – on Android 9 at the moment (expect it to operate at Android 10 when available, and update to 11 later), is expected to be 4G-capable, supports the Surface Pen, and of course, it is foldable.

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Unlike the Galaxy Fold or other similar devices, however, the Surface Duo pivots on a hinge, making it less prone to the kind of damage we see in the Galaxy Fold. The difference here is the Surface Duo does not give you the continuous, one-piece screen like Samsung’s Fold. So, how this will affect your game-playing remains to be seen. 

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“Microsoft’s well-orchestrated teaser gives us only fragments of detail, leaving us to wonder if the Duo will come together as a device that could truly take on foldable phones like the Galaxy Fold and upcoming foldable Motorola Razr,” says CNET in a review.

Why the early introduction of a product which might risk being copied by competitors?

Part of the reason is to “allow Windows’ partners to build and develop their own devices and increase the addressable base for developers,” according to Forbes.

Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, said as much, that the early reveal was to allow (Android) app developers to get in on it.

“Well, because those are the apps you want,” says Panay to The Verge. “Because there’s hundreds of thousands of apps, and you want them. And [Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella] and I talked about it, and it’s about meeting our customers where they are, where they’re going to be. I don’t think the mobile application platform is going anywhere anytime soon.

“It’s pretty simple. Like, literally, you need the apps.” 

Well, the gamble with the premature announcement seems to have created a bit of a buzz in the tech community. But will it last the year before the actual launch of the product during “holiday 2020”? That is left to be seen.

And oh, the device is expected to retail in the region of USD1,500. 

Here are some notable reviews you might also want to check out:

The Verge: A first look at Surface Duo, Microsoft’s foldable android phone

CNET: Why Microsoft doesn’t want you to call its phone a phone

Forbes: Surface Duo highlights Microsoft’s massive gamble

Here is The Verge’s video review of the Surface Duo:

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"When nothing goes right, go left."