Posted in Technology

Microsoft Surface Duo is an incredible product, but who will buy it?

Microsoft has created a powerful and unique product, the Surface Duo, that may change the way we use our mobile devices – or it can become one of the most expensive flops the company has ever made. The challenge the product faces is this: Who will pay the high price (USD 1400 and up) for the Surface Duo and trust that the required apps behave correctly on the device, and that the product has a future?

The video below explains the key features of the Surface Duo (running an app on one screen and another app on the other screen, and much more):

Actually, I think I know who will purchase the Surface Duo. This is Microsoft’s Apple product. It is aimed at creating a new product category. The first people who will buy it are the kind of people who instantly bought the iPhone and the iPad when they became available. Today, both Apple products are mega successes, the iPhone at a scale no other product can match.

For those who don’t remember the first version of the iPhone: there were no apps, no App Store, the on-screen keyboard was so small and lousy that it was impossible to type, calls tended to drop, and the price was through the roof. Yet, people bought it. They trusted it would change something in their lives. Naturally, Apple quickly improved the nasty features and created the App Store.

The Microsoft Surface Duo is in a similar position as the very first iPhone was. Apart from Microsoft’s own apps, like OneDrive, Outlook, Word and OneNote that fully make use all the features of the dual display system, there are no apps that can utilize the hardware. Microsoft has demonstrated the Kindle ebook reading app, but let’s see if Amazon releases it to the public.

microsoft surface duo dual screen smartphone

The Surface Duo is powered by Android 10 operating system that will be updated to the version 11 by the end of 2020. Android apps should run as ordinary apps on the device, but in order to take advantage of the unique dual display, the apps must be modified. Developers will only modify their apps once they believe there is enough commercial potential for the Surface Duo.

Microsoft doesn’t say it directly, but the Surface Duo is aimed at business users. It explains the selection of Microsoft apps that have specifically been modified for the Duo, and to a certain extent explains the price point as well. The Duo is a product you can use at office, at home, and when commuting or traveling.

One product the Duo instantly replaces is the smartphone. There is absolutely no need to carry a smartphone if you have the Duo. A tablet is a different story. Some tablets are permanently standing on a kitchen table, on a living room coffee table, or in a car. Each has a specific application. For instance, the tablet in my car is dedicated to navigation, and nothing else.

So, the primary competition for the Surface Duo will be the flagship phones from Samsung, LG, Huawei, Motorola, and others. Some of these vendors are developing foldable phones as well, but the way Microsoft (and LG) has solved the hardware challenge to create a folding phone is the better solution.

If I rephrase the question asked in the beginning like this: Would I buy the Surface Duo, or the latest Samsung flagship smartphone that is in the same price category as the Duo? I would choose the Microsoft product over a smartphone.

dual screen phone surface duo from microsoft

Microsoft Surface Duo key specifications and features

  • Display when both are open: 8.1 inches, AMOLED, 2700×1800 (3:2), 401 PPI
  • Single Display: 5.6 inches, AMOLED, 1800×1350 (4:3), 401 PPI
  • Corning Gorilla Glass screen.
  • 11 megapixel camera, f/2.0 aperture.
  • Auto mode with low-light & HDR multi-frame photo capture and dynamic range scene detection. Portrait, panorama and burst mode.
  • Video recording: 4K video recording at 30 fps and 60 fps, 1080p video recording at 30 fps and 60 fps.
  • HEVC and H.264 video recording formats.
  • Gyro-based digital video stabilization.
  • Microsoft Teams and Skype video conferencing up to 1080p at 30fps.
  • 4G LTE mobile network connectivity: FDD-LTE and TD-LTE.
  • WCDMA, GSM/GPRS: GSM-850, E-GSM-900, DCS-1800, PCS-1900.
  • One eSIM and one Nano SIM slot.
  • WiFi-5 802.11ac (2.4/5GHz).
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Location: GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou, QZSS
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform optimized for the dual-screen experience
  • 6GB DRAM.
  • Storage space: model 128GB (available 109GB), model 256GB (available 234GB).
  • USB-C 3.1 port.
  • Mono loudspeaker.
  • Sensors: Dual Accelerometer, Dual Gyroscope, Dual Magnetometer, Dual Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Hall Sensor, Fingerprint Sensor
  • Dual Mic noise suppression and echo cancellation.
  • Audio formats: 3GP, MP3, MP4, MKV, WAV, OGG, M4A, AAC, TS, AMR, FLAC, MID, MIDI, RTTL, RTX, OTA, IMY
  • Video Playback Formats: MKV, MOV, MP4, H.265(HEVC), AVI, WMV, TS, 3GP, FLV, WEBM
  • Device lock: Fingerprint reader, swipe, PIN, password
  • Microsoft Authenticator security app pre-installed.
  • Compatible stylus: Surface Slim Pen, Surface Pen and Surface Hub 2 Pen.
  • Simultaneously using the Pen and touching with finger is possible
  • Dimensions when open: 145.2 mm (H) x 186.9 mm (W) x 4.8 mm (T).
  • Dimensions closed: 145.2 mm (H) x 93.3 mm (W) x 9.9 mm (T at hinge).
  • Weight 250 grams.
  • 3577mAh dual battery: Up to 15.5 hours of local video play, up to 27 hours of talk time.

Even more technical details can be viewed here.

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