Earlier this month Microsoft made a big splash by announcing their dual screen device named Surface Duo. While there have been more and more foldable screen phones announced in the past year many of them have had serious problems. The technology for a folding screen has just not quite been perfected it seems, and while the idea is really exciting, it is not worth the investment for a device that can break or have flaws.
Microsoft has other plans. In fact, they’ve been developing this for three years, before all the failed attempts. Their plan is to skip the single display folding screen and go with a proven strategy by using two screens and a hinge. The Surface Duo is making another improvement from past Windows phones and adopting Android as it’s OS instead of Windows. By doing this they can offer the full Android app library and have the support of developers for the new dual screen technology.
The Surface Duo does work as a phone, but Microsoft doesn’t want to label it as such. They believe that while this is similar to smartphones it is really a new and unique product category, so they are resisting calling it a phone. The device is made up of two 5.6-inch displays that fold out into an 8.3-inch overall screen and is 4.8mm thin. Thanks to its 360-degree hinge it can be folded over fully or opened flat. While it may sound like it will be large, when it is folded up it should fit nicely into a pants pocket.
Having the two screens should open up all sorts of new possibilities. Microsoft has a short video on their website showing some of the potential of the device https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/devices/surface-duo. They show lots of multitasking, like opening a PowerPoint from an email and being able to view it alongside the email or making a video call while reviewing the PowerPoint. If you’re into games they show using one screen for the game, the other as a controller so it is not displayed overtop the gaming screen. Maybe you just like a keyboard for typing, well one screen can be the display and the other the full QWERTY keyboard.
This seems like it could be the first dual screen/foldable “phone” to really work. Even though they announced the product now it will be about a year before launch with a “holiday 2020” estimate. Part of the reason for the early announcement is to try and get developers to start working now so that come next year they will have some nice polished software available. It will be interesting to see how things look in a year from now when they are ready to launch and see how the tech landscape is. Until then we just will have to wait and see.