This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Microsoft has started taking pre-orders for the Surface Duo, a foldable, dual-screen mobile device. It will ship in the U.S. starting Sept. 10.
The Surface Duo is a dual-screen, palm-sized mobile device with two 5.6-inch diagonal displays connected by a hinge that opens 360 degrees. If you open it up and look at it as a single piece, it's the equivalent of an 8.1-inch diagonal PixelSense Fusion display.
Microsoft had simultaneously announced Surface Neo, a Windows 10X device with two 9-inch screens, spread out and equivalent to 13 inches diagonal, and this Surface Duo at its fall 2019 event.
While the Neo is a "foldable laptop" with full-featured Windows 10, the Surface Duo uses Android for its OS. It is positioned as a portable multitasking business terminal that is 9.6mm thick and can fit in your pocket if you fold it up.
As long as it adopts Android and runs regular Android, it should be a two-screen Android smartphone or tablet by definition, Microsoft doesn't call the Surface Duo a smartphone, but only a member of the Surface family, which is designed to run Microsoft 365 and Microsoft's services apps comfortably, in addition to showing that it runs Android apps without problems.
Several other companies have released two-screen Android devices, but Microsoft says the Surface Duo features enterprise-grade security at every layer, from custom UEFI to the cloud.
After a number of failures in smartphones, Microsoft will not be re-entering the market with a two-screen device, and it's not going to go up against all its rivals as the Surface Phone. Basically, it seems to be selling this as a productivity-oriented product, as a device that can comfortably multitask for business services such as Microsoft 365.
While the Surface Duo has been a foretold product since last year, the launch date announcement was posted on Microsoft's Surface IT Pro blog before we knew it without an online event or even a release.
It appears that the IT Pro blog inadvertently published the article before the official announcement. Microsoft has once again released a detailed announcement by Surface head Panos Panay, as well as a promotional video of various uses, including entertainment, such as streaming games with the Xbox controller.
The Surface Duo will be priced at $1,399 in the U.S. and will begin shipping on September 10.
Customizations for two screens include a home screen UI with a taskbar underneath that is similar to Windows, registering a pair of apps that run simultaneously on the left and right and launching them with a single tap, switching from two screens to a single screen that is deemed to be in Span mode, and behavior when one screen is placed underneath the other as if it were a laptop.
According to Microsoft, these customizations for two screens are the result of close cooperation with Google. Some of the code developed by Microsoft for two-screen Android will be integrated into the Android itself and will be available to other companies.
Android has been supporting split-screen multitasking for a long time, and there have been two-screen devices and foldable devices with dynamically changing screen configurations from various companies. However, the part where you can switch between 2 screens and a deemed 1 screen, or record a combination of apps, is different from device to device with customization by manufacturer, and this hinders app compatibility and update tracking.
It remains to be seen which parts of Microsoft's development for the Surface Duo will become standard Android features, but Surface Duo could be an opportunity to improve Android's support for two screens, folding and transforming devices.
The Surface Duo's technical specifications have also been released.
Open: 145.2 mm (H) x 186.9 mm (W) x 4.8 mm (T)
Closed: 145.2 mm (H) x 93.3 mm (W) x 9.9 mm (T at hinge)
A typical Japanese paperback is roughly A6 (148 x 105mm), so the Surface Duo is only slightly smaller than a paperback when closed (it's at least a centimeter narrower).
For reference, the iPhone 11 Pro Max weighs 226g (158 x 77.8 x 8.1mm). The original Galaxy Fold weighs 276g (160.9 x 117.9 x 7.6mm when open). The LG G8X ThinQ weighs 193g for the body alone, or 331g when combined with the dual-screen cover.
Single PixelSense Display: 5.6” AMOLED, 1800x1350 (4:3), 401 PPI x2
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.