Microsoft on Wednesday at its Surface Event surprised everybody by announcing its new Surface Duo, an Android-powered dual-screened device. After failing to enter an already crowded and super competitive smartphone market, the Redmond, Washington-based company is taking another shot with a new kind of device.
Unlike other foldable smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X, Microsoft took a different approach with its folding device. The Surface Duo features two separate 5.6-inch displays connected by a 360-degree hinge that expands to an 8.3-inch device.
The hinge works pretty much the same as a 360° hinge found on most 2-1 laptops. You can lay it out on a flat surface, use it like a mini-laptop, hold it like a book, you can fold it all the way around so you can use it with one hand and the two screens face outwards or put it in a tent position for watching videos.
When folded it can easily fit in your pocket as any smartphone would. The company didn’t provide many details on hardware specifications such as battery life, price, camera support. But according to Wired, the Surface Duo is powered by the Snapdragon 855 processor.
On the software side, the device is running a heavily customized version of Android that looks like the Windows 10X operating system that the larger Surface Neo runs. The dual-screen device will have full access to the Google Play Store, and will also run optimized Windows apps. These are, of course, prototype specifications, they are sure to change until the device’s actual launch.
According to Microsoft, the Surface Duo is not going to compete in the smartphone market, but rather to be a device that makes you more creative and productive. The marketing video demoed how you can use one display as a keyboard for better productivity or as a game controller for ultimate gaming experience.
The Surface Duo will be available during next year’s holiday season, said Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay onstage. In the meantime, Microsoft is trying to get developers on board to update their apps to support the dual-screen features.
It’s not the prettiest looking foldable device, but given the fact that the first folding phones are way too fragile for everyday use and not ready for mass-market production, this looks far more robust than any folding phone. The dual-screen doesn’t have the ability to turn into a big, single screen, though. Anyway, we’re more than a year to go, so we can expect a design change.
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