The eagerly awaited Surface Duo is a dual-screen device that will be equipped with a pair of 5.6-inch AMOLED displays carrying a resolution of 1350 x 1800. When fully opened, users will have one 8.3-inch screen to work with, albeit one with a hinge in the middle. Microsoft and Google have been working on optimizing Android for the device as have developers of third-party apps. The Duo is expected to receive Android 11 a few months after its launch.
Surface Duo will include time-saving multitask feature
According to Windows Latest, one of two tweaks supposedly made to Android for the phone will enhance the Microsoft Launcher experience in landscape mode. This will improve how well the launcher works in landscape and will reportedly take advantage of the extra screen size that the Duo provides. The second change is a new feature called "App Groups" which will allow users to launch two apps on the dual-screen with just one tap. A Surface Duo user can pre-select a pair of apps that he or she often uses together. This will be a nice time saver for multitasking Duo owners.
Originally expected to be launched during the 2020 holiday shopping season, Microsoft reportedly is working hard to get the Surface Duo introduced before the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 is announced on August 5th. The specs might be problematic for those who always want the latest and greatest components on their new phone. For example, the Duo is expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform. The 7nm chip was widely used on last year's flagship Android phones. While it might not be considered a hardship by many, the Surface Duo is considered a productivity device and could sport a relatively high price for a handset with a one-generation old chipset. The Duo is rumored to be equipped with 6GB of memory with either 64GB or 256GB of storage. A lone 11MP camera could be located above the right screen and would handle both regular photos, videos, and selfies.
The Duo could end up disappointing those hoping for a device with long battery life. While there was a time when the rumored 3460mAh battery capacity could get you past the day, you have to remember that this battery is supporting the power needs for two screens. But it doesn't appear that the refresh rate will be faster than the standard 60Hz (which means that the display refreshes 60 times per second) and there is no 5G connectivity to power. We will have to see whether the battery holds up once the handset is released.
If past patent filings prove prescient, the hinge on the Duo will be able to determine the position of the screens to each other and will change the UI appropriately. For example, with the phone in "tent mode" (like an upside-down V), the hinge would know that the screens are in that position and change the UI to support an alarm clock for a night stand. In "Laptop mode" the device is held in landscape with the two screens at a 90-degree angle like a laptop. The bottom screen would display a virtual QWERTY keyboard.
Microsoft decided to use Android for its first phone in years instead of returning to Windows Phone. While the latter had its fans and was very smooth, the so-called "app gap" prevented the operating system from making any inroads on the market shares owned by Android and iOS. This was in some ways a vicious cycle; developers wouldn't create Windows Phone versions of apps because no one was buying the phones. And no one was buying the phones because the apps they use weren't available for the platform. Like BlackBerry before it, Microsoft realized that all of the headaches related to the app gap went away when they gave up their own operating systems and replaced them with Android.