The dual-screened Surface Duo phone is expected to be unveiled during Microsoft's Surface event in October and made available for purchase during the holiday shopping season. In February, there was some talk about the device being ready for an earlier release, but the coronavirus outbreak might have put the kibosh on any thought of that.
The Surface Duo features a pair of 5.6-inch displays, each with a resolution of 1350 x 1800. When the two screens are opened, they create an 8.3-inch display with a hinge in the middle. And what a hinge it is; based on previous patents Microsoft applied for, and some patents granted to the company, the firm has created a hinge system that gives the device contextual awareness about the position of the two displays and adjusts the UI accordingly. For example, in laptop mode the device is held in landscape and when opened, the bottom of the screen displays a virtual keyboard. When the screens are opened in the shape of an inverted "V," the device will reportedly feature an alarm clock UI so that the Duo can be placed on a nightstand overnight.
The latest Microsoft Dev Blog (via Forbes) introduces to Android developers the dual-screen layout that will be used on the Duo. Most notable is a diagram that shows how a sample app will be configured in various modes. As you can see, some of the modes feature a single-screen layout and others show the aforementioned dual-screen layout.
The Surface Duo was powered by the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform when briefly introduced to the public last October. And that leads us to some questions that will have to be answered eventually. Will the mass-produced version of the device sport Qualcomm's 2020 flagship chip, the Snapdragon 865 Mobile platform? Will the Duo be equipped with AMOLED or LCD displays? We'd like to know what capabilities the Surface Pen will have with the device. And of course, we would love to hear more about the possible configurations in terms of memory and storage, battery capacity and pricing.
We've already seen the Surface Duo show up in the hands of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in January, and appear in a photo of the home office used by Microsoft's Senior Director Frank Shaw last month. The Duo will be the first Microsoft device to use Android although the company does own a few patents related to the operating system. While some were hoping for a Surface Phone that would run a new version of Windows Phone, others are just glad that they won't have to deal with the so-called "app gap."
Because Windows Phone had such a small percentage of the wireless market, many developers of popular and successful Android and iOS apps decided that it wasn't worth the time or effort to build versions of these apps for Microsoft's mobile OS. This created a vicious cycle where fewer people would buy a Windows Phone driven handset because of the app gap resulting in even lower market share for these phones. And the developers would continue to look at this sinking figure and decide to stick with Android and iOS.
While the Surface Duo can fit into a pocket or purse when closed and opens up to provide the user with a tablet-sized canvas to work with, it can be considered a productivity tool. Since it supports the Surface Pen, the Duo could be a great device for those who work out of the office. And while the hinge does separate the two individual screens, you won't see a crease as you do on the current crop of foldable phones including the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Samsung Z Flip, the Huawei Mate X, and the Motorola razr.