Microsoft have unveiled their new Android phone, the Surface Duo, a dual-screen smartphone that folds down the middle like a book. Claiming that two screens will make us more productive, is the Surface Duo the new way forward?

Phones are a big part of our lives; we hate to admit it, but it’s true. Everybody also picks their side very early on, and will die by the sword of their choice.

Android or iPhone?

Most would say that on sheer popularity, that Apple have been winning that battle for many years now. However, is Apple’s rigidity and increasing ‘taking of the piss’ going to see a shift in that trend?

The new Microsoft Surface Duo marks the first real hybrid of a smartphone and a laptop, with the foldable screen enabling the user to multitask in a new fashion.

Both screens are 14.2cm, which when unfolded, provides a larger than usual screen for most smartphones, closer to the size of an iPad. This gives the user plenty of room to use the phone as a quasi-laptop if needed.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Microsoft Surface Duo

This segways into our next point, and one that Microsoft’s chief product officer Panos Panay was keen to stress at the unveiling.

This is a “surface“, he insisted, and not a phone. It can take calls, send texts, but the emphasis on surface slightly isolates it from the rest of the smartphone market, and additionally, they didn’t say whether it would take SIM cards or not.

The 360 degree folding screen means the phone (or surface sorry), is now capable of several new things; it can be used as a laptop, or as a games controller, it can stand up on it’s own accord, or folded in half and used just like a phone.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Microsoft Surface Duo

It also comes with Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds, their answer to Apple’s new wireless headphones, which now appear to be industry standard.

Using Google’s Android instead of Microsoft Windows, however, will make it more familiar as a phone to current users of the Android devices, so perhaps that was merely a ploy to attract more users. Or it’s just better.

Working in collaboration with Google is no doubt a master stroke, who have been pushing the phone industry forward for years now, and the Surface Duo will bring, “the absolute best of Microsoft with the absolute best of Google”.

So really, it seems the new phone/surface is a little confused, but maybe that’s the point. Microsoft have shown they want to create a new type of product, one that Apple haven’t thought of or could pull off yet.

“We think we have something here that’s the start of new category…they have been in development for years and getting them in developers’ hands.

Panos Panay explains,

I think they’re new products, I don’t think they’re replacement products. Some people will move from laptops for sure. The key thing now is to [get them out there].”

Clearly confident in what they’ve created, you cannot deny they certainly look classy. However, the folding phone has been tried before by Samsung, and with the Surface Duo and other products in the new range not available until Christmas 2020, could they be out of date by the time they are released? Or will Apple steal the idea for themselves in the meantime?

Questions certainly still hang over the Surface Duo and Neo (larger version), but the early announcement is a certain statement of intent from Microsoft, convinced what they have created is going to stick.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Microsoft Surface Duo