Last year, after announcing its long-awaited dual-screen phone, Microsoft promised the Surface Duo would go on sale sometime during the 2020 holiday season. However, if a new report is accurate, it might be possible to get your hands on one a lot sooner.
According to Windows Central, multiple contacts with knowledge about the Surface Duo’s development claim that both the Duo’s hardware and software “are pretty much done” and that Microsoft is aiming to launch the Duo significantly earlier than previously expected.
The Duo is set to launch with Android 10, which was officially released back in August, and recently, Microsoft has been mostly focused on putting the final touches on “top-level OS customisations” and making sure the Duo’s dual screens play nicely with pre-installed apps like Microsoft Office, Outlook, and others.
Apparently, Microsoft is hoping to have the Duo’s software finished by April, and that Microsoft could begin shipping the Duo in limited quantities sometime this winter. That said, there’s a good chance the Duo’s initial run will be mostly targeted developers and hardcore enthusiasts. Windows Central claims the Duo’s availability will be announced in the autumn, potentially alongside refreshed versions of the Surface Go and Surface Book.
It seems one of the major reasons for the Duo being way ahead of schedule is that the device has been in development since 2016, so much of the Duo’s hardware has been ready to go for some time. However, that could be both a good and bad thing for the Duo, because while putting two screens in one device is still quite novel, things like the Duo’s relatively fat bezels and limited number of cameras feel dated when compared to other modern smartphones.
Also, while Android 10 is nice, Google has already released a developer preview for Android 11 which includes better support for both foldables and dual-screen devices like the Surface Duo. So in some respects, it may behoove Microsoft to stick to its original holiday 2020 launch window and spend that extra time preparing the Duo to run on Android 11.
Furthermore, while the Duo’s specs are decent with the phone featuring a Snapdragon 855 chip and 8GB of RAM, with phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra having already started to ship with more powerful Snapdragon 865 processors, the Duo’s internals aren’t all that impressive. Additionally, the Surface Duo is expected to feature just 64GB of onboard storage, which seems a bit low for a new phone in 2020—particularly one primarily focused on productivity.
As for the Duo’s bigger sibling—the Surface Neo—it seems the launch of Microsoft’s laptop with dual 9-inch screens hasn’t changed and is still on target for release sometime in Q4 2020. However, with COVID-19 currently wreaking havoc on global supply chains, there could be other factors that may cause problems for both the Duo and Neo’s upcoming releases.
Still, for an industry where delays and postponements are much more common than a device being ready early, it’s encouraging to hear that the Surface Duo’s development is ahead of schedule.
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for news of an Australian release.