It was the most surprising announcement at Microsoft's autumn event in New York City. The group, which only a few years ago had given up the business with its own Windows phones, wants to return to the smartphone market.
Surface Duo is the name of the new device with which Microsoft dreams of making a big comeback. With two displays of 5.6-inch diagonal each, which can be opened to a large screen, it should stand out from classic smartphones like Apple's iPhone.
Also from novelties of Samsung and Huawei one wants to stand out, since it is not with the duo screens not a large, pliable folding display. Folding screens can cause major problems for manufacturers, especially Samsung had to experience around the launch of his Galaxy Fold.
For the Surface Duo, Microsoft now relies on classic LCD displays with extremely thin edges and sturdy metal hinges. They are intended to give the impression of a single large work surface.
At the end of 2020 at the earliest in the trade
Many details of the device have not yet been announced, as it should come until Christmas 2020 in the shops. But already the key data makes one sit up. The operating system is to be used by Google's Android, in an unspecified "modified version". However, Microsoft's hardware boss Panos Panay promises that "all Android apps" will run on the device.
Under the hood - as with most modern smartphones - a chip with technology of the semiconductor designer ARM will work. Until now, the plans are based on an integrated LTE mobile modem, and 5G did not want to comment on the Microsoft event.
Microsoft itself does not speak of a smartphone, although it can be used with the phone. The concert refers to the device with reference to his eponymous tablet and computer series only as "Surface". With 5.6-inch screen size, the duo comes in handy but like a slightly pettier iPhone 11 therefore - with the difference that it is hinged to double the size. The duo is the first Surface device that can be stuck in the bag, Microsoft advertises.
Windows Phone has been hung
That Microsoft sets the duo on Android, does not lack a certain irony. In the early days of the smartphone era, the then world mobile phone leader Nokia decided against Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone as the operating system. It did not go very well, Microsoft's platform was depended on Android and Apple's iPhone ecosystem. Then, Microsoft bought Nokia's mobile phone business in an attempt to put Windows Phone on the market.
The acquisition turned into a financial disaster in the billions, thousands of employees lost their jobs, the Nokia investment was completely written off with the exit from the smartphone market - and now so Microsoft even comes back with an Android phone. Under the old corporate leadership of Steve Ballmer it would have been unthinkable that the software company Microsoft based on software of the competitor Google.
Times have changed, too. Meanwhile, all major Microsoft offerings for Android are available. The new device could thus be marketed both for the private customer market or as a starter device in the corporate sector.
Microsoft / Twitter
The Big Brother: The Surface Neo
Incidentally, the duo also gets a big brother, the Surface Neo. This device comes with two hinged 9-inch displays as well as the new Windows version 10X therefore, which is to optimize working with two screens. Also announced were compatible devices with Windows 10X from manufacturers such as Asus, Dell, HP or Lenovo.