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Microsoft gets in the foldy phone game

Tech giant Microsoft has decided to have another go at the smartphone market, for old time’s sake, with a Surface branded foldy phone.

The Surface Duo was unveiled in a blog, rather than a press release. Perhaps anticipating some scepticism, given the unproven nature of the form factor and Microsoft’s consistently awful performance in the smartphone market, the blog starts with a defensive tone. It reflects on the success of the Surface laptop range, despite initially expectations to the contrary, and predicts a similar outcome for the latest effort.

It is, of course, an Android device, but as you would expect, the emphasis is on productivity, specifically through the Office 365 software suite. While the Surface Duo is a foldy phone, it doesn’t have a continuous screen, Instead you get a couple of 5.6-inch displays joined together by a 360-degree hinge. All this productive, foldy goodness can be yours for as little as $1399, initially only in the US.

Here are the key features and benefits, as copied from the Surface Duo spec sheet:

  • Mobile productivity, powered by two screens. Open two screens and discover a better way to get things done. Run any two apps side by side, drag and drop between screens in supported apps, open an email attachment on the second screen without leaving Outlook, maximize one app across both screens, and say goodbye to constant app switching.
  • Flexibility to do More. Surface Duo offers the flexibility to interact with your apps in more ways than ever. From Book to Compose to Tent mode, Surface Duo adapts to you – it’s a new way to be productive on the go.
  • The Best of Microsoft, together with Android apps. Enjoy the best of Microsoft 365 mobile experiences optimized for Surface Duo, along with every Android app in the Google Play store and seamlessly connect to your Windows 10 PC.
  • Original design, created by Surface. At 4.8 mm when opened, Surface Duo is the thinnest Surface we’ve ever created. Featuring two high-resolution 5.6” PixelSense displays that open to an expansive 8.1” and a revolutionary 360 hinge – it’s Surface innovation in your pocket.

We designed Surface Duo for people who want to get more done with the device in their pocket,” says the blog. “Our internal research shows that three out of four people report struggling to complete complex tasks while away from their computer. That’s because smartphones with a single screen aren’t designed for you to easily do multiple things at once.

“Think about it. You continually have to switch between apps to get even the most essential things done – breaking focus, breaking flow. Just like using two monitors at your desk, having two distinct screens lets you open up two apps side by side, cross-reference information, and drag and drop to effortlessly move images, text and files between screens so you can get things done quicker. We know dual-screen devices not only help people complete complex tasks faster but also require less cognitive effort, making them universally preferred for productivity tasks.”

Maybe, but who’s going to stump up a grand and a half for the privilege? If there is any demand for the Surface Duo it will probably come from the enterprise sector, where the cost can be absorbed alongside massive bonuses and obscene lunches. Even then, though, you can get a hell of a laptop for that kind of money and Microsoft has picked a bad time to rely on corporate extravagance.


One comment

  1. Avatar M. Owais Sharif 14/08/2020 @ 4:29 am

    Microsoft launches a splendid phone which will shake the mobile phone market. I wish i use this phone at once.

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