Microsoft Surface Duo: $1,199 price, no 5G and how to order

Microsoft’s Floor Duo is an open e book.

Microsoft/GIF by Caitlin Petrakovitz/PJDM

Microsoft introduced the Floor Duo to market earlier this fall. The Floor Duo, powered by a modified model of Google’s Android software program, places a special spin on the foldable phone pattern, becoming a member of Samsung’s lately introduced Galaxy Z Fold 2, the Galaxy Z Flip and final 12 months’s Motorola Razr reboot. Within the gadget, initially $1,399 however at present $1,199, the Surface Duo’s hinge is the important thing distinction, bringing collectively two 5.6-inch screens as an alternative of counting on one huge show that may be folded. Microsoft created the Floor Duo over 5 years, creating the hinge in a manner that is simple to open however exhausting to unintentionally shut. The hinge permits the superthin screens to rotate 360 levels. Microsoft doesn’t want to call the dual-screen Surface Duo a phone, per se. As a substitute, it desires us to think about this as a brand new sort of product. 

“Once we designed it, the intent was, ‘How do you make one thing so skinny, stunning, mild and tremendous elegant that when individuals choose it up they will really feel that emotion within the product?'” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer and head of Floor gadgets, stated in an unique interview.

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Contained in the Microsoft Floor Duo: We did not use it, however…


The gadget brings new concepts to the cell world, together with software program Microsoft wrote to make the 2 screens work together. You’ll be able to drag a photograph from one display screen to the opposite and it really works due to a mixture of pc programming that follows your finger throughout the screens. There’s additionally an array of sensors that observe the place the shows are relative to one another, together with in the event that they’re open, closed or someplace in between.

Whereas PJDM Editor at Giant Scott Stein — a famous dual-screen skeptic — says the gadget felt good, he additionally says it represents some huge cash to ask of individuals on a standard day, not to mention in the course of an economic downturn fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.

GIF by Caitlin Petrakovitz/PJDM

Nonetheless, Microsoft invited us to speak with its engineers about how the Floor Duo was conceived, the know-how invented to make it attainable and the way it works. (Or you’ll be able to just read our final Surface Duo review here.)

In I’m already folding in love with the feel of Microsoft’s Surface Duo, Stein shares what it was like to carry a Floor Duo prototype. Microsoft shipped us a near-production prototype gadget with the screens changed by clear glass so we will see the interior working and be taught the way it works. Stein additionally talks about why he hasn’t like dual-screen gadgets earlier than, and why the Floor Duo often is the gadget to alter his thoughts. However ultimately, he went deeper in in the full review and said, “The sense of stream that the Duo aspires to — that really feel of issues working nicely collectively, the gadget not getting in the way in which — hasn’t been there for me.”

In Microsoft’s two-screen Surface Duo isn’t an iPhone or Galaxy Fold. That’s the point, we take a look at the place the Floor Duo matches on this planet, and why Microsoft selected to make a brand new handheld gadget after a collection of embarrassing multibillion-dollar makes an attempt that led to failure.

Here is what else you should know concerning the Floor Duo.

How a lot does the Floor Duo value?

Foldable telephones aren’t low cost. Final 12 months, when Samsung launched its Galaxy Fold after a collection of design failures were discovered by reviewers simply earlier than launch, it value $1,980. The (additionally delayed) Huawei Mate X went for the equivalent of $2,400 when it was launched.

Microsoft was initially charging $1,399 for the 128GB model of the Floor Duo. On the Microsoft Store website, that is at present $1,199, though we won’t say how lengthy that low cost will final. 

Is the Floor Duo a telephone?

That query is without doubt one of the issues that is surrounded this gadgets because it was introduced final 12 months. Wired’s take back then summed the situation up well: “It folds, however the display screen is not foldable. It kind of matches in your pocket. It has a digicam. And it makes telephone calls-but do not you dare name it a telephone.”

In the end, in case your definition of “telephone” is it takes and receives calls, then sure it’s one. However so is your PC, pill and doubtlessly your sport console too.

So, perhaps “telephone” is extra a mind-set than a label.

Is the Floor Duo an Android?

That is simpler than asking whether or not the Floor Duo is a telephone. This gadget is an Android, in that it runs Google’s cell software program for tablets and telephones, and it’s designed to run just about all of the apps you should use on a typical non-Apple gadget. 

The truth is, Microsoft stated it selected to construct the Floor Duo utilizing Android as an alternative of its Home windows software program due to the massive base of lots of of hundreds of apps that exist already within the Android retailer. Why reinvent the wheel?

Does the Floor Duo have 5G?

Practically each main telephone launch this 12 months, including Apple’s new iPhones, help 5G wireless capabilities. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, introduced earlier this month for $1,300, has 5G. So does its cousin, the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

The Floor Duo, then again, will work with 4G networks. Microsoft stated the explanation comes right down to tradeoffs — the corporate selected to stay with the earlier era wi-fi tech to permit for higher battery life and a thinner gadget.


The hinge that makes the Floor Duo attainable.

Scott Stein/PJDM

The place is it on sale?

Microsoft closed nearly all its brick-and-mortar retail stores, so you will not have the ability to discover them there even when you’re prepared to enterprise out in the course of the pandemic. It is accessible to order on-line by way of Microsoft’s website and Best Buy. You should buy it from AT&T, too.

If the beginning value is simply too steep for you, Microsoft provides a 24-month fee plan by way of Dell financing. AT&T equally will mean you can pay in installments by way of its Subsequent Up program.

Microsoft Surface Duo

We obtained to look contained in the Floor Duo, beneath the screens, to see the way it works.

Richard Peterson/PJDM

How nicely do apps run within the telephone?

Microsoft made a degree of exhibiting us that customary Android apps run on the gadget simply fantastic, due to its two screens being the equal of two customary telephone shows. For apps constructed with the second display screen in thoughts, they are often designed to “span” throughout the 2 screens, which means an electronic mail app may have your inbox on the left and opened messages on the suitable. They is also programmed to open new hyperlinks or companion apps within the reverse display screen you are taking a look at.

Microsoft demonstrated Amazon’s Kindle e book studying app, which was designed to seem like a e book with textual content on the left and proper. While you swipe your finger throughout the display screen, an animated web page follows alongside.

The corporate stated that it is working with Google to combine a few of the software program it developed for the Floor Duo again into Android so different two-screen gadgets sooner or later will profit from Microsoft’s work. That additionally means extra apps might ultimately be programmed for the Floor Duo because of this.

However in his assessment, Scott Stein bumped into a number of app points, for instance, he says, “The laggy really feel of my assessment Duo and its early software program, plus the bizarre interface, make navigation a critical problem. I strive Slack and Gmail, which work collectively fantastic… till I get hamstrung by popping the keyboard up in a single window or one other and attempting to both thumb-swipe or flip the telephone and kind.”

Will the Floor Duo run Home windows apps like my PC?

The Floor Duo runs Microsoft apps, together with Workplace, Groups and Outlook, however it would not run the identical software program as your pc. That is one of many tradeoffs Microsoft needed to make when constructing this gadget.

Its bigger cousin, the Surface Neo, will run most of the identical apps your pc has as we speak. That is as a result of it’s going to be powered by Home windows 10X, a variant designed for dual-screen PCs. However that gadget, which brings collectively two 9-inch screens possible would not slot in your pocket as simply because the Floor Duo. The corporate’s additionally delayed until at least 2021, if not longer. 

What number of folds can the Floor Duo take?

We have examined a number of folding gadgets at PJDM utilizing a particular robotic developed by SquareTrade. The Samsung Galaxy Fold started failing after about 120,000 folds throughout our take a look at final 12 months. That was a lot lower than the 200,000 folds we estimated it might undergo throughout 5 years of use. (Though we’re simply beginning to find out how individuals use folding phones and that would change with the completely different designs firms are inventing).

Once we put the brand new Motorla Razr by way of FoldBot’s paces final 12 months, that gadget didn’t make it to 28,000 folds.

Microsoft preemptively stated folding take a look at robots do not simulate actual life utilization the identical manner its personal labs do. Nonetheless, it would not say what number of folds the Floor Duo may final by way of, besides that the corporate expects the hinge mechanism to final past the Floor Duo’s personal pure lifecycle.

Microsoft Surface Duo

The Floor Duo’s particular person screens are thinner than an iPad Air.

Richard Peterson/PJDM

Does the Floor Duo have a digicam?

Many firms releasing premium telephones justify their $1,000 or extra costs with the gorgeous pictures they are saying you might take. Apple has that Shot on iPhone billboard marketing campaign, and the iPhone Photography Awards contest. Samsung boasts about how its gadgets can ship stunning zoom with their cameras. And Google proudly says its superior programming makes photographs on its Pixel telephones not like opponents, providing shockingly nicely captured low-light shots. They will even {photograph} stars in the sky.

By comparability, Microsoft’s largely talked about how the Floor Duo is constructed for productiveness and higher interplay between apps. Translation: Its digicam is not going to be a killer characteristic. After in-person testing, we stated, “The digicam on the Floor Duo (and there is just one) is okay. Undoubtedly not nice. It has been serviceable for Zoom, and has created some photographs and video clips that are not nearly as good as what I’ve come to count on. Picture stabilization for video appears notably jittery.     

Microsoft Surface Duo

A peak on the Floor Duo’s digicam.

Richard Peterson/PJDM

Will it get fast Android updates?

One of the vexing elements of proudly owning a telephone powered by Google’s Android software program is Android itself. Producers routinely fail to ship well timed updates to customers, even with Google putting out test versions of its software months forward of the standard fall launch.

Microsoft says it is working with Google instantly on the Floor Duo, which naturally led to questions on whether or not which means it’s going to get up to date extra typically and extra shortly. Microsoft says the gadget will get software program updates, however has not but comitted to timetables about when.

Microsoft Surface Duo

It is available in a field that is very harking back to a sure fruit firm that additionally makes telephones.

Richard Peterson/PJDM

Different particulars concerning the Floor Duo

  • A 360-degree hinge means you’ll be able to fold one display screen flat towards the opposite to carry it like a notepad.
  • You get a complete of 8.three inches of display screen actual property.
  • There isn’t any outer display screen — you need to open the gadget to make use of it.
  • It helps the Floor Pen, which you should purchase individually for not less than $99.
  • The Floor Duo has thick display screen bezels, however which may assist hold you from unintentionally tapping when you maintain it. Microsoft stated the bezels are a tradeoff from miniaturizing elements and making the screens so skinny. It is also Microsoft’s manner of claiming smaller bezels are possible sooner or later.
  • You’ll be able to drag and drop objects, like a telephone quantity, from one display screen to the opposite.

Floor Duo specs

  • Two 5.6-inch AMOLED shows working at a decision of 1,800×1,350 pixels individually
  • 8.three inches of complete display screen actual property when opened totally, working at an efficient decision of two,700×1,800 pixels
  • Snapdragon 855, 6GB DRAM
  • LTE 4×4 MIMO (Not 5G), helps AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wi-fi within the US
  • Fingerprint reader
  • USB-C charger
  • 128GB or 256GB of inner storage
  • Mono speaker
  • 11-megapixel digicam, with electronic image stabilization 

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Ian Sherr