Microsoft shocked the technology world by unveiling a new folding phone. Known as the Surface Duo, Microsoft’s best-kept secret has two 5.6 inch screens and folds in the middle. The downside? It won’t be available for about a year. The announcement of this new device didn’t include how much it will cost. But if we know anything about new phones, it won’t be cheap. Microsoft made this announcement at the end of its hardware event where they debuted upgrades to its Surface tablets and laptop computers. Is this Microsoft’s attempt at creating another phone?
According to Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, this is not a phone. In fact, he was adamant that the Surface Duo, is a Surface. I mean, that’s what it says in the name, so how could we argue with that? Well, let’s start with the fact that it is a phone. Microsoft denying that they created a phone seems a bit like they’re trying to cover up the fact that they’ve actually created a phone. Remember the “the lady doth protest too much, methinks” line from Hamlet? That’s kind of what Microsoft is doing here.
And I mean, you can’t blame them. They famously missed the smartphone revolution. This resulted in them losing out to Apple and Google who dominated the development of mobile ecosystems. Further, Microsoft tried (and failed) to adapt its Windows software for phones and even spent $7 billion to acquire Nokia’s phone business. But alas, customers opted for Apple iPhones or devices from companies like Samsung and LG which were running Google’s Android software. In 2017, Microsoft stopped the development on Windows Mobile. But here we are, a mere two years later with a similar announcement.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that this is a good move for Microsoft, given how popular their Surface tablets are. I do think that they need to call it what it is. Maybe it’s some kind of hybrid. After all, you can make calls from an iPad, but Apple doesn’t market it that way. I mean, could you imagine carrying your iPad around just to make phone calls? So maybe this is the gap that Microsoft is looking to fill.
Let’s learn a little more about the device:
- Each display can run two different apps at the same time. (While not something I ever thought I needed to do, this is an interesting concept)
- The Duo can be turned into landscape mode, which allows the second display to be used as a keyboard or video game controller
- The version of Android that is on the Duo resembles the Windows 10X operating system that the larger Surface Neo runs
- Each display can rotate 360 degrees, which allows it to be fully unfolded and used as a miniature 8.3-inch tablet
I’m slowly starting to come onside to the folding devices, but I’m still not completely convinced they are necessary. If I think about any of the devices I currently use, I can’t imagine how folding one in half would provide me with any more use or functionality. Think about it this way though – how many of you have an older device and you like it and you’re comfortable with it? Now think about when you get a new device. Sure – there are many great new features and maybe it looks nicer, but you could have probably used that old device for quite a bit longer.
The point I’m trying to make with all of this is that I think folding phones are way too advanced. I am making the argument that no one actually “needs” a foldable phone. That said, I’m open to counter-arguments. Until then – at least there is one more device in the game.