Microsoft on Wednesday said the Surface Duo, its dual-screen smartphone powered by Android, will start at a price of US$1 399 (R24 000) and arrive in stores from 10 September. There are no immediate plans to bring the Surface Duo to markets outside the US.
The Surface Duo folds closed like a book. Unlike devices such as Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Z Fold 2 that use special flexible glass to create a single display, the Duo has two traditional screens separated by a hinge but synchronised to work together.
At a media briefing ahead of the Surface Duo announcement, Microsoft executives positioned the phone as a tool for getting work done with its productivity apps, similar to how many business users employ dual-monitor setups with PCs.
In the company’s Teams chat app, for example, a video chat occupies one screen while the other screen displays chats. In Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail app, clicking a link in the body of an e-mail opens the link on the opposite screen, so the user can continue reading or responding to the e-mail.
“I’m not trying to reinvent the phone,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, told reporters. “But I do believe this is a better way to get things done.”
Play store ‘critical’
The dual-screen setup also allows users to pair up non-Microsoft apps, such as running social networks Twitter and Instagram side by side. Panay said that one of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s favourite combinations was using Amazon.com’s Kindle app to read books while taking notes with a stylus in Microsoft’s OneNote app on the other screen.
Panay said Microsoft chose Google’s operating system because it would give users access to Android’s large ecosystem of mobile apps. “Having the Play store is critical,” he said.
The device does not have 5G connectivity and is only available in the US at launch. Microsoft gave no timeline for other markets. — Reported by Stephen Nellis, (c) 2020 Reuters