Microsoft Surface Duo is a folding phone running Android

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At Microsoft’s Surface event in New York today, the company announced the “Surface Duo”, a clamshell dual-screen phone with a full swivel hinge design.

Microsoft showed off prototypes of the “phone” which lacked any kind of external features aside from the Windows logo, including no rear camera. The Surface Duo is a two-screen folding phone, which has two 5.6in screens bolted together with a hinge that folds a full 360 degrees. The phone opens like a book then folds all the way round.

The two 5.6” screens when unfolded amount to a diagonal of 8.3”, and the device is running a customised version of Android as the OS. Currently the prototype devices are running Android 9 with a Snapdragon 855 SoC – although these specifications are sure to change when the device physically launches.

On the inside there is merely an earpiece speaker and a camera.

Microsoft pitched the Surface Duo as having the benefits of a phone, but also a computer on which you can do more because it has two screens. However, with folding devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, which have one continuous flexible screen that opens like a book instead of two screens bolted together, it will be interesting if the Duo catches on.

Panos Panay, the chief product officer of Microsoft said the firm had partnered with Google to bring Android apps and the Play Store to the Duo, “bringing the absolute best of Microsoft with the absolute best of Google”.

“We absolutely know scientifically that you will be more productive on two screens – much more than one screen ever could do,

But it has to be elegant. It has to fit in your pocket. It has to be robust. It has to fit in your bag.

And it’s not just more real estate you need – it’s not. It’s defined real estate. It’s structure and the way the mind takes it: that seam down the middle lights up the mind in ways that’s almost impossible to explain because you have to feel it.”

The Surface Duo will not be available until the Christmas period of 2020, but Panay said the company was unveiling the technology early “to bring developers on the journey with us”.

“It’s the device that puts you at the centre and adapts to who you are – I showed you kind of early, but I can’t wait,”

No word on price yet, of course, but you’d imagine it won’t be cheap.

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