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Microsoft’s first ‘foldable’ Android smartphone has a price and release date

Published Aug 12th, 2020 6:50AM EDT
Surface Duo Price
Image: Microsoft

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  • The Surface Duo price and release date are finally official, as Microsoft has quietly launched its first “foldable” Android handset ever.
  • The Surface Duo starts at $1,299 and will be available in stores on September 10th.
  • Surface Duo preorders are set to start on August 12th.

It finally — and quietly — happened! Microsoft revealed the actual price and release date of its first Android handset, which happens to be of the “foldable” kind. But the Surface Duo is not the type of foldable smartphones we really want, so I’ll refer to it as a dual-screen device. The phone will cost you $1,399, which is a lot more expensive than most Android flagships out there, even the $1,299 Galaxy Note 20 that Samsung launched last week. And it’s a lot more expensive than the cheapest iPhone 11 you can get. But the device that turns into a tablet of sorts does have a price advantage over handsets that actually feature a foldable screen, including the new Z Fold 2 and even the Z Flip. The Duo is $600 cheaper than the original Fold phone, $100 less expensive than the underpowered Motorola Razr, and $100 more expensive than the Z Flip.

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Duo last fall, alongside the Windows-based Surface Neo foldable tablet/laptop combo. The company stunned the world when it said the Duo would run Android, rather than a Windows version adapted for mobile needs. And then it told us the phone would launch a year later. That’s a long wait for fans who might be interested in Microsoft hardware. But you’ll get your hands on one on September 10th, assuming you’re ready to pay the premium price.

The Redmond-based giant revealed the Surface Duo release date and price quietly, via a blog post. It’s not that we expected an actual press event from the company, given that the coronavirus threat is far from being contained. But the Surface Duo apparently didn’t deserve any live streaming unveiling.

The Surface Duo will feel dated right out of the box, something Microsoft fails to really address. The blog post makes no mention of the specs, which is a clear sign that the Surface Duo won’t match other 2020 Android flagships. We’re looking at a Snapdragon 855 processor from last year, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. There’s no 5G in the picture, and the smartphone comes with a 3,577 mAh battery that might not be enough. Don’t get too excited about the camera either, as the Surface Pro will have a single camera that will pull double duty: it’s both the primary camera and the selfie camera.

Surface Duo
Microsoft Surface Duo Android smartphone. Image source: Microsoft

What Microsoft does focus on in the blog post is the phone’s dual-screen. We’re looking at two 5.6-inch displays that turn into an 8.1-inch PixelSense Fusion display when the Duo is used in tablet mode. However, there’s a “revolutionary 360-degree hinge” in the middle so that the resulting 8.1-inch screen isn’t continuous like on the Fold or Flip phones.

Microsoft also highlights the phone’s “enterprise-level security from chip to cloud.” The Surface Duo features Microsoft’s “custom engineered Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)” that allows for “full control over firmware components.” The Duo will also let you get a full Windows 10 experience in the cloud via the Windows Virtual Display feature. Microsoft 365 apps are available for the phone, alongside every other Android app that can run on smartphones and tablets.

The Surface Duo might be appealing to people who like Android but need Windows in their lives and could use a device that can do it all — well, sort of. It’s not a perfect foldable, but real foldables, sadly, aren’t perfect.

The Surface Duo can’t be ordered directly from the Microsoft Store, but these business retailers might get stock soon.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.