Microsoft Surface Duo hands-on: a foldable Android Surface phone

The legendary Floor phone is here

Microsoft stunned us all with the Floor Duo this week. It’s the prolonged-awaited Floor phone that has been rumored for years, and in a extra surprise, it’s working Google’s Android working machine. It’s designed to be the smaller sibling to the Floor Neo, a twin-show screen instrument that used to be additionally unveiled the day old to this working Dwelling windows 10X.

The Floor Duo has two 5.6-recede displays that fold out into an 8.3-recede total show screen, and it’s apt 4.8mm skinny. That you may possibly possibly fold it fully over love many 2-in-1 laptops, as a consequence of a 360-level hinge. Microsoft says it’s committed to twin-show screen gadgets attributable to they permit of us to receive more performed on the dawdle.

I got an more than just a few to resolve a more in-depth explore on the Floor Duo this week, and my first influence used to be simple: it’s so valuable smaller in particular person than it seems in photos. I wasn’t allowed to play around with the software on this instrument, but I used to be in a build to trudge it into my denims pocket, and it’s no doubt the first pocketable Floor instrument. It appears and feels love a shrimp tablet that’s additionally a phone.


Microsoft doesn’t attend in mind this a phone, despite the proven truth that. “I feel love ‘phone’ is the kind of limiting word,” says Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay. “And then you no doubt advise, well, ‘smartphone.’ I don’t even know what that implies. And then ‘phablet.’ I’m no longer sure what that’s. I mediate in case you’re going to form a brand fresh category, you’re going to study up on to interchange things, push things forward. The minute you identify it in a field, I mediate you’re misplaced. So I’ve been rather proof against that. No longer attributable to it doesn’t act love a good phone.”

Phone or tablet debate apart, the hardware isn’t genuinely the megastar of the exhibit. It’s extremely gorgeous to explore Microsoft originate each Android- and Dwelling windows-powered gadgets which are twin-show screen and fragment the the same receive. Microsoft is the use of Android on the Floor Duo, which can sound gorgeous, but it completely’s realistically the company’s only preference if it desires to originate a pocket-sized instrument that can change your phone.

Panay admits that’s precisely why the Floor Duo runs Android. “Neatly, attributable to those are the apps you’re seeking to maintain,” says Panay. “Attributable to there’s a total bunch of hundreds of apps, and likewise you’re seeking to maintain them. And [Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella] and I talked about it, and it’s about meeting our customers where they’re, where they’re going to be. I don’t mediate the cellular application platform’s going any place anytime rapidly.”

“It’s rather simple. Love, literally, you wish the apps.”


He’s no longer unsuitable. Microsoft tried and failed to have interaction developer and particular person consideration with Dwelling windows Phone, and it apt couldn’t receive the market fragment needed to compete with the dominance of iOS and Android. So it’s embracing Android fully with its maintain Floor hardware, apt like it has been gradually embracing Android because the cellular identical of Dwelling windows in most up-to-date years.

The resolution will enlighten off a chain of questions around the map forward for Dwelling windows, Microsoft’s efforts with Android, and valuable more. Microsoft has partnered with Google for twin-show screen gadgets, and the company seems to deserve to form some form of API layer on high of Android. That can require deep integration, and it ability Microsoft is contributing code to Android to boot. That can additionally mean Microsoft’s future, love its work on Chromium, is constructed on Google’s code, but Panay doesn’t witness it that map.

“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,” says Panay in response to the likelihood of Android being the prolonged recede for Microsoft. “You deserve to provide customers what they need in the form factor that they’re the use of. We’ve learned this — let’s establish the right kind working machine on the unsuitable product or the more than just a few map around. Nonetheless what’s the right kind working machine for the form factor? And in this case, on cellular gadgets, Android’s the evident preference, Nonetheless something [bigger than] that, Dwelling windows is the total lot.”


Panos Panay with the Floor Duo.

Panay says Microsoft has been working on the Floor Duo hardware for three years, so this isn’t an instantaneous reaction to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, Huawei’s Mate X, or something else. The company has opted for two separate glass displays as an more than just a few of folding plastic, and it’s sure Microsoft thinks here is the map forward till foldable existing expertise is genuinely ready. Panay says the hardware won’t replace between now and when the instrument launches, despite the proven truth that there’s a Snapdragon 855 processor inside precise now that can additionally be upgraded to Qualcomm’s most up-to-date subsequent year.

So what precisely does Android on the Floor Duo provide you with that a typical smartphone isn’t succesful of? Microsoft showed off some examples of dragging and dropping order material between apps and displays on the Duo, and Panay hints that the company may possibly also use Project xCloud to maintain a game working on one facet and a controller on the more than just a few. Nonetheless it completely’s genuinely early for the software facet of things, and Microsoft hasn’t realized every misfortune apt but.

Nonetheless that’s why the company launched the Floor Duo and Floor Neo a year earlier than they’ll ship. Microsoft needs builders to crimson meat up its twin-show screen ambitions, and it desires to receive the Floor Duo and Neo gadgets accessible in disclose that apps will also be created for when they arrive in unhurried 2020. “I don’t know if we did the right kind thing or unsuitable thing, but we enact deserve to inspire builders,” says Panay.

The real ask is: what occurs when gadgets the scale of this Floor Duo are succesful of supporting show screen sizes as enormous because the Floor Neo and former? A smartphone that converts precise into a tablet, a laptop, and even a beefy PC with a dock has prolonged been the sci-fi dream of the prolonged recede, and it’s fully attainable we’ll receive a instrument that attempts this in the following decade. What if a Floor Duo working Android is so a hit that Microsoft desires to assemble a a miniature bigger one that runs up against the Floor Neo working Dwelling windows 10X?


Floor Duo (left) and Floor Neo (precise).

“I don’t witness that,” says Panay. “Anything greater in between Neo and Duo, I mediate, is stuck.” Microsoft has spent years taking a compare at assorted show screen sizes, with appreciable portions of learn backing its decisions. “Sooner or later we got to, ‘What are of us going to enact? What’s the right kind size? And what’s the greatest we can assemble it but calm assemble it as exiguous because it’s going to also be?’ And I do know that sounds love a roughly oxymoron, but that used to be the recede. We stumbled on the receive point of where I mediate the greatest product will also be in the cellular home. That’s what I deem. And so I could possibly also be unsuitable, but I additionally explore at my road device, and we’re no longer taking a compare at something greater than this. We stumbled on the receive point of where I mediate the greatest product will also be in the cellular home.”

Microsoft launched a quantity of most up-to-date hardware this week, and it’s initiating to feel love the company has a Floor instrument for merely about every person. There’s now a Floor Duo phone that does a miniature more than a typical smartphone, with an extra existing thrown in, and a Floor Neo or Floor Pro in case you’re seeking to maintain to switch from a tablet-love instrument to a laptop. There are huge displays love the Floor Hub 2, or unfamiliar all-in-one PCs love the Floor Studio. Microsoft is even covering the bases of instruments with its Floor Headphones and Floor Earbuds.

Floor started off as a futuristic desk earlier than Microsoft launched its tablet and laptop hybrid, and it’s now so valuable more. It’s Microsoft seeking to be modern, chasing what it thinks incessantly is the following main hardware form factor shift and seeking to maintain a software and developer ecosystem in popularity when it goes mainstream.

Microsoft will now deserve to convince app builders and patrons that these twin-show screen gadgets are in actuality the fresh instrument category we’ve all been anticipating. Nonetheless things quit up, Floor is never any longer apt a tablet that’s additionally a laptop. It’s Microsoft’s notion of the prolonged recede.

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