Shane Craig, a Surface Duo super-fan, expressed his disappointment on Twitter on the news that Microsoft is abandoning the dual-screen concept for the Surface Duo 3. Craig reminisces about the uniqueness of the Surface Duo when it first launched in 2020, at a time when the market for foldable devices was very thin. The Surface Duo 2 had only one real competitor in the space, Samsung’s folding OLED.
According to a report by Zac Bowden from Windows Central earlier this year, Microsoft’s next foldable Surface phone will not be a dual-screen device. Sources familiar with the company’s plans reveal that Microsoft has decided to pivot to a more traditional foldable design with a 180-degree hinge, internal foldable screen, and external cover display, similar to devices like the Vivo X Fold and Honor Magic V. This new foldable device emerged after the company had already finalized a dual-screen design for Surface Duo 3, which was supposed to ship at the end of 2023.
Craig laments the abandonment of the dual-screen concept, pointing out that Microsoft had once believed so firmly in mobile dual monitors that they planned to launch a laptop-style device called Neo. He also highlights that there were not only a nearly complete Duo 2 Go with dual screens but also a Duo 3 concept that preserved the feature.
And yet, only a few years later the concept is fully in the rearview mirror. What's worse is that the abandonment of the idea isn't even that distant. Word is there was not only a nearly complete Duo 2 Go with dual screens, but also a Duo 3 concept which preserved the feature. pic.twitter.com/p7FIJobzbk
— Shane Craig (@scaryifliteral) March 27, 2023
Bowden’s report also states that Microsoft has been exploring single-screen foldable designs as a potential successor to the Surface Duo 2 since late 2021, after it launched and received mixed reviews. The exact specifications of the new foldable device are still unknown, including whether Microsoft plans to simulate a dual-screen experience through software features or modes. A concrete shipping window for the device is also yet to be determined, making it unlikely to be ready in time for this fall.
Despite the recent filing of design patents for single-screen foldables with a 360-degree hinge, sources indicate that the foldable device will feature a 180-degree hinge like most other foldable phones. The change in form factor may prompt Microsoft to rebrand the line, as it did with the Surface Book and Surface Laptop Studio. However, the device is still considered a third-generation Duo internally.
Sources also reveal that Microsoft is working on a larger software effort called “Perfect Together” to better differentiate its future Android hardware offerings from competitors. The initiative aims to deliver an ecosystem experience between Microsoft’s Android hardware and Windows PCs, similar to the iPhone and Mac relationship.
Moreover, Microsoft is reportedly eager to expand its line of Android smartphone offerings, exploring different form factors in addition to foldable devices. While nothing is set in stone, the company has already prototyped several traditional slab smartphone designs, potentially leading to a “mainstream” Surface phone offering, with the foldable device catering to enthusiasts.
Microsoft’s shift in strategy for the Surface Duo 3 has left fans of the unique form factor of the Duo 1 and 2 like Shane Craig disappointed. However, the company remains committed to delivering innovative Android hardware and software. Time will tell whether this new direction will resonate with consumers and successfully differentiate Microsoft’s offerings from the competition. Despite the disappointment of fans who appreciated the dual-screen concept, the changes signal Microsoft’s willingness to adapt and innovate in the ever-evolving world of mobile technology.
As the Surface Duo 3 takes on a more traditional foldable design, it remains to be seen how Microsoft will balance the expectations of its dedicated fan base while simultaneously appealing to a broader audience. The company’s pursuit of various form factors and continued investment in its Android hardware and software efforts indicate a strong desire to make a significant impact in the smartphone market.
In the coming months, we can expect more information about the Surface Duo 3 and Microsoft’s other Android projects to emerge, shedding light on the company’s strategy and direction. As with any technological innovation, the ultimate test will be the market’s response to these new devices and whether Microsoft can effectively differentiate itself from competitors while meeting the needs and desires of its target audience.