What to expect from the Surface Duo’s initial launch

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Surface Duo Unfolded

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Duo is expected to resurface in the weeks ahead, with talk of an early release for the dual-screen, foldable device. Redmond returns to the smartphone space with an experimental Surface-branded flagship, embracing the Android platform for the first time. You may have some questions — many we still don’t have answers to right now. But we’ve wrapped up what to expect from the launch, including when, where, and what you’ll be buying.

The latest on Microsoft Surface Duo in 2020

Surface Duo Rear

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft remains tightlipped on Surface Duo details, absent since its mid-2019 unveiling, yet information surrounding the illusive dual-screen device is plentiful. Extensive leaks provide insight into likely hardware, its custom Android-based OS, and the expected release schedule. It leaves us knowing almost everything about the upcoming device, outside of one key factor: the official retail price.

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Featuring two 5.6-inch AMOLED displays, 1800×1350 (401 PPI) resolution, and 360-degree hinge, the Microsoft Surface Duo rides on its dual-screen form factor. The suggested internals include the Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB RAM, and up to 256GB storage, which shapes up to be decent — albeit slightly dated. The device also has an 11MP camera, with its hinged design allowing the single sensor to serve as the front- and rear-facing shooter. We also know several expected limitations, and it’s likely to overlook wireless charging, NFC, a headphone jack, and 5G support.

Surface Duo hardware has reportedly been locked down for several years, with Microsoft gearing up for availability during 2020. While initially targeting the holiday season, our sources suggest its debut ahead of schedule, potentially in the weeks ahead. Our Senior Editor Zac Bowden reports a release the week of August 24, indicating a surprise (and potentially imminent) announcement. It means Duo is close, even with the unpredictability of the current global market.

Surface Duo preorders: What date can we expect?

Surface Duo Folded

Source: Microsoft

While the Microsoft Surface Duo is likely to drop over the weeks ahead, no confirmation from Microsoft leaves us speculating around its preorders. Official (but outdated) documentation still claims holiday availability, but assuming a release is around the corner, preorders will likely come soon.

Looking back on past Microsoft Surface product releases, preorders often come with just a brief window until release. History has shown Surface devices usually ship out within weeks, as recently demonstrated by the two-week wait for Surface Book 3, six days for Surface Earbuds, in the U.S. Expect updates soon, assuming the same approach for Duo.

In the meantime, Microsoft invites buyers to sign up for its dedicated Surface newsletter, promising the latest on upcoming devices.

Which countries will Surface Duo be available in?

Surface Duo Google Maps

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft hasn’t talked official markets for the Surface Duo. The complexities of launching any device vary from market to market, especially with mobile phones, meaning that the device won’t see global availability. Furthermore, while some markets may not receive the Surface Duo on launch day, they could see it later.

As with any Microsoft release, the company’s roots guarantee a U.S. launch, with the device recently passing through FCC certification. While additional markets are uncertain, various international documentation suggests it’s not exclusively U.S.-bound. The device model number has appeared both at Canada’s UL LLC and Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, with launches in both regions expected. If locked down to the U.S. initially, it appears Microsoft eventually has sights set overseas.

Which carriers will Surface Duo come to?

Microsoft hasn’t addressed supported carriers for Surface Duo, but current information suggests support for top players in the U.S. Furthermore, the FCC listing covers all the major LTE bands for in the region. Current leaks indicate discussions between Microsoft and AT&T are underway for a partnership.

The situation overseas remains a little murky, with launch markets also unconfirmed. We know Microsoft has engineered multiple variants of the device for different regions, with its Japan-tested model geared toward local frequency bands less common in the U.S. Microsoft has seemingly tailored the Duo to multiple markets to support an international launch.

Will there be multiple versions of Surface Duo?

While Microsoft will offer several Duo variants based on connectivity, we may also see multiple models within each market. We previously reported that Microsoft had tested three versions of the device internally, differentiated by 64GB, 128GB, and 265GB storage capacities. It remains unclear whether all three models will hit store shelves, but if so, there will be tiered pricing based on onboard flash storage. However, without indication the Surface Duo will support expandable storage, iyou may want to go with a larger capacity model.

Which Surface Duo colors will be available?

Microsoft Surface Duo Black

Source: Marques Brownlee on YouTube

While Microsoft’s Surface line is famed for the brushed-platinum finish, its modern presence also extends to a broader spectrum. Burgundy, blue, and golden hues have emerged in time, with matte black recently added to the mix.

We know Microsoft has experimented with various dual-screen form factors over the years, but current information suggests just one Surface Duo color. Microsoft Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, was spotted with a black prototype back in 2019, but that looked to be a holdover of early experiments. But as with other Surface products, don’t rule out the potential for additional colors with time — maybe for Surface Duo 2?

What we know about the Surface Duo price

The one big thing we don’t know about yet is the price. Microsoft has remained tight-lipped on this front, but it’s fair to assume Surface Duo will be priced comfortably in the “premium smartphone” segment of the market. But with two separate screens over the folding technology pioneered by Samsung, it should eliminate some of the high-cost components that drive up cost.

While I don’t know this for sure, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Surface Duo starting at $999 and going up with more storage. But that’s just a guess. Considering Surface Duo will be shipping with last year’s specs, it may surprise us with a cheaper starting price.

With no official updates in some time, we’re left anticipating further information on the Surface Duo in the weeks ahead. It’s an ambitious device and a new path for Microsoft, embracing Android half a decade since its mobile platform shuttered.

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