Microsoft took us by surprise last October when it announced its first smartphone to enter the fold in years. Aside from the design, though, details about the upcoming Surface Duo have been scarce until now. Microsoft has finally announced the device's specs, release date and price. Spoiler alert: you'd better start saving – preferably yesterday.
Available to preorder now, the phone/tablet hybrid (Microsoft carefully calls it a "mobile device") will be released on 10 September. Time will tell whether it joins our best camera phones (or is that best drawing tablets?) list, but one thing's for sure – at $1,399 (about £1,070), it'll be one of the most expensive entries if so.
That said, if the device is anywhere near as innovative as Microsoft suggests, it could be worth the hole in your wallet. "It does things that single-screen devices can’t do," Microsoft's chief product officer Panos Panay said in a press briefing. Indeed, any creative with a dual-monitor setup (check out the best 4k monitors) will know how useful it can be for productivity, but the ability to open multiple apps side-by-side on mobile could be a new frontier for creatives on the go.
For digital artists, though, the combined real-estate of the displays could be even more exciting than the separate screens themselves. The two 5.6-inch OLED displays create an overall display size of 8.1 inches – which is larger than the iPad Mini's 7.9-inch display. The prospect of a tablet-sized digital canvas within a phone-sized package could be a game-changer for designers. Could this phone/tablet end up replacing both your iPhone and your iPad?
Specs-wise, the Surface Duo features an 11-megapixel f/2.0 camera, 6GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. It also contains the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 – which, being over a year old, isn't the latest or greatest chip available. Perhaps it's a sign that the Duo has been in production for a while, but we'd have preferred something a little more reassuringly future-proof to justify the price.
What is futuristic is the design. "It’s probably one of the sexiest devices we’ve ever built,” Panay gushes. With its slick, hinge-based design (no screen cracking risks there – we're looking at you, Samsung Galaxy Fold), the Surface Pro is certainly a head-turner.
Foldables haven't exactly had the most auspicious start, but perhaps the Surface Duo could be the device to turn their fortunes around, finally making the crossover device an essential part of any creative's arsenal. Microsoft had better watch out, though – recent patents suggest Apple is hot on its tail with a folding phone design of its own.