Microsoft’s Surface Duo: The Phone That’s Not A Phone

Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay steers clear of describing the forthcoming foldable Android device as a phone.


Speculation and rumors have been circulating for years about the prospect of a Microsoft Surface smartphone. Now, the Surface phone is real.

The only thing is, the foldable Surface Duo is not a phone. At least according to Microsoft.

[Related: Microsoft Unveils Surface Pro X With New Form Factor, Two Dual-Screen Surface Devices]

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"I'm super clear [that] you're going to talk about this as a phone," said Panos Panay, Microsoft's chief product officer, while giving the world its first peek at the Surface Duo on Wednesday.

"And I get that,” Panay said. “And you're going to talk about it as a communication device. And it does both those things incredibly well, for sure. For sure, you can text, you can write, you can do what you want."

However, he said, "make no mistake, this product is a Surface."

Surface? Check. Phone? Depends who you ask, apparently.

When it launches next fall, the Surface Duo will run Android and offer cellular connectivity. It will feature dual displays of 5.6 inches each that are connected by a 360-degree hinge (that’s one inch bigger per display than Samsung’s Galaxy Fold). When unfolded, the displays will offer a total of 8.3 inches of screen space diagonally.

Notably, if you watch Microsoft's own promo video, it shows a person talking on the Duo with the device to their ear. And yet, Microsoft is steering clear of marketing it as a smartphone.

Think about it: there's a chance that as of next fall, Microsoft would be able to say it’s beaten Apple at bringing a foldable smartphone to market.

Is Microsoft really going to pass on that?