Microsoft scraps plans for dual-screen Surface Duo 3, pivots to new foldable screen design

Surface Duo 2 Hero
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft’s next foldable Surface phone won’t be a dual-screen device
  • The company is pivoting to a true foldable design with 180-degree hinge
  • The move comes after the Surface Duo 2 received mixed reviews.

Microsoft’s next foldable Surface phone won’t be a dual-screen device, according to my sources who are familiar with the company’s plans. After a long year of hardware prototyping and experimentation, the company has decided to pivot over 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 Vs.

I’m told this new foldable device came about after the company had already finalized a dual-screen design for Surface Duo 3. This original dual-screen design was supposed to ship at the end of 2023 as the next Surface Duo, featuring narrower and taller edge-to-edge displays, wireless charging, and other improvements.

That dual-screen design has now been scrapped, and the Surface team is now focused on delivering this new “true” foldable design. Microsoft began exploring single-screen foldable designs as a potential successor to the Surface Duo 2 in late 2021 after it launched and was met with mixed reviews.

It’s still too early to know the exact specs that this new foldable device is going to feature hardware wise, or whether or not Microsoft plans to simulate a dual-screen experience via a software feature or mode. My sources say there’s no concrete shipping window for the device in place yet either, meaning it's unlikely to be ready in time for this fall.

Vivo X Fold

(Image credit: Vivo)

Microsoft recently filed several design patents for single-screen foldables with a 360-degree hinge, leading some reports to speculate that this might be what the next Surface Duo pivots to. My sources say this is inaccurate, and that the foldable device will instead feature a 180-degree hinge just like most other foldable phones.

Of course, with the change in form factor may also come a change in name. It’s still too early to tell, but given this device isn’t a traditional Duo in form factor, perhaps the company will take this opportunity to rebrand the line, similar to what it did with the Surface Book and Surface Laptop Studio. Regardless, sources tell me this device is still considered a third-generation Duo internally.

My sources also tell me there’s a larger software effort ongoing internally that’s designed to better differentiate its future Android hardware offerings from the rest of the competition. This effort is dubbed “Perfect Together” and aims to deliver an ecosystem experience between Microsoft’s Android hardware and Windows PCs similar to that between an iPhone and Mac.

I also hear that Microsoft is eager to expand its line of Android smartphone offerings, and has been exploring different form factors to ship in addition to a foldable device. While nothing is set in stone, I’m told the company has already prototyped several traditional slab smartphone designs, which could ship as a “mainstream” Surface phone offering, allowing the foldable device to exist as an enthusiast product.

Overall, these changes and plans for Microsoft’s Android efforts are significant, and my sources tell me Microsoft is remaining “all-in” on delivering its own Android hardware and software, at least for now. Let’s just hope the next Surface phone is ready sooner rather than later.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads