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Here's a closer look at the specs for the Surface Duo

Microsoft Surface Duo
Microsoft Surface Duo (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • The Surface Duo runs a special version of Android.
  • It has some custom APIs, and many apps work with it already.
  • The device is currently running a Snapdragon 855, but that could change in the future.

The Surface Duo was the surprise announcement of Microsoft's October Surface event. It's a foldable Surface phone that runs Android. It was the only device that had not been rumored or discussed by the general tech press, so specs and details about it are only starting to be released. Our Executive Editor Daniel Rubino is on the ground asking questions and getting as much information as he can about all of the new Surface devices.

The Surface Duo runs a special version of Android with Google but won't differ dramatically from other versions of Android. It has some custom APIs, and many apps work on it already. Microsoft says that they will work with developers to leverage the devices' dual displays.

The device is currently running a Snapdragon 855, but it could be switched to a newer chip in the future. The device does not ship until the holiday season in 2020, so Microsoft could have the chance to upgrade the chip in the device.

The Surface Duo has an 8.3-inch display if you count the two displays together. Each display is 5.6 inches. The device is 4.8mm thin.

The Surface Duo has a fingerprint reader and a USB-C port.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

38 Comments
  • Why oh why? A full screen start menu with calls ability and something like bluestack will have bean grate. Why Android ? What is the point? Without a front screen to see notification is a pc. Without windowsX is a phone... Not great for either....
  • I think a large majority of people would agree that bluestacks is not an enjoyable experience. From a WP fan perspective this stings but I understand it. What they COULD probably do is say something like. By the way, IF YOU WANT you can install WOA and it features the call /sms stack, but it's not supported. But that's probably even crazier talk.
  • Microsoft could have made this android emulation happen a long time ago but clearly they don't want to give android a leg up on the desktop for if that happens, what's to stop it from taking over windows as a primary OS and outright kill it. MS knows better. There is a reason MS has killed android apps on windows several times even as that would address the app-gap. Overnight google would have 1 billion new powerful PC devices to push the play store to, and that is not something microsoft wants to see anytime soon.
  • Not going the Android emulation route probably has more to do with Google Play Services.
  • What would be the point of windows? It has no apps of interest that android doesn't, and the desktop apps would work horrible on that form factor. Windows just brings nothing to the table that android doesn't already have, and remember android is way ahead in support of hardware for ARM devices which windows has always lagged behind. Remember when windows couldn't even run on dual core hardware for win phone? Or when it wouldn't support the latest and greatest snap dragons so we had to settle for the second best? who wants to see a repeat of this? nobody. Android is king of phones. The windows team never caught up even at the driver level.
  • The point is that someone like me who doesn't need a lot of power could buy a surface duo and use it as a laptop/phone/tablet and connected to a monitor even as a pc. That will be the point of having windows in this firm factor.
  • Yup that was annoying. They didn't put enough resources behind windows phone. Sad 😔 but the future is looking bright.
  • And 4 people would've bought it. The reason for Android is simple, apps. Microsoft know they can't compete and have wisely stopped trying. They're mainly a services company now. I use a bean grate to sort my coffee.
  • Who needs apps on a pc? And this should be a pc, even by Microsofts own words...
  • For today, they had to. There's no other way. But, what could be I teresting in the future is when Windows Core OS is ready for any ki d of foar. Factor and a device like the Duo runs it. Rn it's in no way ready. It has to be android. Microsoft is transitioning into the future though with Windows.
  • I think this could work on an enterprise level but I don't see it being that much of a hit with the consumers.
  • The price alone will keep it out of the hands of most consumers. They're not shooting for mainstream, though.
  • Spot on and I think Microsoft know this. For me it's aimed at pros and note users. As a note user myself this has taken my attention away form the 10 and 11 when I am due an update next year. Looking forward to seeing more on this phone.
  • My take exactly
  • Agreed for the masses, but I think it's good for anyone more interested in doing heavier work. I work on a desktop, then go to a phone when I'm out. This would let me, in theory, ditch my current phone and never buy a laptop/2-in-1 for the rare bursts of heavier work that I do. I wouldn't need this for work, but I'd totally buy it for personal use.
  • I wonder if it would bring the full specs of a current flagship phone like Camera, NFC, Wireless charging, etc..
  • The NFC and Qi should be easy, and the camera is really up to the company's interests over anything else. This thing's going to be quite pricey, and have decent profit margins, IMO. They should be able to afford about any camera setup they want--but they might give us something ho-hum like the other foldables seem to have thus far...or worse. I hope they put 2 front-facing cameras , so you don't lose camera availability with it fully folded back. That would be preferable to a rear camera, but that's just my thinking.
  • This sounds like a developing story. A very interesting and exciting one at that. Staying posted.
  • Surface Duo with SQ1 chipset upgrade...and W10x
  • Don't want it with Android. ONLY with Win10X.
  • that's what surface neo is for.
  • Not at all fair to say. I'm not using the Neo as a phone. I would get the Duo and stop carrying my G8 entirely. The Neo can't do that. It's way too big. You enter a totally new size category that isn't pocketable, meaning it's an awful solution to wanting a phone with Windows on it.
  • The Neo is a completely different device, simply because of size; one needs a bag, the other fits in your pocket.
  • I would agree, but Microsoft has proven itself incapable of growing an ecosystem, in that regard. I'll take this with Android over nothing.
  • You don't think Windows has an ecosystem?!?
  • Would you need a Google account to setup/login to the device? That's the only reason I have 1 and it would be great if it works with my MSFT account out of the box.
  • You MIGHT not need one to fire it up, but you'll need it once you touch the Play Store. However, I doubt Microsoft does something that deviates far enough to get Google accounts out of the way.
  • Most likely, unless Microsoft worked out some crazy deal with Google.
  • Just waiting for the delayed release date and finally MST dropping it again like the band and phone
  • Hey, at least the Band got 2 iterations and a few years on store shelves. That's better than the last rumblings about this thing!
  • People are going to be reluctant to buy stuff after being burnt so many times, won't be my first choice
  • What a sad life you must live if your first response to cool new hardware is so cynical. It runs Android, that fact alone means it will be supported.
  • Years of grooming by Microsoft; it's not a sad life, it's a sad fact.
  • One thing that at worries me is if it's running some special version of Android does it mean it won't get timely updates? I'm saying this as I currently use Pixel 3xl.
  • How is that any different to any other non-Google mobile?
    I have the Samsung S10+, I've asked them about roadmap for Android 10 via the Samsung members app - and got the usual nothing right now kind of response. No doubt it will come eventually but probably not until next year. Thus if MS is at least as good as Samsung (or better) it will be no problem.
  • In the way of form factor, I think it needs to be a bit taller. Somewhere in-between this and the way too tall and skinny galaxy fold. That, and you can't a any kind of smart phone today without a great camera set up, I didn't see much of any kind of camera on the thing.
  • I like that windows is making phones again but HATE that is Android I don't like the OS or the owner of it . I just hope that Microsoft will switch to their own OS sooner or later. I heard they were working on one that will run on this device.
  • When MSFT released the original Surface, the census was, who needs a tablet that can also function as a laptop? The answer was that no one really "needs" one, but the convenience it provided allowed people to optimize both in one form factor. I believe with the Duo, we'll see a similar reaction. The galaxy Note 10 is a behemoth of a device. The Surface Duo when folded is smaller. For people who travel and like to read, this will be a great alternative to carrying a Kindle, Amazon Fire, or any number of different Phablets or smaller tablets with your phone. When making video telephone calls via Skype, Google Hangouts, or a myriad of other services, you can now increase the surface area of what you're looking at. Game playing will be on another level with a dedicated controller area. Some people ask "Why not put the Windows X Os on it?" My response to that would be look at Windows phone the past 10 years. This is how MSFT can make an impression in the mobile space. The same way that made one in the 2-and-1 space. With sleek ingenuity, robust software and application support, and a great marketing strategy. People will look twice when they see someone with it, and because it runs Android, it's already used by most of the mobile market share.