Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 could fix the biggest issues with the original

Surface Duo 2020
Surface Duo 2020 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 could include 5G support and an improved camera.
  • Job listings appeared on Microsoft's website mentioning the Surface Duo and 5G.
  • Many of the job listings mentioning a Surface Duo successor have since been taken down.

Microsoft's Surface Duo has a unique form factor that allows Microsoft to experiment with a new form factor. While innovative in its design, it doesn't feature the most cutting edge specs. It runs on an older Snapdragon processor, doesn't support 5G, and has a camera that's not great compared to other devices. It appears that these shortcomings could be fixed with a Surface Duo 2. Job listings on Microsoft's website mention 5G support and an improved camera for the Surface Duo.

The job listings were spotted by Windows Latest, but many of the listings have since been removed. There are, however, some job listings still up on Microsoft's website that suggest a Surface Duo successor with 5G support and a better camera.

One listing for an SW/FW Engineer (opens in new tab) lists 5G technologies. Under the responsibilities section, it states:

Job responsibilities will encompass working across a team of high impact individuals who are designing and coding RF drivers, RF board bring up including LTE and 5G technologies, factory tools, modem protocols, mobile operator certifications and PTCRB/GCF certifications on Surface Duo devices. The job is highly dynamic and involves working across various disciplines to successfully deliver the product with the Surface Duo experience and quality.

The qualifications section for this listing also mentions 5G:

Deep familiarity with one or more of the following areas – RFFE bring up/modem protocols/modem power and performance/telephony/5G radio technologies.

Another listing (opens in new tab) is for a "Principal Android Camera System Architect/Engineer - Surface Development."

The responsibilities section of that listing mentions AI features for a camera:

We are seeking a camera system architect to define and deliver great customer experiences on our future Surface products. You will define customer experiences through expert end to end camera pipeline knowledge of the Android platform on QC processors. The candidate will develop pipeline architect features that integrate output of the hardware ISP and supplemental image processing algorithms utilizing computational photography and AI/ML algorithms from various partners. Understanding the processing blocks (CPU, GPU and NPU) capability and optimizing feature integration for power/performance and seamless customer experience will be key. You will help define the camera architecture and work with partners and algorithm development engineers in the development of deep learning and AI features.

These listings are from last fall, and Microsoft isn't accepting applications for either of them at this time. The other job listings referenced by Windows Latest were taken down before we could grab any quotes.

The fact that Microsoft is working on a Surface Duo successor isn't new, but these listings give us another glimpse of how it could be better than the original. In our piece covering what we expect to see from Microsoft's Surface lines in 2021, we mention that Microsoft is working on a Surface Duo 2 that Microsoft would like to see come out in late 2021.

The piece states:

Whereas Surface Duo v1 was intended initially as a pocketable Surface than ran a version of Windows, it morphed in its final stages into an Android phone. That explains why it is missing "phone things" like NFC, Qi Wireless, runs an older CPU, has no 5G, or a good camera. It was never intended to be an Android phone.So, what happens when the Surface team can build the hardware knowing its new role? We are expecting many of version one's shortcomings fixed in v2. Let's see what happens.

Fixing shortcomings could very well come in the form of 5G support and a better camera, though we'll have to see what Microsoft announces before anything is 100% confirmed.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

65 Comments
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  • This. Especially in a pandemic, mobile payments are an asset.
  • Not just during pandemic, NFC has been a thing on other countries, not just for payments but also for public transport and quick pairing of devices. One of the factors why I have to skip Surface Duo due to lack of NFC which I use alot since then.
  • Sometimes I forget my wallet. With my Model 3, I never forget my phone.
  • Agreed. NFC is mandatory. Also, external screen--even if just large enough to view notifications--is also mandatory. Beyond that, would argue the screen needs to be foldable rather than split. There's no excuse in 2021 for a big split right down the middle of the display. That said, it should absolutely support a mode that "simulates" a dual screen. This would help it earn the "Duo" name and let those specific use cases shine. Furthermore, if it's going to work with a stylus, which it should, there should be some kind of housing for the stylus built in. MS needs to keep the Fold 3 firmly in their sights. It is coming and *will* be great; you can count on that (the Fold 2 is already super). For the Duo 2 to even register, it has to meet or exceed this steep competition in some way.
  • There's no chance MS is changing the form factor to one large foldable screen. Just go ahead and let that one go. While you may disagree, MS has stated clearly they feel there is an advantage to having dual screens as see it as a differentiator. If that's what you want, just buy the Samsung. Problem solved.
  • Dual screens isn't a differentiator, that is just marketing speak for "we don't have adequate folding screen technology yet".
  • As usual, you are wrong and they are not going to use a single foldable screen. We've already seen patents on where they want to take this device that you should probably heed. They didn't call it "Duo" only to go to one screen later on. You want a large device with a foldable display get Samsung Galaxy Fold or or hope Huawei's Mate X2 goes beyond China. No need for Microsoft to make a "me too" device.
  • C'mon, bleached is, as usual, totally correct. There is *nothing* an attached dual-screen device can do that a foldable can't, but the opposite is not true.
  • I love the fact my duo have 360 hinge, open up many possibilities a foldable couldnt.
    Also surface pen, actual glass screens etc. There is those of us that don't see the need of one large screen as media consumption isn't the main focus.
  • @x I'm tc . Actually, no and not even close. You don't have the flexibility of 360 degrees on all foldable phones. It's either a large table or a thick candybar phone due to limitation of the rolling mechanism. Plus you have the crease issue - the screen can never be completely flat when closed whereas a dual screen device can. Even on a foldable phone you don't get a completely seamless viewing experience due to the crease. Granted this is more of an issue on a dual screen device. Not to mention if you end up dead pixels on the crease... That's pretty much the whole screen gone...
    At least on a dual screen, the oem is able to repair / salvage more of the device so less e waste. Both types of devices have their merits and drawbacks.
  • Lol.. There's a lot of difference between being able to fold 90° and 360°
  • Use the Duo and then use the Fold and you'll see dual screen isn't a gimmick brotha.
  • "Dual screen isn't a differentiator" is a declarative statement. That's not a fact. It's your opinion.
  • It is a fact.
  • Ha, that's part of our problem these days. So many people literally don't understand what a fact even is. Fact = has one screen. Has two screens. Opinion: device A is better than device B.
  • The only problem with your comment is the biggest problem with these type of comments... You don't own the device, and haven't had long-term experience with using it and seeing its benefits.... Basically, your opinion means nothing if it's not validated with experience.
  • Point missed. I'm not expressing opinion. I never suggested which phone is better. It's a FACT that Microsoft calls the Duo a differentiator. As such, it's unlikely they'll abandon that form factor. If they ever do, surely they won't call it a Duo.
  • I was replying to Bleached. Lol.
  • No external display No foldable single screen No housed stylus Time to get something else, sorry.
  • I can't see this thing selling even with the improvements. I think they did a god job designing the Surface Duo shell. If they came out with a single screen phone I think it would have a better chance of selling. Windows 10X with Continuum. Also, the thought just ocurred to me, I hope Microsoft doesn't make Windows look like Android with the redesign. I think the two screens works against it in a lot of ways. It's a solution in search of a problem. App management has gotten better because of mobile screens not worse.
  • "It's a solution in search of a problem. App management has gotten better because of mobile screens not worse."
    I feel like you have never used a Surface Duo. Because most people who use one get why two screens is better than one for work even with multi-tasking on Android. I switch between Z Flip, Note 20 Ultra, Duo, and iPhone 12, and each has its pros/cons.
  • Just a comment based on my opinion and use case. I see no value in a device like the Duo or a Fold. For work I have a laptop that is portable and can perform all of the tasks I need, Excel, Macros, drawing reviews, word docs, PDF edits, etc etc. I have a docking station so I can use 2 screens and have a full size keyboard and mouse. I feel these larger devices are trying to solve a problem that doesn't actually need solving. In my opinion phones are for calling / messaging people, the odd app use for banking or wallet, maps and the odd check of email. I try to avoid having work in my pocket at all times. My free time is for me. I feel the device can't perform like a laptop and is too big to be a normal phone.
  • So, basically, you want them to make an entirely new device, not a Duo 2.
  • No, I want them to make a Duo 2 that fixes the problems of the first one. First, put in all the things that are table stakes for an expensive device (NFC, Qi, good camera, etc.) and then add in the features that will make it shine (folding display, Surface Pen, awesome integration with PCs) and MS might have a winner!
  • @x I'm tc look at the practicalities and physical limitations of a folding display and you will realise it's impossible for current display tech to completely fold flat.
  • Current foldable displays can fold, but they can't bend. That means if Microsoft switches to a foldable display Duo would lose its most important aspect of folding; folding 360°
  • While I wouldn't necessarily say NFC is mandatory, I would agree with it should be included in the second generation along with some form of wireless charging. As for the split screen. Microsoft chose to design the Duo with a dedicated split screen orientation with the focus being on productivity. I know not everyone uses two monitors for work, but I do, and I would much prefer two monitors than one super large monitor that I could virtually change the space allocation for multiple windows within the same screen. That's what the fold does, and to be honest from a productivity perspective I don't see it being more beneficial. From a media perspective I can see that argument, however even looking at videos it's not that much of an issue on the Duo. The Fold isn't breaking any records so I don't know if I'd be following suit with the Fold. The Galaxy and Note are still the best selling devices for Samsung.
  • I don't know what it's like in America but here in Australia you don't need a wallet, at all. Everything can be accessed via a phone with NFC. In fact there have been times I have accidently left my wallet at home and it hasn't affected my day to day life at all.
  • Until you get pinched? Do they accept digital ID/drivers licenses down under? Really actually wondering.
  • Unfortunately you still need some form of ID, not necessarily a drivers license though, so long as you have a legitimate drivers license on file the police can see that information in their system (in Victoria at least) but they still need to see something to confirm you're not just pulling a name out of a hat, so for instance when I lost my ID because I lost my wallet, I had my passport with me when I was driving. That was perfectly fine. I don't know if there is a digital alternative to a license, I doubt it though, so yeah, that one is still an issue. Not so much for me though because I don't have my own vehicle, so I probably should have said in Australia "I" don't need a wallet.
  • I can't wait. I was on the fence about getting the version 1 Duo, mainly because of the camera and Qi. The camera is pretty bad and I really do miss Qi, but those Gen 10 magnetic USB chargers really help and take the bite out of losing wireless charging. Now that I've been using it for a few months, I can't imagine ever going back to a single screen or super-narrow device. The Duo is so incredibly useful and usable, not just because of the 2 screens (which change the way you use a phone), but also because of the 3:2 aspect ratio screens. It is to smartphones what the smartphone was to dumb phones with a few built-in apps: sure both let you check e-mail and set some calendar entries, bet smartphones and then the Duo each provide a generational change and increase in what you can effectively do with a pocketable device.
  • I plan to upgrade as soon as it comes out. Not because I'm disappointed with the current version, but so I can have an improved camera and hopefully Qi charging, and to pass my existing Duo along to another eager family member.
  • I agree completely with you about never going back to a single screen device, and I've tried....it's just not even close from a productivity perspective. I will say that based on all the negativity of the camera, while it isn't amazing, it's respectable enough for me. Every time I'm in a store, or restaurant using it, people are always asking me about it and in awe of it.
  • I think there's no way they make it thicker or include a camera bump, so "improved camera" will be relative, and people need to temper their expectations accordingly.
  • I was excited about the Duo and like many, I decided to wait to see if Microsoft will proceed with a Duo 2. Also, with a possible Duo 2 in the works, we may see those improvementa in other areas, too. Like many, I want to see smaller bezels, but more importantly, MS needs to be just as invested in functionality of their apps on Duo, as they are with Samsung phones. Since I have not actually experienced the Duo, I can only base my comment from comments of other users of the Duo. If this is the case, the Duo should not lack anything Samsung phones can do with Microsoft apps. I would argue the apps should feel 2nd nature and be the ideal environment for their apps.
  • Agreed about the apps comment. I own a Duo and MS has made very little progress in improving apps since the launch. It's frustrating. At least their office apps could shine on this thing as a productivity device but nope. No love. MS's new Journal app is very well done but nope, wasn't released for Duo. MS continues to get to the 50 yard line on great products but they just never can seem to take advantage of their whole ecosystem to score a touchdown. They just keep kicking field goals. It's like they have a great punt return for 40 yards and then often have a three and out from there or a 45 yard field goal attempt. It's hard to win games that way. That's basically the MS story. They are very efficient FG kickers and then high five themselves. Then Apple, on their next possession, scores a touch down. lol
  • Bruh, this is THEE BEST 90% company metaphor ever.
  • Totally agree with this. When MS had their own phone OS (Which I loved and would go back to in a heart beat if I could) and everyone was screaming "APPS!!" What does MS do? Makes their software better for Android and iOS and never seem to touch it for their own OS. They are a software company! Make some software for you own OS!!! If now one else wants to build apps for it how about putting forth the effort to make some yourself?
    And now, unless something is changed recently, they don't even support My Phone on the DUO.
    Simply maddening.
  • Dude. I feel for ya. MS just has a nasty habit of making great hardware then shooting themselves in the foot by not supporting it on the software or development side. Its incredibly annoying to see losses such as the Win10 phone which I bloody miss and the ZuneHD. I really believe its two separate companies that fight themselves to the death.
  • I agree with exception to the WinPho keyboard and Outlook for WinPho. I can deal with the keyboards but Outlook for Android I personally can't stand to use. Hopefully they include an option to have be like it was in WinPho.
  • Not to rehash, but it wasn't MSs software that hampered Windows Phone, it was the lack of third party stuff that people needed, or thought they needed. The local grocery store coupon app, the bank app that let you deposit with a photo, metro apps, those sorts of things. That wasn't something MS could really affect. They did actually try.
  • Sounds like Continuum all over again.
  • Actually I think most of the office apps work fine. They are some of the few that really utilize the span feature of the Duo. Outlook, and OneNote are prime examples. Can they be better, of course. They can always be better. Don't forget MSFT doesn't have complete autonomy because this is using the Android mobile operating system. This partnership with Google, has never been smooth, so expect there to be issues even with the new Duo 2. It's all about perspective. Apple is the first company to surpass the trillion dollar threshold...who do you think is right behind them? The issue with MSFT is they are trying to play in multiple leagues, where Apple is focused on playing in one. Where is Apples footprint in the corporate world? MSFT has owned that domain. While Apple owns the top spot in consumer buy in, MSFT does have a presence there. Trust me, MSFT is scoring TD's just like Apple is. Their resources are just spread out.
  • "Outlook, and OneNote are prime examples." Agreed. Now, why isn't there a setting to bring these up spanned by default? Why doesn't OneNote do text recognition when using the stylus?
  • My advice to those who haven't owned a Duo and used it extensively is to slow your roll on the call for smaller bezels. The bezels help users handle the device - hold it. Making them smaller will probably cause everyone to start crying about functionality because of all the "false" touches on the screen.
  • While I do love the wider screens on Duo I do wish it was just a bit smaller overall, especially width. Ironic as I don't care about the larger bezels as much. It's just so barely pocketable. Obvs 5g and a USB C cover/area that doesn't break, even if it is only cosmetic would be nice as well. However the primary thing I want/need most is a really good camera or at minimum rock solid software performance when I flip the screens around to take outward facing pictures. At present that experience is a hot mess on Duo
  • Exactly. It's not a problem when you actually use it as intended - for work and writing when holding.
  • You don't want smaller bezels, any smaller & it'd be tough to handle without accidental touchs
  • Android is the issue.
  • And it's also the answer.
  • Until you use the half-baked alternative that Microsoft would have released. They are way too far behind to compete with Android in the current touchscreen paradigm. Until they have something revolutionary, it is pointless to try.
  • You make a great point because this device is selling so well as an android. The few people who bought the duo is more than all the people who bought a 950XL at about the same period
  • If they believed this, they would've given up on the Surface Pro long ago. Good thing they didn't.
  • Windows touch capabilities are no match to Android
  • Agree with The TruQ. You can't do much smaller bezels and still hold/use the Duo. As for other improvements, Qi would be nice but it would have to be able to share the charge between the screens since there are batteries on both sides. NFC, sure, why not. Including this would give complainers one less thing to complain about. 5G, sure. It'll be more widespread by the time SDv2 is released, so natch. Better camera, I'm hopeful but not overly optimistic. Not sure with the thinness of the SD how that will get accomplished with a camera on the screen-facing side. Last but not least, lower the price. If MS can start it at $999 (or $1199), people will take notice. As for V2 for me, love my v1 but will consider upgrading if they offer fair trade-in amounts.
  • Get rid of those 2010 era bezels
  • Then you lose the 360° fold. If the bezels are your pain, go with a galaxy. Microsoft isn't forcing you to buy duo. Anyway it's Android. So the ux will be similar.
  • Boy there are some seriously strong opinions in here. I agree with Daniel Rubino in about every way. This is, after all, WINDOWS Central. Android is the solution since MS killed WP. A single foldable screen would be absolutely retarded and... Just, no. You want that? Buy something else. Do they need to work to improve? Absolutely. But how do they improve? By trying and failing. You don't learn much from success, but there are countless lessons that can be learned from failure. After seeing the Duo first hand, I wanted one. But the sticker shock is hard to swallow. Justifiable, but hard to swallow. Adding NFC would be a great step in the right direction. But I'm not sure how they can improve the camera and keep the immense strength of the beauty of the device intact at the same time. I'm not a hardware designer nor do I imitate that I am. I just look from the outside in all the time and voice my opinions when the moment suits me.
  • The duo 2 must have NFC, Qi, Msd card slot, I'm not fussed about 5g as the current pandemic has delayed 5g rollout by a good few years. I'm still concerned about mmwave primarily due to the insane amount of electronic equipment it needs to be make mmwave based network feasible as the signal can barely travel let alone penetrate buildings. To both reduce the amount of equipment required and provide signal coverage inside buildings a heck lot more power would be needed and 24/7 exposure to extremely high power levels... 😅. The logistical nightmare of installing the equipment for mmwave to prevent that- you're looking at adapting lamp posts, traffic lights, pedestrian signals etc and connecting them to the backend to prevent drop outs. The cost is going to be insane.... so forget mmwave in rural areas lol. Given the shortages of electronic components I imagine mmwave will be phased out completely for Sub-6. As less equipment is required (therefore less overall cost) and more distance can be covered (higher profit margin). The only draw back is the speed and that's it. We are most likely going to get mmwave speeds when we get to 6g and that's a looooong way off for the consumer space. I highly doubt telecoms will go for the idiotic approach - where the speed plummets when you go inside your home/work place by having the phone / device hop to Sub-6 bands. Try explaining that to the average joe why their brand spanking 5g device drastically loses speed inside their home lol. Otherwise the device will have very shoddy battery life as it will have to constantly hop for better signal. Which brings the point back to equipment and power levels for mmwave.
  • Price is important to me and I'd imagine many others. lots of people would buy if cheaper just for a change or something new. I'd love a buget/mid tier Microsoft phone. I miss lumina phones dearly and how there were different tiers for people who couldn't afford the premium. Maybe sometime down the line? I'm hoping.
  • Buy a Moto. Why does it have to be a Microsoft brand, if it's just another phone?
  • I agree. They need a job posting for a guy that can bring the price down to a reasonable amount. CDN $1869 is way too much. I can buy 2 Samsung S20 FEs for that price...
  • So basically this article is saying that a second generation device could possibly have specs that improve upon the first generation device. Consider me both shocked and stunned.
  • Lol. Interesting take. 😂😂😂