The new Surface Duo doesn't have NFC support, here's why

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

Microsoft's new Surface Duo smartphone is available now for preorder, and begins shipping to customers in the U.S. starting September 10. It's a new form factor for Microsoft, bringing together the best of Surface with a new, dual-screen form factor powered by Android. Microsoft calls it a Surface, but it's also very much a phone.

But don't expect all the usual phone features on Surface Duo, because they're not there. Features such as 5G capabilities, wireless charging, and NFC support are all missing from Surface Duo. These are features that most people paying $1,400 for a phone would expect, but you won't find them on Surface Duo.

NFC is a big deal for people in areas where things like tap and pay are frequently used, so to not have NFC inside the Surface Duo is a big omission especially to those who almost exclusively use their phone for payments. But it's not just about payments, NFC is sometimes also used for external accessibility accessories and other important uses.

Here's Microsoft's official reason for why Surface Duo doesn't have NFC, and by extension, support for tap and pay:

Surface Duo does not currently offer NFC. The role of any first-generation design is to focus on fundamental scenarios that solve customer challenges. Surface Duo is purpose-built for mobile productivity and giving people new ways to complete complex tasks while away from their computer. With this core priority complete, we will listen to customer feedback and apply that lens to future iterations of the product.

In short, Microsoft says that the first generation of Surface Duo is focused on its fundamentals. The things that make it a great phone aren't a priority for version one, as the company has focused almost exclusively on making sure the dual-screen form factor is perfect from both a hardware and software perspective. This is also the same reason why Surface Duo doesn't have a great camera, or other common-place smartphone things.

This first Surface Duo is out to prove that the form factor works. It's about Microsoft building a great Surface that can fit in your pocket, and not about building the best phone. Microsoft will likely focus more on making sure Surface Duo is a great phone with version two, but for version one, it's focused on making Duo a good Surface by ensuring it's a productivity-driven device with unique capabilities that you can only find on the Duo.

What are your thoughts on Microsoft's official reasoning for Surface Duo not having top of the line specs and features? Let us know in the comments.

Microsoft Surface Duo

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Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

45 Comments
  • I find it interesting that they say "currently" considering we know it's in there and just not turned on. I feel like it's done on purpose to differentiate the duo from phones maybe. You figure most people use nfc on mobile devices for contractless payments and not for transferring files and use Wyeth accessories. Fingers crossed for a firmware update. I also can't find where to pre-order at the moment
  • A firmware update couldn't add the hardware needed for NFC. It simply doesn't include it, it's not just disabled in software.
  • Oh wow. Didn't know the hardware wasn't in there. Odd it came up in fcc listing
  • "With this core priority complete, we will listen to customer feedback and apply that lens to future iterations of the product." Translation: They have already added it on next generation prototypes, and it's but only one of the omissions from first generation devices they are already testing. The next Surface Duo will launch in October of 2021 with improvements in every area imaginable. The only thing with SDV2 I'm concerned about is if it will have a 3rd outside display for "Quick Task" and "Quick View" for notifications.
  • It just doesn't make much sense to me. If it's not suppose to be a phone and they don't care about building a good phone from the beginning. Why did they choose to go Android and pick apps as a way to be productive? This explanation just like the decisions they made when making this device, feels like they didn't put too much thought behind it.
  • The speed and certain of product maturation. Let's say the put 10x on this, there's no telling if apps would ever come and if they did, it would be at a slow rate. Or even worse, Andromeda os. Android provides maturity already and that allows Microsoft to hit their productivity baselines and get a headstart on future iterations faster all while ensuring they can meet customers where they are
  • According to Paul Thurrott and others, people don't use traditional apps these days. They use web apps. So, if that's true, then all anyone really needs is a compatible browser on their device. Regardless, I don't see any real value to this device in the first place.
  • May be some truth to that on a laptop, but I seriously doubt people on phones use web apps. At least not intentionally. By that I mean nobody opens a browser on a phone, Android or iOS, goes to a web function, like mail, their banking site, and then looks to see if they can install that as an app. There may be apps in the associated app store that are in fact basically wrappers around a web service/page, a web app, but people just think they are installing an app.
  • Paul Thurrott is good reporter, but he very clearly doesn't understand how people use computers/mobile devices outside his very narrow niche of reporting/blogging about tech. See his scathing rebuke of the Surface Studio from its outset, which has been otherwise hailed by actual creative professionals it's designed for. The only Surface product he's ever been positive about is the Laptop which, surprise, is the only that caters to his specific use case of travelling and blogging.
  • Is there any people who will be cheated again by MS. They might give up this phone bussiness soon and will end their supporting service by 2021.
  • Seeing they JUST bought an in-house android development team, no they won't. You're tripping. But let's say they did, it will still receive security updates as it is a play store certified device. Glad I could lay rest to your worries. You're welcome in advance
  • LOL. You actually think that makes your case? Microsoft has acquired, restructured, replaced, reinvented time and time again....only to let things die or kill them outright. Their "investment" in something has zero correlation to perpetuation.
  • You do recall they bought Nokia too, right?
  • So a good surface/phone don't need NFC, wireless charging and so on. That should be in there first gen or not. I like this form factor more than foldable screens until they can make them more durable. But that price for a last gen hardware is to much in my opinion. Hope there is an audience for this so they make a duo 2 next year with the missing features.
  • Ask your cousin for the money for both
  • I didn't say I can't afford it, I said that hardware and price don't match up and that can result in Microsoft don't sell that many units. Guess you se where I'm going with this.. if duo don't sell there is a chance we won't see a gen 2 and that would be a pity.
  • Price is arbitrary by nature so saying what doesn't match up is referring to affordability. For those who can't afford it, can ask your cousin then lol. Smart businesses plan for product lines a few iterations out. If this sells 14.5 devices, we'll still see a version 2, at least. If I had to guess Microsoft makes those kind of decisions whether to kill a product line due to poor sales after 3 iterations.
  • No it's not. You can guess all you want. I still think it would be sad to see Microsoft disappear for the mobile market again. I want them to succeeded. But you are a troll so it doesn't matter what I say.
  • Value isn't subjective? Are you seriously saying it's not?
    What's "too expensive for what you get" is an opinion. A dime to a millionaire is much less than a dime to a dollarnaire. That's not trolling. It's just fact. Who would want to see this device fail? I just told you we'll see a duo sequel regardless how great or poorly this sells. If we don't, it won't be solely due to lack of sales.
  • Man you never stop. Of courses value can be subjective. That is not my point in my comment. I was talking about value in money. It's clear that your opinion is that to you it doesn't matter that duo is missing newer hardware and are willing to pay the same as newer hardware for that, which is fine nothing wrong with that. But that doesn't change the fact that you can get newer hardware for the same money. And yes newer hardware has higer value in money. And don't come talking about software costs money to develop or something I was only taking about hardware or lack thereof. About trolling that is when you saying that I should ask my cousin to buy stuff for me which had noting to do about my comment on the duo price and hardware. I don't understand why some people have to write stuff like that instead of staying on topic or if you have nothing relevant to say about a comment than don't. I'm done now. Hope we both have better things to do than keep writing here.
  • I agree it's about proof of concept, that concept being a better way of giving you more screen real estate in a pocket format. I don't imagine it will sell by the bucketload, and I don't suppose Microsoft does either. I hope it has a good influence on design (I'd much rather have one of these than the Samsung or Huawei attempts), but for the moment at least I'll stick to having a proper fully-featured phone and my Surface Go. Sure the latter won't fit in a pocket, but it is intrinsically portable.
  • Their explanation sounds more like an excuse than a justification.
  • Because that is exactly what it is. An excuse.
  • No offense, but this kind of rhetoric is really unhelpful. One man's arrogance is another's confidence. Someone's explanation is another person's "excuse" or "justification". These are all the same thing. We just use subtleties in our words to spin a connotation on them based on our personal feelings. "Oh, that's not good, I don't' like it ... it's an excuse." "I think that was a good reason! It's an explanation." etc.
  • That's goofily vague reasoning. NFC isn't some new, cutting-edge tech that wasn't ready during the Duo's prototyping. It's ubiquitous on even budget smartphones. The "it's not a phone" excuse isn't one. They should just admit it's a chassis limitation or whatever it is, instead of talking down to people. They make it sound like basic, modern features are beneath them.
  • You are spot on. As my cousin Vinny would say, Dan's "reasoning" holds no water. The fact that it doesn't contain nfc doesn't bother me, but MS' excuse, yes excuse, is BS for precisely the reason you stated, nfc tech is far from cutting edge. In fact, it's a staple item these days.
  • I never cared about NFC before COVID-19, but now I depend on it
  • Agreed... It's pretty much nothing extraordinary nowadays, but it's extremely helpful. I need NFC for $1400
  • I'm ok with that they have limited what feature they ship with Duo as it is a first generation device. I'm not ok with that they set a price that indicate that the have not skimped on the features. To me the price says that they have a very limited number of devices and they believe that these will be sold to companies that want to try out a new category of device. Microsoft obviously is not interested in selling this to enthusiast as the device both a very pricey and are missing a lot of enthusiast features.
  • I have a hard time getting the first generation of MS projects. I think I'll wait for gen 2 or 3. It seems like it would be awesome, but I am hesitant to move to the duo from my Note 8 until it has been a proven device. Camera is important to me. I would love to see the camera features and test photos.
  • If this is mean to be a Poof of Concept, it should have been a LOT less expensive. The concept of a dual screen phone is still largely unproven, and at that price few if any people are going to try it.
  • No NFC is an annoyance but not a show-stopper. And I've yet to hear any reasonable argument that the chipset is lacking, other than it isn't 'the latest'. I preordered it. If the performance and usability is not up to snuff, I'll return it.
  • I'm not in the market for this very intriguing product but no wireless charging is a downer. But honestly it's a gen-1 device in a new category - I'm happy to let MS make their own business decisions. It's not like they're bad at it and their adventures tend to be productive in the sense that they improve users' experiences later on. (OK, not Band, but still.) I just think it's cool new things are happening in the smartphones space again, after years of boredom. It feels like the period after the Surface brand launched.
  • If "Surface Duo is purpose-built for mobile productivity and giving people new ways to complete complex tasks while away from their computer," wouldn't it be better to price it so that it gets in more people's hands? If it is feedback they are looking for, more is probably better.
  • Is this a tacit admission that the Duo form factor isn't the best to use with NFC? The tech has very limited range. Would they need to have a NFC module on each side other the device for example? Would it work with the phone open and folded in half? The form factor seems to have some interesting challenges for NFC, but I am probably wrong. If I get this device I would just use my watch for NFC, if I ever actually used it
  • Well I guess the Sony Xperia 1ii will keep me occupied until Duo 2 comes to the UK. No NFC killed this one...
  • LOL. Remembering that time oh so long ago where that OTHER tech company came out with an all new 3G smartphone when 4G was rolling out that same year. People literally ignored the 4G capable phones for an iPhone.
  • Damn. NFC is compulsory for me. Being Diabetic I wear a sensor that I scan multiple times a day. I can live without it for Google pay as I'll always have my galaxy watch witch I use more often for payments but its a shame. I do like wireless charging too and have wireless charging points all over the place. If it was half the price I could forgive the omissions, but being the most expensive phone device out there, there's no way I could justify that price. Such a shame. I was really looking forward to this device...
  • Version 2 needs to be a state of the art no compromise device.
  • I see Panos Panay is still making stupid decisions by charging insane prices for yesteryear's specs, while omitting features people want and need, especially at that price point, only insuring that this device will likely be dead on arrival and endangering chances for future success. Perhaps Microsoft needs to replace Panay with someone who has a clue. How many years have we put up with lacking features, a stagnant design, and last year's chips in their Surface devices? We're still waiting. You have an OS that people will support , yet you botch the damn thing. I'm sorry. It's a stunning device, but you have to have more money than sense to buy it. Only 6GB of RAM in a dual screen $1300-1400 device, along with no NFC, no 5G, a lower class chip, and a lacking camera? This is just lazy.
  • Just name me one 2020-released Android-based mobile device that does not come with NFC and Wireless charging. Focusing on productivity is one thing, keep up with the general trend is another. I am a long-term Surface and Microsoft fan. I've owned Surface Pro 2, 4, 6, Booke 2 and Laptop 2. I was excited to see the announcement of the Duo but can't help but wondering why such as a lackluster decision. I could be a sucker for Surface device, but the late Surface buds and now the Duo have gotten me wondering where the team that once revolutionized the PC form factor had been. Also let's not forget the utterly dumb decision to close all Microsoft stores where I enjoyed an in-person, close to real-life hands on experiences with all the Surface goodies. Microsoft, why?
  • Correction: I have owned SP 2, 3, 4, Book 2 and Laptop 2.
  • America has always seemed to be behind in areas of technology when it comes to contactless transactions so this isn't actually all that surprising but this is a pretty huge omission in other parts of the world. The amount of people I know where I live, myself included, who simply do not need a wallet because they have a phone is huge. And a huge part of that is NFC. It is arguably the biggest quality of life improvement phones have had in the last five years.
  • In fact, the only people I see who don't use NFC (it's pretty rare to find people using a card for public transport, anyone in the city centre will use their phone) on a daily basis are the elderly, and they aren't buying this device anyway.
  • NFC for payments has varying degrees of usefulness. If all you need to do is buy a Snickers, Coke or gas, use your smartwatch. So much easier than pulling out your phone. Now if you need it for rail, train, medical reasons (as Kieran mentions for diabetes), then that's a whole different argument. As they say, wait for v2...