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Surface Duo might not arrive in markets outside the United States until 2021

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

What you need to know

  • The Surface Duo might not ship outside of the United States until 2021.
  • The plan for the Surface Duo is fluid and could change as circumstances change.
  • The Surface Duo already has certifications in Canada, the EU, and Japan.

Last month, Microsoft disappointed thousands of fans who have been eagerly waiting for the Surface Duo by announcing that the product would be launching exclusively in the United States, with no plans to bring it to other markets for the foreseeable future. Adding insult to injury, Microsoft refused to provide any kind of timeframe for the fans who have been saving to buy one.

In the United States, customers can pre-order the Surface Duo (opens in new tab) now for $1,399 and have it by September 10. Outside the United States, customers have simply been told that Microsoft is taking "a measured and phased approach to availability to meet customer demand." Essentially, Microsoft doesn't want to make too many and sell too few.

Of course, this is a valid concern for Microsoft to have. It doesn't want another Surface RT failure by building more devices than it can sell. But, as one of the Surface Duo's biggest followers that also resides outside the United States, I've been extremely disappointed with Microsoft's lack of real communication regarding its plans for Surface Duo elsewhere in the world.

I've since done some digging, and according to my sources Microsoft is looking to begin shipping Surface Duo in external markets in the first half of 2021 after seeing if the product surpasses internal expectations in the United States first. This plan is fluid, however, and Microsoft could decide to bring its release in other markets forward if circumstances change.

Surface Duo specs

The longer Microsoft waits, the harder it will be to sell a product with a Snapdragon 855 with 6GB RAM and without wireless charging or NFC capabilities to new customers. The lack of NFC support in countries like the United Kingdom is a big miss, as tap and pay is everywhere and is most people's default way of paying for things.

The product is already certified for Canada, EU, and Japanese markets, and I'm told BT/EE in the UK has already agreed to carry the device when it does arrive. Hopefully, it arrives sooner than 2021. But the latest internal information I have suggests Microsoft is planning to wait a while before Surface Duo is available to buy elsewhere in the world.

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.

49 Comments
  • So basically, the US market is the "Guinea pig" for the Duo. At least, one could summise that success of the device in the US will inevitably lead to a second gen device, with possibly all the other "add-ons", and a newer processor that people have been crying for and about.
  • You're shocked by MS using Customers as beta testers?!
  • At least this time around it's not a world wide beta test with a system that only works properly in the US (like the cool bing maps/foursquare integration in WP8). We'll see.
  • How is this different to to the first Iphone which availability was also limited in a similar sense?
  • If this is the case, I'll be waiting for the 2nd gen which is supposed to be released in 2nd half of 2021.
  • And you would wait for 2022 for international release. If ever!
  • Not a problem for me. I can have it shipped to a freight forwarder who will gladly send it my way here to Latin America.
  • And no warranty
  • So only two years security updates for non US owners then...
  • I'm sure you'll be able to do a workaround if the software updates don't come through the normal way from settings on the Duo, probability just a matter of downloading the US Duo software updates on a pc and then transfer them to the Duo, I guess in time will see 👍
  • I imported one to Australia...I'm all set! 😎
  • Obviously MSFT has already built 1000s of Duos. Plus they know their supply channel and how many they can build per day. How many devices does MSFT want in the wild? As many as possible. Is that 10,000 or 100,000? I don't know how they track the use of the Duo and the way the device is used. Sure 1000s of devices will be sold to enthusiasts. MSFT will get some feedback. They will know how many they sell and through which channel. If sales grow quickly, they move up release to other markets. What I don't know is how much work is required to release a phone in Japan. Is it a lot? I would think each market has its quirks. So maybe they are still working out the kinks in the UI and won't press sales until they are much farther along in the UI development.
  • I wonder how many Duo's the factory is capable of making each day. 🤔🤔🤔
  • "They will know how many they WON'T sell ..."
  • >They will know how many they sell
    >They will know how many they WON'T sell They're both technically correct
  • No problem. They can wait until they ship a Windows version, to be honest... And if you need a reason to prefer Windows over Android, look no further than this very app, which crashes every third time I open it on a Samsung GS20 Ultra...
  • Windows Central not putting effort into their app is on them, not Android. There are terrible Windows apps too.
  • I remember when you said over and over that Microsoft would never make a device like Surface Duo... Iike everything you say you were wrong. Now look at you still running your mouth about nothing. SMDH 🙄
  • They didn't, they just made another Android phone. This isn't a Microsoft phone, it is a Google phone. This isn't what anyone was talking about.
  • Jason and the world was right and as usual you're wrong.. Suck it up, and get a life. 👌🏽👌🏽👌🏽
  • You think Jason was writing about another Android phone? Come on, this is WINDOWS CENTRAL! Andromeda was supposed to have Windows on it.
  • NFC tap and pay is most people's default way to pay in the UK - absolute tosh! You can't just make things up. Please can you back that up with some referenced numbers.
  • Honestly, if they're going to wait another 6+ months before launching it in other markets, they'd be as well just sorting out a second generation device, with improved specs, and making version 2 the big international device. Maybe that's the plan....sell a few thousand in the USA, gather up plenty of feedback, make improvements, upgrade the hardware, launch a second generation, upgraded model internationally in 2021. Personally, as much as I want one, I'd rather wait a year or so to see just how committed to this idea Microsoft is.
  • Yeah, I actually think that's the plan... 1st year - sell to a small sub-set of people (i.e. US) get all the feedback.. then add the NFC & wireless charging and release version two internationally.
  • I'm over waiting for version 2.. I will be getting version 1.. It's a pretty sound beta test. I love a challenge. The things I feel I'm giving up on are eclipsed buy everything SD comes with, including its terrific BUILD [ (scared AF to drop it, though).. I wonder what that bumper has been drop rated at. 🤔🤔🤔 I can't wait to see some independent test on its durability]... Either way, I can't wait to show this form factor to all my friends and workmates just to see them praise it.. And, I believe they will praise it and consider a foldable for their next device. This is my duty. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽
  • It makes perfect sense for them to be cautious on this product. Satya Nadella's Microsoft is anything but prudent, calculating, strategic. They will release it in the UK and other markets when their enterprise partners in those locations indicate a real desire for the product, no doubt only after hearing months of positive feedback from their American counterparts confirming Duo's claim to increase worker productivity. My guess is a gen 1 device will never be released in the UK, and that they will go straight to Duo II, spring 2022.
  • Going by the past experience, it may never reach other markets ever. Take HoloLens, Windows mixed reality devices (Dell Visor and many others), or Surface Studio as an example. Microsoft products target a very small segment of people, they now make stuff mostly for corporations because it's easy to monetize those transactions.
  • I've got a WMR headset here in Denmark...?
  • It never arrived in my country. Just kept on waiting for Dell Visor till they scraped the device. Same was the case with Lenovo and Acer WMR headsets.
  • Ok, I realize some of these devices didn't get a worldwide distribution, but 'never reach other markets' is a bit of an exaggeration. The Surface Studio is readily available here as well...
  • Wouldn't mind it if it got a hefty price cut :) (will probably not happen though).
  • Still 3 years too late.
  • Too late for what? It's the only device that does what it does.
  • True, no other 1400 $ phone takes pictures like a 200 $ phone...
  • According to actual hands on from people the camera is slightly better than de front cam of the latest Note.
  • We have had other devices that do this. Isn't that useful.
  • Who's waiting for this, in this time of uncertainty who wants this fancy ass phone to show off. Smh
  • Went to best buy to replace my Phone. I left my old phone on my back bumper. Found it later in the day on the side of the road. Crush by a car I assume. Funny thing is it still turned on and accepted calls. The screen and back were just shattered. So, I bought the Motorola one for $211. Works well. I don't see much difference between this phone and the old One Plus 6 I destroyed. I did manage to find the Surface Duo on display. Picked it up. Light. Hinge works great. Both screens work well together. I did not spend much time on the Duo. My 2-minute evaluation tells me it is built well, the touch screen is intuitive and works quickly. As far as how well apps will work? I assume well. If my One Plus 6 can be replaced by a $200 Motorola and have no discernable drop in performance, then I don't think moving to the bleeding edge silicone for your smartphone is worth the money. And it tells me the Surface Duo can work well on last year's snapdragon. I realize the camera, gaming, etc. need more powerful processing. So, once they upgrade the camera, MSFT will need the next-gen snapdragon processor. But looking at the camera app, it looked surprisingly good. And yes I know gaming needs the best processor available. But I dont game and I dont know anyone that games on their phone except my son. I think people will find the device meets all the quality you could ask for in a $1400 device. The question is will people find the dual screen device UI preferable. Will the app experience be so much better that people will go for the dual screen over the folding screen? My daughter likes the new Motorola Razor (a flip phone with a folding screen). This coming from a diehard iPhone user. I thought that is a wonderful use of the folding screen. I can see how people would like the folding Razor phone for the reduced footprint of the phone. I hate carrying around a smartphone. But it is a must have tool. So, I deal with it. But if you can fold it up like the old razor? I think tons of people will like that form factor. I am working increasingly on my phone. Part of this is moving to a cloud based SAAS system in my business. the Duo with the dual screens would be much more appealing than the folding razor. But my New $200 Motorola One will tide me over for another 12 to 24 months. My daughter will be out of school hopefully employed and paying her way. Then I will have completed several significant Capex issues on my business and I can treat myself to the Surface Duo V2/3.
  • I am done with all Microsoft mobile endeavours.
  • Cool. Good luck out there!
  • Was done 5 years ago
  • This is a Google phone. Microsoft just made the hardware.
  • Actually the worst combination...!
  • To be fair the Surface hardware is pretty good :P
  • Got to partially agree with Bleached here, its Android and the update support is known so there is hardly any risk here like other popular Android phones.
  • Bit of a mistake. By the time it is released people might just be bored. Consumers move on quickly to the 'next' shiny item.
  • Arrive? We never dreamed about that. This is one of those exclusive toys for yankees. Like your beloved iPhones. Rest of the world? What do you mean by rest of the world?
  • For some reason, Microsoft appeared to be afraid to launch this product on a wide scale. I live in Malaysia and I am really interested to get one unit but if it is only expected to come in 2021 (if it ever comes), this piece of tech will already have passed its shelf life. The processor would already be like 3 generations behind. While Microsoft builds beautiful devices especially the Surface range, implementation is where they failed big time..
  • First iphone was a staggered roll it as well remember that, US only for a while and actually only on T-Mobile from what I heard.