Microsoft Surface Duo: A cheat sheet about the dual-screen Android phone


This Surface Duo guide covers features, pricing, and more details that you need to know about Microsoft’s dual-screen device.

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Image: CNET/Sarah Tew

The Surface Duo was announced on Oct. 2, 2019 during Microsoft’s Surface Event in New York. This Android-powered, dual-screened communication device may be helpful for business users looking for more efficient ways to access, relay, and send information to clients and colleagues.

This Surface Duo cheat sheet will be updated as information about the device becomes available. This article is also available as a download, Cheat sheet: Microsoft Surface Duo (free PDF).

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What is the Microsoft Surface Duo?

The Surface Duo is a dual-screened, Android-powered communication device that is part mobile phone, part tablet, and part camera. The Surface Duo has two 5.6″ screens, and supports all in-market generations of the Surface Slim Pen, Surface Pen, and Surface Hub 2 Pen. Simultaneous Pen and touch are also supported, according to Microsoft. 

When folded, the Surface Duo is the size of a typical smartphone, and it’s covered with a Gorilla Glass backing and imprinted with the Microsoft logo. When opened, the Surface Duo features two 5.6″ OLED glass screens separated by the 360-degree folding hinge. The screens can operate as one large 8.1″ AMOLED screen or independently of each other. 

This means you can utilize one large screen (similar to a tablet), or perform multiple tasks at the same time such as watching a video or attending a video conference on one screen while googling or checking your emails on the other screen. When you use the Surface Duo in landscape mode, one screen of the device runs applications, while the other can be used as a keyboard or a game controller.  

The Microsoft Surface Duo runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset which, according to Microsoft, has “been optimized for dual-screen experience.” The device is also capable of running apps from the Google Play Store, thanks to Microsoft’s partnership with Google. The phone features 6GB of RAM and can be purchased with either 128GB or 256GB of storage (there is not a MicroSD slot available to add additional storage). 

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What are the specs of the Microsoft Surface Duo?

  • Dimensions: Open: 145.2 mm (H) x 186.9 mm (W) x 4.8 mm (T); closed: 145.2 mm (H) x 93.3 mm (W) x 9.9 mm (T at hinge)
  • Weight: 250 grams
  • Display: Dual PixelSense Fusion Displays open: 8.1″ AMOLED, 2700×1800 (3:2), 401 PPI; Single PixelSense Display: 5.6″ AMOLED, 1800×1350 (4:3), 401 PPI.
  • Display material: Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform, optimized for the dual-screen experience.
  • Network and connectivity: Wi-Fi: WiFi-5 802.11ac (2.4/5GHz).
    Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0.
    LTE: 4×4 MIMO, Cat.18 DL / Cat 5 UL, 5CA, LAA. Up to 1.2Gbps Download / Up to 150Mbps Upload.
  • Camera: Adaptive camera 11MP, f/2.0, 1.0 µm, PDAF and 84.0° diagonal FOV optimized with AI for front and rear.
  • Video recording: 4K video recording at 30 fps and 60 fps; 1080p video recording at 30 fps and 60 fps; HEVC and H.264 video recording formats; gyro-based digital video stabilization.
  • Video conferencing: Microsoft Teams and Skype video conferencing up to 1080p at 30fps. High CRI LED Flash for both front and world facing photo and video scenarios.
  • Memory and storage options: 6GB DRAM; 128GB or 256GB UFS 3.0 of internal storage. 
  • SIM card: One eSIM5 and one Nano SIM. Note: AT&T locked device will not support eSIM.
  • Battery: 3577mAh (typical) dual battery
  • Charging: Battery charging using 18W in box power supply
  • Security and authentication: Biometric lock type: Fingerprint reader (1:100K FAR <3% FRR); lock type: Swipe, PIN, password; security applications pre-loaded on device: Microsoft Authenticator.
  • Sensors: Dual Accelerometer, dual Gyroscope, dual Magnetometer, dual Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, hall sensor, fingerprint sensor
  • Audio: Mono speaker, Dual Mic noise suppression and echo cancellation optimized for productive use in all postures. Best-in-class Full Duplex communication for voice calls in hands-free mode. Audio formats supported: 3GP, MP3, MP4, MKV, WAV, OGG, M4A, AAC, TS, AMR, FLAC, MID, MIDI, RTTL, RTX, OTA, IMY. Qualcomm® aptX Adaptive. 
  • Operating system: Android 10

How can I use the Microsoft Surface Duo for work?

The Surface Duo was designed to help users achieve maximum “flow” and be as productive as possible, so it does lend itself well to business users. During the Surface Event, Microsoft’s chief product officer, Panos Panay, outlined some examples. 

Panay explained that while using Outlook/email, you can have one screen displaying your inbox or a received message and the other screen could be used to compose a message, which would make sending emails more efficient. Another example: While using Microsoft Teams on one screen, information or documents can be accessed from the other screen, allowing for less lag time when retrieving and relaying such information. Users could also run websites side by side and drag and drop content between them as needed. 

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides

The Surface Duo comes preloaded with several apps ideal for business users including: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Office Lens, PDF Reader, and more), Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome, Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft To Do, Microsoft News, Microsoft Authenticator, Microsoft Bing Search, Intune Company Portal, LinkedIn, Google Drive, Gmail, Google Assistant, and many more. 

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What are the top competitors to the Microsoft Surface Duo?

Though not considered a foldable or a smartphone per se, the most direct competition for a device like the Surface Duo includes LG Dual Screen devices, the Galaxy Fold, the Motorola Razr foldable, and the Huawei Mate X.  

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When will the Microsoft Surface Duo be available?

The Microsoft Surface Duo became available for preorder on August 12, 2020 and will start shipping on September 10, 2020. 

The Surface Duo has a starting price of $1,399.    

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