Microsoft’s hardware event in New York City today was a blockbuster event. The company announced the Surface Laptop 3, Surface Pro X, and Surface Earbuds. Microsoft also surprised with the Surface Neo, its much-anticipated folding screen device. However, Redmond also stunned everybody by announcing a new smartphone, the Surface Duo

For everyone thinking Microsoft was done in the mobile space as a hardware brand, that’s now not the case. However, Microsoft says this is a communication device, but it should not be called a smartphone. Surface chief Panos Panay says this is very much a PC that does the smartphone abilities too.

That’s because phones have limits, according to Panay. As the name suggests, the Surface Duo runs on two screens.

In terms of design, the Surface Duo looks like a smaller version of the Surface Neo. It is like a small book that opens into a dual-screen handset. This is not a single folding screen like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, but two genuine screens that can work separately or in tandem.

Microsoft did not expand too much on what specs we can expect from the Duo. We presume the handset will boast the latest hardware, but it will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles some important mobile components.

Still to Come

The most obvious will be the camera. Will the Surface Duo seek to compete with Apple’s iPhone 11 and the Google Pixel 4 in terms of camera abilities, or is Microsoft really only focusing on productivity?

These are all answers Microsoft will answer over the coming year. Like the Surface Neo, the Duo will not launch until holiday season 2020, with no pricing details yet known.

Panay said Microsoft is announcing the device a year before launch in an effort to build developer collaboration. Dual screen is a new concept in mobile, so developers will need to be fully on board to avoid the idea becoming one of many failed smartphone gimmicks.