After plenty of rumours and many months of teasing (primarily from Microsoft itself), the Surface Duo finally went on sale in September 2020. That initial launch was limited to the US, but the device has since arrived in Europe.
The Surface Duo is a compelling first generation folding phone, but a lack of software optimisation and some dated specs hold it back. Nonetheless, there’s plenty of excitement regarding a potential successor.
Rumours suggest Microsoft has been working on it for sometime, and the Surface Duo 2 could even arrive as early as this September. Here’s everything you need to know.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 release date
The first rumour regarding the Surface Duo 2 release date came from Windows Latest, which suggests it will launch in the fall (autumn) of this year. Author Mayank Parmar cites ‘sources familiar with the development’, suggesting that the Duo 2 has been in development since the second half of 2020.
A subsequent report comes from Zac Bowden at Windows Central, usually a reliable source of Surface news. He says ‘Microsoft is hoping to ship Surface Duo 2 this fall (autumn)’, suggesting a potential launch in September or October 2021.
It would be surprising to see a new Duo so soon, making it more likely to be a spec bump than a design overhaul. Microsoft may also choose to stagger the release date of the Duo 2 between countries, as it has done with the original model. That device went on sale on 10 September 2020 in the US, before coming to the UK, France, Germany and Canada on 18 February 2021.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 price
Our best indicator of price comes from how much the current Surface Duo cost at launch:
128GB storage – £1,349/US$1,399.99
256GB storage – £1,449/US$1,499.99
The 128GB model has subsequently been discounted to $999 in the US, but that’s only come five months after its initial release. Expect the Duo 2 to start at a similar price, especially as foldable tech is still relatively expensive.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 rumours
Despite being many months before its expected release, we already have a couple of concrete rumours regarding the Surface Duo 2.
Windows Central’s Zac Bowden is our key source of information, revealing a few key details about the device in a recent article. He suggests that Microsoft will ditch the ‘not a phone’ branding from the original Duo and focus on making it a great smartphone. This will supposedly include the latest specs, much-improved cameras and NFC support.
Bowden also says the Duo 2 will ship running Android 11, but hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for an Android 12 update. The first-gen Duo is yet to get Android 11, despite launching around the same time as Google’s OS.
Elsewhere, Bowden says those specs will include the latest flagship processor. That’s currently the Snapdragon 888, which also brings 5G support.
Another Windows Latest article suggests the camera will be a big focus on the second-gen device. That’s based on a Microsoft job listing for a ‘Principal Android Camera System Architect/Engineer – Surface Development’. Given that the Duo is the only Surface device currently running Android, all signs point to Microsoft investing heavily in the next generation’s camera tech.
The same Windows Latest article that revealed a potential release window also suggests Microsoft is putting ‘special emphasis’ on the software experience. This is likely to include a more intuitive camera app. Microsoft is also said to be directly contributing to the development of Android, which could make for a better software experience on the Duo 2. According to Windows Central, this includes working with Google’s ‘Flutter 2’ user interface framework to make it easier for developers to optimise their apps for the Duo.
Windows Latest has also unearthed some job listings that suggest the Surface Duo 2 will ship with 5G. One of a handful of openings recently posted on the Microsoft Careers website, the role of a Software/Hardware Engineer in Taiwan mentions ‘5G technologies’. The job was posted back in September 2020, suggesting Microsoft has been working on 5G for the Duo for a while.
Yet another Windows Latest article reports on a patent that could lead to big improvements in the folding technology on the next Duo. Known as a ‘moveable display’, it could allow the screen to fold while putting very little internal strain on the display.
Author Mayank Parmar acknowledges that this tech is highly unlikely to arrive on a 2021 Surface Duo, but he does close the article by saying that the next-gen device could have a faster Snapdragon processor and NFC support.
German tech site WindowsUnited is now getting in on the act, having unearthed a Microsoft patent for an ‘impact-resistant hinge’. The associated diagrams depict a dual-screen device similar to the Surface Duo, suggesting the improved hardware could come to the second-gen model:
Image: Microsoft (patent)
The patent goes on to say it will be made from a durable material like rubber or silicone. If the body of the device comes into contact with the bumpers, they will supposedly absorb ‘some or all of the energy from the impact’, protecting the more fragile glass back.
However, Bowden says in the above Windows Central article that experimental hinge designs won’t be coming to the Duo 2. This was in reference to another recent Microsoft patent.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 wish list
With rumours understandably relatively thin on the ground at the moment, we’ve put together a list of things we’d love to see on the Surface Duo 2. The Duo is decidedly a first-gen device, so there are plenty of potential areas for improvement:
The latest processor – Between the Duo’s announcement and release, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 chipset was launched. This meant the Duo is running 2018’s Snapdragon 855, so we’d like to see Microsoft take steps to avoid a repeat scenario
5G support – Leading on from that, the 865 requires a separate 5G chip that Microsoft hadn’t accounted for in the Duo’s design. Having 5G support on its successor is a must
Slimmer bezels – The Duo is undoubtedly a feat of engineering, but the screens themselves are still sporting a design we saw five years ago. There would be plenty of space for Microsoft to include powerful camera/s and still up the screen-to-body ratio
Multiple camera lenses – Speaking of cameras, the Duo has a single 11Mp sensor, which can be used for rear shots and selfies depending on how you use the device. Adding another lens, be it an ultrawide or front-facing camera, would add a lot to the camera experience
NFC support – There were a few common smartphone features missing on the Duo, but the lack of NFC is arguably the hardest to forgive. Not having the ability to use Google Pay is hard to ignore, so it should be a priority on the next Duo
Bigger battery – Despite the Duo having one battery in each screen, the total capacity is still only 3577mAh. With a number of smartphones now having 5000mAh batteries, it could really do with an upgrade on the Duo 2
Reduce the price – While this might be difficult considering the upgrades here, it would be great to see Microsoft make the Duo more affordable. Currently, most people simply can’t justify spending £1,349 or more on such a device
We’ll update this article as soon as more information about the Surface Duo 2 emerges. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about the original Surface Duo.
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