While gamers are on the edge of their seats waiting for news about the new Xbox console, Microsoft was busy showcasing something else. Last week was the big unveiling of the company's latest Surface lineup for 2019. Most of the showcased products will be released before the year ends, while the remaining two are slated for late 2020. Perhaps the item consumers are most thrilled about is the Surface Duo – a folding mobile phone running on Android. During the presentation, Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay appeared hesitant to call it a smartphone.
It seems that Microsoft wants its consumers to think of the Duo as a computing machine first, with telecommunications as an added feature. During an interview with The Verge shortly after the event, Panay pointed out that he does not want it to be limited by the definition of a phone, because it is on a category of its own. However, he acknowledges that people will continue to call it that way, but wants to remind them that it is a Surface device.
It seems difficult to think otherwise, given that the Surface Duo runs on Android. However, CNet speculates it could be Microsoft's attempt to steer consumers away from its failed Windows Phone venture. Moreover, Panay was more forthcoming when asked about why the company opted to go with Google's operating system instead of Windows.
After discussing matters with other executives, the decision was made to go with Android due to the huge number of apps available for users. Instead of using manpower to create a new OS, the developers plan to focus on improving its applications available for the platform.
Despite its telephone capabilities, the Surface Duo appears to be missing some features that other foldable smartphones have. There is no outer display to interact with when the device is closed. This means users need to flip it open to see who is calling or texting. Next, in the absence of a camera on the other panels. It appears the only workaround, for now, is to use the front-facing camera and one of the two screens as a viewfinder. Finally, instead of a flexible display, it comes with two separate touchscreens mounted on a 360-degree hinge.