No, that is not the just-announced Surface Neo in Panos Panay’s hand. That’s the Surface Duo, the long-rumored Microsoft Surface phone.
The tiny device will rely on Android for the majority of its work, like phone calls, video calls, and general web browsing. However, the Duo will be infused with Windows in some unspecified way, which means all the usual Microsoft apps like PowerPoint and Word should work.
At the Surface event today Panay said he knows people want two screens and can be more productive, but “it has to be elegant.”
Dual-screen Android phones are certainly trying to have a moment with devices like the Galaxy Fold, but Panay implied that the version of Android found on the Duo will be customised using Microsoft’s dual-screen know-how from the Neo. This means splitting tasks between the two displays should hopefully feel natural, and it should function less like a foldable tablet and more like two phones crammed into one larger than average device.
Microsoft has cautiously avoided releasing a phone after it lost the mobile OS war to Apple and Google. There have been plenty of rumors—including ones revolving around a dual-screen phone-like device called Andromeda. That project was allegedly killed in 2018, but given the Duo’s existence, it seems reports of its demise were incorrect.
The company has repeatedly said it would make another phone when it was good and ready. It looks like it will finally feel ready in 2020.
Battery life, price, camera support, and all the other things you typically expect from a phone announcement were absent. Microsoft says the Duo, like the Neo, will be available in late 2020.