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Hell freezes over: Microsoft Surface Duo is an Android-based foldable device

If you thought Microsoft would never release an Android-based device, well, get ready to eat your words. The company just launched the Microsoft Surface Duo, a somewhat-pocket-sized foldable device that is based on Android.
Microsoft made it clear at the launch that it doesn’t want to refer to the Surface Duo as a “phone,” although it does do everything you would expect an Android smartphone to do. That includes making calls, sending text messages, and installing any of the millions of apps from the Google Play Store.


However, the device looks more like a cute little clamshell laptop than it does something like the Samsung Galaxy Fold. In fact, even in its folded state, the Microsoft Surface Duo looks to be too big to even fit in your pocket.

Somebody look outside to see if the pigs have started flying yet, because on Wednesday, Microsoft officially announced the Surface Duo — a smartphone that's been rumored for many years, but which seemed to be only a pipe dream when the company officially sunsetted the Windows 10 Mobile operating system.

The Surface Duo is a dual-screen, foldable phone running the Android operating system that Microsoft says is designed for productivity and made to integrate with Windows. 

"Make no mistake, this product is a Surface," Microsoft hardware boss Panos Panay said at a Surface reveal event. 

There have been too many rumors of this device, or one like it, to recount here. It was thought to be coming out in 2016, before it faded into the background. Many Microsoft-watchers, including your humble correspondent, thought it was fated to forever be vaporware. 
Related: Here are the best Microsoft Surface laptops and tablets
According to Panos Panay, who revealed the Microsoft Surface Duo on stage at the company’s Surface event today, the device is the fruit of a collaboration between Microsoft and Google. Panay says the Surface Duo represents the best of Microsoft and the best of Google coming together to create a device that is unlike anything else.

The hardware itself definitely screams “Microsoft Surface,” with the buttons, chassis, and even the hinge looking just like the various Surface laptops and tablets. The software is definitely Android, although even it has a gloss of Microsoft design it seems.

Although the Microsoft Surface Duo is a foldable device, it is not foldable in the same way as the Galaxy Fold in that it doesn’t have a screen over its hinge. Instead, the Surface Duo is more like two tiny iPad Minis attached together with features that allow you to make both displays work in tandem.

For example, you can make certain apps full screen so they spread across both displays. You can also drag-and-drop information from one display to another in what appears to be a seamless way.

As far as specs go, we know via Wired that the device is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor and runs on Android 9 Pie, a tweaked version specifically designed for dual-display devices. However, other specs are a mystery for now.


The bad news is that it's not coming out until the 2020 holiday season, so we'll have to wait a little longer.
The reason for the delay, Panay indicated on stage, is to help developers optimize their apps for the new two-screen interface. Notably, it's a little different from existing foldable smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold — there's a clear seam between the two screens, making it more about multi-tasking than having a single, large display. 

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