Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 expected this month – all you need to know

Rumours suggest Microsoft has been working on it for sometime, and it looks like we’ll see the Duo 2 announced at the upcoming Surface hardware event. Here’s everything you need to know.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 release date

On 1 September, Microsoft confirmed would be holding an official event on 22 September, with proceedings getting underway at 8am PST/11am ET/4pm BST/8.30pm IST.

The company hasn’t revealed what will be on the agenda, but the image above implies there’ll be a new Surface Pro. Windows Latest and Windows Central have both suggested a second-gen Surface Duo will be released in 2021, so all signs point to a 22 September announcement.

It’s not clear how long we’ll have to wait for it to go on sale, but it should be significantly less than the 11 months between the announcement and release of the original Duo in the US. It was another five months before the device was available anywhere else, including in the UK. It’s not clear if Microsoft will adopt this staggered release schedule once again.

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 a few months months before its expected release, we already have a couple of concrete rumours regarding the Surface Duo 2.

Windows Central’s Zac Bowden has revealed some 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 says those specs will include the latest flagship processor. That’s currently the Snapdragon 888, which would also bring 5G to the Duo 2.

Indeed, a subsequent Geekbench 5 listing claiming to be the Surface Duo 2 uses the Snapdragon 888. The other spec of note here include 8GB of RAM (listed as 7.10GB), which should make the device much more competitive with flagship smartphones. 

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.

We now have our first look at what could be the Surface Duo 2, courtesy of YouTube channel Tech Rat. The short clip features a voiceover under stills of a Microsoft branded dual-screen device:

Surface Duo 2 leak
Image: Tech Rat/YouTube
Surface Duo 2 leak
Image: Tech Rat/YouTube

There are a few key takeaways from the above screenshots. The most obvious is that it looks like we’ll be getting a secondary matte black colour option – the original Duo is only available in an off-white shade known as ‘Glacier.

It also looks like cameras will be a major focus on the Duo 2, with a triple lens array on the back of the device. This would be a big step up from the single awkwardly-placed sensor on the first-gen Duo.

The screenshots don’t provide a good look at the display, but the video’s voiceover says the Duo 2 will have ‘larger displays with rounded corners and slightly thinner bezels’.

However, this was the first ever video published on the Tech Rat channel, and there’s no history of this name being associated with credible leaks. However, a tweet from Zac Bowden appears to suggest the imagery isn’t fake.

Based on this leak, German tech site WindowsUnited worked in collaboration with designer Jonas Dähnert to create renders of what the Duo 2 might look like. A few assumptions have been made, and the final product could look very different, but it gives us a good idea of what to expect.

Surface Duo 2 render
Image: WindowsUnited/Jonas Dähnert

Indeed, an earlier 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 a Duo with 5G 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.

WindowsUnited has also found 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:

Microsoft hinge patent
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 specific comment 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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