To better understand Surface Duo and what will go to mean in the months to come (it will not be on the market before a year), it is necessary to collect all the elements we have on the basis of the meager material so far released on the device. Do as we do, then: watch the movie slowly. Look at the details. Look what's up, but above all what's not there.
Because of this Surface Duo we must first understand the soul, where this is not a smartphone, it is not a tablet, it is not a laptop, but it is deeply a Surface. Out of any label, for freedom and by definition. Only then, after all, can Microsoft challenge a competition that has instead rigidly formatted the market into categories: Surface gets rid of it, gets rid of responsibility and presents itself with a unique identity (as in the past happened with the successes in the two-in-one area).
Surface Duo: the images
Surface Duo: what is not there
There is no rear camera. Exactly, there isn't. No need. There is no reason why the back side is mere aesthetics and protection, without the need for additional elements. Just think about the operation, however, to understand how the device still has the possibility of taking traditional photographs thanks to what is the front camera positioned above the right screen. We do not know anything about this type of lens, whose function seems to remain marginal: we are not dealing with a camera with more sensors, with too many megapixels or with some kind of technical miracles. Microsoft does not want to challenge the competition at the hardware level, but wants to do so at the concept level.
However, the renunciation of the camera is perhaps the most challenging element: is the average user, accustomed to photographs and social-posts with his own shots, to abandon this habit? Does Microsoft have ideas to make up for this shortcoming? Does Surface risk clipping its own wings with such a waiver?
Another thing that is not there is the nib. We do not know if the new thin pen designed for the Surface series can work or not on the Duo, but it is clear that the two things are not integrated (as in the new Neo it is shown in an image of the presentation video, in the video of the Duo not never appears). The dimensions are small, the fingers can be more than enough. Can the nib be a "plus"? Perhaps, but certainly optional and certainly not central to the project.
"The perfect balance between productivity and mobility": Microsoft presents Duo, where the other side of the" balancing "currency is the" compromise ". In every compromise there are elements to be sacrificed and others to bet on: in this case, Microsoft seems to have temporarily put the camera aside, because there is more to concentrate on. It will not be a muscular challenge, but one of foil: not hardware, but functionality. The road is drawn and that's how Microsoft armed itself to fight this challenge.
Surface Duo: what is there
There's a double screen, about 5.5 inches per side: it opens like a book, holds itself like a breviary and revolves thanks to a hinge that allows the two displays to tip over. There were rumors, but no one really believed it anymore: at least not in this form, with these times and with this load of originality. Double screen means two things: double space and native ability to simultaneously support two activities. You can therefore write an email while you are in chat, you can search on a map while you are in videocall, you can read a document while writing another. In this capacity the market potential of the Surface Duo will be measured, as the potential of a dual display will be expressed in these features. But there is also a "new" form factor: abandoning the need to use the device with one hand, you lose the usefulness of a tall and narrow display in favor of proportions that recall the past. Who remembers Courier? Exactly, the inspiration is that: more book and less smartphone, as to establish a turning point that one hopes to face with swollen sails.
There is the front camera, this yes. It combines the audio module for calls and is positioned where it will be of great use for face recognition and for recording images during video calls. There is also Skype, of course, another Microsoft asset that is part of this cluster of offerings.
There is Android. Exactly, Android. The operating system is Google, but the apps are the Microsoft ones. Or rather, the offer seems to put together "the best of Microsoft with the best of Android", for an offer in which Office goes hand in hand with Google Maps without interruption (as the user has chosen to do in the download their own apps on any smartphone on the market).
The browser is Edge: Microsoft brings its new browser to Duo, thus trying to tarnish the hegemony that Chrome has conquered in the mobile world. It should be remembered that even Edge is somehow built on the basis of Chromium, which could probably be a warning of what Microsoft was planning.
The apps are those of the Play Store. The video clearly shows the Play Store icon on the screen, alongside Spotify, Flipboard, Twitter and other known icons. A convenient home for Microsoft apps, in short, surrounded by traditional apps used by users. App, that is all that was not there on Windows Phone and that now instead is on Surface Duo: different periods, different purposes, but the Nadella era expresses in this all the good things it has proposed in the years that brought Microsoft from the failures of then to the visions of today.
And then there is another thing, perhaps the most important: there is the "wow" effect. What was missing for too long. There is the surprise, there is the aura of "one more thing". In that gesture of opening the display there is the curiosity of the discovery of a new experience. There is a device that wants to be a phone and a tablet, but also a reader for ebooks, a notepad, a booklet for a thousand uses, as well as a display for leisure time, Xbox portable for moments of fun and much more. There is freedom of movement in the Surface Duo, which could really inspire the user.
Waiting for Duo
Stop all: we still don't know how the display will be, how much autonomy will be, which dedicated apps Microsoft will imagine, how many developers will increase their offer to contemplate the double display and more. But for once this is not what matters because for once Microsoft wants to point to something else. Mate X and Galaxy Fold are now offside? Or will the price determine who will win the game between the two concepts? The idea of the folding display has created a room for maneuver for Microsoft, or are Huawei and Samsung one step ahead and will have a good game to pursue the best aspects of the Microsoft idea?
One thing is certain: the market served bubbles and now they are certainly looking to be more sparkling months. Also and above all thanks to Surface Duo, so thanks to Microsoft: and who would have ever said?