After failing to rejuvenate Windows Mobile into a Windows Phone experience that people would actually want to mind, Microsoft abandoned the smartphone-making business. Since leaving Windows Phone in 2015, Microsoft doubled down on its software efforts for the mobile-first world we’re living in. Whether it’s iPhone or Android, Microsoft’s Office apps are available on smartphones, and the same goes for tablets. Microsoft produced and acquired other applications and increased its presence on mobile devices even though it did not control the operating system or the hardware. That somewhat changed last year when Microsoft made a surprising announcement. It will get back to manufacturing smartphones. But this time around, it won’t even attempt to create a Windows-based operating system for the first Surface phone ever. Instead, it’s all running Android. And the handset might soon be ready for launch.
The Surface Duo is a foldable device, but it’s not the kind of foldable you expect. It’s not similar to the foldable handsets that started populating stores last year when it comes to a critical component. The display doesn’t fold. Instead, the Duo features two separate screens that are connected by a hinge. It looks like the book-like device that Microsoft was rumored to make back when Apple launched its first iPads.
Microsoft said during its Surface event last fall that the Duo would launch during the 2020 holiday season, courting developers to create experiences for the dual-screen Android phone. But the Surface Duo launch may be even closer than that, considering Microsoft’s recent teasers and moves.
The Surface Duo was spotted at the FCC last week and received the Bluetooth SIG certification. Unreleased devices tend to be detected in these databases in the weeks that precede their official launch.
Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans told The Verge that Microsoft wanted to focus on the Surface Duo and dual-screen devices at the Build conference earlier this year. Those plans fell through as the event switched to an online-only format due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Aside from the Duo, Microsoft also plans to launch a Microsoft Neo device in the not so distant future, but that’s a tablet that will run Microsoft’s Windows 10X. Microsoft wants to have the Duo out in stores by the end of September, the report notes.
Another sign that suggests the Duo launch might be near is Microsoft’s increased Duo-related activity on social media. Microsoft execs have been teasing the foldable phone on Twitter, with the image above coming from Microsoft’s Surface chief Panos Panay a few weeks ago.