In a startling surprise, Microsoft has announced a new phone at its 2019 Surface event, which just wrapped up. Not just any phone, either — an Android phone. The new Surface Duo is a dual-screen folding device running a heavily skinned version of Android, and it even has access to the Play Store. Or, at least, it will when it lands late next year.

Physically, the Surface Duo is a clamshell-style folding device, with beefy laptop-style hinges and two separate (possibly 4x3) 5.6" displays, that fold out to 8.3". In form-factor, this is more like the ZTE Axon M than the Galaxy Fold.

Paired with it are some large (for 2019) bezels and a Surface-style white back. What appears to be a USB Type-C port is just visible off-center on one of the two folding halves, together with a pair of cutouts in the edge of the frame where the glass meets the body, possibly ports for speakers.

Microsoft's focus when it comes to the dual-screen folding Duo is productivity, it's all about "what you can do on it." The hinge allows for you to set the device in all sorts of "postures" as Microsoft calls them, allowing for more productive work on the go, paired with the enhancements of a dual-display workflow for multiple apps at once. "We absolutely know scientifically that you will be more productive on two screens." ...okay.


Microsoft isn't doing this alone, though. Windows phone may be dead as a doornail, but it's working together with its one-time platform frenemy on the new device, "we're partnering with Google to bring out the absolute best of Android." That includes access to the Play Store and its wide world of Android apps.

Unfortunately for us, the Surface Duo isn't slated to land until the Holiday season of 2020, or around a year from now. Part of the logic behind the early announcement is to help drum up support from developers before the product ships. Android apps still have a long way to go before they fit with a dual-display or folding paradigm, even though Google first started pushing out APIs and proper support for foldable devices on Android late last year. By showing it off early, Microsoft hopes it can give developers an edge, and its product a reason for existing when it lands.