New Microsoft Surface Duo Leaks: Hinge Design, Lackluster Specs

Adam Rowe

New specs on the upcoming Microsoft Surface Duo device have leaked, spilling a few interesting details about the unique dual-screen two-in-one tablet.

The actual device won't be out until later this year, but the leaked images and specs are very likely to be the real deal.

We can expect a Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM, options for 64GB or 256GB storage, and more. Here are the specs as well as a little analysis about what this news tells us about the buzziest new Surface phone.

Surface Laptop vs Surface Pro vs Surface Book – see our guide to the Microsoft range

Surface Duo Specs

The leaks are out from Windows Central, which has the facts to know. The camera? A single 11MP sensor on the right display's top bezel. It can be used for front-facing photos or videos, and, once the screen is folded out, can be used just as easily for rear-facing ones. The displays? Two 5.6-inch AMOLED panels with a pixel density of 401.

The two displays are connected with a hinge that rotates 360 degrees and can transform the phone into a 8.3-inch tablet.

Here are the full specs, according to the new leaks:

  • Displays: 5.6-inch 1800x1350p AMOLED panels with 4:3 aspect ratio
  • 8.3-inch tablet when unfolded
  • Camera: 11MP front/rear sensor
  • Processor: Snapdragon 855
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB / 256GB
  • OS: Android 10
  • Security: Built-in fingerprint sensor
  • Ports: USB-C, Nano SIM

The device will also come with a Surface Pen as a stylus.

It runs Android 10 at launch, but like Microsoft's other just-revealed Surface devices, it'll be rapidly upgraded to the upcoming Android 11 OS.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Can the Surface Duo compete?

There's one revelation here that stands out from the rest – the Surface Duo will have Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 rather than the latest processor, Snapdragon 865. It's a step down from the processing power you'd expect from a 2020 phone.

Windows Central speculates that the decision behind including last year's processor may come down to a hardware issue that made it impossible to fit in an additional chip required for the Snapdragon 865. According to Windows Central:

“The reason seems to be rooted in the fact that Qualcomm requires all smartphone makers to include a separate 5G chip with the Snapdragon 865. Surface Duo's internal design was finalized way before that requirement was known about, and therefore doesn't have room for the additional 5G chip that's required when using the Snapdragon 865.”

The 3,460mAh battery, too, isn't that impressive, given that this device functions as a tablet, and the storage options are geared towards a phone as well, rather than a tablet.

Granted, the Snapdragon 855 isn't a bad processor, and the other specs are certainly respectable even if they're not quite up to par when it comes to a flagship 2020 phone.

Should you get the Surface Duo?

So with these just-slightly off-the-pace specs, is the Surface Duo worth it? Granted, the answer might depend on one fact that we don't know yet: how much is this thing going to cost?

However, there's a secondary reason why consumers might want to try out the phone, and that's the unique gimmick that lends it the name “Duo.” Plenty of smartphone makers have taken a crack at the foldable screen, with no clear winners and a few all-too-clear losers.

The Surface Duo actually looks like a perfectly workable foldable phone/tablet device, and that's mostly because it's not trying to be too ambitious. Unlike competitors attempting foldable, rollable, single-surface screens (with the risks of creases and breaks that come with them), Microsoft has essentially just admitted that – for now – you're going to have to deal with a break in the center of two separate, folded-out screens.

Still, the folded device is compact and useful, functioning like a pocketable tablet and (rather large) phone at the same. For some, that's hardware worth getting, even if the specs aren't as impressive as they could be.

See our guide to the Best Tablets for Business

Surface Duo in action
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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for the last decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry (and Digital Book World 2018 award finalist) and has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect. When not glued to TechMeme, he loves obsessing over 1970s sci-fi art.