A few months ago, rumors started making the rounds that Microsoft’s upcoming dual-screen phone—the Surface Duo—might go on sale significantly earlier than Microsoft’s original late 2020 release date. But now, based on new rumors, it appears that one of Microsoft’s main goals for Surface Duo’s early arrival is to beat Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Fold 2 to market.
According to Zac Bowden from Windows Central, Microsoft is hoping to get the Surface Duo out before Samsung holds its next Galaxy Unpacked event, which has been strongly rumored to take place on August 5. That means Microsoft would need start shipping the Surface Duo sometime in the next two months, something that seems plausible based on previous rumors claiming the Surface Duo’s hardware and design was finalized a long time ago and that for the past few months, Microsoft has largely been working on refining the Surface Duo’s software and app integration.
With reports claiming that Windows 10X and Microsoft’s other dual-screened device—the Surface Neo— have been delayed until 2021, Microsoft’s desire to beat Samsung to market might make a lot of sense to the casual observer. Both the Surface Duo and the rumored Galaxy Fold 2 share a few similarities in that they will both be expensive, low-volume Android phones with atypical designs, with the Duo sporting two displays with a hinge in the middle and the Galaxy Fold 2 expected to feature a large flexible display that can be folded in half.
That said, I don’t think Microsoft should be all that worried about the Galaxy Fold 2 potentially cannibalizing sales of the Surface Duo as the two devices are focused on very different audiences. Since the beginning, Microsoft has been very clear that the Surface Duo was designed more for business use or people obsessed with productivity, so that you can do things like read emails on one screen while you make appointments in a calendar app on the other. Meanwhile, if the Galaxy Fold 2 is anything like the original, while it will surely have its share of multitasking features, it’ll still be more of an all-purpose entertainment device meant to combine your phone, tablet, and e-reader into a single device.
Furthermore, if we consider the rumored specs for the Surface Duo which includes a somewhat older Snapdragon 855 chip, just 6GB of RAM, and a single 11-MP camera, it seems like Microsoft is focusing less on things like pure performance or content capture and instead is trying to come up with a device that puts Microsoft’s growing portfolio of mobile productivity apps into something that’s much easier to carry around—especially for those times when you don’t want to pull out a laptop.
To me, it seems like there may not be quite as much overlap between people interested in the Surface Duo and the Galaxy Fold 2 as Microsoft might fear, though Microsoft’s concern is understandable. With prices for both devices expected to be well over $1,000 very few potential buyers probably have the budget or need for both.
Either way, with Microsoft reentering the phone game for the first time in three years after it stopped making Lumia phones in 2017, the second half of 2020 is shaping up to be a really interesting gadget launch season, particularly for anyone looking for a fancy dual-screen or flexible screen device.