August could be an auspicious month for Android, and not just because Samsung will be dumping a whole lot of devices next week. Although it seems to have flip-flopped on the exact dates, it seems that the years-long wait for Microsoft Courier fans is coming to an end. Although coming in a completely different form, the Surface Duo is expected to deliver a preview of Microsoft’s vision for dual-screen devices and that show may finally be starting on August 24.
A dual-screen implementation like the Surface Duo will naturally have compromises compared to something like the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 2 when it comes to having an unbroken large screen. At the same time, it also promises more reliability and functionality that fragile flexible displays still can’t in their current incarnation. Which of the two has better usability and cost-savings is something we’ll finally get to see in August.
On a more technical level, though, Microsoft’s dual-screen implementation may actually be pushing Android innovation more than Samsung’s foldable trick. Android has never been designed to work on two screens at the same time, something clearly shown by earlier implementations like the Kyocera Echo or, more recently, the LG V60 ThinQ and LG Velvet Dual Screen cases. Just as the first Galaxy Fold prompted Google to update Android for a foldable device form factor, the Surface Duo has helped push Android to gain support for dual-screen setups.
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s first Surface phone will fall short of expectations when it comes to core specs. Although the Snapdragon 855 isn’t particularly dated, there are some concerns that other parts, like RAM and especially the cameras, might be on the mid-range level rather than something that can compete with 2020 flagships.
It will all boil down to the price and, more importantly, the experience, particularly how the software will work with an unorthodox device. Microsoft is reportedly all in on refining the Surface Duo experience long after launch but the company’s track record on the mobile front isn’t exactly reassuring.