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RIP Surface Duo—Microsoft reportedly gives up on the weird form factor

But Microsoft is still “all-in” with Android, plans a Galaxy Fold-style device.



Enlarge / The Surface Duo 2 running Android 12L. (credit: Microsoft)

Windows Central’s Zac Bowden is the go-to reporter for any Microsoft Surface rumors, and his latest report is that Surface Duo 3 is dead, or at least, a device in the same mold as the Surface Duo 1 and 2 has been canceled. There might someday be a Microsoft device branded “Surface Duo 3,” but the Surface Duo form factor—a dual-screen device with a 360-degree hinge—is dead. The report says Microsoft is now working on a “more traditional foldable design, with a 180-degree hinge, internal foldable screen and external cover display”—so in the same vein as a Galaxy Fold.

The Surface Duo line made for two of the most awkward Android devices on the market. Instead of the tall, skinny displays that Android phones typically use, both Surface Duos used short, fat displays, making the Duo line the widest smartphones on the market. The original Surface Duo was planned to run the canceled “Windows 10x” OS, which would have taken advantage of the unique screen aspect ratio. When that OS was canceled, the project was salvaged as an Android phone, but those short, fat displays led to a lot of bad Android app layouts, with the limited vertical screen space further reduced by Android’s big headers and tab bars. It seems like Microsoft wanted to land on the same basic outline as a Moleskine notebook, but Android apps just aren’t designed for that aspect ratio. Plus, even when folded up, being dramatically wider than any other smartphone on the market also made it a literal pain to try to hold with one hand.

After two near-identical versions, Microsoft seemed to have been coming around to the “way too wide” line of thinking. The report says the canceled Surface Duo 3 would have had “narrower and taller edge-to-edge displays,” which would have put the phone in a more reasonable form factor.

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