Surface Duo makes me nervous

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

OK, there it is, I said it, I said it out loud: The Surface Duo makes me nervous. Why? Read on.

Imagination. Concentrated. Unfolded.

The Surface Duo is a new device from Microsoft, that creates its own place in space. It's not a smartphone, nor is it a tablet. It's a productivity device. Yet it also has apps, plays games, reads and writes emails, watches YouTube, and orders coffee - but it's not a smartphone.

It is - these are my words: Imagination. Concentrated. Unfolded.


It's new. It takes the concept of the Microsoft Courier notepad and makes it real.

It's everything you ever wanted in a tablet, but it's not a tablet.

it's everything you ever wanted in a notepad, but it's not a notepad.

It's everything you wanted in a phone, but it's bigger than a phone and Microsoft doesn't like anyone calling it a smartphone.

It's the ideal companion for your busy lifestyle - get your work done, then relax with a game or a watch a movie.


It's all of these things - smartphone or not - concentrated and miniaturised into one device. But it's not a phone, okay.

It's small, but not too small. It's big enough, but small enough.

It's only got one camera, but that's ok, the camera is for video calling, not for photos, this is not a phone, OK!

It has a phone app, but it's not a phone.

It has Instagram, but it's not for taking photos.

It has really really really super-cool like email and stuff, ok, it's for productivity, alright?


It folds. It unfolds. It flips all the way round.

It's a small handheld device when folded in half.

It's a bigger tablet device when it's open.

The screen doesn't fold. There are two separate screens joined by a hinge.

It's can do tent mode, laptop mode, phone mode, sideways mode, upright mode, but it's not a phone, OK?


Heck, it makes and receives calls, but - it - is - not - a - phone.

Not happy Jan.

So what is it?

It's a productivity powerhouse. It's a work device. It's a lifestyle device.

It's the gold standard in everything.

It does emails, notes, scribbles, music, movies, everything you can think of.

It's just not a phone. It can be, but don't call it that. OK. Got it.

I want one.

Yes, yes, please, I want one. Can I have one?

Can I borrow one? Can I get a loaner device for review? Please?

Can I buy one in Australia?

I want one. I need one. Or two. Two. No, I wont be greedy, just let me have one. Unless there is more than one colour, and if there is, I want one of each colour for testing purposes and just one to keep.

I don't even care that it only has a last-generation Snapdragon 855 processor.

Yeah, about that processor...

I stopped writing at this point and had a coffee. I had a Moccona. Then I went out and had a proper coffee.

Now that I'm back at the keyboard, let's talk about those specifications.

It's got a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor. Um. What? Why?

Why... is answered by: just like, well, because it does.

The Surface Duo was in development for five years. Yes, that's right, an astonishingly-long lifecycle for a product in this day and age. Not since the original iPhone 1 has a product taken so long to gestate.

I'm making an educated guess that they got to a stage where they had to lock in a spec and a processor and get it built, and the newest processor available for that application at the time (that was able to the tested and verified) and was shipping from the manufacturer, was the Snapdragon 855. I would have loved it to have been released with the 855 was new.... or better still, with the latest Snapdragon processor that is available now, even if you have to do a backroom deal with Qualcomm to get it early.

There are other things missing as well.

There's no NFC, there's no rear camera, there's no Windows Hello facial recognition (it does have a fingerprint reader), there's no expandable storage (SD card slot), no headphone jack, no wireless charging, and a smallish dual battery.

We still don't really know what the connector on the bottom edge is. It's obviously for power, but we don't know if it also does data. It's too small to be a Surface Connect socket. If I was forced to guess, I'd say it's USB-C.

It does appear to come with a charger, a power cord, and a bumper case, but there's no sign of a screen protector. It's clad front and back with Corning Gorilla Glass 5, so it should be durable enough, just don't go calling it a phone.

It makes me nervous

It makes me nervous. So nervous.

Why? Because I want one, I really really want one, but it's expensive, the specs at launch are already outdated, I can't pre-order or actual-order it in Australia, and we don't even know if it will be released here. It does appear that it will be available in the USA, Canada, and Japan, but no word on anywhere else on the planet at this stage. Let me know if it becomes available in Australia.

It makes me nervous, because it runs Android. There's nothing wrong with Android, I've just never had an Android phone.

I've had a Nokia, a Sony-Ericsson, a HTC, a Windows Phone, an iPhone 5 and an iPhone XS.

It makes me nervous, because I watch all the release videos and I waaaaaant one, but I can't get one. Please Microsoft, can I have one, please?

One last thing

One last thing. For the Surface Duo 2, can we please have a shorter gestation period, so it can ship with the latest newest processor? I don't need wireless charging etc.

One more thing...

I think the marketing team missed a trick when they decided on the tag line "Do one better".

I think it should have been: "Surface Duo: do two, side by side".

Then they can follow it up with featurette showreels that play on the "side by side" line...

Apps, side by side. Video, side by side. Games, side by side. Teams and Slides, side by side. Inbox and replies, side by side.

Do life, side by side.

and so on.


Can I have one? Please? I'll keep it by my side.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas


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Who is Xavier Zymantas?

Xavier Zymantas started out as the boy genius and piano player who completed 12 years of schooling by age 15, started university at age 15, finished two IT degrees by age 19, worked as a computer programmer for 9 years, then became self employed as a technology consultant. Xavier moved into general consulting and now offers insights, tips, tricks and techniques across a range of business areas.

Xavier's mind works differently, and he often uses techniques from speech, music, travel, business, and life to generate outcomes specific to each business. While each problem may be different, shockingly the solutions are remarkably similar.

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