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Microsoft working on a Surface Duo 2 – report

The Surface Duo may not have taken the world by storm, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft plotting a follow up, if Windows Central’s sources are to be believed.

The site claims that the Surface Duo 2, codenamed “Zeta” will be released in the second half of the year, most likely in September or October. Crucially, it will fix the somewhat dated internal specs that made the original Surface Duo feel somewhat overpriced when it belatedly launched in the UK in February.

The cited sources say that the Surface Duo 2 will ship with the “latest flagship SoC for 2021”, which the site sensibly assumes to be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. That not only means that the Surface Duo 2 will have speeds matching the best Android phone around, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but that it’ll be capable of connecting to 5G networks too.

The report also claims that the Surface Duo 2 will feature NFC this time around, enabling wireless payments, as well as “an external camera system with a bump for better photography”. The screens will be slightly larger, probably thanks to the thinner bezels, which will lead to a “more streamlined fit and finish.”

Don’t get too excited if you weren’t enamoured with the original Surface Duo’s style. The report states that changes in shape and size are “mostly unnoticeable unless you have a Duo 1 to compare side by side.”

We’ve reached out to Microsoft to ask about the report, and will update this piece when we hear back from the company.

Second time lucky?

As Deputy Editor Max Parker wrote around the time of the UK release, the original Surface Duo was ultimately a device that felt dated even before it arrived. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, which launched at a similar time in the US, the Surface Duo with its two distinct clamshell screens felt clunky and underpowered with dual-screen software that wasn’t quite ready for showtime.

The possible features outlined above fix some of the issues – it’s certainly easy to justify paying four figures for a phone with top-of-the-range internals – but if it really is barely distinguishable in looks to the original, then Microsoft could face the same resistance that met the original.

That said, there could still be a market for a dual-screen productivity device like this and the potential is clearly there. When the device was first unveiled, Microsoft’s Panos Panay actually talked up the advantage of two screens rather than one foldable one: “we absolutely know scientifically that you will be more productive on two screens – much more than one screen ever could do,” he said. “But it has to be elegant.”

Elegance is arguably a gap the Surface Duo still needs to bridge, but there are signs that the software is getting there: the Xbox Game Pass app on Surface Duo now supports a gamepad on the lower screen, making it feel almost like the Nintendo 3DS, for example. If Microsoft can find similar use cases across the board, then there may still be life in the Surface Duo yet.

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