OPINION: 2021’s been a big year for foldables, with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 being the first folding phones to actually impress the team of experts at Trusted Labs, when we tested them earlier this year.
Which is why it’s no surprise rumours have popped up suggesting pretty much every phone maker under the sun is planning to release a foldable. Most recently the rumour mill has been churning out rumblings that Google will launch a folding Pixel alongside the Pixel 6 later this year.
And while the “leaked” details paint a pretty picture – highlights including it using the Google Tensor chip expected to appear on the Pixel 6 and advanced camera capabilities – for me a folding Pixel is not the most interesting foldable expected to appear in the coming weeks.
I’m much more excited about the prospect of a new Surface Duo. I’ve never shied away from advertising my desire to see a Surface Duo 2 and there are a variety of reasons I think it’ll be more interesting, and likely useful, than another run of the mill foldable.
`The Duo is the first phone Microsoft’s launched since it retired its Lumia line of Windows phones many moons ago. The device has an atypical hinge mechanism that connected two displays, giving it a distinctly Nintendo DS-like look. The concept oozes appeal, offering twin screen app support, and a nifty skinned version of Android optimised for Microsoft services.
This for me, as I argued earlier this year when the new Fold and Flip were unveiled, is a much more compelling take on the foldable model that removes the inherently less rugged folding screen dynamic from the equation.
Honestly – even though I found the Galaxy Z Fold 3 to be much better built than its predecessors – I still found the added risk entailed with a folding screen doesn’t offer enough reward for mainstream users to justify the added risk.
The physical hinge design offers all the same perks as a foldable, without making the device fragile, outside of media consumption. However, when you factor in the fact the Z Fold, and every other foldable screen I’ve tested, still has a visible crease even the use case isn’t that enticing.
The only downside for the original Duo that stopped it proving my point, was that it launched with an extortionately high $1,399 price tag, which didn’t mesh with its previous generation CPU and generally uncompetitive hardware. This immediately made it hard to recommend to flagship buyers.
If rumblings are to be believed, Microsoft’s learned from its mistakes with the first generation Duo and will release a radically improved Surface Duo 2 alongside the new Surface Pro 8, Surface Book 4 and Surface Go 3 tomorrow, during a digital live stream.
According to the rumours the device will have a “competitive” multi-sensor rear camera setup, larger screen, an updated design with smaller bezels and, most importantly, a 5G ready Snapdragon 888 CPU. These are flagship level parts..
If the device offers a suitably spruced take on Android, potentially inspired by the new touch-input focussed Windows 11 OS, the Duo 2 could be one of the most important phones to arrive this year, cementing Microsoft’s return to the phone market.