Microsoft is no longer supporting the original Surface Duo. The company’s first-generation dual-screen smartphone has reached the end of its troublesome life, meaning those sticking to this quirky device will no longer receive software and firmware updates. Officially, at least.
Microsoft announced the Surface Duo at a special event on October 2, 2019, alongside another ill-fated device, the Surface Neo. Unlike the bigger Neo and its now-dead Windows 10X operating system, the Surface Duo was powered by Android 10, which made it the only non-Windows-based Surface device.
Of course, it was not software that made the Surface Duo special in the good sense. The smartphone featured an incredibly thin chassis with sturdy hinges, fantastic build quality, and two big OLED displays. Interestingly, it was so thin that the USB-C port could barely fit, eventually leading to reports of the plastic material chipping around it.
Inside the 5mm-thick case, you would find a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128 or 256GB of storage, and a split 3,577 mAh battery. The smartphone had a single front-facing 11MP camera with an LED flash, unanimously declared one of the worst cameras in modern smartphones in that price range ($1,400 and up). What you could not find inside the Surface Duo is 5G and NFC support, which contributed to the lukewarm reception.
As it later turned out, the lack of 5G and NFC were not the smartphone’s biggest problems. To begin with, Microsoft launched the Surface Duo almost one year after the initial announcement, delivering customers a well-built hardware full of bugs. The situation slightly improved with time, and Microsoft even released two Android upgrades, with Android 12L being the final official release. Still, Duo’s monthly firmware updates would often delay and deliver disappointing updates containing nothing but Android security patches.
Although you could hardly suggest the Surface Duo to a regular consumer (even with some incredibly hard-hitting discounts), the smartphone became a great toy for enthusiasts. The WOA Project makes it possible to replace Android with Windows 11, with most parts of the device working as they should. Also, there is an unofficial port of “clean” Android 13 for those preferring a mobile OS on a mobile device.
The first-generation Surface Duo was a rough attempt to disrupt the mobile market with something fresh and unconventional after the end of Windows Phone (gone but not forgotten). In 2021, the second-generation Surface Duo attempted to improve the formula with faster OLED displays, better chassis, noticeably improved cameras, snappier hardware, and more. However, the software aspect remained lackluster at best.
Four years after the initial announcement, the smartphone duo (get it?) is almost impossible to find. Rumors claim Microsoft is no longer producing the Surface Duo 2. Moreover, customers should not hold their breath for more platform upgrades—according to a recent report, Microsoft transferred most of the Duo team to other projects, and there are no plans to upgrade the smartphone to Android 13 or 14. The company will stop supporting the SUrface Duo 2 on October 21, 2024.
The original Surface Duo is now history. It was a great idea and a nice try. It is a shame it did not work out.