Home PC News ProBeat: Microsoft’s Surface Duo is dead on arrival, regardless of price

ProBeat: Microsoft’s Surface Duo is dead on arrival, regardless of price

Microsoft this week pulled again the curtain on the Surface Duo‘s value and availability: 128GB for $1,400 and 256GB for $1,500, each delivery on September 10. Too dangerous the dual-screen Android system is lifeless on arrival.

The price ticket is hard to swallow, particularly throughout a pandemic. After all, 2020 is seeing a resurgence in good, low-cost telephones. Most notably, Apple launched a $399 iPhone SE, to which Google responded with a $349 Pixel 4a. But in case you are all for a folding cellphone, a grand and a half will not be going to be the deal breaker, particularly given the beginning costs of this yr’s Galaxy Z Flip ($1,380), Galazy Z Flip 5G ($1,450), Motorola Razr ($1,500), and Huawei Mate Xs (€2,499). The actual drawback is what you get, or somewhat don’t get, for the worth.

Questionable {hardware}

We knew in October that the Surface Duo was launching with final yr’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 as an alternative of the Snapdragon 855+ or this yr’s Snapdragon 865 or Snapdragon 865+. Never thoughts that utilizing previous chips persistently dooms flagship launches — Microsoft appears glad to make use of previous chips in what’s clearly meant to be a flagship system:

So, with Surface Duo, we didn’t focus our vitality on the locations the business is already advancing — processors and networks will get sooner, and cameras will get higher with or with out us.

Maybe that’s OK, on condition that the Duo seems to be for enterprise executives. After all, each time Microsoft has teased the system, it’s considered one of its executives doing the photograph op. You may make the case that such a goal market doesn’t look after the newest specs — executives need a system that improves their productiveness, no matter specs.

And but, that is finally meant to switch your cellphone. It must be higher than no matter is at the moment in your pocket. It’s onerous to think about somebody carrying round a Duo and a second smartphone (though I wouldn’t put it previous execs who already carry two telephones).

It’s not simply processing pace and battery life that Microsoft is skipping out on through the use of previous {hardware}. The Duo ships with a single digicam (even Google conceded one smartphone digicam was insufficient). The Duo has no 5G, NFC, or Wi-Fi 6. What’s the purpose of guaranteeing Android updates for three years on {hardware} that’s outdated out of the field?

Questionable worth proposition

Specification missteps apart, Microsoft has not articulated what drawback the Duo is making an attempt to resolve. If you’re going to spend at the least $1,400 on a cellphone, particularly throughout a pandemic-induced recession, it higher supply one thing really distinctive. Microsoft’s pitch boils all the way down to what each different foldable system maker claims — that their newest system isn’t simply one other cellphone:

Today, as we stay up for the subsequent wave of cell productiveness and creativity, we see that very same alternative to create one thing new with Surface Duo — to not reinvent the cellphone, however to encourage individuals to rethink how they need to use the system of their pocket.

And possibly the shortage of a transparent worth proposition is OK should you’re attempting to create a brand new system class. The 35-minute press demo actually appears like Microsoft desires customers to determine that half out. But that itself is a part of one other drawback.

This is the yr we additionally noticed Microsoft completely shut all its bodily retail shops. Furthermore, many service and digital shops are nonetheless closed, particularly within the U.S. the place the Duo is solely being offered. It’s fairly onerous to check out a brand new category-defining system should you can’t maintain it in your fingers. It’s even tougher to do should you can’t even purchase it in your nation. Even Microsoft’s Kin telephones from a decade in the past have been slated to launch exterior the U.S. earlier than Microsoft pulled the plug.

What’s the usage of a category-defining product which you can’t even attempt or purchase?

Questionable timing

None of those missteps on their very own are sufficient to doom a tool. Plenty of category-defining units launched with an eye-watering price ticket or unimpressive specs or in a single nation. But all collectively throughout a recession? It’s not wanting good.

I’m enthusiastic about dual-screen units, possibly much more so than folding single-screen units. But I believe the jury remains to be out on the entire foldables class. Last yr, following the revealing of the Surface Duo and Surface Neo (now delayed until 2021), I wrote:

None of it will essentially pan out. Dual-screen units may flop. Two screens means extra potential productiveness, effectivity, and possibly even some enjoyable video games, positive. But two screens additionally raises questions round thickness, weight, efficiency, value, and battery life. After all, Microsoft has been on the dual-screen journey earlier than with its Courier challenge nearly a decade in the past — which it killed off as a result of the system wasn’t as much as snuff.

It’s nice that this time, Microsoft feels snug sufficient to launch a dual-screen system. And but, if Microsoft postponed the Neo, as an alternative of pushing the Duo out early (it was initially timed for a vacation launch), possibly it ought to have delayed Duo, too. If there’s any yr the place a postponement is forgivable, it’s 2020.

Microsoft may have pushed again the Duo to incorporate the newest chips, a number of cameras, 5G, and Wi-Fi 6, and to make sure some much-needed retail presence. That means, the Duo wouldn’t have been arrange for failure. And the worth tag would have even been simpler to swallow.

Microsoft isn’t doing itself any favors by kneecapping Duo on the beginning block, which I worry could harm its successors, too. The excellent news is that the corporate didn’t flip its Surface line right into a billion-dollar enterprise by falling by the wayside after a single technology. I await the inevitably poorly named Surface Duo 2.

ProBeat is a column wherein Emil rants about no matter crosses him that week.

Most Popular

Recent Comments