Microsoft just recovered from their memory lapse that the Surface Duo has not arrived in Germany despite appearing in other countries some time back. This two-way hinged device is set to be released in Germany, but I would classify this as a half-hearted effort that is not only too late, but also too expensive and lack the necessary processing firepower to have it compete with the latest tablet-like devices in the market.
Man, was I excited back when the Surface Duo was announced! I still remember it clearly like it was yesterday - it was October 2019, there was no worry about any pandemic, and Microsoft was showing off some really exciting hardware at its event. The Surface Duo was among them and the device caught my attention right away. It looked really good and offered (back then) value amidst the competition, complete with foldable displays, although such hardware setup has since proven to be vulnerable to damage.
Since then, a whole lot happened, more than anyone could have imagined. There was a rather long lull in between the announcement and the product's actual release. In fact, it took close to a year until the US launch of the Surface Duo finally happened in mid-September 2020, where Microsoft fans could purchase this desirable piece of hardware for $1,399 onwards, depending on the hardware configuration. In the meantime, it is now mid-February and another six months has passed, with the Redmond company having decided to bring the Surface Duo to the German market.
Great concept and technology - for 2019
The highlight of the Surface Duo would naturally be the display, which in this case, spans across two displays that are connected via a 360-degree hinge. This looks great and is an innovative product. The design also aimed to increase one's productivity by assuming that a larger display area equals a higher degree of productivity.
All of the above somewhat still holds true, because as I mentioned earlier, I was a fan right from the very beginning and was convinced that Microsoft was on the right track with this unique piece of hardware. The hardware specifications in the Surface Duo also fit the bill: a late 2018 Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor that kept the device running, alongside 6GB of RAM, a choice of either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage, and of course, the pair of 5.6-inch AMOLED displays. Each of these AMOLED displays deliver a resolution of 1,800 x 1,350 pixels, resulting in an 8.1-inch panel.
Those are powerful specifications - at least they were back when it was 2019. This ends up being a sore point in 2021: Microsoft released the Surface Duo in the US in September last year with the exact same announced specifications revealed a year prior. And now, another half a year has gone by, and the device that hits German shores still houses 2019 specifications. That stinks, Microsoft!
A faux pas is rarely alone
So you guys made a boo-boo - that must be noted at the very least. After all, don't even get me started on the outdated processor, while it is reasonably powerful to run the most basic of tasks today, nor should I start to berate Microsoft about the paltry 6GB of RAM. The list of omissions has since grown much longer: Back in 2019, it was already a dubious decision to install a dual battery with a total capacity of 3,577 mAh.
Forgoing 5G was the right thing to do in 2019 of course, but that is a huge miss in 2021. Not for a conceptual smartphone device, which should, after all, point users toward what is technically feasible for now and the future. In my opinion, it is a silly move to omit the NFC chip on the Surface Duo. Redmond, we have a problem! This problem is known as the Covid-19 pandemic, which virtually guarantees that even cash-loving Germans have finally started to adapt to the paradigm shift of paying for their supermarket purchases with their smartphones. And of all things, this beautiful and design-innovative product doesn't make room for this technology?
Who were the ones behind such decisions, Microsoft? Did you select at random the kind of features that would make it into the final device? I have no further explanation for it. However, that's still not the end of the story, because we're also looking in vain for wireless charging capability on the Surface Duo. All of these add up, making me fume so much that I almost don't give two hoots about the extremely mediocre performance of its single 11MP camera.
And then there's the price...
I can tell I'm really angry. Both angry and disappointed, because I had expected so much from the Surface Duo and also found this path that Microsoft took to be an exciting one. That's what makes it even worse for me when you realize that the decision-makers in Redmond have decided to forgo such potential by not keeping up with the times and being relevant to consumers' needs.
To make sure that no one really wants to buy the Surface Duo, the price has to be right, of course. I say that with a sneer, as I don't think anyone in their right mind would buy it! The price for the smallest capacity model with 128 GB of internal memory is set at €1,550, while those who want double the amount of internal storage space would have to fork out €1,650 for this bad boy in Germany.
In the US, this unique device came with a $1,399 price tag, and saw a price cut recently most notably because of its sales figures, which saw the price drop further to $999 before taxes. Still, the price difference is so big that you have to be foolish to pick it up in Germany.
So, here's a summary of the situation: Microsoft presented a brilliant concept in 2019. The Surface Duo is innovative, looks sexy, combines Microsoft's strengths in a way that made me think that really everyone would become more productive with this device while they are on the move. And then the release hits a snag by taking way too long, not to mention its release in international markets. In the meantime, they fail to update the device to keep up with the times, and neither did they correct any potential complaints by including NFC capability or updating the camera module. To top it all off, it is slapped with a crazy price tag.
This hurts my soul, because I really wanted Microsoft to succeed with the Surface Duo. I can imagine that at least one of you are more than ready to share your opinion about this matter in the comments. I expect someone to explain in length about how this is a new concept to hit the market, and that it is all about the innovation and not about the hardware specifications. Or perhaps they will inform me that a Snapdragon 855 chipset is more than enough to handle apps on a business-minded device.
Sorry, but I am inclined to decline such viewpoints. If I'm going to launch a completely new concept and charge an arm and a leg for it, there is no way I should cut corners just like how Microsoft did, can I? If someone developed a crappy product and no one buys it - I can live without any complaints. But when you launch something that is supposed to be groundbreaking, and then deliver a product that disappoints, it really grates at me.
Do not think of me as a Microsoft hater. On the contrary! I'm not a fanboy, but I'm a loyal user who gets excited about a lot of things that continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, including the visionary solutions that are dreamt up in Redmond. But that's exactly what makes it so difficult for me to understand about the Surface Duo's German release.
Maybe you know something that I don't, and have the inside track of what is Microsoft's long term game plan. If that is the case, do let me know in the comments.