After three years after its launch on September 10, Microsoft has concluded support for its original Surface Duo. This means:
- Microsoft will not provide any new OS updates or security patches.
- Android 12L remains the last official OS version the Surface Duo will receive.
- The device only got two significant OS updates, falling short of the industry’s standard three for high-end flagship Android devices.
As the company had forewarned, it committed to supporting the Surface Duo with OS updates for three years. The timeline has now lapsed, and as of September 10, 2023, the device is officially unsupported.
Surface Duo: A Retrospective Look
Microsoft’s entry into the realm of Android phones with the Surface Duo garnered mixed reviews. The dual-screened approach, though not a genuine foldable, brought several notable benefits:
- It folded completely, unlike some of its foldable competitors.
- The internal display was more durable and not plastic.
- It achieved multitasking feats that no other foldable at the time could match.
However, despite the innovations, the Surface Duo had its shortcomings, including:
- Poor camera quality.
- A buggy operating system.
- Limited developer support.
- A fragile USB-C port is prone to damage.
Starting with a custom version of Android 10, the Surface Duo eventually made its way to Android 12L. But when compared to other premium smartphones, which often receive at least three OS updates, the Surface Duo lagged.
Concerns for Current Users
For those still using the Surface Duo:
- Applications will continue receiving updates.
- Users are advised to be cautious due to the lack of future security patches.
- The homebrew software community has shown interest, with developers trying to run Android 13, Windows 10X, and Windows 11 on the device.
- Support for third-party ROMs means enthusiasts might install custom versions of Android 13/14.
What’s Next for Surface Duo 2?
The Surface Duo has a successor: the Surface Duo 2. The follow-up:
- Will be supported by Microsoft until October 21, 2024.
- Has only received one major Android OS update, needing at least two more to align with other Android device manufacturers.
Despite being an advancement from its predecessor, the Surface Duo 2 has received a somewhat muted response from the market. There’s speculation about the next version of the Surface Duo adopting a genuine foldable design, but official details from Microsoft remain undisclosed.
Legacy of the Surface Duo
The Surface Duo, despite its challenges, leaves behind a legacy of pushing boundaries and reimagining how smartphones could operate in a multi-tasking world. It wasn’t just a device; it was a statement, indicating that the future of smartphones might look different from the glass slabs we’ve grown accustomed to.
Setting New Standards
While other manufacturers focused on making screens bigger or cameras sharper, Microsoft ventured into a world of dual screens, setting the stage for multitasking in ways previously unimagined. This audacious move set new benchmarks for what a modern mobile device could offer in terms of productivity and user experience.
Challenges as Stepping Stones
Every new innovation brings its share of challenges, and the Surface Duo was no exception. Its fragile USB-C port and initial software bugs underscored the complexities of introducing a novel design into the highly competitive smartphone market. However, these challenges offer crucial lessons. Microsoft’s experiences with the Surface Duo’s limitations will inevitably guide the refinement of its subsequent devices, ensuring that the same mistakes aren’t repeated.
The journey of the original Surface Duo, from its inception in October 2019 to its termination of support in 2023, has been a roller-coaster. While it showcased innovative hardware and a fresh take on dual-screen Android phones, it faced challenges that prevented it from maximizing its potential. As users anticipate what Microsoft has in store with its subsequent versions, the Surface Duo serves as a testament to the company’s drive to innovate and challenge the norms of smartphone design.