This Is What The Mid-Range Surface Duo 2 Lite Could Have Been

Although Samsung probably has the lion's share of the market when it comes to foldable phones, the Galaxy Z isn't the only shape-shifting product line in town — in fact, that version of the foldable form factor may not be ideal in all usage scenarios. Microsoft has a different vision of a phone that folds, one that involves two screens instead of a single flexible display. The Microsoft Surface Duo represents a completely different form factor rather than Galaxy Z models, delivering a one-of-a-kind dual-screen Android experience. But just like with the Galaxy Z Fold, the price tag has been a major hindrance to the wider adoption of the Surface Duo. It seems Microsoft may have anticipated that reality and created a more affordable Surface Duo model that was canceled and kept secret until now.

The Surface Duo's design changes the narrative around the idea of a foldable phone. Rather than being a phone that changes into a tablet and vice versa, it offered an Android experience that involved a second screen in a manner similar to how some computer setups feature a second monitor. While the design was mostly sound, the execution was questionable. To its credit, Microsoft continues to address many of the software problems that plague its devices, making them more attractive months after their release.

That said, the Surface Duo and especially the Surface Duo 2 were expensive on launch day with starting prices of $1,399.99 and $1,499, respectively. You could, of course, wait months later for prices to drop (as they eventually did), but there's no assurance that will always happen. It would have been better if Microsoft had launched a mid-range version of the device with a more accessible price tag from the get-go, and apparently, it almost did.

Surface Duo Go makes a surprise appearance

Windows Central reports that a now-deleted (previously archived) eBay listing revealed a canceled Microsoft device codenamed Cronos. After some sleuthing, it was revealed to be a mid-range Surface Duo that was reportedly axed in late 2021, but not before it reached a state that seemed nearly ready for production. According to the eBay listing, the "lite" version of the Surface Duo is almost like a Surface Duo 1.5 — it had a similar design to the first Surface Duo with completely flat screens and no glance bar on the spine. The unreleased variant also had a plastic exterior and carried a mid-range Snapdragon, probably from the 600 series. 

That said, it also sports what looks like a dual camera setup similar to that of the Surface Duo 2. Unfortunately, there were no other details available, including the target price for this device. Microsoft allegedly canceled Cronos to focus on developing the Surface Duo 3, which isn't expected until 2023. That suggests there will be no Surface Duo device this year, and the current flagship will be getting long in the tooth by the time its successor arrives. 

There is still a chance, however, that Microsoft will eventually push through with a mid-range Surface Duo, which could be called the Surface Duo Go in line with its Surface branding. The company is possibly just waiting for the pieces to fall in place, like cheaper materials and assemblies, before making its next move.