Surface Duo to launch sooner but will miss out on latest specs

Although probably not as intense as foldable devices, dual-screen phones and computers have also garnered no small amount of interest. And while it is totally late to the party compared to LG, Microsoft is getting quite a lot of attention for its Surface Duo and Surface Neo dual-screen devices. These aren't expected to launch until later this year but it seems that Redmond wants to push the launch date earlier for the Surface Duo, which, unfortunately, means it could come with slightly dated specs.

By "slightly dated", we really just mean 2019 hardware. In the computer world, that's not always a bad thing but the fast-paced mobile market does look at even year-old components unfavorably. Still, all things considered, a phone with a 2019 Snapdragon 855 will still do well in 2020 in terms of performance but may miss out on one key feature.

The Snapdragon 855 is 5G-capable but OEMs have to opt into adding Snapdragon's partner 5G modem to the package. In contrast, the Snapdragon 865 already comes with that modem though some manufacturers still manage to disable that for various reasons. All this means is that the Surface Duo, which may launch as early as Spring according to Windows Central, has a high chance of not getting 5G support.

On the one hand, this could be a marketing disaster at a time when high-end phones left and right are supporting 5G out of the box, regardless of whether 5G is widely available or not. For such a futuristic phone, the Surface Duo might sound outdated in that regard. On the other hand, the early units will most likely be targeted at developers and very early adopters who might be more concerned about developing apps rather than fretting over the absence of 5G.

That's not to say the Surface Duo will be a performance underdog and it will actually be almost on par with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip in terms of core specs. That will hopefully be more than enough to power the new kinds of experiences that Microsoft is promising, presuming its custom overlay is really ready for prime time by April.