Highly anticipated: Microsoft has been out of the smartphone game for quite a while. Since the final Windows Phones left the shelves, the tech giant's focus has shifted toward the development of laptops, tablets, and, of course, software. However, in October of 2019, Microsoft surprised the world with the reveal of its upcoming Android-based smartphone: the Surface Duo. The device isn't set to release until this year's holiday season, but early prototypes are already being spotted in the wild.
While riding the subway, YouTube user Israel Rodriguez noticed the dual-screen device in the hands of a fellow passenger. The individual in question operated the phone for several minutes, seemingly without noticing that they were being filmed -- or perhaps Rodriguez asked permission.
Either way, the clip allows us to get a brief glimpse at how the Duo might function in the real world, without the perfect-world conditions of a major tech conference or reveal event. The Duo user puts the device through its paces, testing it in multiple form factors. They open it up like a book to use it in dual-screen mode, they fold it back so that the touchscreens face away from each other (one facing the user), and they also close it fully.
Though the Duo is clearly still a prototype and runs a bit slow at some points in the video, it's still an impressive and sleek little gadget. When used in book-like form, apps seem to be capable of displaying different information on both screens at once, and they adapt relatively quickly to horizontal or portrait orientation changes.
The Duo is Microsoft's take on the hybrid smartphone concept, and it seems to be just as versatile as some competing devices, like the Galaxy Fold or Huawei Mate X. Granted, it's missing the true folding-display tech they boast, but we're not so sure that's a bad thing. From our perspective, the Surface Duo looks like a considerably more practical phone than the Fold and Mate X, and its distinct design might just let it avoid the durability problems that plague those devices.
Perhaps the Duo will even be a bit cheaper, but at this point, we simply can't say for sure. Microsoft has not revealed the Surface Duo's cost, its exact release date, or any of its technical specifications. However, if the company truly has decided to move forward with semi-public testing (and this video isn't just an elaborate hoax), perhaps some answers will be revealed sooner rather than later.