In the latest gamble to take on Apple and Samsung, Microsoft is taking on the market with Surface Duo
With the foldable Surface Duo smartphone, Microsoft is once again attempting to gain a foothold in the multibillion-dollar smartphone market
The Surface Duo was announced at an event in New York City on Wednesday alongside the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro 7, as well as a dual-screen foldable tablet called the Surface Neo.
It is Microsoft's first phone in more than three years, and comes after previous ventures failed to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, reports The Independent.
A brand new operating system, Windows 10X, was also announced. It is designed to work with dual-screen devices.
However, unusually for Microsoft, it has used a rival's software for the Surface Duo phone, in the form of Google's Android mobile operating system.
“This product brings together the absolute best of Microsoft, and we’re partnering with Google to bring the absolute best of Android in one product,” said Microsoft product chief Panos Panay. “This is industry-pushing technology.”
The Duo will feature two 5.6inch displays that fold out to form an 8.3inch device.
Microsoft has said its release date will come in time for "Holiday 2020", so consumers will have to wait at least a year to try the Surface Duo for themselves.
Microsoft had to redesign its operating system to fit its new foldable tablet, but will not be used for the Surface Duo.
Folding phones will represent the next great market opportunity within the smartphone industry, Microsoft is betting, though it is a relatively new and untested category.
By the time the Surface Duo launches it will face competition from the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, as well as other folding smartphones set to be released by other manufacturers over the next year.
Industry analysts said it was too soon to see if this gamble will pay off but called it a bold statement in an already over-crowded market.
“Microsoft is making a play for the mass market of devices,” JP Gownder, principal analyst at technology insight firm Forrester, told The Independent.
“The success of these new devices will fully depend on the availability of software to light up experiences that make the form factors more than just pretty premium hardware.
“The pay-off could be big if the user experience and developer ecosystem come together - we will need to wait and see.”