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Microsoft makes a comeback in smartphone business with its new Duo

Microsoft is back to selling smartphones for the first time since it abandoned its mobile business more than four years ago.

Topics
Microsoft | smartphones

AP  |  Washington 



Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

is back to selling for the first time since it abandoned its mobile business more than four years ago.

The company began taking orders Wednesday for the Surface Duo, a new dual-screen Android device that costs USD 1,399 and begins shipping in September.

The high-priced gadget is designed to impress, but is also arriving during the worst economic downturn since the Great

Depression, with unemployment in double digits and budget-wary consumers spending more time at home to avoid the coronavirus pandemic.

is pitching the Duo as a more useful tool than a conventional smartphone, since it enables users to multitask with two separate apps or web pages at a time. CEO Satya Nadella, for instance, uses one screen to take notes and the other to read a book on Amazon's Kindle app.

The Duo has two 5.6-inch displays and, when opened like a book, is a slim 4.8 millimeters thick, making it what the company says is the thinnest device on the market.

engineers say that instead of adopting a single folding screen, as Samsung does, they chose to connect two displays on a hinge because it allows for sturdier glass. It's thin, it's sleek, it's probably one of the sexiest devices we've built, said Panos Panay, Microsoft's chief product officer, during an online briefing Tuesday.

Adding a mobile device to its Surface line of computers is a reversal for Microsoft after its short-lived ownership of smartphone-maker Nokia and its difficulties in transitioning its Windows operating system to the mobile era.

Apple and Google's Android long ago cornered the market on phone operating systems, but Microsoft's rare partnership with Google means Duo comes with a suite of Android apps.

It remains to be seen how many consumers will be willing to pay for Microsoft's pricey innovations in a recession and pandemic. Samsung this summer also unveiled top-of-the-line new Galaxy phones that will cost roughly USD 1,000 to USD 1,300.

But Apple is enjoying success with a far cheaper iPhone in the $400 range that it released in April. Google is also rolling out an inexpensive Pixel phone at nearly $350 that has many of the same features as its more expensive model.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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First Published: Wed, August 12 2020. 21:59 IST

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