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The original Surface Duo is now officially dead

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Microsoft no longer supports the original Surface Duo. The company’s first-generation dual-screen smartphone has reached the end of its troubled life, meaning those who stick with this strange device will no longer receive software and firmware updates. Officially, at least.

Microsoft announced the Surface Duo at a special event on October 2, 2019, alongside another device, the Surface Neo. Unlike the larger Neo and the now-dead Windows 10X operating system, the Surface Duo was powered by Android 10, making it the only non-Windows-based Surface device.

Of course, it’s not software that made the Surface Duo special in a good way. The smartphone featured an incredibly thin case with sturdy hinges, fantastic build quality and two large OLED displays. Interestingly, it was so thin that the USB-C port could barely fit, which eventually led to reports about the plastic material around it.

Inside the 5mm thick case, you’ll find a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128 or 256GB of storage and a split 3,577 mAh battery. The smartphone had a single 11MP front-facing camera with LED flash, which was unanimously declared as one of the worst cameras on modern smartphones in its price range This ($1,400 and up) What you couldn’t find inside the Surface Duo was 5G and NFC support, which contributed to the lukewarm reception.

As it turned out later, the lack of 5G and NFC weren’t the smartphone’s biggest problems. To begin with, Microsoft launched the Surface Duo nearly a year after the initial announcement, giving customers well-built and bug-ridden hardware. The situation has improved slightly over time, and Microsoft has even released two Android upgrades, with Android 12L being the final official release. Still, Duo’s monthly firmware updates have often been slow, delivering disappointing updates that only contain security patches for Android.

Image of the first generation Surface Duo with Windows 11

Although you could hardly offer the Surface Duo to a regular consumer (even with some incredibly steep discounts), the smartphone became a great toy for hobbyists. The WOA project makes it possible to replace Android with Windows 11, with most parts of the device working properly. There is also an unofficial port of “clean” Android 13 for those who prefer a mobile operating system on a mobile device.

The first generation Surface Duo was a crude attempt to disrupt the mobile market with something fresh and unconventional after the end of Windows Phone (gone but not forgotten). In 2021, the second-generation Surface Duo tried to improve on the formula with faster OLED displays, a better chassis, vastly improved cameras, more powerful hardware, and more. However, the software aspect remains lackluster at best.

Image of several Surface Duo 2 smartphones in various locations

Four years after the initial announcement, the smartphone pair is almost impossible to find (get it?). Rumor has it that Microsoft is no longer making the Surface Duo 2. Moreover, customers shouldn’t hold their breath for more platform upgrades — according to a recent report, Microsoft has moved most of the Duo team to other projects, and there are no plans to upgrade the smartphone to Android 13 or 14. The company will stop supporting SUrface Duo 2 on October 21, 2024.

The original Surface Duo is now history. It was a great idea and a nice experience. Too bad it didn’t work out.

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