September 28, 2020

The Microsoft Surface Duo is due to surface, and more tech news you need to know

Expect the Surface Duo as soon as this week but without NFC it's already an odd 2020 smartphone, plus more tech news today!

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Monday, 10 August 2020.

1. Microsoft Surface Duo soon, and via AT&T too

There are fresh renders of the Microsoft Surface Duo — the dual-screen Android device first announced back on October 2, 2019. The renders are nice and all, but the device is no secret so we’re not peeling back the lid too far on these shots, which include the one below:

  • But renowned leaker Evan Blass’s batch of renders and leaks included detail that the dual-screen Android device will launch with AT&T — more on that shortly.
  • First the device images itself. We’ve already seen it at the time of launch, and via various casual/fun Microsoft people using it in the wild, mostly via images on social media, like this one from Microsoft’s communications chief, Frank Shaw:
  • Shaw was showing off how he makes Kalamata olive bread sticks, with a casual dual-screen Duo in the background. (That sounds delicious too, Frank!)

  • Surface chief Panos Panay also posted a much worse photo, from a camera with a truly bizarre amount of fog, or grime on the lens, or something. It hurts my eyes so click here to see it, but be warned.

Anyway, possibly the bigger news is that AT&T has signed on to release the Surface Duo, which immediately adds relevancy and a sort of minimum viability to the whole deal.

  • Without major carrier support, Microsoft would miss a huge portion of the contract market, and many businesses cater to employees via contract deals and phones.
  • Having the Duo part of that is a big win.
  • The leak comes from AT&T briefly putting up images on the following page, here’s the full URL: https://www.att.com/idpassets/global/devices/phones/microsoft/microsoft-surface-duo/
  • That link now 404s but it existed for long enough to be tracked down and some images to be grabbed off it.

What’s next:

  • It’s now clear that the Surface Duo is right around the corner. An August launch and even release has been whispered for a while now.
  • According to Paul Thurrot, Microsoft MVPs were invited to attend a virtual Surface briefing on August 12. While it’s not known what will come out of it, the stars align for the Duo.
  • We do know it’ll offer two 5.6-inch AMOLED displays, a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB RAM, and up to 256GB storage, with lower-spec variants.
  • It should offer some kind of close tie-in to Microsoft’s software and productivity tools. It’s unclear if anything here will be particularly unique to the device, but Microsoft has hinted at it.
  • There’s also a bumper-case to protect it.
  • It won’t offer 5G support, wireless charging, NFC, or a headphone jack.
  • We don’t know pricing — not even a hint. It’s unlikely to be a huge bargain but I can’t even really guess at a rough price.
  • Not offering 5G, or NFC, and some less ambitious specs should save on hardware costs, but Microsoft is unlikely to offer its first device, a novel dual-screen phone, for a bargain.
  • I’m going to guess the mid-spec device will go for around $750-$800, but that is only guided by rough specs, and that Surface devices are never cheap.
  • I think without NFC alone I don’t have much interest in using it as a daily device, but it’ll be fun to check out and try.

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20: Is it okay to sell a $1,000 plastic phone? (Android Authority).


3. Here’s a controversial one: “The Galaxy Note 20 doesn’t come with headphones and that’s a good thing,� with the argument focusing on environmental benefits (CNET).


4. Huawei admitted its smartphone chips are running out under US sanctions (AP), making the Huawei Mate 40 its last phone with its in-house silicon designs. Can it survive without its custom Kirin chips? (Android Authority).


5. Meanwhile, Qualcomm wants the green light to sell 5G chips to Huawei (Android Authority).


6. Apple analyst says a WeChat ban on iPhones may impact shipments by up to 30%. Big if though: Is the ban going to affect Apple’s global App Stores, or just the US App Store? (MacRumors). Also: Apple takes legal action against a tiny company’s pear logo (iPhone in Canada). And: “How Tim Cook made Apple his own� (WSJ, $).


7. Also: here’s why Apple believes it’s an AI leader—and why it says critics have it all wrong (Ars Technica).


8. Microsoft’s new, cheaper Xbox Series S console confirmed in leaked controller packaging (The Verge).


9. Chinese hackers have pillaged Taiwan’s semiconductor industry (Ars Technica).


10. Toshiba is officially out of the laptop business. It made the first PC laptop back in 1985 (The Verge).


11. The mid-century battle in Japan to invent the automatic rice cooker (Atlas Obscura).


12. That Netflix “ta-dum� soundmark works great for TV, but not for theaters. Netflix commissioned Hans Zimmer to extend it for theaters (only) and, wow, that’s big IMAX energy (Twitter).


13. Lawn chairs and kitchen tables: Ergonomics in the involuntary work-from-home era (Ars Technica).


14. How to stay cool without air conditioning (Wired).


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