When it comes to the best foldable phones, the Microsoft Surface Duo rarely forms part of the conversation. Maybe that's because its spec sheet can't quite compete with top-tier handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4. Maybe it's because the Microsoft branding still echoes the fallen Windows Phone. Or, maybe it's because the dual-screen design of the Surface isn't a true folding screen design.
The most likely answer is a bit of all three. But at least one of those looks set to change, as reports suggest that the Surface Duo 3 will do away with the dual-screen design, in favour of something more familiar to foldable phone fans.
The report from Windows Central suggests that the next generation will have a more traditional look, with a folding internal screen that pivots on a 180° hinge, and an external cover display, for use when folded. What's more, it seems to have been a last-minute change.
The report says that a Surface Duo 3 design in the traditional arrangement had already been finalised, and was set to ship at the end of 2023. That model was rumoured to feature a host of improvements, such as wireless charging and edge-to-edge displays.
With that plan scrapped, the Surface Duo 3 sits on an indefinite timeline, though we can safely assume that the original late 2023 release has gone out the window. Very little is known about what features the device will have, other than the screen layout mentioned above.
Personally, I think this is a poor decision from Microsoft. The Surface Duo was kooky, but that's not a bad thing. Many consumers don't have faith in a folding screen, and the dual-panel setup used on the Surface seems like a great compromise to ease wary users into the foldable phone world.
What's more, the Surface Duo never really stood a chance thanks to its lacklustre spec sheet. Using outdated processors and mundane cameras left it behind the pack before it had even left the starting gate. Of course sales figures and reviews aren't great. Pack the Surface Duo 2 with a more competent camera array and the latest Snapdragon chipset and things would probably look a lot different.
But instead, Microsoft are going back to the drawing board, sketching out another Galaxy Fold-alike, and looking to break into the market that way. Will it work? It's too soon to say, but my gut says no.