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Surface Duo 2: Every rumor about Microsoft's new foldable ahead of today's event

The Surface Duo 2 could debut at Microsoft's 2021 Surface event, but will the foldable improve enough for us to recommend it?

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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Sareena Dayaram
4 min read

Microsoft's Surface Duo launched in 2020, and rumor has it the follow-up foldable is coming this week.

Scott Stein/CNET

Update, Sept. 22: Here's everything announced at today's Microsoft Surface event. We got a first look at the new Surface Pro 8, Surface Duo 2, Surface Go 3 and the Surface Laptop Studio (formerly the Surface Book). Here's how the Surface Duo 2 compares to the Surface Duo, some cool camera tricks you can try on the Surface Duo 2, and what we think the Surface Duo needs to succeed. Plus, here's what's new with the Surface Slim Pen 2 and how the Microsoft Surface Adaptive Kit will improve laptop accessibility. Original story follows.

Microsoft's annual Surface event is happening today (here's how to watch the event live), and it's expected to launch a bevy of refreshed hardware products ranging from Surface Pro 8 to the Surface Book and a next-gen version of the Surface Duo. If you remember, the launch of the Surface Duo marked the software giant's reentry into the competitive hardware category.

Last year's Surface Duo was essentially a first-gen experiment -- a phone CNET couldn't recommend buying unless perhaps you were a highly curious individual with deep pockets. The first-gen device took the form of a two-screened Android device (yes, Android) joined together with a hinge that allows it to open up like a book. Microsoft says the two screens are designed for productivity. In reality, the experience was decidedly different, and it left CNET's Scott Stein yearning for his "comfy old phone" back.

Read more: Microsoft Surface Duo vs. its foldable rivals: Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Razr specs compared

So what's in store for Microsoft's 2021 follow-up, the rumored Surface Duo 2? Read on for all the rumors we've heard so far and what we think we'll see at the Microsoft Surface event.

Watch this: What to expect at Microsoft's Surface event

Camera: Surface Duo 2 might get a camera bump

One of the biggest rumored upgrades to the Surface Duo 2 (as we're calling it) is expected to be found on the camera bump. Yes, rumor has it that a camera bump will be present this time around, changing the back of the phone. A Windows Central report points to a rear camera bump with a trio of cameras: a 16-megapixel ultra-wide, 12-megapixel telephoto and 12-megapixel standard, plus a time-of-flight sensor for depth. 

Remember, the original version featured a single 11-megapixel camera on the inside, which can become an external camera if the Duo displays are flipped around. It's exceedingly rare for a flagship phone to feature just one rear camera, and it appears, at least for now, Microsoft has taken note of that.

Processor: Flagship-level chipset expected in the Surface Duo 2

The Windows Central report also believes that the new Duo 2 will incorporate a Snapdragon 888 processor, meaning it'll get a top-of-the-line processor matching the ones built inside this year's Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 and Galaxy S21 Ultra. The original Duo featured a Snapdragon 855, which is a step below the Snapdragon 865, or the flagship-level chipset that powered some of the best Android phones from 2020.

Microsoft Surface Duo
Richard Peterson/CNET

Display: Bigger screens, higher refresh rate

Based on the latest whispers creeping out of the rumor mill, it doesn't look like there'll be a massive design overhaul to grace the next Duo. As I said earlier, the biggest upgrades will likely come to the camera module, but there could be a couple of display tweaks too. According to that Windows Central report, Duo 2 will incorporate dual 5.8-inch screens with a "high refresh rate." Specific refresh rate numbers aren't floating around as far as I've checked, but if this rumor pans out, it should be higher than the 60 Hz panel used on the original Duo. 

Software: Android 11 maybe?

With Android 12's full release just around the corner, I'm hoping the Duo 2 will ship with Android 11, though there's no word yet on whether that'll come to fruition. While the first-gen Duo got a swathe of security updates, it never received Android 11, which is the Google-developed software that ran on pretty much all other flagship phones released last year. Instead, Duo relied on Android 10, but even then the experience was buggy (to put it mildly). CNET's Scott Stein, who got some hands-on time with the device, said the software was plagued with a "persistent lagginess" and that a problem with the screen's orientation threw off the entire experience for him. 

Watch this: Microsoft Surface Duo review: 5 stages of dealing with the Duo

Price: Microsoft is expected to stand pat

There's no word either on the price of Surface Duo 2, but the original launched at $1,400. Given that this iteration is rumored to ship with the latest specs and more features, Windows Central has reported that Microsoft will stand pat on prices, citing unnamed sources. In the weeks leading up to Microsoft's Sept. 22 event, the company had slashed the price of the original model. In early August you could get it for as low as $400 from Woot, and even now you can get it half off the original price directly from Microsoft. All this is a tell-tale indicator that come Wednesday, we could see the Surface Duo 2 make an appearance. 

Check back later this week for everything Microsoft Surface, and in the meantime, here's everything we expect to see at the 2021 Surface event, including a possible overhaul of the Surface Book and a new Surface Pro 8. And here's how to watch the Microsoft Surface event live on Sept. 22. Plus, why Microsoft doesn't consider the Surface Duo a phone?