Today, Microsoft previewed their re-entry into the mobile computing space by revealing the Microsoft Surface Duo, a dual screen smartphone that runs a Microsoft-skinned version of Android. The device was revealed after the unveiling of the Microsoft Surface Neo, a spiritual successor to the Microsoft Courier concept long revered by tech industry enthusiasts. The Surface Duo, originally rumored & rendered in nearly dead-on detail as the device code-named Andromeda, has also been previewed a year early by Microsoft in order to garner support from developers & to build up anticipation in a very busy consumer electronics market which has been lacking creative, ambitious innovation.
I’m sure I will write more about the Duo & its older sibling in the future, but for now, I want to address one very important thing that I observed from today’s Microsoft event: the Surface Neo camera. Cameras have become a vital measuring stick for mobile devices in recent years, with Apple, Google, Samsung, LG, OnePlus, and a host of other Android manufacturers all vying to have the best pocket-able camera experience in both hardware and software.
If you watched the Microsoft unveil carefully, you likely noticed there was no visible camera on the “back” of the device. The back of the device can technically be all four plains that exist on the hinged device, but only one was revealed to have had a camera: the right-side screen. The right-side screen of the Surface Duo, curiously also home to what appears to be phone call ready speaker grill, also had a clear, defined camera. In the animation showing the internals of the Intel-powered mobile device, the camera mount & hole can clearly be seen to the right of said speaker grill. Curiously, the area is rather large, along with the aperture of the camera. Much bigger than any normal forward-facing selfie/video chat camera.
My theory? That is truly a fully-featured camera that would be found facing outward on a traditional camera, complete with optical image stabilization & competition ready specs to possibly record 4K and take competitive pictures from a single sensor. Something Google proved is possible through the marriage of powerful hardware and well-defined software. Just look at the mounting area & surrounding electronics in the video (around the 1:21 mark), that looks like OIS to me. You could go from taking a selfie or video chatting to taking a picture or showing your surrounding just by flipping the device over or closing the hinge, screens out.
What do you think? Is Microsoft ready to re-enter the mobile hardware fray? Let me know on Twitter at @ghost_reiter!