This week at their annual press conference, Microsoft unveiled a wide variety of devices for its customers. Unsurprisingly the company showed off its latest laptops and tablets, which, as you would expect, are running the latest versions of Windows. In a surprise move, however, Microsoft announced it is launching a new phone during the holiday season of 2020. This phone is going to be a new type of dual-screen foldable device Called the Microsoft Duo. What’s more surprising that Microsoft launching a new phone? Well, this phone won’t run a mobile version of Windows. (Microsofts own OS) The Duo will run Android OS.
This isn’t Microsoft’s first attempt to capture a portion of the smartphone market. Their brand of Windows phones was a commercial failure. This failure was due in part to the companies inability to convince developers to make apps for their mobile version of Windows.
This time Microsoft has a different strategy. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, said “the company needs to meet customers where they are. The predominant operating system for smartphone users is Android, and it makes more sense for Microsoft to utilize this Open source platform for their devices.
Microsoft does have the advantage of utilizing the world’s most used Operating system. Microsoft, however, has to contend with other Android phone manufacturers who are well established and have a proven track record of producing high-quality phones with innovative designs. The design of the Microsoft Duo, in my opinion, already looks dated. Though its dual-screen design isn’t widespread, it’s very thick bezels leave much to be desired. The design of the Microsoft Duo might have customers thinking the device is obsolete upon arrival.
Even though the Duo will use Android OS, Microsoft still needs developers to update their apps to utilize the dual-screen setup in innovative ways. Microsoft announced this phone so early for that very reason, so developers can start thinking of ways to bring their apps to the Duo. As the Duo is still in development, it will likely be midway through 2020 before we get more information like specs and camera information.
As the release date for the Samsung Galaxy Fold loomed, review units were being shipped to various media outlets for testing. Journalist, YouTubers, and other reviewers were anxious to get their hands on Samsung’s new and nearly $2000 phone. Though many were excited about the Fold’s impending release, others had their suspicions that the hardware had its vulnerabilities.
The Folding Screen
First, let’s discuss the display of the Galaxy Fold. As its name implies, the display on this phone can fold in various orientations. To accomplish this Samsung couldn’t use a traditional glass display especially the extremely hard and scratch resistant forms of Gorilla glass. Instead, the Fold uses a very flexible plastic display. Plastic is a highly versatile material, it is highly shock absorbent, can flex considerably without breaking, and it doesn’t shatter when dropped. Plastic is however incredibly soft. Its softness makes the material naturally prone to scratches and dings on its surface. As you can imagine this is not an ideal material for displays intended for constant and everyday use, but Samsung did so anyway.
The hinge of the Galaxy Fold sort-of functions like the spine of a book. However, unlike a book, there are gaps on both sides of that “spine.” These gaps can allow dirt and debris in and wedge themselves between the fragile display. While testing and an official response from Samsung is needed to understand why displays were failing adequately, it is widely believed debris was the cause.
Due to the number of review units failing and undeniable need to conduct further stress testing, Samsung has indefinitely delayed the release of the Galaxy Fold. Samsung said in a statement that they were going to investigate what exactly was breaking their units and are going to reinforce the screens. When the Galaxy Fold is eventually released, it will likely have undergone some hardware revisions and might mechanically function differently. Samsung needs to be commended on taking the appropriate action and not selling a defective product. However, Samsung also needs to be condemned for attempting to rush a product to market. Make no mistake, though the Galaxy fold has been in development for years, the “finished product” was still a prototype, and Samsung knew it would fail at some point.