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Microsoft Surface Duo hands-on preview — here's what we think so far

Microsoft Surface Duo
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Microsoft's dual-screen Surface Duo is nearly here. Although the device doesn't go on sale until September 10, we've been fortunate enough to receive our phone today, and can share some pictures and video of the device's exterior as well as the unboxing experience.

The Surface Duo is unlike any phone I've held in recent memory. While it's folded up, you have the temptation to hold the device like a traditional candybar-style phone, though it's not really intended for that. In this configuration it's very wide, but not as heavy as you might expect.

Unfold the Surface Duo, with the two 5.6-inch AMOLED panels outstretched before you, and the device takes the form of a small tablet, with an impossibly slender frame, connected by a very sturdy hinge. Microsoft says it spent a lot of time and care ensuring the Surface Duo is perfectly balanced on both sides, and it certainly feels that way.

Interestingly, the hinge doesn't click into place when both panels are approaching a flat position. It can stop at any point, but there are no notches in the hinge's design, which is unusual compared to any hinged device I've ever used.

Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I was also surprised to find how softly the Surface Duo closes. The muffled clap you typically hear when closing up a device like this, when the two slabs of glass meet each other, is near silent on Microsoft's phone. I'm not exactly sure how Microsoft was able to achieve this, as there doesn't appear to be any rubber stopper or cushion present around the perimeter of the chassis.

Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Overall, the build quality of the Surface Duo feels excellent, just as you'd expect from a Surface-branded product. The gleaming, gunmetal chrome double-barreled hinge looks especially sharp, and plays off against the glossy white exterior and soft matte gray frame very nicely. The side-mounted power key and volume rocker look and feel great. This is an understated elegance that pays off.

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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In the box, Microsoft provides a silicone bumper which, just like the Surface Duo itself, is pretty unique. This bumper is divided into two parts, and actually sports an adhesive on the inside to stay on the sides of the phone. You have to peel the backing off the inner part of the bumper before you slide it on, which I haven't attempted yet.

As it stands, that's about all we can share on the Surface Duo thus far. Closer to release, you can look forward to our full review and impressions of the device's software, performance, battery life, camera quality and so on. Indeed, September 10 can't come soon enough.