9 critical questions about Microsoft’s first Android phone

9 critical questions about Microsoft’s first Android phone

Well, gang, it’s finally happened: Hell has officially frozen over.

Didja hear about this? Microsoft, the company announced last week, is making its own Android phone. Let me rephrase that: Microsoft, the once-mortal-nemesis of Google, is building a phone running Google’s operating system. Microsoft, the tech giant that tried and failed to claim its piece of the mobile ecosystem pie with Windows Mobile, is now staking its mobile future entirely on its competitor’s platform.

Man. What a world we live in.

Now, to be fair, Microsoft’s basically been building its own ecosystem within Android for a while already: After years of providing only sparse, subpar versions of its programs for Android, the MS crew started taking Android seriously a few years back. And boy howdy, was that one heck of a shift.

Nowadays, Microsoft maintains a sprawling suite of commendable Android apps — everything from its own custom-made home screen launcher to a popular third-party keyboard it snatched up and then slowly but surely started to, uh, Microsoft-ify. At this point, all it takes is a handful of downloads and a teensy bit of planning to create a complete Microsoft experience within any Android phone.

But that’s the catch: The phone isn’t Microsoft’s — and that means the hardware and the core software experience remain outside of Microsoft’s control. With the newly announced Surface Duo, the company seems determined to take things up a notch and correct that small but significant limitation.

And the craziest part of all? The Surface Duo (which Microsoft insists shouldn’t be categorized as a “phone,” but, I mean, c’mon) isn’t just your run-of-the-mill rectangular Android device. It sports two side-by-side screens that are connected by a thin hinge and able to fold 180 degrees in either direction. It’s a pretty bold gamble for Microsoft to make — one that could either pay off enormously or cause the company to fall flat on its face once more.

Since the Duo isn’t expected to ship until next year’s holiday season, we’re left with some pretty big questions about how exactly it’ll work and what sort of value it will (or won’t) provide. Specifically, as I’ve been chewing over the news and letting it marinate over these past several days, I’ve found myself coming back to the same set of burning questions — the answers to which could collectively determine the fate of both the phone itself and its greater impact on Android.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.


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