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Surface Duo is like if a DS was made out of metal and glass and it ran Android

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is returning to the smartphone market with Surface Duo, a foldable two-screen device that's coming in time for the holidays next year. Microsoft is avoiding calling the device a smartphone, probably to keep a mental distance from its abandoned Windows Phone line, but it can make phone calls. It can even play many of the mobile games you already enjoy, since it runs a Windows-ified version of Android.

The Big Thing about Surface Pro is the fact that it has two 5.6" screens. They're joined by two 360 degree hinges that allow the screens to close together like a clamshell, fold flat like an open book, open with one side up like, well, like a phone, or hold any position in between. Some of the use cases Microsoft demonstrates in the promo video below are spreading your whole home screen across both displays, keeping two different apps open on each screen for reference or multitasking (finally you can text somebody back without interrupting Netflix), or playing a racing game with the controls on the bottom and the main display on the top, DS-style.

The new device will arrive well after Microsoft's game-streaming Project xCloud service opens up this October. Duo's special screen setup could make it the best way to play xCloud games on the go, short of syncing up an actual Xbox controller with your mobile device. That always sounds good, but it's pretty hard to fit those things in your jacket pocket.

Surface Duo will be joined by the Surface Neo, a tablet-sized device with two screens, though the Neo will run the new Windows 10X branch instead of Android (and it probably won't make phone calls either). If you're really into Surface everything, they're even going to start selling some special Bluetooth headphones that sort of look like a stylish white version of Frankenstein neck bolts.

Microsoft's approach with Duo seems more practical than those phones with the screens that actually fold (and actually break, a lot). I do value adaptability in my electronics - I still love my Surface Pro 2017 as both a tablet and as a laptop - but I also like being able to fit my phone in my pocket without looking like I'm trying to smuggle a book out of the library. The version Microsoft showed was just a prototype, so I'll be eager to see what the final product looks like next year.

You'll already have a lot to play when Duo launches - just see our guide to the best Android games for proof.