Published in Mobiles

Microsoft’s first branded Android phone was a disaster

by on14 September 2023

Worst supported Android phone ever

Software King of the World Microsoft has pulled the plug on what might be the worst-supported Android phone in history.

Vole’s Surface Duo was a disaster by any stretch of the imagination. It was supposed to have a three-year update plan, but that turned out to be two late major OS updates.

The $1,400 device never ran a current version of Android.

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Duo in October 2019 and shipped it in September 2020. It arrived to negative reviews mostly because Android couldn't take advantage of the ultra-fat 4:3 displays, and having two of them didn't help. Typing was tough because there was no split keyboard.

After its release, it suffered from software issues, which made it buggy and after charging Apple sort of prices because it was pretty to look at, the Duo failed to jump over most of its hurdles.

The phone had a $200 price drop a month after its launch, then a 50 per cent price drop to $699, and eventually a 70 per cent collapse to $409. A second version was made, and support for that device ends in October 2024—a third version, at least following this form factor, was abandoned.

What is alarming, though, was Vole’s inability to update Android. The Surface Duo 1 launched in September 2020 with Android 10, which came out in September 2019. The Surface Duo 1 got its first significant update 16 months after launch when Microsoft replaced its two-year-old OS with a year-old OS and finally shipped Android 11 in January 2022. Android 12L arrived on the device in October 2022, at which point 12L was also a year old and Android 13 was shipping.

Microsoft did release some monthly security updates, but that was hardly "three years of updates."  No one would try and pull a stunt like that any more. At its worst, Samsung took six to nine months to update a device. Now, it takes around three months.

The problem might have been caused by the fact that the Surface Duo 1 was never meant to be an Android machine. Vole wanted it to be a Windows device but changed its mind later. It was outsourcing its Android OS development and only brought development in-house (by acquiring the outsourced company) two months before the device's ship date.

Last modified on 14 September 2023
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