Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is primarily a software and cloud computing company, but the technology giant continues to play its hand in hardware as well. On Wednesday, it unveiled a new lineup of Surface-branded devices, including some refreshed hardware and a few entirely new products.
The event featured a total of six new Surface products, four of which will be launched this holiday season. Two will arrive toward the end of next year.
Microsoft’s new products include:
- Surface Laptop 3: a new laptop, available in 13.5-inch ($999) and 15-inch ($1,199) sizes.
- Surface Pro 7 ($749): the latest iteration of its two-in-one device lineup with greater processing power and other internal upgrades.
- Surface Pro X ($999): a thinner and lighter version of the Surface Pro 7 with narrower bezels and a rechargeable Surface Pen that can be docked on the keyboard.
- Surface Earbuds ($249): Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) AirPod-like earbuds with touch and voice controls.
- Surface Neo: an all-new, foldable dual-screen device with a removable keyboard and Surface Pen support.
- Surface Duo: a surprise announcement of a new dual-screen smartphone, built on Alphabet‘s (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Android operating system.
The Surface Laptop 3, Surface Pro 7, Surface Pro X, and Surface Earbuds are available for pre-order today in select markets and will debut this holiday season. But the products that will be available next year — the all-new Surface Neo and Duo — were the most surprising announcements on Wednesday.
Here’s a closer look at both devices.
The Surface Neo and Surface Duo represent Microsoft’s bet on a new category of dual-screen devices. With two foldable screens, “Neo and Surface Duo are optimized for the way we naturally multi-task, helping people get more done on the go,” Microsoft said in a press release. (No prices were announced for either.)
Microsoft has big ambitions with the Neo, which product chief Panos Panay called “the next category” during the product launch event.
The device’s two displays can work together or independently of each other. In addition, there’s a keyboard that attaches to the device magnetically. When the foldable device is open, users have a full 13-inch display.
Another version of Microsoft’s vision for a dual-screen device is its new Surface Duo. It’s the company’s first attempt at a smartphone since it shut down its Windows Phone business. Learning from its mistake of trying to compete in mobile operating systems against juggernauts Apple and Alphabet, the company created a new phone that runs on Alphabet’s Android operating system.
“Surface Duo brings together the best of Microsoft productivity experiences, Android apps and Surface hardware design into a single device you can take anywhere,” the company said. “And, yes, it makes phone calls.”
The Surface Duo features two thin 5.6-inch screens.
Perhaps by giving its users access to the Android app store, Microsoft will have a shot at capturing meaningful market share in the smartphone business this time around. But investors shouldn’t count on it. The smartphone business is extremely competitive. Apple recently released its own new smartphones, and Alphabet will likely announce new Pixel-branded smartphones during its Oct. 15 Made by Google event.