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Microsoft announces a new folding phone, tablet, and more at its big Surface event

The tech giant is announcing updates to its Surface line of laptops and tablets.

Microsoft announces a new folding phone, tablet, and more at its big Surface event
[Screenshot: Youtube]

At an event in New York Wednesday, Microsoft announced updates to its Surface line of laptops and tablets, which first launched seven years ago.

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“Today we’ll share the next chapter of this journey,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as the event kicked off. “If the last decade of personal computing was focused on consumption—more browsing, shopping, binge-watching, that’s all fantastic—we believe the next decade will be about creation and amplifying what we can do as humans.”

Here’s everything that Microsoft has announced so far.

Microsoft Surface Neo

This brand new device, which will only be on sale for the next holiday season, is reminiscent of the company’s fabled scrapped project Courier. It’s a folding tablet, with two screens that can be rearranged in myriad ways. It can function as a single tablet, a dual-screen tablet, a single-screen laptop, or even a double-screen laptop. The Surface pen will attach magnetically to the back, where it will charge where not in use. The keyboard also magnetically seals to the back of the Neo and can flip around when you’re ready to use it. Neo is coming in 2020, and there’s no price tag yet.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Microsoft has also created a small version of the Neo, called Duo. It’s a foldable phone, essentially, that can adapt to many of the same postures as the Neo (sans keyboard). It’s an Android phone that will be coming in late 2020 so that developers can work with Microsoft and Android to create applications for two screens. Unlike other companies that have tried to develop screens that actually fold, both Duo and Neo have a simple hinge, strung together using tiny wires thinner than a human hair.

Windows 10 X

Designed for dual-screen devices like the Neo, this new operating system helps you cross-reference and multitask with an applications on each screen. You can drag a single application across two screens, and the software automatically adjusts to optimize the layout of the application. When you click a link, it launches on a second screen. If you want to send a longer reply or edit a document, the keyboard flips around and the operating system automatically recognizes it, putting all your applications on one screen and creating a “wonderbar” above the keyboard that can act as a track pad, an emoji library, or even a place for you to continue watching Netflix while you answer emails on your main screen.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

This laptop, which comes in machined aluminum finish, is the third in Microsoft’s Surface line. At 15 inches and 13.5 inches, it also has an larger trackpad. It charges quickly, with 80% battery life in under an hour (which is similar to the pace that you phone probably charges at). Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay claims that the device’s Intel chip makes it two times faster than Surface Laptop 2—and three times faster than a MacBook Air. But perhaps the most interesting part is that it has a removable hard drive. “Being able to repair and service [the] product without impacting any of the beauty and elegance is critical,” Panay says. The laptop starts at $999 for the 13.5 inch, and $1,199 for the 15 inch. Pre-order is available now, and the laptops will be in stores starting October 22.

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Microsoft Surface Earbuds

Microsoft’s answer to AirPods is here. Its Surface Earbuds have a dual direction microphone array, with 24 battery life. But intriguingly, it also uses the piece of the earbud that pops out of your ear as a new interface, where you can swipe and tap to answer phone calls or play music. It also integrates with Microsoft Office, so it can create captions for Powerpoint presentations in real time, as well as translate those captions into 60+ langauges. They will be available later this year starting at $249.

Microsoft Surface Pro X

This is the company’s new flagship two-in-one device, which moves between a tablet and a computer. It’s a 12-inch device, with what Microsoft claims are the thinnest bezels on any two-in-one device. It features a much-requested USB-C port, fast charging, and only weighs 1.68 pounds. It also has a small storage space for the Surface Pen, which constantly recharges the pen. The Surface Pro X has a built in AI engine, which can do things like adjust video chats in real time so that it looks like the person you’re chatting with is making eye-contact with you (even if they’re really staring at themselves). Like the new Surface Laptop 3, the Pro X also has a removable hard drive, which would allow users to upgrade their storage. The Pro X will start at $999 and will be available starting November 5th (pre-orders are open now). The company has also launched a lower-end Surface Pro 7 for $749 that’s more similar to its previous generations.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is the deputy editor of Fast Company's technology section. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and follow her on Twitter @kschwabable

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