Microsoft has turned the Surface Duo into a handheld Xbox

Xbox games on the Surface Duo.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge
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Microsoft teased the potential for an Xbox handheld-like experience with the Surface Duo during its unveiling nearly two years ago, and it’s finally appearing today. Microsoft is updating its Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) app for Android, and it includes dual-screen support for the Surface Duo.

The app update allows Surface Duo owners to use a virtual gamepad on one screen of their device and games on the other. It makes the Surface Duo look more like a Nintendo 3DS than a mobile phone, with touch controls for a variety of games.

Microsoft has been steadily adding Xbox Touch Controls to more than 50 games in recent months, including titles like Sea of Thieves, Gears 5, and Minecraft Dungeons. The full list of touch-compatible games is available here, and you can of course just use a regular Bluetooth or Xbox controller to stream games to the Surface Duo.

The benefits of a dual-screen device for this type of mobile experience are obvious. You no longer have touch controls over the top of the game, and your thumbs don’t get in the way of seeing important action on-screen. If dual-screen or foldable devices ever catch on, this is a far superior way to play Xbox games without a dedicated controller.

Microsoft has also tweaked the rest of the Xbox Cloud Gaming to work better on the Surface Duo. Improvements include making it easier to view content, move through menus, and the addition of columned layouts. The updated app is available now in Google Play Store.


If anything would ever get me to buy this device, it’s certainly this. Not as nice for gaming as a dedicated device like a Switch, but it’s certainly better than using iPhone for remote Xbox play.

I tried using my iPhone for xbox remote play yesterday for the first time to play Mass Effect Legendary Edition and was really impressed with everything except it kept crashing / losing connectivity.

It’s possible my mesh wifi was connecting my phone to a too distant puck and ensuring I’m on the right one could solve the issue because our Google Fiber should be more than enough so more testing is needed.

Even at the recent sale price of $599…that remains too steep to use as a dedicated or secondary gaming only device.

You’re right, that’s well outside impulse buy territory. So maybe an iPad or iPhone with a real gaming controller is still the better way to go for the remote play use case then.

Emulators also can use the dual screen so it’s like owning a 3ds. Here’s me playing a 3ds game

Xcloud with game pass is really future of gaming. Love this

Damn and to think I already wanted this phone before this. It’s still way too expensive though.

Looks like they’re $769 on Amazon right now, if you’re interested.

Way more reasonable than the original $1,400, at least.

Yeah I’ve heard about that price drop but as far as I know it has yet to happen in the euro zone. Where I live that phone is still 1500€, even refurbished. And even at $800 it would now still be relatively expensive for its specs. I would probably buy one if it got a spec bump and a ~$1000 price tag. Thank you for your reply though

This is dope… hopefully Microsoft is hard at work on a Surface Duo 2 and they correct all the mistakes made with the first iteration.

Also, bring down the price on the next one.

It’s still going to be a 1k device once they adjust the bezels, snap on cases (bumpers are okay, but don’t add a lot of durability), and bump the camera to flagship expectations. For a first gen it’s a solid device to hold, just not at such a launch price point.

if it’s 1k that’s fine. 1.4k however was too much.

Ahh, touchscreen controls on a device as thick as a ritz cracker. Step aside DualSense, the real pinnacle of gaming controllers has arrived.

Even the 3DS was too small for comfort without getting a grip add-on. So if I’m going to game with a device like this that will require a grip add-on, then I’ll just get grip add-ons that actually come with physical buttons, like in the link below. It’ll certainly be cheaper to get a different phone and grips.

Microsoft should take the step with a new phone later on that includes the possibility of connecting a physical controller to the sides (like a Switch), to improve this experience further. Or maybe create a Xbox controller accessory that fits most phones (maybe even iPhones as well?).

But it’s still touchscreen controls rather than real buttons, so it still sucks just as much.

Except your fingers aren’t covering the game your playing. Also, you can use an Xbox controller w/ phone mount if you want anyways

I’d hate to play any "serious" games with a touch screen. I can’t imagine being able to keep up on something like Call of Duty. I wish we’d get a real gaming phone again like the N-Gage or Xperia Play.

Congratulations, you’re the first human to say they want a new N-Gage!

Well, there is an actual touch optimized call of duty with over hundred million downloads…. So demand is definitely there.

Im thinking it would work pretty well with things like Diablo Immortal. While its a shadow of its older siblings, it would still be a great time!

looks like torture.

I hate touch controls.

Genuinely wish Microsoft would bring the server/client aspect of this to Windows such that someone could stream their PC game collection in a similar manner. I think an Azure based version would be stupid expensive as a user (Shadow exists, but they ran into financial issues so I think they may’ve priced the service too low), but Windows acting as server would be perfect.

Even if they didn’t go full on app with it, at least APIs for streaming apps in such a manner would be nice and then people could develop their own app leveraging them.

Check out Rainway! They built the tech that powers the Xbox game streaming on some devices (I think iOS?). You run a program on your Windows computer, and you can stream the games on it to anything with a browser. There’s also apps for some platforms which gives a bit better experience over using a browser.

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