Microsoft Surface Duo hopes to be something unique from any other gadget. It could be mistaken for either a phone or a small tablet, but it’s both more and less than those things. There’s nothing the Surface Duo can do that can’t be done on your smartphone or tablet. Besides, your smartphone certainly takes better photos, and your tablet doesn’t have a significant gap in the middle. But the remarkable thing about the Surface Duo is that the way you do things is unique. Microsoft Surface Duo’s starting price is $1,399. Well, based on its capabilities relative to other phones, it is certainly not worth that price.
Microsoft Surface Duo Features
Undoubtedly, the Microsoft Surface Duo is not the first dual-screen smartphone, but it came at a period when most companies are experimenting uncontrollably with phone designs. For instance, Samsung and Motorola sell mobile devices with folding screens in different shapes and sizes. But instead of falling in line with this latest and fragile folding glass technology, Microsoft is promising big on the two-screen approach, which it aspires to be a boon for productivity. They’re even planning a two-screen Windows laptop for 2021.
What makes the Duo more unusual is that it is Microsoft’s first stab at Android (and a phone) since its Nokia days. The company’s Windows Phone mobile OS was incapacitated since it didn’t allow third-party apps, and Microsoft is sure of not committing a similar mistake again. The Google Play Store has housed almost every app you could ever need, including apps made by Microsoft. And of course, you can install Microsoft’s apps on any other Android phone, but running them on the Duo is special. What Microsoft got right here is Two screens are better than one.
When closed, the Surface Duo looks like a small pretty paper notebook. Unlike several modern techs, it feels cool and attractive, as if when opened, it will unlock the secrets of the universe. It also feels lighter than it looks, it’s astonishing thinness makes it comfortable to hold and tote around, (unlike some other dual-screen phones), although it is wide, so it may likely not fit your pants pockets.
The external part is enveloped in glass, with the Microsoft logo only. Most foldable or dual-screen phones have a small or large exterior screen for checking notifications, but Microsoft Surface Duo doesn’t have that, and opening the Duo to check the time repeatedly can be a bit stressful.
Well, you can leave it open, but there’s no always-on display, so you will need to press the power button or use your fingerprint to wake the screen up. Both these options are on the right edge together with the volume rocker. Also, the edges of the Duo are very flat and thin that they feel sharp. It would be best if you used the included silicone bumper case, it’s soft and makes it comfortable to pry the two screens apart.
Another impressive feature about it is that most phones with folding screens do have a shaky start due to their fragile components; the Surface Duo doesn’t feel fragile. It makes total sense. It is just two screens connected by a hinge. The hinge is the most significant area of long-term concern on any folding device, but the Duo’s screens smoothly swivel back and forth when handled.
Also, the hinge’s 360-degree design allows you to put the phone in different orientations. You can either flip one screen to the back for a single-screen mode, or lay both flat like a book in order to use two screens. You may also use one screen as a kickstand to keep the other propped up while you watch videos. Anyhow, you want it.
Microsoft Surface Duo Design
The Surface Duo design is absolutely classy. The dual-screen device has an all-glass chassis, although it doesn’t support wireless charging.
The Microsoft Surface Duo is made of two glass slabs which are connected by a tiny and beautiful metal hinge. Since the screens are separate, the gap between them doesn’t provide access to the innards of the device, permitting a much slimmer hinge than on the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Though, the screens are also more stringent since they’re real glass, and not the flexible “ultra-thin glass” used by Samsung. And they work accurately with the $99.99 Surface Pen, whereas Samsung’s device has no stylus support.
The Duo includes an adhesive rubber bumper that sticks to the edges of the device to protect it. It isn’t a case, but you certainly want to put it on. It doesn’t only cushion the Duo on drops; it provides the edges with a firm grip, so they don’t slide around when it is folded like a tent.
The two 5.6-inch screens are in 5-by-4 aspect ratio than the present phones. It makes the Duo a 5.7-by-3.7-inch, super-wide hand-buster when folded back, but it’s enjoyable when reading books or looking at the web pages. Each screen, with 15.4 square inches of room, is much bigger than the Z Fold 2’s screen.
Each of the screens is 1,800 by 1,350 pixels and together they’re 2,700 by 1,800.
You can span the two displays to make the screen 8.1-inch big. But the gap between the screens makes a big spanning window feel unfulfilling because the device wants you to do two things on the two screens.
Microsoft Surface Duo Camera
The Surface Duo has a single-lens 11MP camera, which is on the front of the right-hand screen. The camera will be doing double-duty that is, acting as a selfie-cam and also as the primary camera when you flip the device around into single-screen mode.
This isn’t exactly a device suitable for people who shoot lots of photos all the time, but it’s something that’s easy to overlook if your use case is in line with what the phone is designed to do.
Although it still packs a somewhat decent portrait mode and can even record a 4K video, the camera can be considered the weakest point of the device. Nevertheless, the symmetrical design of the phone implies that we almost wouldn’t even want a camera to be on the back of the device anyways, so it’s certainly something we can live with. Just know about the sub-par camera experience if you’re going to go with the Surface Duo.
Microsoft Surface Duo Battery life and Performance
The Surface Duo is packed with a 3,577mAh battery, and rocking last year’s flagship Qualcomm meant that we weren’t precisely anticipating an innovative battery life with it, especially given that the device is powering two displays. But we were astonished.
It was only on the first day did we experience a dull battery life, with the device dying out before bedtime, but that could easily be caused by the device going through its first-time setup and also by touching and using the device constantly.
After the battery does finally die, the added 18W charger gets the device charged extremely fast. But it would have been amazing if Microsoft condescends to support wireless charging with the Surface Duo, considering the all-glass chassis.
It is powered by last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC and 6GB of RAM, which is undoubtedly not top-tier specs, particularly for a device whose entire purpose is multi-tasking.
The specs here are more than enough when scrolling through social media and email, but immediately you start adding more massive apps, things stop operating so smoothly.
The device wasn’t designed for a workload, since the shorter aspect ratio of the two screens implies most games UIs don’t scale super well. However, it’s still disappointing that it’s such a difficulty.
However, if the intended workload is what you’re planning to do, the hardware on offer should get the job done. But don’t expect to use several hefty creative workloads on this device.
The Microsoft Surface Duo isn’t excellent to go. It has several good ideas, but the execution is unpleasant in places, and several people aren’t going to understand what Microsoft is trying to achieve. There are several problems that are preventing a total recommendation of it. Probably if it didn’t cost this much, things could have been different. If you want to spend that much on a work phone, the Note 20 Ultra also caters all your purposes.