The Surface Duo is Microsoft’s newest attempt to breaking into the Android smartphone market except that the company decides to do it in a much different and special way as possible.
The device which was initially announced late last year got its release pushed back up until now and thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic ruining everyone’s plans, the device eventually got released and yeah it was cool to look at.
It’s a great device for one thing – it’ll be a great tool for professional workers who are currently working from home. This device is a tool for multi-taskers like myself who do a number of things at the same time.
And thanks to the device’s dual screen latched onto one another via a powerful hinge which can be turned around in 360° angles to form a smartphone or be used as a siamese twin device.
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The Surface Duo did bridge some gaps between a conventional tablet and a smartphone which most foldable smartphones are now doing thanks to the likes of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 which is a better upgrade to the previous Galaxy Fold released last year.
And being a Microsoft’s device, you get much sync with your PC assuming you’re always working on the go since this device is much easier to carry around except for the width which is much wider than your traditional smartphone even when folded, it’ll be hard to put it in your front pocket except you try the back and it can bend because its made of plastic but that in a moment.
While the Surface Duo is just in its first generation which meant there is a much room for improvements, the device kind of seem much futuristic and the design looks very premium but why wouldn’t it since you’re paying a premium price of about US$1,400 for it.
And when you compare that price to even more premium device that seem like the Surface Duo itself – say the LG V60 with its detachable screen, the device starts at just US$799 and it sports all the latest technologies such as the fastest Snapdragon 865 chipset with a bigger Ram for faster processing and storage efficiency.
That might make you wonder if Microsoft is really serious about the asking price for the Surface Duo or just some overpriced first-gen device which has innumerable flaws but you wouldn’t mind since you definitely have so much money you just want to throw away. But mind you, I’m not referring to the Surface Duo as being a garbage phone. Far from that.
Like if you consider some really cool piece of tech that’s packed up into this thing, it might seem overpriced by merely looking at it.
You should also note that dual- screen devices are still in their early stages and technology at their early stages are usually expensive because they’re not common. With time, when mid-range companies starts making their own copies of these, then the market becomes more competitive and saturated and then prices drops significantly. Which is how the smartphone market works.
In contrast to the LG V60 mentioned earlier, the fact that you can attach or detach its second screen gives you an idea of what a dual screen smartphone would look like but the Surface Duo kind of give you that feel which you could imagine with the V60.
Surface Duo price and release date
The Surface Duo was started hitting shelves by September 10th with a retail price of about US$1,399 (about £1,075, AU$1,930) for the 128GB of storage model while the other variant with a much larger storage space of about 256GB is priced at US$1,499 (about £1,150, AU$2,080).
The device is however only available for purchase in the United States but upon global demands, Microsoft will further ship them abroad.
The Surface Duo is available on carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile for U.S. users while Sprint users will need to opt for a SIM card in order to use the device while Verizon’s support will be on pretty soon later on in September.
Also it’s worth mentioning that the Microsoft Duo isn’t a 5G smartphone despite being released in 2020 because it packs in 2019 technology which is the 4G LTE and the older SD 855 chipset.
Surface Duo design
As mentioned earlier the Surface Duo gives you that look and feel of an ideal dual screen smartphone which the V60 tries to portray.
The device is really sleek in every ways possible and the glass covering I’d the device’s screen is one of the wondrous things that makes the device even much more fascinating for new users.
But there are some caveats to the design’s sleekness which includes its body being made of plastic rather than aluminum or glass back. And with that, there is no support for wireless charging.
And the device is ultra slim far beyond what I can describe. It’s so thin that you might be scared you’ll snap the device into two but not to worry because JerryRigEverything tried it but it only flexed but didn’t snap into two thanks to its strong metallic hinge which conjoined the dual screens together at the center.
The white color is really cool and that’s part of what makes it look much more like a true premium smartphone which anyone seeking a much better user experience can use.
The fact that the hinge cna make you turn the device into anything you’d like such as being turned into a single device when flip around into the 360 degree angles or being used as a laptop in a “L-shaped” mode.
My initial perception about the device when it was first announced last October was that it might wobble in terms of the hinge’s firmness whereby it my require you holding both display simultaneously in order to use it efficiently but no, Microsoft proved that wrong again with this device’s hinge which seemed to bw the only outstanding feature of the device because there is nothing else except for its sleekness.
The hinge had been tested numerous times and so throughout the device’s lifespan, you’ll probably not ruin it except you’re opening it more than 5000 times a day…. You’re not a robot are you!
Another cool thing about the Surface Duo’s design is the symmetry. The device right side is where the power button is located while the USB Type-C is located right underneath the device. The volume rocker as well as its fingerprint sensor all falls to the right side of the device and even with all these additions, the two sides of the device are of the same size in terms of thickness and resolution.
Using the Surface Duo feels good and the orientation switch is also interesting as well. Being able to switch from one orientation to the other depending on what you’re trying to accomplish is why this device is great for multitasking.
With the software well tweaked up, you can even launch two separate apps at the same time and then use them. This feature had been in Android since the version 7 but because most Android devices only have small screens (6+ inches) this doesn’t always look appealing unless you switch your orientation.
This is so seemless with the Surface Duo and best of all, you can even use one screen as a keyboard and use the other as the screen much like a mini laptop. Reading with it also comes breeze free and appealing.
Taking picture would require you yank the screen that houses the single front facing camera to the back while the other screen becomes your view finder. Not bad right.
You can also just barely open the device to get a peek at the time. This is helpful, as there isn’t an outside-facing display, but you can’t actually see if you have notifications in this view, so it’s basically only good for checking the time as the device lacks an outter viewfinder like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or Z Flip.
The new Microsoft Logo sits right at the center back of the device so perfectly you want to keep showing it off to people everytime and everywhere.
One thing Microsoft seems to have been able to perfect over the lats couple of years with its hardware design is the unique premium look and feel yet minimalist aesthetics of their devices ranging from the Surface laptop and computers.
The Surface Duo maintains that Surface family of devices in a much better way and it all looked really peaceful to look at for minutes.
I like the edgy corners or the device rather than being curved up. Just as the MacBook computers were.
There is even another dual screen mini computer/tablet coming on soon, the Surface Neo which sports the same look as the Duo but just much more bigger.
Surface Duo dual screen
There are bezels and they’re really big bezels at the top and bottom of the screen which shouldn’t although be a deal breaker with this device
Bezels so big you might wonder if this 2014 but that’s where the oldness ends on the device as the overall design as mentioned above is sleek and modern in its entirety.
When the device opens, you can see a lot of rooms for widgets and applications to make room via the real estate on the display as it can further make multi-tasking evens better.
I use the current Microsoft Launcher on my Huawei Mate 30 Pro and the fact that I can customize it to any length is just an amazing thing which is part of why it also did make sense on the Android device.
You can launch an application on one side of the screen and leave the other home or launch a different app there. You can swipe the apps around and changing where they are ( from right display to the left and so forth) you can also set up two applications that will launch simultaneously when you click on the grouping icon.
And don’t forget that Microsoft has its own array of mobile apps or services as well which includes the Office Suite all which better work perfectly with the tweaked up Android software that runs on the device.
As a reporter being able to launch my notepad application right beside my email sounds pretty cool whereby I can do more than just minimising an app from screen to screen. This are some of the cool features that comes packed up with the device all which I find fascinating about the device hence a tool for multi-tasking.
OneNote is also a cool app to use whereby you can open the application across the screen and it feels much like a book. I do wonder if the device was Edge to edge without the presence of the top and bottom bezels, it would feel much like a real notebook.
It also offer support for the Surface Pen which you can use in taking note and do a number of things. The magnetic capability of the Surface Pen and the Surface Duo isn’t really strong therefore it might not be glued up to one another so strongly all because Microsoft made the device with plastic and not aluminum or some form of metal.
Surface Duo camera
Its horrible. To state the fact. Not horribly horrible though but it just doesn’t feel very right at the premium level. While Microsoft’s target might be much different from Samsung, the fact remains that both of their smartphones the Surface Duo and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 are both folding devices costing a fortune, both devices demands a high quality specification at least in the camera region.
The duo has its single camera right on one of the displays and that’s it. Nothing else at the back or anywhere else. And the camera isn’t a really great one. Or maybe I’m just comparing it to the type of cameras seen on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 which is just an innumerable list of cameras no matter where you turn your eyes on on the device be it front, middle or back, there is a camera or cameras there to serve you.
The primary sensor on the Surface Duo is an 11MP camera which falls to the right screen of the display and taking pictures would require using the left display as the device’s viewfinder or just turning the hinge in 360degree and taking pictures with it.
The camera also works in an adaptive mode which knows when its meant to be used as a main camera or as a selfie camera.
This isn’t exactly a device that’s meant for the type of people shooting a ton of photos all the time, so it’s something that’s easy to overlook if your use case lines up with what the phone is designed to do.
But even though I said the camera sucks, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely horrible in every ways possible no. It still have some goodies to it such as being able to record a whooping 4K video and it can also take some decent portrait but it sucks when you bring it beside other premium devices whose price is like the same as the device if you get the point.
The smartphone is more of a tool and I’d say using it might require you also own an extra smartphone for all the high quity photography and so forth assuming that’s what you want but for the busy type who aren’t in for taking pictures of everything they come across, then this is it.
Surface Duo performance
The overall performance is great despite being powered by the previous generation’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and 6GB of RAM. That spec might not be in the top tier as far as 2020 is concerned because as mentioned earlier, the device was announced last year so it sports some 2019 tech specifications.
Since the potential buyers of the Surface Duo will be business users who just want to be able to multitask and get through the day, this device will be very handy. The processing power can potentially handle anything thrown at it being surfing the internet, reading your email, sending broadcasts, updating your social network profile and content development for bloggers, news reporters etc.
Even gaming doesn’t have any hiccup as well because the chipset is more than capable. Forget the fact that it’s built last year. Although it might not clock as much numbers as those made this year i. e Snapdragon 865+.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are some software glitches on this thing. Even though it tries to be the best version of itself, it still end up filing miserably in some other important ways possible which can be sad if you think about it.
Trying to play high graphics game on the device didn’t give a yeild an overall great result so Surface Duo might not be cementing itself just yet as a relevant folding smartphone maybe until the 2nd generation which might have gotten better hardware and software upgrades to make it perform faster and more efficiently.
Surface Duo battery
Out of the box, you get a 3,577mAh battery cell on the device and uses the previous generation SD855 chipset so there definitely so much here. Although the device tries to handle power management as efficiently as it possibly could but remember this is a two screen smartphone and each of the screen consumes battery simultaneously unless you’re using only one in a 360 degrees mode where only one part is being used with the other just on the standby.
So that means you might not hit the full day battery usage that you’ll normally get on devices with much larger battery capacity and that could be disappointing but not to worry, the fact remains that majority of those that will purchase this device might be office workers who will have access to electricity most of the times so topping it up every now and then won’t be a bad idea.
I mean we’ve seen innumerable devices specifically made for gaming, rugged smartphones designed mainly for outdoor and adventurous users who’ll probably never have any access to electricity for a pretty longer period and those devices would usually come with 5500mAh battery if needed.
There is an 18W charger on-board meant to speed things up quickly so even when you drian the battery after a very heavy usage during the day, you can be rest assured that you’ll get the juice back up to normal in less than few minutes.
But the absence of wireless charging might be a minus because sometimes you just want to place the device on a wireless charging Dock and not worry about plugging in while you sleep over the night.
All those complaints could change by the next update of the device so maybe Surface Duo 2, we’ll see better hardware components and larger battery units and wireless charging support. All which might come at the compromise of the device’s thickness because packing in more components requires more spaces.
Why you should buy the Surface Duo
As mentioned much earlier, I see the Surface Duo as more of a tool rather than a smartphone for taking pictures and so forth.
So if you’re the busy type of person who likes to get things done while on the go without any compromise, then this will be your best bet. The intuitive dual screen which can rotate at any direction as well as the fact that you also get to use the entire Microsoft Office suite in one makes it more interesting.
And if you’re an active Microsoft Office user, If a good portion of your workload is done in Microsoft Office, the Surface Duo may just be your dream device.
Also for users who love smooth designs, the Surface pen comes very handy in this scenario as well. The design is cool I personally think its great and that’s it.
Why you shouldn’t buy the Surface Duo
If you’re a gamer this is definitely the kind of device you want to chunk out US $1,400 on because you might never get that value you expect from it.
Also 8t might not be a great idea for outdoor and adventurers. It’s not rugged a bit and the dual screen might be hard for people with small hands to operate successfully. Remember even when folded in half, it is still much wider than your typical smartphone not to talk of being unfolded.
Also if you’re expecting a much better and faster modern technology on a smartphone, this might not be it for you and especially with the pricing, that’s going to be a big problem for you.
Microsoft Surface Duo versus
Let’s try to compare the new folding device with those that already exists in the game already and see ho well the Surface Duo match in the competition.
1 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is one of the best folding smartphones out there sporting multiple camera system, three screens with the inner dual screen conjoined together accurately and no spares in between them compared to the Surface Duo which is basically two screens joined via a hinge which is visible through the inner bezels of tghe device.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 also has some incredible features such as 5G network as well as being a 2020 smartphone, it has the Snapdragon 865 chipset compared to the 855 on the Surface Duo. The battery is also much better on this one. And the outer screen can be used entirely without the need to open up the device’s inner dual-screen which is a big plus right over the Surface Duo.
2. LG V60
This is another important dual-screen smartphone in 2020 offering that ability to be able to swap between two screens or just stick with one screen if that’s all you’d rather prefer. Also do note that LG V60 is a complete flagship smartphone but costs much cheaper than the Surface Duo which comes with a price tag of about US$1,400 compared to the US$799 of the LG V60
3. Huawei Mate Xs
This is yet another great smartphone in 2020 although it might not interest you so much despite being packed with lots of features and it’s unique outward folding mechanism compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or the Surface Duo. The lack of Google Play Service might be a big minus for this device but also it’s way much more expensive than the others mentioned above.
I decided to add this kind of folding device on the list if for whatever reason you decide to go smaller because let’s face the fact, the Surface Duo is much wider than other devices mentioned on this list which means you’d better be sure to want something as such before going for it. Also the Galaxy Z Flip sports some incredible hardware and software features that makes it fascinating in 2020 if you want one.