Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review in progress: 3 things I love, 3 things I don’t


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Likes: The twin-display solution is starting to make sense, the Trim Pen 2 is a large improve, and the battery existence has been great so considerably.

Dislikes:  There are continue to computer software quirks, much more apps want Duo support, and the camera bump is a move backward for the Duo’s style.

Microsoft has not supplied up on its aspirations to develop a distinctive, if not market, smartphone for its loyal Surface lovers. With past year’s Surface Duo, the enterprise took a novel solution to the conventional smartphone. In its place of placing out but another rectangular Android telephone, the Duo featured two impressively skinny shows, held jointly by hinges, that created it feasible to fold the telephone in fifty percent. Not like Samsung’s
Galaxy Z Fold

that essentially has a display that folds in fifty percent, the Duo had two shows that are physically separated. 

As is typically the situation with initial-era equipment, the Duo was not all that outstanding. I procured 1 and returned it in just thirty days (Microsoft presents a 60-day return policy). There was clear likely with the telephone, albeit I felt the principle was a much better match for a pill (or even a laptop computer). 

Rapid forward and Microsoft is completely ready to ship the Surface Duo 2. There are some modest improvements to the 2nd era unit, which include a speedier processor, much better cameras and it operates Android 11.

Owing to some transport delays, I’ve only had obtain to a Duo 2 for about seventy two several hours as I sit below writing this. That is not in close proximity to enough time to give a entire critique of a unit that will take a totally various solution to the contemporary smartphone. Heck, it is really not even enough time to thoroughly critique a conventional smartphone. 

So rather, I plan on living with the Duo 2 for a though, filling in gaps and updating this critique in development as I go. Following my quick time with the telephone, below are three factors I like so considerably, and three factors I don’t.

The Glance Bar has critical likely


The Duo 2’s Glance Bar needs to be opened up to much more builders. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The first Duo lacked any way to easily verify if you had any pending alerts though the unit was shut. You had to marginally open up the unit to activate the peek function that showed you the time and notification icons. Peek is continue to existing to verify the time (at the very least I won’t be able to discover a placing to change on alerts), but thanks to rounded exhibit edges, you can now see alert icons together the hinge when the Duo 2 shut. 

Microsoft is calling this function the Glance Bar, and at present, it is really capable of demonstrating the time, text concept alerts, skipped calls, battery stage, and volume. 

For instance, when you begin charging the Duo 2, the Glance Bar will show you the battery’s latest charge stage — demonstrating inexperienced or crimson dependent on the latest stage. 

When the unit is shut, you can push the ability button to induce Glance Bar and verify the time as nicely as any pending alerts. It really is a considerably much better expertise than peek on the first Duo which necessary much more than just a brief action like urgent a button. Having said that, it does not go considerably enough. 

I would adore for Microsoft to open up Glance Bar to third-occasion builders and permit apps like Twitter or Spark Electronic mail to show new concept alerts. 

Multitasking is receiving less complicated


Two screens definitely are much better than 1. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Perhaps I hardly ever definitely gave the Duo a proper likelihood, or the Duo 2’s computer software ironed out enough of the usability bugs I encountered (much more on that in a moment), but it feels less complicated to multitask on the Duo 2. 

It was not until about forty eight several hours soon after placing up the telephone that the way to leverage two various shows started to click on for me. For instance, entering app-distinct passwords to established up my electronic mail, contacts, and calendars normally is a course of action that demands jumping in between a browser and an electronic mail or sync app. 

But on the Duo 2, I remaining the Edge browser open up on 1 exhibit, with passwords at the completely ready though at the exact same time completing the set up course of action in the respective apps on the other exhibit. What definitely aided me, much more than currently being equipped to see all the details at the exact same time, was that I could use 1 hand to choose and copy details though at nearly the exact same time employing the other hand on the opposite exhibit to choose a text discipline and paste the details. 

It definitely was an Aha! moment for how the Duo 2 is intended to be applied. I want a ton much more time to figure out the multitasking scenarios and how Microsoft intends for the Duo 2 to be applied, but truly feel like I’ve started to change the corner. 

There are continue to some computer software quirks

A single of my major troubles with the first Duo was that the computer software felt unfinished and lacked in general polish for plan duties like rotating the display. Icons would disappear, the unit wouldn’t improve orientation or the launcher would flat out crash. It was poor, but I’ve been explained to it bought much better around the past yr as a result of computer software updates. 

That hard work does not go unnoticed on the Duo 2 which operates Android 11. All round, the Duo 2 feels speedier and effectiveness has been typically dependable. That said, there have been a couple occasions when app icons seem stuck on the display. Here’s a screenshot instance:


A single of the random computer software quirks I’ve skilled so considerably. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

As you can see on the remaining aspect of the unit, there are stacked app icons and the dock has a giant bar across it. I just recognized though incorporating the image that the look for bar is also existing. So much going on in 1 screenshot. I recall viewing comparable things like this on the Duo past yr, but it happened a ton much more commonly. 

The critique sample I acquired is jogging the exact same computer software version that Microsoft is transport to clients, so I would assume some clients to report comparable troubles. Granted, it is really not widespread, but this is anything that should not definitely happen. 

The camera bump took away my preferred portion of the Duo’s design 


The bump is large. Way too large. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

A single of the a lot of issues about the first Duo was its deficiency of a substantial-quality camera. In truth, it only had a single camera that was higher than the exhibit — there was not 1 on the rear of the unit at all. That meant the back of the unit was totally flat on both of those sides, allowing for you to lay it totally flat or fold it shut on by itself. 

This yr, Microsoft additional a triple camera array on the back of the ideal exhibit. The cameras, so considerably, are an improvement, but the bump that Microsoft had to add to accommodate the modules will take away how astonishingly skinny the first Duo was. 

In addition to that, the Duo 2 no longer sits flat on a table, nor can you fold it around on by itself with out there currently being a hole. The latter grievance is admittedly a minimal nit-picky on my portion, but not currently being equipped to lay the Duo 2 flat on my desk and use the Surface Trim Pen 2 to jot notes in A single Notice is what definitely irks me. 

Due to the fact of the camera bump the whole unit wobbles when you get in close proximity to the edge or to a distinct corner of the exhibit, relying on how you location the Duo 2 on your desk. 

The Trim Pen 2 is a significant improve


The Trim Pen 2 is the Apple Pencil the Surface line deserves. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

I have applied a
Surface Trim Pen

with quite a few Surface items, which include the
Surface Laptop computer 4

and the
Surface Pro X

, and it operates, but the expertise has not been in close proximity to as great as the
Apple Pencil

on an
iPad Pro

Even with the wobbly problem I just talked about, the Trim Pen 2 and the Duo 2 is a marked improvement. I’ve been employing the Duo 2 for all my conference notes the past couple of days and have been impressed. 

Microsoft isn’t really taking orders for a Duo 2 situation that magnetically attaches and wirelessly rates the
Trim Pen 2

, but it is really surely anything I want to verify out when it launches. It really is odd that the situation allows wi-fi charging for the pen, but the Duo 2 by itself lacks wi-fi charging. 

Microsoft needs much more apps to adopt Duo support


An instance of TikTok jogging on the Duo 2. This is how all apps want to glimpse and work on the novel telephone. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Outside the house of Microsoft’s personal apps, there usually are not extremely a lot of apps that thoroughly support the Duo 2’s twin-display solution. Amazon’s Kindle app is a great instance of an app that had adopted the two-display solution and helps make it truly feel as if you are definitely looking at a reserve. TikTok is also optimized for the Duo 2, demonstrating you trending objects or a user’s profile details on 1 display though you swipe as a result of your account’s stream on the other. 

ZDNet Suggests

Ideal Surface Computer 2021

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But outside of the small handful of builders that Microsoft has certain to construct apps to maximize the expertise, a lot of apps wrestle — especially when they are spanned across both of those shows. 

Slack, for instance, would make sense to add Duo 2 support and adopt a comparable glimpse to the iPad app the place your list of channels and discussions are on the remaining aspect, and the ideal aspect reveals the information of just about every as you move in between them. 

In its place, the entire-display Slack app functions just like it does on a much slimmer, single exhibit smartphone, forcing you to swipe back and forth to move in between channels, discussions, and their contents. 

I get it, the Duo and Duo 2 are extremely market equipment for a extremely small subset of end users. Prioritizing developer methods to employ capabilities that a small percentage of folks will care about and use isn’t really a leading precedence — and should not be for most developer teams — but, as if typically the situation with experimental and new equipment like the Duo 2, with out developer support it is really tricky for a unit to obtain traction. 

Plenty much more remaining to discover

I haven’t definitely applied the cameras outside of a couple of photos of random things on my desk. Even all those uninteresting photos glimpse much much better than I recall the Duo’s camera currently being, but I want much more time to thoroughly test them.

I’m guaranteed my expertise and feeling of the Duo 2 will considerably improve around the coming days and weeks. I am going to hold updating this critique in development as that transpires. 

In the meantime, do you have a Duo or plan on receiving the Duo 2? Let me know your feelings about Microsoft’s hottest smartphone in the reviews under.

Rosa G. Rose

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