Microsoft Surface Duo review: Buy it for dual screen use, not for its old specs Review

Just about every employee in my engineering business, irrespective of whether an engineer, accountant, or manager, has at the very least two screens connected to their laptop for optimal efficiency. The Surface Duo features a equivalent layout that you can hold in your hand and get with you. If you get additional done with two screens on the go, then this might be the product for you, but two screens on a telephone might also be way too distracting.

The Microsoft Surface Duo has been my principal smartphone for the past a few months and even just after a working day it was crystal clear to me it is a product created for efficiency. Persons are inclined to both appreciate or hate, with tiny space for center ground, thanks in huge component to the $1,four hundred beginning price tag.

I’ve been a Microsoft mobile product user due to the fact 2000 and even now one particular of the factors I kept considering I require to continue to keep the Surface Duo is since I appreciate the Microsoft brand emblazoned on the front of the Duo and the strategy of what Microsoft is bringing to the table with the Duo. Looking further than the front of the product, I have been very glad with the working experience. It truly is only when I place it future to the Z Fold 2 that I comprehend the Z Fold 2 is the product for my needs.

Also: Surface Duo assessment: Why I’m nonetheless puzzled about Microsoft’s twin-screen product

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley said the following in her assessment: “Two months afterwards, I have to say that I’m not positive that the Duo scratches any itch for me. It truly is an attention-grabbing idea, but it absolutely feels like a Generation 1 option that’s in lookup of a problem additional than a option to a problem I have with mobile equipment.”

A single would assume the Surface Duo would be best for a human being like me who spends quite a few several hours a working day on a telephone. Prior to the coronavirus lockdown, I was commuting two several hours a working day on a educate, touring for company regular, working with Microsoft items for function (Outlook, Groups, OneDrive, and OneNote), and working with my telephone as my secondary laptop. Matters have altered a little bit with remote function, but even then there ended up a couple of my common practices in excess of the past a few months that are compromised on the Surface Duo, and for additional than $1,four hundred I’m not prepared to make those compromises.

Microsoft Surface Duo requirements

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • Shows: Two five.six inch, 1800×1350 pixels resolution (401ppi) AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass displays
  • Working technique: Android ten
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB inner storage, UFS three.
  • Digicam: 11MP f/2. digital camera
  • Connectivity: WiFi-five 802.eleven a/b/g/n/ac (2.four/5GHz), Bluetooth five., GPS/Galileo/GLONASS/Beidou
  • Sensors: Twin accelerometer, twin gyroscope, twin magnetometer, corridor sensor, fingerprint sensor, proximity sensor, twin ambient light sensor
  • Battery: three,577 mAh non-detachable
  • Proportions (Open up): one hundred forty five.2 x 186.nine x four.eight mm
  • Proportions (Closed): one hundred forty five.2 x 93.three x nine.nine mm
  • Body weight: 250g

Leading ZDNET Assessments

Looking at the specs above and throwing out the two displays, the Surface Duo appears to be a mid-selection Android telephone. The story of the Surface Duo is significantly additional than a requirements sheet, but for $1,four hundred one particular does have to consider the technological innovation inside the product.

Also: The Surface Duo just isn’t for all people. But here’s who will appreciate it


The hinge and outdoors of the two displays is attractive and persuasive, primarily as a Surface fan. After a few months, the hinge has the very same tension and smoothness as it did when I first opened up the box.

The Surface Duo is really skinny and it matches just great in my trousers and shorts pockets. I appreciate opening and closing it, as effectively as flipping it into various modes.

The two five.six-inch AMOLED screens look excellent and offer a excellent visual working experience. The bezels are a little bit huge for my tastes, but there is a require for some amount of money of bezel in order to hold and use the product.

There is a single eleven-megapixel digital camera positioned at the leading of the ideal screen. It does great in effectively-lit environments, but is rather terrible in lower light circumstances and has really couple options for using artistic shots. I mostly meant to use it to capture paperwork, but even then it did not perform consistently. Flipping the displays about to use the digital camera was also not a reputable, steady working experience.

The speaker is appropriate but isn’t going to appear near to competing with fashionable smartphones with stereo speakers. The electric power button serves as the fingerprint scanner and this was a flawless working experience that I would choose to see in its place of under display screen fingerprint scanners.

Battery existence has been strong for the past a few months, receiving me via comprehensive, very long days each and every single working day. I under no circumstances fearful about the Surface Duo dying all through the working day, which is a excellent indicator even when working with two displays.

The Surface Duo retail package incorporates a silicone bumper that attaches with two-sided tape. I place it on just after a few of days and it does a excellent position of guarding the edges and trying to keep the product from sliding off of a table.

Also: Surface Duo is a efficiency revelation, not a sort component revolution


The Surface Duo operates Android ten with the September five, 2020 Android stability update. The Microsoft Launcher serves as the foundational UI for the product and is a quite inventory Android working experience.

Out of the box, the Surface Duo makes use of the most current Android gestures for navigation and just after trying out the outdated Android a few-button controls I quickly went back again to gesture navigation. I observed that gesture navigation lets you quickly and conveniently swipe applications about on the display screen and is what the Duo was optimized for.

The key particular element extra by Microsoft is App Groups. Pair up two applications into a single shortcut on your property screen and with a single faucet two applications launch at when, one particular application on each display screen. After a few months, I have about ten of these App Groups setup for optimal efficiency.

You can swipe up from the base and then drag an application to the other display screen or drag and hold it in excess of the middle to have it open throughout both of those screens. Some applications, largely Microsoft applications, are optimized for this cross-gap comprehensive screen working experience. For illustration, in Outlook your inbox appears on the still left display screen and then the contents of the chosen email appear on the ideal display screen. When this setup is the principal configuration I like to use, there is no way to have Outlook launch like this so each and every time you want a cross-gap working experience you have to drag an application up and throughout the middle.

Cellphone phone calls are finest made with a headset or in speaker method. The product is a little bit broad and uncomfortable to hold up versus your ear for telephone phone calls.

If you want to use applications mostly in single display screen method, there is no particular advancement wanted as the applications perform just like any common smartphone. Spanned applications require some tweaks for an optimal working experience, but if the developer hasn’t done anything to the application it must nonetheless function in a stretched out fashion. A few applications did not function in spanned method, but at the end of the working day I only made use of optimized applications throughout the gap.

Tent method is helpful for watching movie information in a hands-free fashion. When I watched video clips, I tended to use the Surface Duo in “notebook” method with the leading display screen actively playing movie and the base screen made use of for examining email, browsing the internet, and other secondary capabilities.

I extensively liked the working experience exactly where one particular application prompts me for a password and I have my password manager on the other display screen. Drag and fall also operates in choose applications, but I actually did not use this significantly in my working day-to-working day function.

Also: Galaxy Z Fold 2 in depth: Flex Manner, App Continuity, and multitasking

Value and competitiveness

The Surface Duo is only accessible in Glacier White color with two storage options. The 128GB product is priced at $1,399.99 and the 256GB product is $1,499.99.

When quite a few of us in the mobile neighborhood review the Z Fold 2 to the Surface Duo, these equipment are not direct competition as one particular features an optimized two-screen working experience and the other features a foldable telephone with an optimized huge interior screen working experience. That stated, the Z Fold 2 is $five hundred to $600 additional expensive.

The closest twin-screen working experience in the smartphone planet is the LG Velvet or LG V60 with the Twin Screen cover. LG gets a large amount ideal with exceptionally able telephones and a equivalent two display screen with middle hinge style and design. If LG would expend additional time tweaking the software package to assist the twin-screen working experience then there would be tiny purpose to invest in the Surface Duo.

Why am I returning the Surface Duo?

There is a large amount to like about the Surface Duo and it is a strong get started for Microsoft. That stated, right here are quite a few factors it just just isn’t the product for me:

  • Digicam: At first I did not assume I captured more than enough information with a telephone digital camera to subject, but it turns out I really get pics each day. The Surface Duo has a single digital camera that usually takes pics that match $three hundred to $four hundred telephones and the user working experience to capture a shot is cumbersome.
  • Flip open to do anything: I get the strategy that closing the product lets you shut down from function. Even so, owning to open it up to do anything at all is a little bit of a discomfort for a telephone that you use all working day for various interaction needs. A single could have it folded with the two displays on the outdoors, but I will not like owning both of those displays exposed.
  • App stability: Microsoft will absolutely make improvements to the software package with updates, but in excess of the past a few months I have viewed OneNote crash about each and every 3rd working day. This is a main Microsoft application and one particular of the only ones that assist pen handwritten assist. It must be flawless on the Surface Duo.
  • Limited stylus assist: Even though LG isn’t going to ship its Twin Screen appropriate equipment with a stylus, increased stylus assist is offered on the LG V60, LG Velvet, and other individuals. Guidance for the Surface Pen is restricted to a couple applications with stylus assist and very simple navigation. Microsoft must have at the very least involved the features of stylus assist to the degree of LG, even if not to the degree of Samsung on its Note equipment.
  • Wi-fi payment assist: The deficiency of NFC baffles me, but I suppose the payment working experience would be uncomfortable since the display screen would require to be rotated all the way back again to use Google Fork out. Even so, you should not require a smartwatch to get advantage of mobile payment terminals.
  • 5G: Very simple, the Surface Duo isn’t going to have it and all other flagships in 2020 do assist 5G. I’ve been spoiled by Samsung’s efficiency with 5G and I’m just not likely to shell out additional than $1,000 for a telephone that simply cannot get advantage of the optimum speed provider I shell out my provider to offer.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 assessment: Foldable perfection almost attained

Erica Griffin place jointly one particular of the finest video clips evaluating the Surface Duo to the Z Fold 2 with a emphasis on efficiency. She plainly shows quite a few illustrations of why the Surface Duo is an superb selection for quite a few men and women and her twelve-moment movie might persuade you to give one particular a test.


I appreciate the Microsoft Surface Duo hardware, besides for the bezels, but there are way too quite a few compromises with the requirements and beta software package. Microsoft supplies a glimpse of what is to appear in the foreseeable future and I look forward to the future era product that is positive to use quite a few lessons uncovered with this first attempt.

For those who want to use two applications at the very same time in a comprehensive screen smartphone format to get function done then the Surface Duo might be best. Then all over again, if you will not require to swipe applications throughout the displays then you might want to consider a LG Twin Screen product as these offer you additional fashionable smartphones and significantly better stylus assist. If the Surface Duo was accessible for $900, then I would consider trying to keep it, even in this first era configuration.

Microsoft’s Surface Duo is a polarizing product and even in my a few months with it, I knowledgeable appreciate and hate for it. Probably I am going to overlook it just after some time away, but just after swapping my SIM back again into a Note ten As well as I highly question I am going to assume of it all over again until the next era is disclosed.

Rosa G. Rose

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