The Microsoft Surface Duo is a smartphone I haven’t tested yet – but based on what I know, it worries me. It’s like a new kind of foldable phone in that it folds and flips, and it runs Android 10 just like the Galaxy Fold. It also demands a hefty price tag like the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Galaxy Z Flip.
But while foldable phones are crossing the boundaries of what screens can do and the right price tag, you don’t get there with the Surface Duo. Instead, you’ll get a giant bezel-less dual-screen device running a version of Android covered with a thick layer of Windows. That’s fine – lots of Android phones have a personalized look and feel ̵1; but the Duo is a Surface and Android device for a second, which is worrying.
Compared to a similarly priced flagship device like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the Surface Duo did not stack up. If it’s Surface, why doesn’t it have the latest processor? If it’s a phone, why can’t you use it with one hand? Let’s take a closer look at the issues I’m facing in specifications, design and capabilities.
Surface Duo specifications: Short term
The problem starts from the specs, comparing them to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Even on paper, the Surface Duo doesn’t look so good:
Dimensions (folded): 145.2 x 93.3 x 9.9mm
Display: 5.6 inch, 1800×1350, 401 PPI dual PixelSense Fusion AMOLED
Processor: Snapdragon 855
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Camera: 11MP, f / 2.0
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Size: 166.9 x 76.0 x 8.8mm
Display: 6.9-inch WQHD, 3200×1440, 120Hz, 496ppi
Processor: Snapdragon 865
RAM: 12 GB LPDDR5
Storage: 128GB / 512GB
Front camera: 40MP, f / 2.2
Rear camera: 12MP super wide, f / 2.2 + 108MP wide, f / 1.8, OIS, + 48MP telephoto, f / 3.5
The Note 20 Ultra is not only better than the Surface Duo, but it’s also $ 100 cheaper. Plus, you get 5G, NFC, Wi-Fi 6, and wireless charging, none of which are available on the Surface Duo. And if you want to use the Surface Slim Pen for taking notes, you’ll have to pay an extra $ 145. It is a high standard for entering a world that is now insurmountable.
Surface Duo design: Feeling awkward
The design of the Surface Duo is definitely beautiful. It’s an impressively thin metal and glass construction that looks like a sturdy notebook, and the 360-degree hinge looks incredibly solid.
That’s fine, because you’ll open it a lot. Without an external display, every time you want to use Duo to check a notification or an email has just been sent, you’ll need to take it out of your pocket or purse and open it up, just like the feature phones .
That design might match a clamshell laptop like the Surface Laptop 3, but it’s awkward for a device that’s supposed to be twice your phone, especially one that costs $ 1,400. . While Samsung improved on the original Galaxy Fold with a larger external display on the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Microsoft’s Duo is not trying to be flexible. Android has solved the problem of unlocking the phone and illuminating the screen with the screen always on, but the Surface Duo ignores that. There isn’t even a small screen on the front like the Galaxy Z Flip.
Don’t forget the camera. Aside from the unknown image quality, you’ll need to open the Surface Duo completely to start capturing. It is a multi-step and multi-second process that will hinder the snapshot. Where every other phone maker has device shortcuts for accessing the camera, Microsoft has made it more difficult to use their phones.
Even biometrics are lacking. Although Microsoft has touted Duo’s enterprise-class security features, including the “Tailor-made unified firmware interface,” it doesn’t have a biometric camera. The actual locking and authentication of the device is left to the fingerprint reader on the side of the device rather than the Windows Hello facial recognition system, which is more secure than the fingerprint and can be exploited into the BiometricPrompt API of Android like the Pixel 4. There’s plenty of room in the frame for it.
Surface Duo capabilities: Anxiety about Android
The Surface Duo experience will likely be colored by its hybrid Windows-Android experience. Microsoft has made the novel dual-screen device work with the company’s ecosystem of apps and services. Like a multi-monitor PC setup, the monitors are designed to work together or separately. As Panos Panay told Verge, “There’s an algorithm in it that is very clever and tries to predict. If you’re on one screen and you’re calling a link, it fills the other. “
That doesn’t sound any different from LG’s dual-screen cover for Velvet, though, however, a phone costs half as much as Duo and has 5G. In fact, nothing Surface Duo does all that new. The picture-in-picture, drag-and-drop, and side-by-side apps are available on other Android phones, as well as the Microsoft Launcher and Office apps.
There is also no guarantee that the Android experience will be a premium experience. Certainly, all of Microsoft’s apps will be optimized for a two-screen experience, as are some other apps, such as the Kindle e-reader. But what about the thousands of other Android apps we use?
As we’ve seen on Chromebooks or even Android tablets, it’s less ideal to plug Google Play apps into an environment that doesn’t specifically fit them. Multitasking benefits may not be available for most applications. There are no empty Microsoft snapshots showing an Android app, which is of interest. Wishing the developers to support a single device in a sea of less demanding competitors. And while it’s nice that Microsoft guarantees the same three years of updates to the Surface Duo as the Pixel and Galaxy phones, it’s basically a deposit for a $ 1,400 phone. Imagine Surface users only guaranteed three years of Windows security updates?
Not enough tablets, not enough phones
Microsoft doesn’t position Duo as a competitor to other flagship Android phones – on its website, Android is mentioned only twice – but at $ 1,399 it needs more than a mobile ducts Office applications. When the novelty is gone, the Duo will be measured against the strength of its abilities, and there’s a lot it won’t be able to do.
Whether it wants to be classified as a phone, mini tablet or something completely different to usher in the “next wave of mobile productivity,” the Duo is like a step backwards for the entire Surface lineup. and Android smartphones. When foldable phones are trying to unify two devices, a smartphone and a tablet, the Surface Duo doesn’t really add anything to the folding conversation. With countless challenges seemingly by design, Microsoft will have a hard time convincing everyone that the Surface Duo is a useful addition to their Android and Surface workflows.
Update 12:40 am: Added news that Microsoft guarantees three years of Android updates.