MICROSOFT Surface Duo Review

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In this article, I give you my Microsoft Surface Duo review with specs included. This is the Microsoft Surface Duo. This is their two-screen, connected by a hinge, phone. Sort of like if you could have Lenovo Yoga as a phone.

I had preconceptions about this as much as I’m the unbiased person who always tries just to find the tech that works best for me but I thought, two-screen phones are a stopgap measure because you can’t make a folding phone yet or one that’s durable enough or cheap enough that sort of thing.

Microsoft Surface Duo Pen
Microsoft Surface Duo Pen

I watched Microsoft’s presentation of this product and the head of all service products got me a little hyped about this. But, I remained skeptical for hinge products until I got this in my hands and, wow, this is really neat.

Instead of going the folding screen route, Microsoft has something completely new here with two 5.6-inch OLED displays connected by a very thin gap and two hinges that hold in any position.

Microsoft Surface Duo Use 1
Microsoft Surface Duo Specs 1

Again, it’s just like a Yoga laptop, you can put it in tent mode, presentation mode, or laptop mode. Of course, Microsoft has these funny names that come up with a compose mode for laptop mode, but whatever.

So, this mechanism solves a whole lot of problems. You’re always trying to prop up your phone and then you drop it or you’re buying little stands for your phone. Pretty much you can always find a position for it with the help of this simple feature.

Microsoft Surface Duo Use 2
Microsoft Surface Duo Use 2

5.6 inches to me sounded pretty small. I don’t like small-screen phones, I have a Pixel 4a, I admit, I would use it but that 5.8-inch screen is too small. But, the aspect ratio of these displays is 4×3 like an iPad mini so you remember the days when we had 16 by nine aspect ratio phones 1920 by 1080 for example and that was great for watching a video and it wasn’t so super narrow as today’s phones get more and more narrow.

When manufacturers first introduced narrow screens, there was a collective complaint about their tall and narrow aspect ratios. Such screens offered limited usable space for tasks like note-taking and reading content, often resulting in constant line wrapping and the need for mobile apps to adopt a column-based design. However, with the Microsoft Surface Duo, users gain ample room to spread out and engage with content more comfortably. Comparing it to devices like the Pixel 4a, the Surface Duo appears significantly larger, particularly when utilizing one of its screens.

Upon opening the Surface Duo, users are greeted with a nominal 8.1-inch display, albeit interrupted by a visible seam. While this seam may be narrower compared to similar devices like LG phones with optional display cases, it still presents a noticeable division. Thus, while the Surface Duo offers considerable benefits, it falls short of perfection due to this inherent limitation. The user’s intended usage plays a crucial role in determining the device’s suitability. For those primarily focused on content consumption, especially videos, alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, albeit at a higher price point, offer a more seamless experience without a visible line down the middle.

The concept of the Surface Duo introduces a paradigm shift in smartphone usability, addressing a fundamental issue that users may not have been consciously aware of—the limitation of performing only one task at a time on a smartphone. While users may believe they are content with this status quo due to familiarity, experiencing the Surface Duo’s capabilities firsthand reveals the potential for enhanced productivity and multitasking. It is akin to the transformative impact of the iPhone when it was first introduced, revolutionizing user expectations and behaviors.

In contrast to devices like the Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Flip, which cater to users seeking larger single screens without the bulkiness of traditional tablets, the Surface Duo offers a unique solution. While the Galaxy Fold products address an existing need for a bigger screen, the Surface Duo presents a solution to a problem users may not have been consciously aware of until now—the need for more seamless multitasking capabilities on a smartphone.

The Surface Duo enables users to effortlessly switch between tasks without the need for cumbersome screen swapping, leading to a newfound realization of the benefits of multitasking. For instance, running speed tests while simultaneously browsing the web or performing other tasks demonstrates the device’s versatility and efficiency. This enhanced multitasking experience becomes particularly evident when utilizing applications like Microsoft Edge or Chrome, where seamlessly transferring content between different windows enhances productivity.

Additionally, the Surface Duo caters to various use cases, such as utilizing one screen for a baby monitor while using the other for different tasks. This flexibility extends to activities like watching game walkthrough videos on YouTube while simultaneously browsing Reddit or Discord for tips and discussions, enhancing the overall user experience.

Furthermore, the Surface Duo’s implementation of dual screens ensures compatibility with existing applications without the need for developers to adapt their software specifically. Unlike other devices where multi-window multitasking can be fidgety and inconsistent, the Surface Duo offers a smooth and intuitive experience, facilitating seamless transitions between tasks.

In contrast, devices like the Galaxy Note series, with their multi-window multitasking capabilities, often require users to navigate through cumbersome interfaces and contend with aspect ratio limitations. Similarly, the iPad Pro, while offering excellent performance, may suffer from fidgety multitasking experiences due to its interface design.

Overall, the Surface Duo’s intuitive gestures and seamless multitasking capabilities make it a compelling choice for users seeking enhanced productivity and versatility in a smartphone. Its unique approach to multitasking, coupled with the familiarity of dual screens, offers a refreshing alternative to traditional single-screen devices.

The Microsoft Surface Duo garnered attention from a select group of early reviewers who encountered buggy software, prompting criticism regarding Microsoft’s decision to release the device prematurely. However, recent software updates have addressed many of these issues, providing users with a more stable experience. While the software may not be entirely bug-free, the intuitive gestures integrated by Microsoft contribute to a seamless user experience, reminiscent of the effortless functionality envisioned in Microsoft’s earlier Courier concept.

The Surface Duo’s gesture-based navigation facilitates fluid transitions between screens, allowing users to effortlessly flick between applications. This intuitive approach to multitasking streamlines the user experience, enhancing productivity without the need for cumbersome navigation bars or complex gestures. However, users may find navigating between Android navigation methods and gestures somewhat cumbersome, requiring some adjustment to find the optimal configuration.

Despite occasional stuttering and performance hiccups, the Surface Duo’s software remains largely stable, with minimal graphical glitches or significant issues. The Microsoft SwiftKey keyboard, in particular, performs reliably, offering various customization options to suit individual preferences. While occasional app crashes or launcher issues may occur, overall software performance is satisfactory, with the promise of further improvements through future updates.

In tablet mode, the Surface Duo offers a mixed experience, with certain applications optimized for dual-screen usage, such as Amazon Kindle and Google Play Books, providing a seamless reading experience across both screens. However, compatibility issues may arise with apps like Comixology, which do not fully support the dual-screen layout. Furthermore, watching full-screen content, such as YouTube videos, may be hindered by the visible seam between the two displays, detracting from the immersive viewing experience.

Regarding its functionality as a phone, initial skepticism regarding the Surface Duo’s suitability as a primary mobile device has been largely dispelled. While its unique form factor may raise questions about its usability, the device functions effectively as a phone, with users adapting to its unconventional design. The absence of an outer display on the back of the device may seem puzzling, but it reflects the device’s emphasis on sleekness and thinness, with dimensions that rival even the slimmest smartphones on the market.

The Surface Duo’s thin profile, measuring just 4.8 millimeters when closed, contributes to its portability and balance, ensuring that it does not feel cumbersome or unwieldy. However, this compact design necessitates certain compromises, such as the absence of an outer camera, with the device instead relying on an in-display 11-megapixel camera. While this camera may not match the performance of dedicated smartphone cameras, it fulfills basic photographic needs while maintaining the device’s sleek aesthetic.

The Microsoft Surface Duo represents a bold departure from conventional smartphone design, offering a unique blend of productivity and portability. While early software issues may have raised concerns among reviewers, recent updates have addressed many of these issues, resulting in a more stable user experience. With its intuitive gestures, dual-screen functionality, and compact design, the Surface Duo offers a compelling alternative for users seeking enhanced multitasking capabilities without sacrificing portability.

The Microsoft Surface Duo presents a unique approach to smartphone design, emphasizing versatility and productivity through its dual-screen configuration. While the device offers innovative features such as seamless transition between front and rear cameras and intuitive gesture-based navigation, certain limitations and compromises must be considered.

The device’s camera functionality, while sufficient for basic tasks such as video conferencing and casual photography, falls short in comparison to dedicated smartphone cameras. The absence of a secondary camera and the device’s reliance on a single rear-facing camera limit its capabilities, particularly in low-light conditions. However, for outdoor or well-lit environments, the Surface Duo’s camera performs adequately, albeit with some room for improvement in color saturation and contrast.

Another drawback is the device’s lack of 5G support, despite its premium price point. While the Surface Duo boasts impressive 4G LTE connectivity, the absence of 5G may deter users seeking future-proof technology. Additionally, the device is powered by the Snapdragon 855 chipset, a last-generation processor, which may impact performance and longevity compared to newer models.

Memory limitations, such as the device’s 6GB of RAM, may result in occasional stutters or slowdowns, particularly during multitasking. While adequate for everyday use, users may encounter performance issues when running multiple applications simultaneously. The absence of expandable storage further restricts storage options, although cloud-based solutions mitigate this limitation to some extent.

The Surface Duo’s design sacrifices certain features to maintain its slim profile, such as the omission of wireless charging and IP68 water resistance. While these compromises contribute to the device’s sleek aesthetic, they may disappoint users accustomed to these conveniences. However, the device’s dual-screen functionality and ergonomic design compensate for these shortcomings, providing a comfortable and immersive user experience.

Despite its wide form factor, the Surface Duo offers a spacious screen ideal for multitasking and productivity. Its 4:3 aspect ratio enhances screen real estate, allowing users to view content comfortably across both displays. However, the device’s width may pose ergonomic challenges for some users, necessitating alternative methods of holding or carrying the device.

Accessories such as skins and cases enhance the device’s grip and protection, addressing concerns regarding its glass construction. While the device lacks certain features such as facial recognition and an external flash, these omissions may be inconsequential for users prioritizing productivity and multitasking capabilities.

In short, the Microsoft Surface Duo offers a compelling blend of innovation and functionality, providing users with a unique smartphone experience. Despite certain limitations and compromises, the device’s dual-screen configuration, intuitive navigation, and sleek design make it a viable option for users seeking enhanced productivity and versatility in a mobile device.

The Microsoft Surface Duo review underscores several key features and functionalities of the device, providing insights into its performance, design, and overall user experience. One notable aspect of the device is its emphasis on security features, including a fingerprint scanner located on the side. Despite initial skepticism regarding fingerprint scanners, particularly for left-handed users, the Surface Duo’s scanner performs exceptionally well, offering reliable and efficient authentication. The device also incorporates Android’s location unlock feature, which enhances usability by ensuring consistent unlocking based on location proximity.

In terms of build quality, the Surface Duo garners praise for its impeccable craftsmanship and sturdy hinge mechanism. While some users have reported minor issues with glass alignment, these seem to be isolated incidents rather than widespread concerns. The device’s USB-C port facilitates versatile connectivity options, enabling seamless integration with peripherals such as keyboards, mice, and monitors. Additionally, the absence of a headphone jack may pose limitations for users who prefer wired audio solutions. However, the USB-C port’s compatibility with various accessories enhances the device’s versatility, catering to the needs of business professionals and productivity-oriented users.

The Surface Duo’s dual-screen configuration offers a unique user experience, facilitating multitasking and productivity across two expansive displays. Despite the absence of an external display for notifications, users can leverage smartwatches to complement the device’s functionality. Pairing the Surface Duo with a compatible smartwatch enables convenient access to notifications and enhances productivity on the go. Moreover, users can utilize Bluetooth-enabled earbuds for audio playback, although the device’s Bluetooth range may be limited compared to standalone earbuds.

One notable feature of the Surface Duo is its compatibility with the Surface Pen, allowing users to leverage digital inking capabilities for note-taking and creative tasks. While the device lacks a dedicated silo for the Surface Pen, magnets integrated into the device’s design provide a secure attachment point for the stylus. The Surface Pen’s compatibility with the Surface Duo enhances its versatility, enabling users to seamlessly transition between traditional note-taking and digital annotation tasks.

In terms of performance, the Surface Duo’s Snapdragon 855 chipset offers sufficient power for everyday tasks and multitasking. While newer processors may offer improved performance, the Snapdragon 855 chipset delivers reliable performance for most users’ needs. The device’s memory configuration, including 6GB of RAM, may result in occasional slowdowns or stutters during multitasking. However, the device’s optimization and efficient software management mitigate these issues to some extent.

Battery life on the Surface Duo exceeds expectations, considering its dual-screen configuration and 4G LTE connectivity. The device’s 3577 milliamp-hour battery provides adequate endurance for typical daily usage, offering a balance between performance and battery efficiency. While the absence of 5G connectivity may disappoint some users, the device’s robust battery life compensates for this limitation.

The Microsoft Surface Duo represents a promising step forward in smartphone innovation, offering a compelling blend of productivity, versatility, and design. Despite certain limitations, such as camera performance and memory constraints, the device’s dual-screen functionality and intuitive user experience make it a viable option for users seeking enhanced productivity and multitasking capabilities.

With its sleek design, secure authentication features, and seamless integration with accessories such as the Surface Pen, the Surface Duo demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to redefining the smartphone experience. As the device continues to evolve and receive software updates, it holds significant promise for users seeking a versatile and innovative mobile computing solution.

The Microsoft Surface Duo boasts an OLED display, known for its power efficiency, particularly when displaying darker content. Despite this, the device manages an average screen-on time of five and a half to six hours, even with extensive use of the dual-screen mode, which inherently consumes more power than single-screen operation.

The device includes an 18-watt charger, which, while labeled as “fast,” offers only a marginal increase in charging speed compared to standard 15-watt chargers. Given its price point, which aligns with premium flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra or Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, potential buyers may consider trade-in programs offered by Microsoft and other retailers to mitigate the upfront cost. These programs allow customers to receive significant discounts, making the purchase more palatable.

When contemplating the Surface Duo, it’s essential to recognize its status as a first-generation product. While Microsoft offers a generous 60-day trial period for direct purchases from their website, users should temper their expectations accordingly. The device comes with certain trade-offs, including subpar camera performance and the absence of 5G connectivity, features commonly found in competing flagship smartphones.

Additionally, the lack of facial recognition may deter users accustomed to this convenience. However, despite these drawbacks, the Surface Duo introduces novel ways of interacting with a smartphone, challenging conventional usage patterns and sparking newfound interest in its innovative design.

The Surface Duo’s availability through various channels, including Microsoft’s website, Best Buy, and AT&T, offers consumers flexibility in purchasing options. Microsoft’s direct sales model, combined with the extended trial period, provides reassurance for those hesitant to invest in a first-generation product.

Nevertheless, it’s essential to approach the Surface Duo with a degree of caution, recognizing its status as an early entrant into a nascent product category. While it may not appeal to all users, particularly those prioritizing camera quality or 5G connectivity, its unique form factor and dual-screen functionality offer a glimpse into the future of smartphone design and usability.

In conclusion, while the Surface Duo may not be a perfect device, its innovation and potential for transforming the smartphone landscape are undeniable. As technology continues to evolve, and subsequent iterations of the Surface Duo address existing shortcomings, it stands poised to revolutionize the way users interact with their devices.

For early adopters and enthusiasts willing to embrace its experimental nature, the Surface Duo represents a compelling option worth exploring. However, for those seeking a more conventional smartphone experience, it may be prudent to wait for future iterations or alternative offerings that better align with their preferences and requirements.

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Microsoft Surface Duo
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