A two-screen Android phone that can change everything

The Microsoft Surface Duo is here, and that means you can get your hands on an Android-powered foldable phone for $ 1,399 on Thursday.

Yes, you read that right. Microsoft (MSFT) built a two-screen, foldable, Android (GOOG, GOOGL) phone. There is nothing like this in the market. Sure, there are foldable phones, and two screened phones, but Microsoft has married the two concepts incredibly well with hiccups.

The software is a bit granular at times, although it goes a long way after an initial software update that Microsoft released for phones; Its performance may feel slower than that of the flagship phone; And its camera system is, well, flawed.

But the man, a first-generation device meant to dramatically improve productivity at hand, is an outline of the Surface Duo’s revelation.


  • Unique two-screen design.

  • Great for productivity.

  • Easy to use in multiple modes.

  • Competitively proud with other folding phones.


Surface duo screen

The Surface Duo is designed like a book, with a glass coated that acts as a cover when closed. It has a fingerprint reader built into one edge, and a shiny chrome hinge that connects to its screen on the other.

Microsoft’s Surface Duo is a revitalization device, but suffers from first-generation flaws. (Image: Dan Hawley)

However, open it, and you get the Duo’s twin 5.6-inch PixelSense display. Taken together, Microsoft says that both phones make up the 8.1-inch PixelSense Fusion display.

When closed, the Duo is surprisingly thin, slightly larger than the iPhone 11 Pro – and it’s even thinner when open. So if you are worried that it will take place in your pocket, remove it from your mind.

It is not awkward to see your screen, but it is a relief to avoid seeing the notification after the notification pops up. And if you prefer, you can open the Duo all the way using a 360-degree hinge, and both displays are always available.

The Surface Duo is surprisingly slim for two-screen phones. (Image: Dan Hawley)

Using Duo in this way means which panel you want to use. Special software in the phone is able to determine how you are holding the phone and looking at the screen. And if it is not, you can double-tap the display you want to use.

You can also use Duo in tent mode to watch a movie, or open an app like Slack or Teams on a workday to not miss any notes from your colleagues.

Use the application on both screens

What makes both screens so impressive is that, despite splitting a small air gap, you can drag and drop content between them based on the app. So if you found something in Outlook that you want to put into Word, you can highlight it and drag it over. It is not yet available in all apps, but I expect Microsoft to work with enough developers to do this over time.

You can run two different apps on each screen and even interact with select apps. (Image: Dan Hawley)

Many times, the Duo was unable to determine in which orientation I was holding it. Nevertheless, you cannot deny the benefits of being able to use different apps on two different screens at the same time. I have been able to type edits to articles on one panel, while responding to slack messages on another. I’ve also scrolled through Instagram, while streaming old episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

Using such apps achieves a lot, and because the Duo is powered by Google’s Android, you get full access to millions of applications from the Google Play Store.

A single app can also be used on both screens, allowing you to navigate and consume content easily. (Image: Dan Hawley)

You can also expand apps to span both displays, which will give you more room to work. For example, with Outlook, you can browse your inbox on the right, while reading a full-sized message on the left.

Using duo as smartphone

But you are also going to use the Duo as a standard smartphone. So what? Let’s start with the camera.

Located inside the phone, the camera does double duty for selfies and regular photos, so you have to open the Duo before you start taking photos. If I was trying to take a photo of a selfie or a subject, the Duo also had a difficult time, resulting in a lot of close-ups of my face.

This sample photo taken with the Surface Duo shows how the camera has difficulty with capturing light and detail. (Image: Dan Hawley)

Photo quality was much lower than the Apple (AAPL) iPhone 11 Pro Max or even Google’s $ 349 Pixel 4a. The Duo was unable to capture just as much detail, and, as a result, the images looked blurred and out of focus.

A photo taken with the iPhone 11 Pro Max shows how different the two phones are in terms of camera capabilities. (Image: Dan Hawley)

Overall the performance sounded fine, but I noticed some lag while being photographed, which was a surprise when using the Duo Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor and 6GB of RAM.

On the other hand, the battery life of the Duo was seriously impressive, lasting smoothly throughout the day and without any problems in the next issue.

Should you get it

At $ 1,399 and still buggy, the Surface Duo feels like a showcase of Microsoft’s plans for the future of its smartphone. This is similar to what the company did with its original Surface line, removing the idea from there, perfecting it over time and finally, releasing a damn good product that would outperform anything else on the market. is.

For now, the Duo is a tough sell. But Microsoft deserves credit for taking a big risk. And further down the line, the expectation is that the company lets those risks pay off as it does with the original surface.

Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley [email protected] Over via encrypted mail [email protected], And follow him on Twitter @DanielHowley.

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