Microsoft Surface Duo has a unique dual screen with Android but there are performance issues, but overall it’s pretty good.
Just a glance
phones and smartphones have really been designed around one shape, some fold, some slide, some flip and some definitely flop.
but they’ve all been engineered for some part to go to your ear, and some parts to go to your mouth.
but making phone calls now is just a small part of the giant device equation.
So when you look at the Microsoft duo, it’s easy to look at it as just another novel form factor of a smartphone.
but the more i used it, the more i realized it’s not a phone, it’s much much more.
so after using the Microsoft Duo for about two weeks, I’m still struck by how amazing this phone feels in the hand, it’s something so different that i haven’t seen before.
the software though kind of what makes everything work is different as well and quite frankly, it’s complicated.
- Beautiful thin design
- The sturdy hinge can bend and stay in any direction
- Sharp OLED screens are good for documents and reading
- Supports Microsoft Registry
- Software to cancel, buggy
- Few apps support multitasking across screens
- Not great for watching movies in full screen
- Just one camera is not good
- No 5G
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Internal storage||128GB or 256GB|
|Main Display||Dual PixelSense Fusion AMOLEDs Opened: 8.1”; Individual: 5.6”|
|Display resolution Opened||2,700 x 1,800 (3:2); Individual: 1,800 x 1,350 (4:3)|
|Front / rear camera||Adaptive camera 11MP, f/2.0, 1.0 µm, PDAF and 84.0° diagonal FOV|
|OS||Android 10 with Duo UI|
|Charging||USB C 3.1|
|Dimensions Open||145.2mm x 186.9mm x 4.8mmClosed: 145.2mm x 93.3mm x 9.9mm|
|Weight||250g / 8.8 oz|
The other cool stuff that’s happening here is keyboards because of the big form factor if you have it open you can’t really hold it and do bug typing.
so Microsoft Duo has a swift key, you open up an app on the right screen,
the keyboard is going to come up on that screen and write a line.
if you do it on the left, it’ll align on the left, it’s a small tweak that makes sort of one thumb typing on this really easy to use and sort of lends itself to a premium elegant experience.
another thing Microsoft has here is the app groups, so you can sort of select one icon that you create that’ll open two things up, so maybe it’s YouTube and Twitter or whatever it might be for you.
it’s nice to have, i didn’t use it that much and i kept forgetting my use case tends to differ on day to day and task to task.
but there are two things that you do all the time, it works really well for things like that.
so the Microsoft Duo is the first i guess phone in a long time that takes a totally different approach to smartphone design.
We’ve seen foldables before, but in one of their forms whether closed or open, they look like regular phones that do something else.
the Microsoft Duo is completely unique, when it’s closed up screens in, you can’t use it.
and when you open it up, it’s much wider than a traditional phone, everything about it’s just different than what we’re used to.
from essentially the first time you take the Microsoft Duo out the box i think you’re struck by just the sheer thinness of a phone.
i want to avoid the overused sort of hyperbole terms of engineering marvel, but there’s some crazy engineering that went in to making this thing possible, and it has a just ridiculously awesome hinge, i don’t know how else to describe it.
the hinge is amazing in every way, 360 degree goes all the way around, there’s no hinge wobble. You could stop it at any number of those degrees, and it will stay there.
the fact that it does all of that will have electronic components going back and forth, those screens can talk to each other.
it does come with some drawbacks though despite it being so cool, there’s a very visible gap between those two screens.
when you’re holding it and you’ve got the phone in front of you, you can see the light coming in between it, and that’s not even to say the giant bezels that are inside of that.
it’s something that you have to get used to but the quality of the displays are really good.
I mean they’re amoled, so you’d expect the colours to be bright and black to be black.
but the quality of how things look on it, it’s certainly subjective, to my eye the screens look absolutely amazing.
The Microsoft Duo is also a gorilla glass 5 on the front, on the inside, on everything, so it’s not sort of that magnesium alloy, you might expect from surface products.
but this also means because the whole thing’s gorilla glass, you can actually fold its screens out, and keep it in your pocket that way if you want to, it’s actually how i use it.
if you needed another sign that Microsoft Duo isn’t viewing the duo as a traditional smartphone, it’s the camera, it’s 11 megapixels is only one of them.
and I’m kind of looking at it more like a webcam than I’m a traditional smartphone camera.
photos aren’t great that come out of it, they’re fine and they’re probably on the low end of average when it comes to photos across the smartphone space.
but the fact you can move it around, use it for different angles depending on how you arrange and fold the device.
does give it a lot of utility than really any other single camera out there. and what it’s perfect for especially now are those you know Microsoft teams calls, zoom calls, Google hangout calls, all that stuff you’re doing web chatting, it’s really good at stuff like that.
Microsoft Duo went with Android because they didn’t want to make the same windows phone mistake, they wanted app support on their hardware, and that is a giant deal with them.
and android obviously has a huge app marketplace with Google play, and so that was paramour to do a success.
but like any few form factor developers might not want to support it until people start using it, and people might not start using it until developers support it.
That’s where I started to run into a lot of problems with the software. Take Instagram for example, obviously a very popular app that a lot of people use on their phones.
When I was in somebody’s story for example, I wanted to swipe home, A simple gesture that you can do on pretty much every other android device that issue.
it didn’t work all the time on the Microsoft Duo. Sometimes I wanted to open two apps side by side and it wouldn’t work.
and that’s where you start to see some of the software bugs that are plaguing at least this iteration of the Microsoft Duo. this software that we have right now at launch.
And the good side about that is software can be fixed , but as you start to use the Microsoft Duo more and more and sort of the luster wears off and you have to live with it, use it and work with it. You do start to notice that it’s an imperfect device.
I start to do multiple things and I have those sorts of apps that won’t open or sometimes stutter and slow down, it’s hard to wonder if maybe some of that is also Microsoft Duo to hardware.
the snapdragon 855 is in here instead of the 865 plus, that’s out right. now on premium devices probably not so much on that side 855, it’s a very capable chip.
What does give me pause though is 6 gigs of RAM. and when it comes to android
and multitasking a device like this is made to have two apps running fully side by side.
I do worry over the longevity of the device that six gigs might just not cut it.
so there are definitely software issues but the company’s name, it’s Microsoft.
So Microsoft is viewing the Duo as two screen phone, not a foldable and while like to us that difference might be unclear,
i think to them and the direction they went to take the line makes a ton of difference.
so here’s how Microsoft envisions People using the Microsoft Duo.
Essentially it’s single tasking multiple apps, so having two apps running side by side on each screen.
and in that aspect the Microsoft Duo absolutely delivers.
When you have two separate apps doing two separate things,
you can appreciate the direction Microsoft is going, and what the Duo is capable of doing.
having email on one and social media feed open on another, it’s an awesome experience.
The other vision is screen extension, so for right now it’s mostly first party Microsoft apps and some select third-party apps like the kindle that can sort of take advantage of those two displays while using one app.
so in outlook for example, when you open an email it’ll jump over screens,
that’s cool to have, and that adds utility to what you get over a traditional phone.
and also some other cool stuff is happening that Microsoft envisions you using on a daily basis.
you can open the launcher from either side and whatever side you open the app on, it’ll open on that screen.
Microsoft Duo is amazing, functional and expensive like all devices that are used,
as it is characterized by having two screens, but despite this I found myself more able to work with two screens that work side by side.
With my inbox on the left and reply message on the right,
my phone has suddenly gotten a lot better at email.
And its support for watching a video is very satisfying.
The only drawback was the Software so it still needed to do something of concern.