- Solid Design
- Thin for a dual-display phone
- Strong hinge
- Supports Microsoft Pen
- Buggy software
- Poor camera
The Microsoft Surface Duo blurs the lines between tablet and phone. It’s bigger than a phone, smaller than a tablet, has two screens, and folds like a book. Does this duality add to the quality, or is it double trouble instead?
The eye-catching design makes the Microsoft Surface Duo hard to forget. The two-panel screen allows this device to fold up like a book -- something that helps it stand out from the pack. There is no outer display unless you want to keep the phone's screens folded out instead of in. As such, the outside is unassuming and a little bit plain. But reviewers found the Microsoft embossed icon is a nice touch.
The Duo in Microsoft Surface Duo is a nod toward the phone’s two screens. You can use them as a single large display measuring 8.1 inches.
Though reviewers found the considerable gap in the middle of the two displays made it hard to immerse themselves in movies or games though, being able to queue up two apps at once has major appeal. One small caveat is that the apps you want to use for it need to support that feature.
There’s a lot to like about the Microsoft Surface Duo. But according to reviewers, it also needs a lot of work. Reviewers found the software buggy. While the phone has plenty of processing power and is generally smooth, there were several times where something interrupted the flow, frustrating reviewers. For example, reviewers noted they sometimes had to open the phone multiple times to get the screens to turn on or that they’d sometimes go dark while using them.
Software & Storage
The Microsoft Surface Duo runs on Android 10, which felt odd to some reviewers since Microsoft had its own operating system. Many reviewers felt this was to keep the phone design streamline and thin.
The phone has plenty of storage space, offering up to 256GB of storage. But once you’ve filled up the phone, you’ll need to shift things to cloud storage or uninstall or delete items since the phone doesn’t offer an extra expansion slot.
The camera on the Microsoft Surface Duo was the biggest disappointment for reviewers. They noted that on top of being difficult to get to the camera function, the images captured also lacked clarity and depth. If you’re looking for a phone to take stunning pictures, the Duo isn’t the best pic for the price.
On the other end of the spectrum, battery life impressed reviewers. But it probably should when the phone includes two batteries--one under each display. Some reviewers said they got one full day while others said they could use the phone for a day and a half before needing to charge it.
There wasn’t anything mentioned about the audio being good or bad. As such, you can likely expect a reasonable audio experience. Tiny phone speakers rarely blow anyone away, so if you’re planning to sink into your favorite games or media, plan to bring your headphones along.
Specs at a Glance
- Glass chassis
- Dual OLED displays
- 2.84 GHz Octa-core Snapdragon 855 processor
- 6GB of RAM
- Android 10
- 128 to 256GB of storage
- 11MP camera
- 3577mAh battery
The Microsoft Surface Duo got a few things right with their attempt at a foldable phone. Much like the other foldable phones on the market, there are still problems that need fixing. However, it is a good start. With that thought in mind, the lack of 5G compatibility and the price tag doesn’t exactly match when considering how well the phone will age.
ZDNet says, “It's an interesting concept, but it definitely feels like a Generation 1 solution that's in search of a problem more than a solution to a problem I have with mobile devices.”
Wired states, “The two displays aren't the problem; in fact, they're exemplary. Ever use two computer monitors at the same time? It's hard to go back to a single screen afterward, and the same is true here. But what drains the Duo of its mobile multitasking charm is glitchy software that makes this [expensive] phone feel like a work in progress.”
The Verge comments, “I can see Microsoft learning from all those mistakes, and I’m glad to see the company back in the fight again. I hope that this first Surface Duo isn’t its last round.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
The Microsoft Surface Duo is not designed for gamers, as its good touch accuracy and rare frame drops are not enough to compensate for lack of smoothness and other issues. For other users, however, the device’s twin display offers decent color and good multitasking functionality.
- Andrew Williams, Stuff
It can be like two phones running side-by-side, if you want it to be. It can act like a mini tablet, with a black column running down the middle you’ll have to do your best to ignore. And unlike the actual folding phones, the Microsoft Surface Duo doesn’t feel like you could accidentally destroy it...
- Jonathan Lamont, Mobile Syrup
I think the Duo will be an exceptional device that offers a unique, new mobile phone experience for some people. It could really boost your productivity as well! But for most people, the Duo won't offer any significant benefit over a traditional candybar smartphone, nor is it worth the hefty price t...
- Jon Honeyball, IT Pro
- Cherlynn Low, Engadget
The Surface Duo is decent as a phone, quite bad as a tablet, and somewhat functional as everything in between. That is, when the software works as promised. But bugs and app incompatibility plague this $1,399 device, which will need monthly updates from Microsoft to fix its numerous issues.
Prices (Where to Buy)
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the Microsoft Surface Duo user manual here.
Microsoft backs up the Surface Duo with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Surface Duo has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact Microsoft support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find Microsoft's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.
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