amazon MICROSOFT SURFACE DUO reviews
The Microsoft Surface Duo is a differentiated device from any piece of technology you’ve ever used. You may mistakenly think it is a small phone or tablet, but in fact, it is not a phone, not quite a tablet, but something beyond the framework of the two.
When you close, you can not see any screen. It’s like the electronic version of a notebook that you normally slip into your back pocket. When opened, you have two monitors side by side or one monitor with its back resting on the other. As a notebook, the feel of holding the phone is somewhat more natural than when holding a regular rectangular phone: you place it in your hand, the two screens slightly fold into a V-shape towards you, like a notebook.
In practical use, what you can do on the Surface Duo, you can also do it on an existing smartphone or tablet. Your smartphone will take better pictures, and the tablet has no gaps in the middle of the screen. But what sets the Surface Duo apart is the way you do things: very unique. Sometimes, the Surface Duo allows you to do tasks that you might get annoyed by doing on other devices.
Microsoft offers $ 1,399 for the lowest version of the Surface Duo. Considering the Duo features compared to other phones, this is a hefty price tag. Even after a few weeks of use, you’ll realize that the device does not help you get more productive than a regular single-screen phone. What it gives you is simply the mental “feeling”: you often feel as if you’re more productive with Duo’s multitasking capabilities.
How much do you think that “feeling” is worth?
Surface Duo hardware
The Surface Duo is a beautifully designed product. Every millimeter of it is meticulously groomed – though sometimes that care is a bit too much, leading to unnecessary compromises.
The most important thing to know about Duo’s hardware is its thickness: 4.8mm when opened, and 9.9mm when closed – just enough to turn it into an ergonomically-packed device fit your pants pocket. Despite having two screens and two batteries, the Duo is also relatively light, only 250g.
The thinness and lightness of the Surface Duo are the two basic factors that contribute to its allure. Not to mention Microsoft decided not to equip Duo with an external display, as well as no convex camera clusters, to ensure thinness and comfortable grip, while sending a signal that this is a kind of device not like usual.
Opening and closing the device like a book feels fundamentally different from unlocking a smartphone. It forces you to change your mind when using the device. Microsoft intends to encourage you to use the machine purposefully and to discontinue using it purposefully.
The Surface Duo’s hinge can be said to be classic. It rotates 360 degrees so you fold one of the screens back and use it as a traditional phone. You can build a screen up, and it will stay stationary while you are on a video call. This hinge is sturdy but not rough, and the meticulousness in the design has minimized the gap between the two screens.
The front and back surfaces of the Surface Duo are both covered with glass – both the front and the back, if to be exact. These glass panels sandwiched between a metal strip, which also houses the USB-C port, but there’s no headphone jack – perhaps too thin for this jack. You’ll also see volume controls, the power button, and the fingerprint sensor, which should have been built into the power button but was not.
Nothing is perfect. If you look very close, you will notice that the hinge is slightly asymmetrical, and it also protrudes slightly along the top and bottom. Microsoft included two plastic panels, which helped increase the sense of holding the device and limit the pretty sharp corners at the edge of the machine. Colors on the two screens are also slightly different – the monitor’s white balance on the left side seems a bit red, but you won’t notice it until you read the Kindle with the screen brightness drops.
But that’s not a big minus in terms of hardware. The big minus point here is the top and bottom bezels of the 5.6-inch dual OLED display. They are quite large and are probably one of the must-accept compromises for keeping the Duo slim. Do not worry, you will get used to it soon.
Other than that, the screen of the Surface Duo is of good quality. They are easy to read in the sun, have a thick pixel density, and have good viewing angles. If you have a Surface Pen, it should work on this screen. However, they do not have a high refresh rate, which is increasingly common on phones that cost more than $ 1,000.
Duo’s two screens are also slightly wider than other smartphones over time. They have a 4: 3 aspect ratio, making it impossible to use the device with one hand even when it’s half-folded. Your apps will also look and feel a bit like windows on the déktop.
Many other things are also sacrificed to ensure the thinness of the device: NFC, wireless charging, high capacity battery, expandable memory, 5G, and more modern parameters such as a faster and much faster processor. More RAM. The machine only has a single speaker with poor quality. Everything you’d expect to see on a phone at this price point is sacrificed because the Surface Duo is a phone – it’s something completely different.
Microsoft was probably overly greedy with the software on the Surface Duo. The original software version they sent out to reviewers was fraught with bugs. Less than a week ago, the company released a software update – the version that comes pre-installed on the devices that are marketed – that addresses a fair amount of the bug.
But some bugs are still there. There are a few problems with the camera app such as lag and … missed capture, as well as other dumb errors like the keyboard suddenly appearing for no reason.
Quite surprisingly, one of the problems with the Surface Duo wasn’t that bad Android tablet apps. Because the number of Android tablets on the market is very small, many developers decide not to create optimized versions of software for tablets, making manufacturers not excited about Android tablets, and the vicious cycle goes to continue.
Application diversity is an issue that Microsoft has all understood since the failure of Windows Phone. Therefore, one of the smartest things that Microsoft came up with when designing the software for the Surface Duo was not to turn it into a tablet. Instead, the Duo’s essence is what it sounds like: two phone screens for running two apps side by side.
On the Surface Duo, you can easily do that by tapping the app icons you want on each screen and using them side by side. Very simple and very great.
One of the things that help you stay productive on your laptop is application windows, which make it easy to cross-check information and track one app while switching to another. You can also move content from one window to another without having to do too much on the interface.
Every attempt to create a similar experience on phones by manufacturers has failed. On Duo, things get better because you can easily open each app on each screen. Microsoft gives Duo the ability to drag and drop between apps, but it will take a while to get used to, and it only works for a few apps – copy anyway and the paste works fine as well.
The hinge allows you to use two Duo’s displays in a variety of styles. There is a mode called “tent” for watching movies, a single screen mode, a large keyboard mode, and a full-screen mode. In full-screen mode, most apps will … forget the existence of a gap between the two screens, so the content being displayed would oddly split, or even suffer. Cuts off and dissolves into nothingness between the two OLED screens.
The Kindle app is a great example of turning the gap into your advantage: each side of the screen becomes a page of a book, and you can hold Duo like a booklet. But other than the Kindle, the only apps that take advantage of that are Microsoft’s apps. The most specific is Outlook: you have an email list on the left screen and emails on the right. Press the forward button, the original email will move to the left and the entire right screen will become a new email editing window. That means you won’t have to constantly scroll up and down to view and reply to each issue in an email.
A Large keyboard mode is also quite interesting. If you rotate the Duo to a 90-degree angle while the cursor is placed in the editing area, the lower screen automatically turns into the keyboard, and the home screen changes to a full-screen display. It lets you see what’s typing on a larger space, and gives you a really large keyboard for faster typing.
But getting apps to the desired positions for each mode is not easy, because Android is essentially an operating system for single-screen devices. That is the source of the overwhelming majority of errors that occur during use. Unfortunately, these errors are the result of Microsoft customizing Android for real multitasking experience. Microsoft has taken one of the toughest paths when it comes to customizing Android the way they want, but it is the right path they must take.
Unlike Samsung, LG, and others that have experience with dual-screen and foldable Android devices, Microsoft seeks to create a multitasking system that is completely different from the traditional Android interface.
Although many manufacturers are still steadfast with the buttons, Android has now switched to swiping from the bottom to access key system components such as the multitasking interface, home screen, and app drawer. Microsoft takes advantage of this system and makes it even more powerful. You can swipe up to bring up the app window and drag it around the two screens to place it in one of the aforementioned display modes.
It sounds easy, but it is difficult to remember what type to swipe to perform depending on the context. Sometimes a swipe opens the multitasking interface, sometimes it brings you to the home screen, sometimes it shows the app drawer, sometimes it drags an app to another screen if you angle it correctly. Not to mention if you use Duo vertically, the bottom-up swipe now turns into edge-to-swipe. You’ll eventually learn how to use Duo smoothly, but you’ll get annoyed at times because Duo does something wrong with your intention, or suddenly lags when you are trying to place a window on the screen.
On the Surface Duo, you will have a consistent, intuitive ecosystem of apps and services, including Outlook, Office, Your Phone, OneNote, OneDrive … Microsoft doesn’t force you to use them if you don’t want to. Google Search is still the default instead of Bing. Gmail is still there in case you need it.
Speaking of Google, it wouldn’t be unjust to say that some of the problems with Duo were due to Android itself. Google has been aggressively promoting support for foldable devices for years, but they can’t help Android tablets succeed. As a result, Android is still not ready for devices like Samsung’s Surface Duo and Galaxy Z Fold 2.
Overall, there are still times when you feel like you can do a lot more on Duo than you can on other phones. And then as time goes by, you begin to realize that you are asking too much.
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Microsoft Surface Duo 256GB (Unlocked) – Glacier: Buy it now
The Surface Duo’s camera is trash.
You can enjoy small features like good color balance, or the ability to take a picture on one monitor while viewing the picture on the other. But they do not make up for the fact that the Surface Duo’s camera is trash.
Perhaps the camera is one more thing that Microsoft must compromise in exchange for the thinness and lightness of the Surface Duo. Perhaps the other 11MP sensor is the best they can fit into its supermodel chassis. But if the Google Pixel 4A has proven anything, it is a good software that can deliver great things with just mid-range hardware.
Sadly, Surface Duo users have a consider thinking about how to use the camera’s camera. Because it’s placed inside, above one of the two screens, taking selfies is easy. Open the camera, take a picture … Microsoft even integrates a portrait mode with enough image quality in good lighting conditions – but enough here by 2018 standards.
If you want to take a photo of someone else, you have to rotate the other screen to turn it into a viewfinder. But when you do that, there is a 50% chance that the viewfinder will display the wrong side, and you have to rotate all the way, press enough space until Duo brings the viewfinder to the right place. After that frustrating process, you will end up with images that are blurry, grainy, and underexposed. A mess. Not to mention that the photo is still delayed, which means you press the shutter button for a while to be taken!
To be honest, this camera should have been included in a $ 300 phone but the Surface Duo costs $ 1,400, right?
Microsoft should call it a webcam, and it would be a great webcam. You can set up the Duo display and make a video call without holding the handset in hand. You can even play games on the screen below while meeting via Zoom on the main screen. Just saying that, do not try it.
Configuration and performance
The Surface Duo has an outdated configuration. It uses the Snapdragon 855 processor from last year, and there’s no 5G. However, Microsoft has tweaked this chip a bit. They said they have partnered with Qualcomm to optimize their multitasking system on the 855. The battery life of the machine is also quite good, although the two Surface Duo batteries combined only reach 3,577mAh. You can use it all day on a single charge, and the standby time can only be described by the word “excellent”.
If you have to complain about the configuration, it is the Duo only 6GB of RAM. That’s pretty much RAM for an average Android phone, but not enough to keep apps open for long during multitasking. It’s also not enough for two apps to run at the same time without causing either of them to stutter – and you know, the Surface Duo’s big selling point is that it can run two apps at once!
That’s another example that the Surface Duo is not worth the price – the benchmark of $ 1,000 Android devices is 8GB of RAM, 10GB, and even 12GB, let alone $ 1,400. The Pixel 4A also has 6GB of RAM like Duo, while the price is only … 350 USD.
The Surface Duo seeks to be a new kind of device – not a phone, not a tablet, but something in between. This ambition sounds quite familiar. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, he once said: “The question is posed recently: is there a market for a device in between? Something between laptops and smartphones? …”
Surely Microsoft did not expect Duo to get as big a market as the iPad. But despite its flaws, it did present itself as a new type of device – or at least, it found a place in an increasingly vibrant category.
But it makes more sense to compare the Duo with the original Surface tablet. When it was first announced, the tablet was not ready yet. It has a lot of good ideas, but the way it is done is too bad, and many people don’t know what Microsoft is after. A few years later, Microsoft finally flew high with the Surface Pro 3, which did what the original Surface was trying to do.
What about the Surface Duo? It is not ready yet. It has many great ideas, but the implementation is not good, and many people do not know what Microsoft is after. There were so many problems going on, making it impossible to suggest someone buy a Duo. Maybe if it did not cost $ 1,400 things would be very different. But it has an unbelievably high price. If you want to work on a phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can split-screen, has a stylus, has a great camera, and runs all Microsoft apps just fine.
But like the original Surface, the Surface Duo has a wide range of potentials and visions. Microsoft has a strong and clear vision of a new direction in mobile computing, but choosing a direction and going to a destination are still two very different things.
Microsoft has been ripped out of the pocket game at least four times before – from WinCE to PocketPC, to Windows Mobile, and then Windows Phone. This company is used to failure. But when it launched Duo, it can be seen that Microsoft has learned a lot from its mistakes in the past, and it’s good that they decide to fight back. Hopefully, this first Surface Duo is not Microsoft’s final round!
– Run two apps at the same time
– Thin, light, beautiful design
– Good battery life
– The camera is super bad
– The software is full of bugs
– The price is too high