Still A Work In Progress

Microsoft first published the Surface Duo again in October 2019, however it hasn’t been delicate crusing. The authentic style took nearly a yr to be launched in america, and a number of other months longer in different places together with the United Kingdom.

By the time it after all got here to marketplace, the first-gen tool was once nearly destined to fail. Its old-fashioned Snapdragon 855 processor got here with out 5G, whilst a 60Hz show and only one 11Mp digicam didn’t win many suitors.

That’s sooner than you imagine chunky bezels and a questionable application enjoy, all at a value that made the tool very unappealing. And that is with out even evaluating it to competitors from Samsung and Huawei.

Microsoft has targeted its consideration on getting the {hardware} proper this time round – the Surface Duo 2 is a big improve over its authentic, and is already to be had in numerous nations all over the world. But the application enjoy is what’s going to in the long run decide the Duo 2’s destiny and, smartly, it isn’t just right information.

Design & Build

  • Two 5.8in shows, general display house 8.3in
  • New triple rear digicam module
  • Premium design and construct

The Surface Duo 2 has the similar fundamental shape issue as its predecessor, consisting of 2 shows hooked up by the use of a robust hinge. Near-identical dimensions conceal the truth that Microsoft has controlled to extend the display sizes right here. I’ll communicate concerning the high quality of those displays in additional element within the subsequent phase.

It’s simple to know how Microsoft has controlled to extend the show measurement with out important adjustments to the entire footprint of the tool. The Duo 2’s bezels are noticeably smaller than the unique, making it really feel extra top class and futuristic than sooner than.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

They’re nowhere close to as narrow as you’ll in finding on fashionable smartphones, regardless that – you continue to want room for a tricky steel hinge above and underneath to glue the shows.

This feels impressively powerful, bolstered by means of aluminium that extends down the again of the phone the place the displays meet. At no level all the way through my trying out did it really feel the rest however sturdy and durable – that is a testomony to Microsoft’s engineering.

Having a 360-degree hinge you’ll depend on makes the Duo 2 impressively flexible. Microsoft formally advertises 5 key modes: common Book (each in portrait and panorama), Compose (with the ground display used as an on-screen keyboard), Single display and Tent (pictured underneath). Each has its personal strengths and weaknesses, however it’s nice to have such a lot of possible use circumstances inside of one tool.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

Even when the Duo 2 is closed, you’ll nonetheless take a look at key data. The within every show curves rather on the edges, which means it’s as regards to visual from the out of doors. Microsoft is looking this option a “Glance Bar”, however there are two giant caveats right here.

Firstly, there’s no lift to wake capability – you want to press the facility button for it to turn up. You’re additionally these days restricted to incoming calls, messages, present quantity and battery proportion. Support for app notifications would make it a lot more helpful.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

One of the large upgrades at the Duo 2 is a brand new triple rear digicam setup. They’re housed inside of a big module that protrudes considerably from the again of the phone. Without any rear cameras, this wasn’t a subject for the unique Duo, however I’d a lot slightly maintain this minor inconvenience.

Aside from a slight wobble when face down on a desk, I had no different issues of it – as you’ll see from the digicam phase, each those and the 12Mp selfie digicam had been value together with.

However, the latter doesn’t give a boost to face liberate of any description. It way you’ll must depend at the fingerprint sensor constructed into the facility button, however this was once instant and responsive all the way through my trying out.

This rear digicam module is the defining function at the again of the tool. In truth, the shiny Microsoft brand at the different display is the one different part value noting. It has a tendency to pick out up fingerprint smudges, however that’s much less of a subject in different places at the glass external. I will be able to handiest remark at the Glacier White style examined, regardless that – there is additionally a brand new Obsidian Black possibility.

However, even if closed, the Surface Duo 2 remains to be a cumbersome tool. As smartly as being a lot wider and round two times as thick as common smartphones, it weighs in at a hefty 284g – that is up from 250g at the authentic Duo. You may just argue that you just’re getting two displays for that, however it’s definitely much less moveable than nearly each different smartphone. Storing the Duo 2 to your pocket remains to be imaginable, simply a lot much less relaxed.

Ports also are saved to a minimal – there is a unmarried USB-C port, plus area for only one SIM card. A 3.5mm headphone jack would were great, however it’s a ways from a concern at the moment. The tool technically has waterproofing, however it is the naked minimal IPX1 same old. This lets in for vertically falling drops identical to 1mm rainfall for 10 mins, so gives little coverage.

You might also realize the stylus in lots of pictures – that is the Surface Slim Pen 2. It’s to be had as an non-compulsory additional, however appropriate with all fresh Surface units. However, my evaluate unit did not come with a stylus, so I will be able to’t touch upon how efficient it’s.


  • 5.8in AMOLED shows
  • 90Hz adaptive refresh charge
  • Great viewing enjoy

The design parts discussed above are all vital, however they’re in the long run a supporting solid to the principle tournament – the show. As the identify suggests, the Surface Duo 2 has two of them, even if each at the moment are 5.8in as a substitute of five.6in at the authentic.

When totally open, that offers you a complete display house of 8.3in – the similar as you’ll in finding on the most recent iPad mini.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

Of route, being cut up throughout two displays makes for an excessively other consumer enjoy. You additionally get two key options you gained’t in finding on Apple’s tablet – an AMOLED display and 90Hz refresh charge.

The latter is new to the Surface Duo, and it has the similar impact as on a typical smartphone. Visuals are fluid and buttery-smooth, particularly whilst scrolling social media or surfing the internet.

This is an adaptive refresh charge, which means it will increase and reduces in keeping with the placement. The maximum noticeable drop is when content material is transferring between the 2 shows, however it wasn’t an excessive amount of of a subject.

Each display has a 1344×1892 answer and boxy 4:3 side ratio, making for a complete show house of 1892×2688.

Both panels are crisp and detailed, similarly able to vibrant colors and deep blacks. The Surface Duo 2 additionally will get impressively vibrant – I recorded a most brightness of 696 nits, which means common outside use shouldn’t be a subject.

For the ones events the place you’d like to make use of only one display, the Duo 2 will prioritise the appropriate show. This feels probably the most herbal, even if double tapping at the left display means that you can transfer.

Specs & Performance

  • Snapdragon 888 processor (5G integrated)
  • 8GB RAM
  • Excellent efficiency
  • Entry-level 128GB garage might not be sufficient

Some of the Surface Duo’s giant issues had been underneath the hood, however Microsoft has put that proper with its successor. Qualcomm has launched two flagship chips for the reason that Snapdragon 888 that powers the Duo 2, however it nonetheless delivers the top-level efficiency you’d be expecting. It additionally has 5G integrated, one thing Microsoft wasn’t ready to incorporate at the authentic style.

Alongside the Adreno 660 GPU and 8GB of RAM throughout all configurations, efficiency is predictably excellent. Basic use circumstances equivalent to internet surfing, speedy messaging and social media aren’t an issue for the Duo 2, however it was once the multitasking enjoy that in particular inspired me. Even difficult apps can run side-by-side with out factor.

Surface Duo 2 specs

Solid efficiency extends to cellular gaming, the place even probably the most in-depth titles at the Play Store run easily. I examined Call of Duty: Mobile, Asphalt 9 and FIFA Mobile and not using a noticeable slowdown or lag. The again of the Duo 2 quickly turns into heat to touch all through those duties and whilst charging, however it is not anything greater than a minor inconvenience.

However, opening and shutting apps may cause issues. That’s the place I realized hesitation and stuttering from time to time, whilst some apps crashed when looking to open them throughout each shows. But it didn’t really feel hardware-related, only a case of application that’s no longer optimised to run on dual-screen units. I talk about this in additional element within the following phase.

Overall, the Surface Duo 2 delivers spectacular efficiency in nearly all spaces. That’s mirrored within the benchmarks underneath, which put it kind of consistent with the most efficient foldable telephones to be had at this time:

However, the use of the most cost effective style I examined would possibly purpose problems with reference to inside garage. It gives simply 128GB, and not using a approach to make bigger with a microSD card. If you suppose that could be an issue, you’ll wish to pay additional for 256- and even 512GB.

It’s additionally value highlighting the presence of NFC right here, one thing which was once lacking from the unique Duo. For the general public, its major objective might be contactless bills the use of Google Pay.

Given the desire for massive bezels, there is area for twin stereo audio system, along with the earpiece. This makes for a super audio enjoy that’s a ways awesome to what you’ll in finding on maximum smartphones, providing a wealthy sound with a tight quantity of bass.

It additionally way the calling enjoy is spectacular, even though you almost certainly gained’t be preserving the Duo 2 as much as your ear. Dual mics imply the individual at the different finish can pay attention you loud and transparent, too.

Software & Apps

  • Microsoft’s pores and skin over Android 11
  • No phrase on improve to Android 12 (or Android 12L)
  • Software very buggy, many apps no longer optimised for twin displays

The Duo 2 is the one Surface tool that doesn’t run Windows, with Microsoft choosing Android as a substitute. This is smart, given it’s designed to switch your smartphone and Windows Phone is a factor of the previous. However, the Surface Duo 2 remains to be operating Android 11 on the time of writing, and not using a phrase on when it’ll get the replace to Android 12.

It’s taken 16 months after free up for the unique Duo to get Android 11, so we would possibly nonetheless be ready some time.

As you may be expecting, the application enjoy right here may be very other to what you’ll in finding on Pixel telephones. Microsoft has put its personal stamp on Android, no longer least within the additional apps that come pre-installed.

The corporate obviously desires you to make use of the likes of Edge, Outlook and OneNote as defaults – none of them may also be uninstalled. These can simply be swapped out for Google’s equivalents, however it’s disappointing to have additional bloatware when garage is already restricted.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

However, the larger factor this is Android’s loss of optimisation for the Duo 2. Microsoft’s personal apps paintings fantastic, however lots of the ones at the Play Store merely aren’t designed to run throughout each displays. Many apps I attempted opening in twin display mode both grew to become the display black or crashed utterly.

Even for apps that did run as meant, an important data is steadily obscured by means of the hinge. This makes reading a web-based article or surfing social media extra disturbing, however it’s a large downside whilst gaming. The dual-screen enjoy additionally feels compelled from time to time, with the left show appearing data that merely isn’t essential for the duty to hand.

Nonetheless, whilst you do in finding an app this is designed to benefit from the Duo 2, the enjoy is superb. That’s the case when reading the use of the Kindle app, whilst Asphalt 9 places controls on one display and the motion on some other. Both made the tool really feel amusing and intuitive, one thing that’s steadily no longer the case in different places.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

Of route, one house the Surface Duo 2 excels is multitasking. Opening two apps side-by-side makes much more sense right here than common smartphones, particularly when you’ll save customized presets of pairs. However, there’s no approach to show 3 or extra apps on the time, like you’ll on Windows. I’d like to peer multitasking capability expanded someday.

In idea, lots of the Duo 2’s major problems might be solved with a application replace. That makes me in actuality constructive for Android 12L, a model of Android in particular designed for foldables and tablets.

Only a handful of tweaks were published by means of Google to this point, however it will dramatically toughen the Surface Duo 2 application enjoy someday.


  • New broad, ultrawide and telephoto rear cameras
  • Small improve to entrance digicam
  • Decent pictures, however no longer best-in-class

For some reason why, the unique Surface Duo didn’t have any rear cameras. Microsoft has emphatically put that proper right here, with a brand new triple digicam device. A major 12Mp sensor is joined by means of 16Mp ultrawide and 12Mp telephoto lenses, mirroring what you’ll in finding on many fashionable smartphones.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

Stills from the Duo 2 are not anything particular, however be offering first rate dynamic vary and an excellent quantity of element. The climate was once cloudy when all my take a look at photographs had been taken, however the tool nonetheless did a just right activity of creating colors in reality stand out. However, there are problems with publicity from time to time.

The telephoto lens gives 2x optical zoom, however there was once a noticeable drop in high quality in comparison to the principle sensor. This was once much less obvious when taking wide-angle pictures, and the additional versatility it gives is steadily helpful.

Despite no longer having a devoted macro lens, close-up photographs had been spectacular. I used to be additionally happy with the standard of portrait photographs, even if edge detection was once steadily a subject.

The Surface Duo 2 additionally advantages from a software-based evening mode. This turns at the flash by means of default, growing a miles sharper and extra detailed symbol than the common shot. Other telephones I’ve examined produce a extra interesting low-light symbol, however it’s nonetheless a pleasant function to have.

You nonetheless handiest get one front-facing digicam, however it’s been upgraded rather. The sensor is now 12Mp as a substitute of 11Mp, and I used to be inspired with the detailed selfies it produces. It additionally avoids the typical tendency to overexpose the background.

Check out a collection of Surface Duo 2 pictures within the slideshow underneath:

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 camera test

On the video facet, the Duo 2 is able to as much as 4K pictures at 60fps. A extra commonplace use case is 1080p at 30fps, the place optical symbol stabilisation (OIS) at the major lens helped stabilise video with numerous motion.

It’s value noting two different digicam reviews which might be distinctive to the Duo 2. First is the dual-screen folding design, which makes taking pictures somewhat awkward from time to time. However, having that 2d display way you’ll preview the photograph you’ve simply taken with out leaving the digicam app, a function I in reality loved.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

Battery Life & Charging

  • 4,449mAh battery
  • Solid battery existence, however not anything particular
  • Relatively sluggish charging

Microsoft has made battery existence a concern at the Duo 2. It now has a 4,449mAh general capability, up from 3,577mAh in its predecessor. That’s a large improve, however not anything exceptional on the earth of Android telephones – many have 5,000mAh cells.

We didn’t get an opportunity to check the unique Duo so can’t supply an instantaneous comparability, however battery existence right here held up relatively smartly. I recorded seven hours and 7 mins in PCMark’s battery take a look at, which simulates real-world utilization at 200 nits brightness. As you’ll see from the chart within the {hardware} phase, that’s kind of consistent with different foldables.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review

It additionally displays my enjoy with the Duo 2 the place a complete fee very easily lasted me a complete day of average utilization. However, you will be achieving for the charger after heavy utilization days.

The Duo 2 helps 23W instant charging, however there’s no energy brick within the field. Using one I already had and the integrated USB-C to USB-C cable, I recorded 22% in quarter-hour and 40% in half-hour from off.

In a global the place phone charging speeds incessantly succeed in 60W or extra, this feels somewhat underwhelming. There’s additionally no wi-fi charging.

Price & Availability

The Surface Duo 2 is handiest the second one iteration of a brand-new shape issue, so it stays very dear. It begins at £1,349/US$1,499 for a style with a 128GB of garage.

Doubling this to 256GB will value you £1,429/US$1,599.99, whilst the 512GB variant units you again £1,589/US$1,799.99.

There are steadily reductions to be had – take a look at our devoted Surface Duo 2 offers article for more info.

It’s normally additionally to be had on contract by the use of EE in the United Kingdom, with contracts beginning at £73 per thirty days with £150 in advance.

As you may believe, there’s little or no festival at this value level. The most blatant rival is Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3, however the Z Flip 3 could also be value bearing in mind. Then there’s the Huawei Mate X2, however that’s much more dear and no longer extensively to be had.

For the general public, the verdict might be between the Surface Duo 2 and a typical smartphone. Until Microsoft follows the unique Duo’s lead and closely reductions the tool, it doesn’t evaluate favourably on price for cash. That’s very true in the event you upload the non-compulsory Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus, which prices £119.99/$129.99.

Check out our chart of the most efficient smartphones.


From a {hardware} viewpoint, the Surface Duo 2 is definitely a luck. Almost the entire upgrades Microsoft offered hit the mark, together with efficiency from the Snapdragon 888, a brand new triple rear digicam device and much-improved battery existence.

The new 90Hz shows also are superb and having two 5.8in displays inside of one of these compact shape issue is in actuality spectacular.

However, Microsoft is but to completely cope with the Duo’s application problems. Most apps at the Play Store merely aren’t designed to paintings throughout each displays, with app crashes and lacking data rather commonplace.

Multitasking is superb for 2 apps side-by-side, however does not be offering a lot flexibility in case your workflow differs.

Ultimately, except you’re closely invested within the Microsoft ecosystem and love the dual-screen shape issue, you’re more than likely at an advantage taking a look in different places.


Microsoft Surface Duo 2: Specs

  • 2x 5.8in, 1344×1892 4:3 AMOLED shows
  • 8.3in general display house at 1892×2688
  • Adaptive 90Hz refresh charge
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128/256/512GB garage
  • 12Mp f/1.7 27mm broad digicam w/ OIS
  • 16Mp f/2.2 13mm ultrawide digicam
  • 12Mp f/2.4 51mm telephoto digicam w/ 2x optical zoom
  • 12Mp f/2.0 front-facing digicam
  • Android 11
  • Stereo audio system
  • Gorilla Glass Victus
  • 4,449mAh battery
  • 23W fast-charging
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Glance Bar
  • 5G
  • NFC
  • 284g
  • 184.5 x 145.2 x 5.5mm (opened up), 145.2 x 92.1 x 11mm (folded)

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