Microsoft Surface Duo Review

by birtanpublished on October 3, 2020

This is lisa from mobile tech review and now for something truly different this is the microsoft surface duo so this is their two screen connected by a hinge phone sort of like if you could lenovo yoga your way into a phone so you know i had preconceptions about this as much as i'm the unbiased person who always tries just to find the tech that works best for me but i thought you know two screen phones they're a stopgap measure because you can't make a folding phone yet or one that's durable enough or

Cheap enough that sort of thing and you know i watched microsoft's presentation and panos pine who's the head of all service products and you know he could sell underpants to an elephant he gets so excited and i got a little jazz but i still thought i don't know and then i got it in my hands and wow this is pretty neat we're going to look at it now so obviously instead of going the folding screen route microsoft has something completely new here with two 5.6 inch oled displays connected by

A very thin gap and two hinges that hold in any position so again it's just like a yoga ink laptop you can put it in tent mode presentation mode laptop mode of course microsoft has these funny names that come up with a compose mode for laptop mode but you know whatever so that solves a whole lot of problems in terms of you know you're always trying to prop up your phone and then you drop it or you're buying little stands for your phone pretty much you can always find a

Position for it 5.6 inches to me sounded pretty small i don't like small screen phones i have a pixel 4a i admit i would use it but that 5.8 inch screen is too small but aha the aspect ratio of these displays is 4×3 like an ipad mini so you remember the days when we had 16 by nine aspect ratio phones 1920 by 1080 for example and that was great for watching video and it wasn't so super narrow as today's phones get more and more narrow and at first when

Manufacturers switch to those we all complain about how narrow but tall they were well you have less usable space for things like taking notes for reading any kind of content because it's constantly line wrap line wrap and mobile apps has to be designed like a column with this you got the room to spread out take a look at what it looks like next to that pixel 4a it looks huge right and that's just one of the screens so if you open it up you get nominally an 8.1 inch display but obviously there is a seam it

Might be a lot narrower than something you see like on the lg phones that have the optional display cases on them like the lg velvet that we have you can see here which has a humongous gap and is much thicker and more awkward and all that sort of thing but there's still a line there so this product is not perfection and this gets down to what it is you want to do with your phone right if you're primarily buying your phone for consuming content like

Say just videos you're happy to do one thing at a time which we all think we are because that's been the only choice that we've had i'm going to talk about that anyway obviously something like the galaxy z fold if you can afford that it's even six hundred dollars more is much more enjoyable for tablet use without a line down the middle so when i say we're going to talk about that a whole you didn't know you wanted to do it and you know i was talking with my crew here and we were

Saying that you know the a good device solves a problem you knew you already had say like the galaxy fold products in galaxy z flip you want a bigger single screen but you don't want to carry around a bigger device hence folding screens well just like when the iphone came out there that solved a whole lot of problems you didn't know you had until an iphone in the world change this one solves the problem of you can only do one thing on your phone at a time easily right you're swapping in and out of screens it becomes really painful

And you think well i'm okay with that but that's because you've been used to that for more than 10 years and once you actually get this in your hands and you use it and you go aha for example i was running a speed test because this has very fast cat 18 4×4 memo antenna lte yes it's not 5g this is the fastest 4g i've ever seen so i had speed tests running on the screen and that's not the most exciting thing to watch folks so and i pulled up something else i wanted to do on the other screen and i was like huh you know you wouldn't think

You needed that or you wanted that until you had it and then you just a light bulb goes off in your head and then there's more obvious things because you can have microsoft edge the web browser you can use chrome too but uh and one of the microsoft apps says install say onenote or word and you want to drag some text from the web page or an image and throw it right into your document that's obviously very easy if you have kids you have a baby monitor running well that's taken up your full screen on your phone and there goes your phone

Being a useful thing right now you've got your baby monitor running in one screen and whatever else it is you want to do are you're watching a game walkthrough video on youtube on one screen and you're scrolling through reddit or discord on the other to see what people are saying about getting through that game you know there's just a lot of different things that you can use this for and you wouldn't have thought of it and that's still using it as two separate screens

Which is kind of the beauty of doing this much as it might seem awkward compared to a galaxy z fold because any app runs just normally and fine it's just two separate screens on here so no resizing no weird behavior and bugs other than sometimes rotating in landscape some apps will stay in narrow mode on the single screen mode but other than that it's just business as usual you don't need developers to support this which often you know with corner case

Phones or ones that don't sell 40 million they never do support it it's just all gonna work pretty nicely and when i multitask i love my galaxy note phone for example but still you know samsung has had multi-window multitasking forever or even on the z-fold it's still a fidgety more painful experience and not all apps work very well and then you get into that aspect ratio problem where you've got two very narrow columns it's pretty hard to be productive you might turn it in landscape and then you've got two little small squares here

It's just never been inviting enough in fact even on the ipad pro i love the ipad pro but the multitasking is so fidgety on that that i find i almost never use split screen mode on this it's like a no-brainer and the gestures i was really surprised yes i know the there was a limited number of very early reviewers who got this many weeks ago and they got really buggy software and i think microsoft screwed up and they shouldn't have said sent them out as soon as they should

Have right so we have the software that came out in the very last few days that reviewers had it and all of you will get when you unbox it there's another update coming i hear that microsoft's working on pretty soon but anyway now that the software is pretty solid i won't say it's bug free i won't say you don't want to reboot this phone every couple of days but the gestures that microsoft built in here are just so brilliant you're just flicking out from one screen to the other it's just as easy as you

Wish it would be if you remember the courier concept that microsoft showed i don't know how long ago and it looks so easy peasy well that's the way it is here you flank you flick it's great you want to get rid of it you just swipe it back down again if you want to go full screen it's a little more effort you've got to drag it and hold it over the center area until it shows that it's widening to take up the full screen so that's really nice one thing that can get a little complicated though you can either use the traditional android

Navigation with the little button bar on the bottom or you can use android gestures then you've got a lot of gestures to keep track of i mean i have no problem doing swiping sideways to go back and all that sort of thing that way to go forward but i find that bringing up the multitasking interface is a little bit hard when you have android gestures enabled too so you might want to turn that off so the software no it isn't perfect on this i know i haven't seen any graphical glitches or anything

Really horrible happening i have seen it get stuttery every once in a while i haven't had any problem with microsoft swiftkey keyboard which by the way you can have it go full screen normal if you want across the bottom you can do a split key you can have a floating keyboard and so far it's worked for me i have no problem with the space bar or anything but it's kind of normal sometimes seeing an app crashes or microsoft launcher crashes which is what this is running but mostly it's been pretty good and if they have an update again real soon

Hopefully it gets even better so that's all real nice isn't it and tablet mode i won't say it sucks but it you have a bar so for programs that are designed to handle that bar like amazon's kindle you've probably seen the demos you got two two pages it's just like the most expensive you know e-reader and also google play book supports that too so that's the sweetest thing in the world comixology though does not yet so you're left with the tablet-y interface so

Pretty much you want to turn that and use it in the kind of upright full screen mode so that the line between the two displays lines up but you get the idea if you're looking to watch full screen youtube on this 8.1 inch style that's a total fail because you're always going to have the seam between the two screens there if you're happy propping it on your desk in tent mode or presentation mode just to watch it playing on your desk in one screen then it works out really good so it's

Puppy dogs as roses right so what is it well you know the phone mode isn't as bad as i thought it would be i mean people were having such a hard time trying to figure out how this would be a phone that they're saying oh no it must not really be a phone yes it's a phone folks what i do is because it's 360 degree hinges and we have glass on the back girly glass 5 and on the front is i just swap it out so the displays are on the outside always so then it's easy to use as a phone i mean

Both sides are glass they're just as breakable so whatever that's one way of dealing with it the fact they didn't put any kind of outer display on the back side which is a pretty light gray glass is mystifying but i guess it's one of the many many many concessions this phone makes for being so thin no manufacturer has been able to make a phone as thin as this is 4.8 millimeters closed 9.9 that means that clothes this thing isn't much thicker than most other phones are

Open even skinny phones like the galaxy z flip wow so to make it that thin so it doesn't feel like a mini laptop or a burden or something like that and to make it balanced i suppose too well there are concessions here so no room probably for outer display no room for an outer camera so the way the camera works is there's one in display camera and that's a 11 megapixel camera with an f 2.0 lens that is verging on potato camera level let's put it that way

So you're using it and it's geared obviously towards zoomer skype video conferencing and doing selfies but what you do is you just turn the phone around and it has this brilliant thing where it says tap on the other screen to make the screen active and then the camera swaps to being a rear camera mode still this is not a fast and great experience if you're in a hurry to catch your kid taking his or her first steps you don't have the time for that so not brilliant no room for a second

Camera and it's not a great camera you know in outdoors in daylight or in a very well-lit interior space i'm talking like inside of a best buy not inside your living room at night it takes fine photos and they're under saturated a little bit and they can use a little more contrast but that's such a simple thing to fix with the photo editor it's probably not the end of the world if you want to amp the colors up a little bit it's okay the 4k video is okay but when you move indoors forget it

Anything approaching sort of like low light i don't mean night shots is pretty much garbage it's a slow lens it's a skinny phone i guess they couldn't do better but i keep thinking if they had some of google's pixel software engineers have at it they could probably do something with this and microsoft has really good surface cameras on their surface tablets and laptops so i'm hoping somebody there knows how to fix this problem because if this is going to be your primary camera

You're going to be bummed unless you don't really much care about the camera in your phone next up no 5g this is 4g lte it may be the fastest darn 4g lte i've seen on a phone yet but no 5g so for something as pricey as this well if you want to be forward-looking but i know a lot of you don't care about 5g now it's it's it's a hurt that doesn't happen we have the snapdragon 855 chipset probably because it uses less battery power and it requires less cooling space too

So that's last year's processor and a phone that is 13.99 to 14.99 depending on whether you want 128 or 256 gigs of storage so you know i'm using last year's galaxy z flip and galaxy fold and honestly performance wise i have no issues with that i don't think any of you probably in normal use even with the heavy multitasking what but the six gigs of ram let's have a moment of silence i can't figure that out because yeah sure you know a pixel might

Have six gigs of ram be fine that's a single screen doing one thing at a time this is a phone that just says go ahead run 10 apps and keep switching between them and all that and it would be better to have more ram and i think that's why we see those occasional stutters and slow downs and a reboot really helps with that every couple of days because i guess they couldn't fit more ram in there i mean that's the only reason i could think of there's no expandable storage but so many phones don't have that

And so much stuff is on the cloud i'm not going to complain so much about that there is no wireless charging because there was no room for a wireless charging coil so there's that um i wish there was but it doesn't hurt it's not ip68 water resistant something i thought maybe it would be because these are two separate displays not a folding flexible has an open area kind of thing i guess they couldn't seal the hinges enough still it's a your typical glass phone i take a very damp rag and i clean it off you know you don't

Immerse this in water folks but and that sort of thing is fine especially in these days of covid where you worrying about keeping germs off of your phones but concessions to make it this thin to make it this thin so you say hey this isn't any thicker folded than my old phone was open and i could maybe live with this but it's also a wide phone the great thing about the 4×3 aspect ratio is your screen feels so big right i mean yeah nice but then it's a wide phone to hold in your hand too so ergonomically how

Comfortable is that i leave that up to you but i'll tell you this this is what i do i don't carry it you know even if both displays are up i don't try to do this all the time although i have really big hands i can i carry it like a book like a moleskine like this and then it becomes a lot easier and they're already dbrand and other companies are going to have skins for this and like the leather one is going to be really cool like you know so it'll make it even more

Grippy because glass is always a little slippery it's not slippery another thing you don't get you might think you do because you see this other thing next to the camera that's a flash who uses the flash on their phone anyway it's not a facial recognition camera i think also in part because microsoft's into like secure 3d facial recognition all this stuff for enterprise users and 2d facial recognition is not so secure and gets fooled by a picture of you whatever it

Is obviously there's probably no room for that either but it has a fingerprint scanner on the side and it works so well fingerprint scanners and me we don't get along and i'm left-handed so i tend to hold and use it with my thumb which is like the worst digit to use apparently it works really well it's android it has location unlock it works better than most phones most phones i always have location on lock on so

When i'm at home it should stay unlocked that works maybe 60 of the time on this it works 100 of the time the build quality you've seen other videos on this you know it's it's superb it's a gorgeous looking piece of hardware that hinge is just firm and perfect and all that sort of thing so i don't have to talk to you about that i know a few people on forums have said they got one where the glass wasn't glued on straight or anything like that this one's absolutely fine the

Fingerprint scanner to my eye doesn't look crooked you have a usbc port you have no headphone jack it's a good usb c port because yes i test it it works with keyboards it works with mice it works with monitors so for you serious business surface kind of people yeah so given the fact there is no outer display for those of you who do decide to carry it this way instead of well i do outsie mode like i said like so i guess you can use a smart watch so gee you got to buy one more thing but

Probably a bunch of you have maybe one of some kind of smart watch i'm i'm using the galaxy galaxy watch active 2 with this because android wear watches still aren't all that yes it works just fine you'll install the galaxy ware app and then you make sure it installs the watch plug-in and everything's going to work also i'm using galaxy buds plus earbuds same thing using the galaxy ware app so you can use any bluetooth you want the only thing is i can tell

You well this might have great 4g reception the bluetooth radio on this doesn't have great range it's only about 20 feet and normally with a set of earbuds i can go 30 feet or so so that that's a little bit of a gotcha but it does get you around the whole problem no headphone jack and well no external screen for notifications another problem that a watch would solve is the fact that there's also no nfc on this phone so if you've got a watch with nfc you can

For example i use samsung pay on my galaxy watch active2 but you were waiting for the pen weren't you hi tablet pc review folks that you've got a surface pen that you can use with this it does not fit in a silo it does not because reasons it does not come in the box because microsoft when you buy any surface product you have to buy the pen so i it works with the surface slim pen and it works also with the regular surface pro pen which is the one that i'm going to demo using

You get a little bit better line quality with the surface slim pan it's the newest and most expensive of the pens no surprise you know so they're between 59 and 120 dollars for those there are third party pens the wacom bamboo ink plus was acting weird though so i don't think that one's going to be a go anyway yes magnets of course is a surface product so there are magnets on this device to help keep it closed and the magnet also holds

The pen in place a little help with the fact that there's no silo and when you can stick in there pen works just like it does on surface pro devices or surface laptop you know that sort of thing which is to say if you're an artist wacom emr which is what the galaxy note series uses is still the best in terms of smooth line fluidity if you're an artist if you're just a notetaker you won't care this is really fun with one note and this is also

Speaking of the galaxy note series one of the upsides of this say you're holding it in the book or a moleskine mode i'll call it and you're just taking some notes it's wide enough it's like a moleskin or a notepad but you have enough room to write several words on each line whereas with the galaxy note series because they become so tall and wide it's like i write two words online it doesn't really feel as natural this doesn't have any nifty feature like the galaxy note has and samsung's way more evolved in the software they've

Been doing this for a long time so there's no screen off take a note kind of feature which would be so cool to have so this is still a 1.0 product but it has a lot of promise it's pretty exciting and it was something i thought was virtually pointless and now i think is really useful the phone has a 35 77 milliamp hour battery and battery life on this is a bit better and i expected given that it has two screens it does help that it's 4g

And not 5g and oled is fairly power efficient as long as you're not displaying a lot of white but anyway i've been averaging five and a half to six hours of screen on time and i've been using dual screen mode quite a bit which would obviously use a lot more power than using just one of the screens at a time it comes with an 18 watt big so-called fast charger but considering 15 watts kind of average 18 watt isn't that much faster so yeah it's not a very fast charger so if you're thinking about this and the

Price of this this is about the same price as a galaxy s20 ultra or 100 more than a galaxy note 20 ultra right they're doing the same trading program that samsung does and other companies do so you can get if you say have to know 10 you're upgrading you can get 650 dollars it's almost half off the product it gets a little less painful if you're on the fence about this and you think you want to try it by the way microsoft sales is direct on their websites unlocked best buy carries at a t is the only

Official carrier offering this if you buy it from microsoft's website you get 60 days to try it out so that's nice it's not one of those usual like 15 days and you've got to figure it all out so you've got time to live with this if you want to take a bet on it but still it's a 1.0 product i'm not saying all of you should go out and buy one even though i'm obviously pretty excited about there's the things you're giving up we have nearly a potato camera on here there's no 5g

Stuff like that there's no facial recognition for those who prefer that kind of expedience but there's so much going on here that just changes the way you use a phone in a way i didn't think was possible i didn't know i needed and now i feel like i do that it sure is worth watching this space i'm lisa from mobile tech review be sure to subscribe to our youtube channel for more cool tech videos and hit the notification bell so you know about them oh and by the way

We're going to smack this down with the samsung galaxy z full 2.

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