The first Surface Duo camera sample is here — what do you think? (poll)

Surface Duo
Surface Duo (Image credit: Microsoft)

This week, we got our first look at what the Surface Duo's camera can do thanks to an Instagram photo shared by Windows and Microsoft hardware chief Panos Panay. Because we've heard so little about its capabilities, the Surface Duo's camera has been a hot topic of discussion since the phone debuted in late 2019. So we were wondering, what do you think of what we've seen so far?

There are some big caveats to keep in mind here, of course. First, this is only a single photo, so it's not an ideal way to judge the full capabilities of the camera. We'll have to wait for review samples to come out once Duo is on the market. Likewise, the photo was posted to Instagram, which is notorious for hitting photo quality because of its compression.

Still, if you've been waiting for just a taste of what the camera is capable of, this is what we have to work with for now. So, how do you feel about what we've seen so far? Vote in our poll, and let us know more in the comments.

As an early adopter, I really don't care if Surface Duo's camera is bad. Here's why.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • The lighting in this room could've been the best ever or extremely problematic, and how we judge the Duo would have to come down to how it addresses it! With only a single lens system, processing is everything here.
  • It looks like any other highly compressed social media garbage.
  • Yeah, it's impossible to judge any camera from a single Instagram photo, with its serious limitations.
  • Precisely. Impossible to make any worthwhile judgement on this basis.
  • Looks ok. But Windows phone/mobile keeps me and probably everyone from going for it.
  • Way past time to get over it! Photo looks fine. Of course photography is not the focus of this device so not sure what that means in terms of how good it will be
  • Won't it be running Android?
  • I'd be interested because it is Android, the lack of apps forced me and anyone who needs them to move from Windows Phone, I can't see me going back no matter what MS do, on the other hand for me 2 screens is compelling, so long as the price is reasonable. I don't like Android and it's infuriating a lot of the time, but so much of my life runs through those apps, I've got to be realistic and accept its Android or god forbid iOS.
  • Dafuq are you high on? It's running Android.
  • I mean I think it will pass for maybe a few year old camera. But we all knew there wasn't going to be some big miracle they would pull in getting an excellent camera in the Duo v1.
  • Looks fine to me, I don't quite understand what type of photo capability people are looking for, especially for a device leaning more towards productivity. I'm more curious about what the finalized specs will be. People are suggesting it'll be the 855, but considering when it's being released I would imagine that MS is more likely to put the 865 in there, we shall see.
  • '...especially for a device leaning more towards productivity...' I need a good camera for my job; why do everyone assume that productivity equals spreadsheets?!?
  • Camera will be good enough for sure. Maybe not as good as the Pixel 4 or something, but definitely good for today's camera standards.
  • If you need a camera for your job, then you want a specialized device. Generalized "productivity" is not for you. Just like a generalized "productivity" laptop is not good enough for me, as a software developer.
  • Pretty much every phone has a camera. It does not require a specialized device. It should be of comparable quality of other phones people use for work
  • At a first glance it's okay. Can't help pixel peeping though. Missed opportunity is missing the face to get an impression of quality and resolution.
    I do think the camera will be a relevant feature if they decide to add it to the Duo. I think sensor, high quality lenses and software will matter.
  • It looks pretty good. Everyone wants to talk about the camera specs being old, but realistically, the device isn't meant for photo enthusiasts. It needs to have a pretty good camera and if this picture is an indication of that, it's pretty good enough. It's not competing with iPhone or the S20 Ultra. The picture looks pretty good and there is plenty of detail in it. I don't see what the issue is. I think people are just upset at the fact that it will not/may not have a second camera. I've heard some people say that they will just keep the Duo with the screens folded outward, but if that is the case, just get yourself a slab phone or a Galaxy Fold or Z Flip.
  • I noted it's bad but not because of the camera per say but because the source material is garbage to make any accurate judgment... First we have no clue what settings are used second we don't know the source file type and therefore compression and finally we don't know how much more Instagram altered it... It's like watching a game graphic demo or a CES high TV spec performance on YouTube on your cell phone... I'd say it's quite good considering how deriorated the picture is from it's original format or it's just a ****** camera and the end result we see is accurate... Anyway I don't think it's gonna be a high ranking photophone... It's not gonna be it's primary use and the form factor is not really made for that... And considering the price and the form factor a high end camera set up would drive up the production cost and the retail price would be much higher IMHO... That's more a phablet iPad hybride like the surface pro is a tablet laptop hybrid or was supposed to be... They keep the trend of mobility and productivity power mix for professionals... To reduce the number of devices needed that the competition tend to milk with a phone, a phablet, à tablet, a laptop a desktop form factor without really blurring the lines like MS is attempting to do... So sad MS can't get the hype value apple gets... We'd see healthy innovation competition
  • Good or bad at least it is something! So far the only thing that I am curious about is the focal... from the picture it seems it is pretty wide maybe not as wide as what three lenses or four can offer but equal to my I phone 8+ with two lenses. Let's hope for more cameras features given the fact it is a two screen device...
  • Looks great for all our concerns. Perfectly capable camera. This device is not our top win any phoyo quality awards. And that is perfectly fine.
  • I think I'm not interested if it is running Android. If Microsoft is going to do that they should soft fork Android and keep it in sync with Google's except they should implement a robust permissions scheme and an app store that adheres to it and default to no Google services.
  • Well, that sounds pointless.
  • To a degree, every OEM does this. That's why Android devices differ so much. For example, OnePlus uses OxygenOS. It's Android, but OnePlus has put their own adjustments to it. We already know Microsoft is differing from stock Android to some degree (it comes with Microsoft Launcher by default). I'm interested in seeing how much they alter the OS. They can't get too far outside the box though because it will have the Play store and therefore, the Google Mobile Services (GMS). I don't know all the particulars of what's required to include GMS but I'm sure Microsoft can't just take the Play store for apps and run. I hope at least they do everything to keep Google from collecting a bunch of data on the users. That was one of the main reasons I avoided Android for so long.
  • Microsoft can do all of that without forking Android
  • How much post-processing was this passed through before we got to see it?
    You can do amazing things with Adobe Premier.........and Instagram Filters....
    Is this a RAW photo? What format is it in? How big is the original? I mean, it seems nice. But without the original uncompressed/processed photo, it's just a PR picture.
    (and I am REALLY stoked about the Duo and want it to succeed.)
  • What I'm noticing about this picture, even in its compressed form, is that I still see detail in the carpet all the way to the back wall. I can even see detail on the charcoal colored surrounding of the fireplace. I actually think that this camera is on par with today's cameras.
  • It's a pass from me it's only one photo to be honest pretty pointless making to much of it 🤨
  • Hoping for a great camera, if it does then I'm buying it. Otherwise I'll have to weigh up the options.
  • photo likes ok to me, would be awesome if it has a great quality camera, but this is a folding tablet with smartphone capabilities
  • Even thou its a badly sourced picture. by using us to judge an Instagram picture, the picture itself could use or improve in its dynamic lighting capabilities, like the whites are clipping in the skin and in the shirt, which is something that can be improved with software. looks decently good.
  • We don't know the upper end capabilities because it's the 'gram and they compress the daylights out of stuff. I do think we know more than we did a week ago though. Based on this sample, I'm going to say that the Duo camera is at the very least sufficient. That's all I really needed to know. I wasn't expecting a world class camera on the Duo. If it ends up being there, awesome. But very rarely does the first go at a new product category hit everything out of the park. I did want the camera to at least be sufficient. I define sufficient as able to capture enough detail for basic documentation purposes. I can make out enough details in this photo to know what's in it. I'm fairly confident that if we could see the kid's face and I knew the kid, I could say "Yes, that's definitely this person." No one is going to win any photography awards with it, but again, it functions, it's not super grainy or pixelated. It can meet the basic camera needs. If one needs more than that, go pick up the latest Galaxy or iPhone or wait until Duo 2 when, assuming they nail all other aspects of the hardware, they'll probably have a much better camera.
  • Can't match the Huawei P40 Pro...
  • You can not possibly think that the Surface Duo will be able to match the latest from Huawei, be realistic mate, when it comes to photo taking, these are different devices for different people, the Duo is device for be more productive, and a new form factor.