Total psycho brilliantly removes Surface Duo 2’s camera bump

Surface Duo 2 sans camera
Surface Duo 2 sans camera hump! (Image credit: Phil Knall)

What you need to know

  • Surface Duo 2 has a prominent camera bump on the rear preventing it from reverse-folding without a gap.
  • Some Surface Duo 2 owners are unhappy with the design choice.
  • One brave man (with some mad talents) showed how he completely removed the Duo 2’s camera housing.

When it comes to hardcore Surface Duo fans, one of the dividing points is over the Surface Duo 2’s prominent camera bump. Microsoft did some brilliant engineering to get the triple-camera array onto the rear of such a thin device while also addressing one of the biggest complaints of the first Surface Duo.

But not everyone is happy with the decision, including those who love Surface Duo for dual-screen multitasking and reverse folding it completely flat.

One brave user, Phil Knall, has gone where no one has gone before by removing the entire camera module from Surface Duo 2, pasting it back together, and creating his dream device.

Surface Duo 2 sans camera

Surface Duo 2 can now lay completely flat thanks to no rear camera module. (Image credit: Phil Knall)

As you can imagine, the process is not for the light-hearted (or technologically challenged). Knall has skills and not only showed off the resulting photos but made an excellent 22-minute video detailing every step of the process in case you wanted to try this yourself (he notes, however, this video is not a tutorial).

(To be fair, Knall bought this cracked Surface Duo 2 for $430, which is still a financial risk, but not as much as if you originally paid the total $1,500 or more.)

During the process, Knall devised a clever solution for the gaping hole left by the camera module’s removal (he used an old circuit board and some extra phone parts to insulate against any electrical current).

Knall also used a dbrand skin to cover all his work, including the cracked front cover, to make the device look new. He notes he may switch out that back skin for a Surface Duo 1 version, which doesn’t have the camera cutout, so it seems flusher (in my experience, this will work as the two devices are close in size).

So, besides not having rear cameras anymore, are there any other downsides (including voiding your warranty)? Well, the Surface Duo 2’s camera app won’t even load and crashes. You may think, “no big deal,” but that also means the remaining front-facing camera is useless, which is a shame.

There are exceptions, however, as Instagram and Lightroom both can access the front camera, so not all is lost.

Surface Duo 2 sans camera

... but the skin prevents it from reverse-folding completely.  (Image credit: Phil Knall)

Of course, the irony of this whole project is this new camera-less Surface Duo 2 technically still doesn’t entirely reverse-fold as there is still a gap from the dbrand skin.

Despite some drawbacks, Knall seems quite happy with his work as he notes at the end that Surface Duo 2 now lays completely flat on a table, and it is now easier to use the pen for writing. 

And that is pretty awesome.

As to the future of Surface Duo 2 for regular people, we're still waiting on Android 12L, which we hear is coming in October or November. Perhaps Microsoft will talk about it during its upcoming Surface hardware event on October 12th

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.