What you need to know
- Microsoft launched the Surface Duo 2 today.
- Reviews for the device include many compliments, with many noting a marked improvement over the original.
- Software bugs hurt the Duo 2 in the eyes of many reviewers.
- The Surface Duo 2 is available today starting at $1,500.
Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 officially launched today. Reviews for the foldable started rolling in today, including quite a bit of praise for the unique device. Many outlets highlight improvements in the Duo 2 compared to its predecessor, including a better processor, improved camera setup, and refined design. While most reviews gave the Duo 2 praise, the device has its flaws. Here's a collection of what industry experts think about the Surface Duo 2.
Our executive editor Daniel Rubino said in his Surface Duo 2 review:
The good news is Surface Duo 2 is a giant leap forward in the concept. It is more impressive than ever with a triple camera array, 90Hz curved displays, NFC, 5G, and the potent Snapdragon 888. The software is also better — faster, snappier … and generally less buggy (more on that later).
Don't let anyone tell you differently: Surface Duo 2 is a huge improvement over the first model. But the actual Surface Duo experience is waiting for another chapter, making Surface Duo 2 a nice milestone but still a novelty for many.
The folks over at XDA had plenty of compliments to give the Duo 2, especially surrounding its design:
I do quite love the Surface Duo 2. There's something about it that's pleasant and delightful, and the productivity aspect of it is real. If you spend a lot of time working on the go, you'll find that it's super useful to have one app on one screen and another app on the other.
Microsoft really did a great job with this one. The camera is improved, and most importantly, the software is a lot better. I just hope that the Redmond firm continues to do well with it by servicing it with software updates.
Brad Sams complimented the Surface Duo 2 for embodying the Surface brand in his review for Petri:
The Duo 2 is not perfect but it's also unique and while the OS is not Microsoft's, it embodies the spirit of the Surface brand well. For the right user, especially an IT Pro who knows how to get the most of the dual-screen arrangement, it's much easier to recommend the Duo 2 to that user as the hardware specs should keep the device running smoothly for years, even if the software updates never arrive.
Marques Brownlee is more critical of the Surface Duo 2. He asked if the device can be "saved," claiming that the form factor of the Duo 2 might be flawed at its core. The description of his review reads, "Microsoft Surface Duo 2 is both better... and worse? Does this dual screen passport fold have a future?" His review echoed those sentiments several times.
PCMag's review of the Surface Duo 2 highlighted that the device is unique;
The Surface Duo 2 is the Wolverine of mobile multitasking. "I'm the best at what I do," it says, "but sometimes what I do doesn't look very nice." Yes, it's certainly possible to do split-screen on other Android phones like the Galaxy Z Fold3, but it isn't nearly as easy nor as obvious. If your ideal phone workflow involves copying and pasting a lot from one window to another, the Duo is a uniquely usable tool. But while the Duo 2 does things other $1,500 phones can't do, it doesn't do things other $1,500 phones can, like deliver class-leading image quality or feel comfortable when held up to your head for a phone call. It isn't really an unfolding tablet like the Z Fold3. It's very much its own thing.
Android Police made a similar claim. It explained that the Surface Duo 2 can do things no other device can, but that the Duo 2 has some noteworthy problems:
The Surface Duo 2 is great at some things you can't do well (or at all) on other phones. For example, you can run two apps side-by-side without feeling cramped, and some apps even have custom interfaces for the Duo that make them much more powerful. However, all of those apps come from Microsoft. If you don't live deep in Microsoft's ecosystem, the Duo 2 will be a consistently frustrating experience. Even just checking notifications and taking photos is tedious on this device.
CNet's review called the Surface Duo 2 a "step in the right direction," but that the device is "another step, not the destination."
It's a reflection of how our relationship with mobile devices has changed over the last decade as we've come to rely on them for everything from email, productivity, gaming, video chatting, social media browsing, photo editing and banking. But I don't think the Surface Duo 2 strikes the right balance of portability, functionality and practicality that most people want from their smartphone just yet.
The Verge's review of the Duo 2 also criticized the form factor of the device:
It's easy to see the potential in the Surface Duo line. You can dream up all kinds of different ways you'd put two screens to use, get more work done, and live in the future.
But it doesn't take long for those dreams to come crashing down to reality. Between the bugs and inherent awkwardness of the form factor, the Duo 2 is just a difficult device to live with day to day, much like its predecessor. Despite Microsoft addressing many of the omissions of the first generation — a proper camera, NFC, dual speakers, 5G, current processor — the Duo 2 still feels like a secondary device, something you carry alongside your primary phone for taking pictures, paying for things, and general phone stuff.
Engadget's review claimed that the Duo 2 missed the mark:
But despite having addressed many of the previous generation's issues and adding some useful features, the Duo 2 remains a frustrating device. And at $1,500, it's still a pricey product with a niche, limited appeal.
Overall, it seems like reviewers believe Microsoft did a good job improving upon the original Surface Duo. The internal specs are better, the camera is improved, and the design is a natural evolution of the form factor. Whether that form factor is worth the pricetag the Duo 2 holds differs greatly from expert to expert. Bugs and software issues also pop up in many reviews.
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