Skip to main content

How is the Surface Duo 2 holding up at 6 months on the market? (video)

On October 21, 2021, Microsoft began shipping Surface Duo 2 to eager customers around the world. It's been exactly six months since then, which means it's time to check in on the device to see how things are holding up. Are there any widespread hardware faults such as cracking USB-C ports? Has the software improved at all? Let's talk about it!

I've been using the Surface Duo 2 since it launched on day one last year, and I was also a first-gen Surface Duo customer since day one in September 2020. So, I've been on this dual-screen bandwagon for a long time at this point, and I'm happy to say that Surface Duo 2 today is in the best place this product line has ever been in. The software is working well, the hardware is holding up, and the future is looking bright.

When Surface Duo 2 launched last year, many reviews were somewhat negative thanks to the software shipping in a less-than-ideal state. Luckily, Microsoft has issued several updates in the last few months that addressed most of those issues, and I'd say the Duo 2 is now at a point where the software isn't a barrier for entry for most people. The Duo 2 is no more buggy than a Samsung, or OnePlus, or Pixel device you can buy on the market today.

With that said, there are some aspects of the device that still need a little bit of love, primarily with the camera app and performance. In well-lit scenarios, the camera is perfectly fine. In low-light or video scenarios, it starts to fall apart. The app will often become laggy, and low-light photos will almost always come out blurry unless you're incredibly still, and incredibly patient.

Regarding the overall device hardware, it's holding up much better than the first Surface Duo did. The Surface Duo 1 would begin to exhibit some discoloration of the edges over time, and the USB-C port would begin to crack after a few months of use. I'm glad to report that on Surface Duo 2 at six months, none of these hardware defects have reared their ugly heads.

Be sure to check out the video review above for a more in-depth discussion of the hardware, software, and how it compares to the Galaxy Fold!

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

43 Comments
  • This device has been fantastic for me. My only recurring gripe could just be an Android issue (ringtones simply disappearing.) All in all this takes the crown from the Samsung SCH-i760 as the best phone (yes the Duo2 is a phone) I have every used and my productivity has increased from the dual screen goodness.
  • The SCH-i760 is a feature phone from 2007. What am I missing here?
  • Very well done video Zac, especially the points made about how to approach the Duo form factor. Wish the so-called tech reviewers could be a bit more open minded with this dual screen idea.
  • Or maybe the form factor is just bad? None of the previous dual screen phones worked, you didn't gush over those. Are you letting the Surface logo on the back sway your thinking? Would you be saying the same thing if it had a ZTE logo?
  • The design of the Duo is more attractive than other OEM versions. I find the form factor and aspect ratio useful. It is a matter of perspective, but I also didn't buy this phone with the intent of using it like a Fold.
  • Yeah the camera is a disappointment for me as well as the touch screen, while slightly improved. Still great for media consumption and productivity.
  • While I don't take many pictures on my device, it is always sad to see the camera be a point of contention with this device. Coming from Windows Phone that used to have the best low light cameras, it is hard to see the cameras be in this state.
  • I just ordered one from Best Buy last night, I'm excited to use it.
  • As we know in many countries the Surface Duo 2 has not been marketed, including Italy. With the concrete hope that version 3 will also arrive in Italy, I expect further improvements in the photographic sector thanks to the work of Ari Partinen, hired by Microsoft in March 2021. I would like to ask Zac Bowden if there are any news regarding the Surface Duo 3?
  • Great video. This would have been the type of review that would have been nice to see. As stated, the initial software experience hurt the Duo 2 from the start. Everything else you mentioned is a fair review. I don't take many pictures anyway. So, how good the camera isn't was never an issue. It's good enough for me. Low light does absolutely suck, though.
  • Do you think the camera hardware is good and with software improvements, the overall camera experience can be much better.... Or is it a case of "no hope". I have the duo 2 and the camera is Bad. The delay is terrible indoors and if there are moving subjects. I have pictures with no kids in them because between pushing the button and actual picture capture, the kid ran off😂. To me, if you are going to put a big camera bump, it needs to be good if not great. Honestly, I think this camera is pure trash.
  • I think the camera hump is basically a similar thickness from a normal slab phone that have flushed camera. Reminds me of old Note9 which doesn't have a camera hump. Though that one still have way better camera though even at low light. I hope they will be significant improvements for version 3. Even its jot Pixel level, or if they do maybe Pixel 1 or 2 would be nice since those two don't even have significant camera hump either. Low light would be challenging for moving subjects. There wil be only so much computational photography can do that physics will limit it since there won't be enough light to capture it quickly enough without having to keep the shutter open for longer. Maybe they can try make the aperature larger.
  • Microsoft is petering around with old form factors, struggling to make a compelling device, while Samsung is about to have a massive launch for the Fold 4. They are doubling production for the Fold while Microsoft has nothing for this year. It is time to give up on this silly device.
  • Go ahead, no one is stopping you
  • Given Microsoft’s complete lack of dedication to this device, how are you not saying the same as me? Do you want them to fail?
  • I enjoy the device, I hated the fold. So.... your feelings have zero relation to me
  • You basically have to understand, that you, specifically, don't speak for the market. You specifically don't speak for Microsoft. You don't speak for this site, but more importantly, you don't speak for me. So you, trashing whatever Microsoft product of the week, isn't going to change much, because, most of us don't agree with you
  • I don’t speak for the market of course, but the market certainly isn’t being kind due to Microsoft’s bumbling. Again, why are you ok with that?
  • Because i like the device. Unlike you maybe, I don't buy things because the "market" likes it, I buy it because I LIKE it. Also, being a surface, it doesn't need mass market appeal anyway because that's not the surface purpose. Microsoft is doing quite fine as a 2 Trillion company. I like that they don't clout chase like you do. So that's why
  • If it doesn't sell, Microsoft will stop updating it, as they have already done by canceling the 2022 model, and will eventually stop selling it altogether. See the Surface Studio as an example. We will almost certainly hear this fall that the Duo line has been canceled. So, do you still want Microsoft to bungle their handling of device?
  • 1. They can't cancel something they haven't even announced. 2. The surface studio was on the market for nearly 4 years...*just checked surface website* And oh look, it's still there for sale 3. "We will almost..." Why should I care if I'm happy with the way it is? It's an android device, with guaranteed support for a minimum of 3 years, I'm good with that. the first duo is STILL receiving updates. Microsoft hasn't "bungled anything" imo. So why should I care what you, a non owner, and habitual hater think of anything? If you don't want it, don't buy it. But again, don't act like we think the same way you do. EVERY single thread, proves otherwise.
  • One question bleached sir....do you own a Duo?
  • No, I considered one when they launched, but the awkward aspect ratio and then terrible reviews stopped me. I will watch for the Fold 4 this year. If it is thinner, I may go for it, but will probably stick to iPhone for now. Are you happy with the way Microsoft treated this device? How you can tell it was designed in 2016, given the ancient aspect ratio and huge bezels? How buggy it was on launch, ruining reviews and making it the worst phone of 2021 according to MKBHD? How they are putting little effort into it, even canceling the 2022 model instead of iterating faster, improving it faster? With Microsoft’s complete lack of dedication to this device, how can you all not be saying the same as me? Do you want them to fail?
  • "With Microsoft’s complete lack of dedication to this device"
    A good chunk of the video is dedicated to how the software has improved, especially with three significant updates (and more on the way). I'm not certain what your definition of "complete lack of dedication" pertains to, but it seems to me to be quite hyperbolic. It's clear if you bought the phone on day one, you have a very different (and better) device on day 180. Anyone who owns one knows this.
  • Fixing software that was broken on launch is the bare minimum of expectations. Dedication is launching the device in reasonable state. Pricing it to meet the market. Not canceling the next version without clear explanations. Are they making huge changes? Do they not believe in the current form factor? You say it is merely a showcase of Microsoft’s productivity aspirations, but what good is a showcase device that launched broken? The reviews have been completed. It totally failed, including being named the worst phone of the year. What message is it sending when Microsoft’s showcase is broken at launch, is widely panned in reviews, and as a result doesn’t sell at all causing them to cancel the following year’s device. It just doesn’t make sense. What do you think Microsoft needs to do to make this a true showcase device?!
  • There are layers to your questions, so I will attempt to answer them in layers.
    When you use the term "broken" the definition is that it isn't working. The Duo 2 did work, and while it was an a great improvement from the initial Duo, many reviewers, in particular Daniel and Zack both mentioned about the areas that needed to still be improved. There is no such thing as a perfect launch. All devices have had issues. Some major, some minor. The key is what are the expectations of the consumer that is buying the device. The Duo 2 is still an experimental device. Microsoft is still piecing together the ideology of a true productivity device. At the end of the day you have the decision to buy it or not.
    You mentioned about Microsoft canceling another Duo device for this year. I don't recall them mentioning about coming out with another Duo iteration under the same time line as the first two. In fact they've stated there will not be a Duo 3 coming out in the same time frame as the Duo and Duo 2 did. You may need to review your sources.
    Regardless of how a device launches you always want to make improvements. To keep laser focused on the launch is undermining that which is quite a big deal. I'm sure you're familiar with the Android 12 issues that are plaguing the Z Fold 3? It's forcing many to switch phones. I don't see you blasting Samsung. Is your blasting biased to just Microsoft?
    As for what does Microsoft need to do the make the Duo a true showcase device...that depends on what your definition of showcase is. In a lot of regards it already is a showcase device. I would suggest they find a way to incorporate Qi or some other form of wireless charging. Will Xbox cloud gaming is pretty decent on certain games, it needs to be better across the board. You mentioned about the awkward aspect ratio. Compared to other phones maybe, but compared to customary reading it is a lot more natural than the Z Fold 3 is.
    At the end of the day it depends on the individual consumer. If you don't like it, that's fine, you don't have to buy one. As for me, I have enjoyed both the Duo and Duo 2. I enjoy the ability to run two applications independent of each other without having to readjust screen orientation or the ease of standing it up to watch something. The Duo is far from perfect, but it does what I need it to do in a way that no other device on the market does right now, and that works for me.
  • If you liked it, you would be calling for Microsoft to treat it properly, improve it quickly so they don't have to cancel it. You are just being a fanboy, not paying attention to reality. Rubino and this site were fairly clear last year that Microsoft was planning on releasing a cheaper version this spring. You must have missed those comments or articles. It has now been canceled, and we have heard no solid info why, even though, again, Rubino has said we would hear info that makes it make sense. It was broken. It had major software issues, which contributed to the terrible reviews. You would be demanding Microsoft improve this device and iterate faster if you liked it and weren't just fanboying. In reality, almost no one likes it. It is awkward, expensive, and basically pointless when compared to the folding screens available today. Unless Microsoft makes drastic changes to improve the form factor, it will die a not too slow death.
  • Don't. Feed. The. Troll...
  • Good Point, because at the end of the day, that's all he is, a troll
  • The launcher is still both limited and buggy. Hoping they fix both issues at some point.
  • I've sent my Duo 1 into Microsoft twice for repairs. Each time it came back, the hinge started off silky smooth but would start grinding after a few weeks. I hated it so much that I was going to move onto a new device entirely. As one last hell Mary, I bought a bottle of "WD-40 Specialist Bike Chain Lube" from Amazon and very carefully placed a few drops on the top and bottom of each hinge. That was December. I haven't had a single case of hinge grind since then. I'm shocked that work. And I'm glad it did because it has really renewed my enjoyment of the device. Having two screens just fits into my workflow. Often, I'm multitasking without even thinking about it. Even with the touch sensitivity issues on the Duo 1, I still choose it over a single screen phone.
  • “The software is working well, the hardware is holding up, and the future is looking bright.” So, after 6 months “it is still working” is the best you can say about your $1600 phone? A phone that is now $1000? Funny how you didn’t mention that huge price drop. 🙄 The future won’t look so bright when the price drops to $700 by June. Then $500 in August. Not to mention how you will feel, knowing that you spent $3000+ on 2 phones that you could have bought for less than $1000 if you had just waited. In a couple years, these will make excellent additions to your collection of “rare Microsoft prototype devices”.
  • "Funny how you didn’t mention that huge price drop. "
    Samsung S22 series got price drops (-$100) ATB < 45 days after launch along with upping trade-in deals (up to $1,000 now). The only phones that don't go on sale within six months are iPhones. You know this, yet you still bring it up like some grand observation instead of the ramblings of a tech novice who is oblivious to real-world economics. Another point, the Duo 2 price drop is, so far, only in the US/CA, and not Europe. Even the resale value of the Fold 3 is dropping, which is not bad news, just run of the mill for Android phones: "The average sale price for the 256 GB Galaxy Z Fold3 5G was $948 in March 2022, compared to $1161 in October 2021."
    "So, after 6 months “it is still working” is the best you can say about your $1600 phone?"
    Zac didn't say, "It is still working," so your use of quotes here is purposefully deceptive. The video goes over how things have improved, which I'm not sure why you would think that's a bad thing, and how he genuinely likes the phone, especially for multitasking.
  • Hey Zac. Is this really a true 6 month review of your device?
    I'm not critical by any means, but I do recall you switching to the obsidian, then back to the glacier at some point. So I'm presuming this is possibly a 5 month or even 4 month review on the hardware. PS Great video by the way. You and Dan have convinced me that with the updates it is ready to be a daily driver. I want to go out and buy one, but the price here in Australia is $2,319 and has not dropped in price. Keep up the great work.
  • Battery life is my biggest concern. I dropped my D2 a few weeks ago and it cost me £600 to repair, so have the pen case on for protection , but don't attach the pen. Does having the case on draw power? I take/make lots of calls a day, and use both screens quite a lot, normally by around 5pm I'm below 10% battery. Other than that, I'm very happy with the device. I still think it needs an outer screen for notifications, or, failing that, the surface team should look into developing a companion wearable.
  • Zac - this is one of your better reviews if not your best. I, too, am a day-one adopter of virtually everything Surface from Pro 3 (stopped there though, since wife loves it to this day) to Book 1,2,3 Laptop 4, and to Duo 1 and 2. Duo 1 was a flight of fancy for me since I had loved my 950XL until the battery didn't battery anymore and even then I soldiered on. The Duo 1 was the better choice at the time because as I looked at all the bendable, foldable, hingable phones available, I notes that foldable phones almost always had failed pixels in the fold. The ones in my local ATT store, for example, which admittedly were customer mishandled, had hundreds of well-lit or well-dark pixels. These were phone buyer killers for me. The Duo 1 was disappointing since I did have the USB C plastic break, software stutters, small cracks at the corners, crappy battery life, and lousy phone reception where I live. (Truth in advertising, only ATT can even get two bars in my neighborhood, all the rest get 0-1.) Even so, it was one bar with the Duo 1 4g-LTE, and two bars with Duo 2 5G. In fact, on one side of my standing desktop, I get two bars 5G and on the other side, 1 bar LTE. But I am impressed with Panos' attention to detail and passion for quality. My Duo 2, which is actually my second since I cleverly tried to carry too many things from car to garage and dropped it from 3.5 feet or so on very high-quality concrete. Panos may be a very good engineer, but 284 grams times 32 feet per second per second over 3.5 feet applied to a millimeter square on the upper back corner of the Duo 2 exactly equals $799 for a new Duo 2 sent and received the very next day. But that first Duo 2 did not stop working as a phone or computer-ette. (You can say a lot of things about MSFT, but crappy service or crappy merchandise, from my perspective, is not one of them.) All in all, the Duo 2 is a great small tablet computer, is responsive, has a quality heft, and does not break (unless induced by the likes of me who forget that physics always wins.) We do need to work on the software. It is still a little clunky with Android. I guess that I am still pining for a Windows replacement for the 950XL. OR, better yet, some brilliant soul to talk Panos or Satya into not killing - and maybe even giving a wink wink, nod nod, to the devs at XDA as they try to Windowize the Duo 2 (or 3) complete with live tiles. So, back to the future, a new 'build' from some XDA dev two or three times a week a la the early to mid 2000s. Again, good job Zac.
  • No mention of the pen at all? I was bummed out that there was no onboard pen and still am. Put a stylus in the thing and then it's a true productivity device. I live in hope....but sammy will probably do it first with the fold 4 or 5....
  • I lost many styluses from devices before there was a iPhone. They were called PDAs
  • And they were awesome. My dream device, 3:2 ratio folding screen or dual screen with integrated stylus. Get rid of the glass back and make it durable. That would be a winner.
  • My Lumia 928 running WP 8.1 and Cortana was my all-time favorite phone. Maybe in another 18 months with the Duo 3 and Android 12L I may find a close competitor.
  • Is it just me or... as a av engineer working with all kinds of display technologies, any time 2 or more displays are next to each other.. they have to match! At 7:05 in the video, the fact that the whites on both screens are totally different, drives me nuts. I am a day 1, OG SD owner and currently have my 3rd warranty replacement unit still in a sealed box. Waiting for 12L to open it up and use it to its fullest (os) potential. Looking forward to Zac and Daniel reviewing it when released.
  • Zac, thanks for the great review. I'm curious whether you always close the SD2 when you put it in your pocket and if not how the screen is holding up against scratches and such. Do you advise always storing it closed?
  • still loving my Surface Duo 2. still draws a lot of attention whenever people see me use it. a few bugs here and there so can't wait for 12L. but it's perfectly good as it is and none of the bugs are hardstops and all of the bugs have simple workarounds.