What you need to know
- British TV series The Gadget Show recently looked at the Surface Duo 2 and Galaxy Fold 3.
- The hosts were given three tests to see which folding phone was better.
- While Surface Duo 2 won for multitasking, the Galaxy Fold 3 won for camera and watching videos.
Let's be honest: Modern smartphones are only interesting these days when discussing the increasing variety of form factors, specifically around folding ones. But which style is better — dual-screens (Surface Duo 2) or folding vertically (Galaxy Fold 3)?
In reality, the answer is whatever works for you, but comparing the pros and cons of each design is still an important topic, especially for people plonking down large sums of money. That's why The Gadget Show, which airs on Channel 5 in the UK (and spotted on Reddit) recently looked at both phones.
In the video, which is both clever and entertaining, the presenters (Jon Bentley and Ortis Deley) go over the phone's features and specs, as one typically does. However, they were quickly given some challenges to see which phone was better.
It's no surprise that Surface Duo 2 wins out on multitasking for the first test. Most people find manipulating two apps on two screens more effortless and natural than the software divide found on Samsung's Galaxy Fold 3. This conclusion is reached even though Fold 3 can show three apps at once, which Duo 2 cannot do.
But where the Surface Duo 2 falls behind is also predictable. The second challenge shows that Duo 2's cameras are not as proficient as Samsung's, with the latter known for overly contrasty (but user-preferred) photos. Interestingly, both phones had a bit of shutter lag. Cameras on folding devices are a generation behind current flagship models, just one of the tradeoffs with the form factor.
The final test is relevant and the easiest to foresee the outcome: Watching a high-resolution video. With Surface Duo 2, the split-screen interferes with the experience, whereas Fold 3's "gutter" never hinders it (even if it's slightly visible).
Of course, the point can also be made with dual-screen PC setups, where no one ever runs video across both displays, which is weird.
So, which phone does The Gadget Show recommend in the end? Neither. The presenters felt that tradeoffs are still too high (along with the price) to justify them. Early adopters, however, are likely to feel differently. It's not uncommon to see people in forums and comments say that they can never return to a single-screen slab phone after adopting a folding one.
The good news is we'll have a few years for this technology to evolve. A recent report by Omdia noted that by 2026, foldables would only account for 3.6 percent of the total smartphone market, growing from the current 14 million units to 61 million. That's a lot of phones, most of which are likely to be sold by Samsung, but it's still a long way to go before these things are the new normal.