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Before the Surface Duo 2 launches, check out people's in-store impressions

Surface Duo Vs Duo 2 Techautos
Surface Duo Vs Duo 2 Techautos (Image credit: TechAutos)

What you need to know

  • The Surface Duo 2 goes on sale tomorrow, October 21, 2021.
  • Some stores already have the foldable phone on display.
  • People have taken the opportunity to film early impressions of the Surface Duo 2.

Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 officially launches tomorrow, October 21, 2021. Ahead of its release, people got up close and personal with the device at retailers such as Best Buy. Select stores have had the foldable phone on showroom floors for around a week, clearing the way for early impressions before the device even goes on sale.

YouTube channel TechAutos filmed a throughout side-by-side comparison of the Surface Duo 2 and the original Surface Duo. It shows both devices in various postures to show the subtle, and not so subtle, design differences between them.

"Duo 1 looks like four flat panes of glass sandwiching a plastic ringed patty. By contrast, Surface Duo 2 has edges that curve in before meeting the flat sides," says TechAutos. The video continues, "From this angle, it almost resembles Nokia's Fabula design language for many of its Lumia Windows Phones. This helps reduce the perceived thickness, allows the glass to smoothly flow into the plastic sides, and makes for a more refined feel in hand, as there's no flat glass edge pushing into your hand."

The Surface Duo 2 goes on sale tomorrow. We're buying one, so we'll be able to answer all of your questions about the next-generation foldable. If you have any specific requests, make sure to share them with us.

YouTuber The NIONX also looked at the Surface Duo 2 in-store, concluding, "Overall a very nice device. The layers and how they put it together [are] just magnificent."

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

17 Comments
  • The release date is October 21st, not 20th
  • Too many starts and not enough finishes by Microsoft in the mobile phone market makes this $1400 purchase a tough ask for my wallet. there may be improvements over Duo1, but the reviewer states he has high hopes for the Duo2 if Microsoft supports the device with regular updates which given past history seems quite optimistic
  • I don't know what you mean. What did they stop, but not finish?
  • They destroyed Nokia after acquisition. They quit on windows mobile (many iterations) Duo1 hasn't gotten anything other than Android security updates since March. I think there was a device called Kin.
    Do you need more examples?
  • This is stupid. Most of these were the time Steve Balmer was in charge. He was essentially why Microsoft made these decisions. But over the course of Nokia and windows phone, it had about ten years life span. But at that time, it's demise was due to app developers not putting out any app on it, and Google giving Microsoft a hard time with there own apps. Kin was cheap phone for kids. We're you affected by that tiny phone meant to compete with Palm pre peeble phones. What's your next excuse, Zune?, kinect? Hololens? Sounds like you're just trying hard to find an excuse not to get this. No one's forcing you
  • Kin was not a cheap phone for kids. It was a bit less expensive than many, but targeted at teens with some super social networking aspects. What killed it was Verizon. This was at a time when data plans were super expensive and you had to have one for a Kin. Nobody was subscribing to a data plan for their teen.
  • They're still supporting/updating the first duo aren't they?
  • Yes if less than promised due to lack of Android 11 not being available on it
  • I went and tried the duo 2, comparing to my duo. It is a bit of a mixed bag because of the limited software experience. You can't use half of the basic features and it just seems very limited. In that regard, mostly worst than duo but way faster and responsive. The camera seems better and fast but not wow! We will see after people share their impressions. The feel is very similar, the hinge didn't seem tighter or anything particilular. The rounded glass definitely is a major plus compared to the slapped glass on duo 1. Also, you don't notice much the thicker body, nor the bigger screens nor the reduced gap. The notifications on the side are super cool though! It's doen in a way that the notifications are displayed on both screens so you can see them no matter the angle. Vouldnt really judge the gap left because of the camera bump because of the antitheft attachement... I will not get the obsidian for sure! Finger prints nightmare!! I am sure people will use cases or skins. Also, the logo tends to disappear in the obsidian. Not that I am obsessed with the microsoft logo but it is a nice contrast with the white version. And I think I will prefer see also the contrats with the camera bump with white edges... Unfortunately, I couldn't have access to the white one and I would of love to check one detail : about the edge of the camera bump, I wonder if it's the same material as the edge of the phone. If so I hope it won't stain because that would be an other area of concern... Not as deep and detailed impressions than the one you can check on YouTube, but just felt like Sharing.
  • I had not appreciated that the telephote is a 51mm lens until I saw the specs in the video here. Sorry if that's been in the Windows Central specs too. Maybe it's the standard in the smartphone world, but it struck me as funny: 51mm is basically a standard flat (non-zoom) lens (standard flat lens is 50mm). SLR Zoom lenses start at about 80mm. I would consider real telephoto to be about 200mm+. Again this is probably all just academic, because a smartphone is very different from an SLR, but it amused me to see 51mm described as telephoto.
  • I have no idea what they (or Microsoft) mean by 51mm, but a 51mm *equivalent* on a full frame sensor is normal. (85mm is usually where people start talking about telephoto. lengths. Samsung has also called ~50mm "telephoto" in their phones.) The important thing here is that the sensor is nowhere near full-frame size (it's a tiny smartphone camera sensor for sure), so whatever the actual focal length of the lens, you'd have to multiply it by its crop factor to get a full-frame equivalent. I think they mean FF equivalent and it kind of looks like it, but it's never really clear.
  • Yeah, that 51mm is basically considered telephoto to a small sensor that the smartphone use, especially on Duo. Just like how 50mm on APSC is equivalent to around 76mm on Full Frame. So that 51mm I guess would be high for a smartphone at least, which will be considered a telephoto on more APSC size sensors. Idk what is the sensor size on Surface Duo 2 though, so I don't know what to convert exactly.
  • I was thinking about this more after leaving my (kind of rambling!) comment above. Just throwing this out there: 1. 51mm is probably full-frame equivalent, based upon looking at my own phone with its "52mm telephoto" and comparing it to a 50-ish mm equivalent experience on my camera (35mm + APS-C body). I think the manufacturers expect users to be holding the phone X cm from their faces when taking a picture using the main cameras, and the apparent viewing angle and size looks about right. And the photos look about right of course. 2. But that's weird! Most people have never even seen through the viewfinder of a full-frame camera. What's the point of using of using the full-frame equivalent when most hobby photographers (up until recently) were used to crop sensors, even very cropped sensors (like micro four-thirds). 3. What you said about APS-C makes sense though, since that's a very common crop-sensor size for camera enthusiasts, and it's Nikon and Sony and others' crop bodie sales that smartphones have been destroying. So 51mm FF equivalent, converted to APS-C experience, is about 75ish as you mention, which is telephoto-ish (and also very pleasing for portraits IMHO). This kind of makes sense, since the lens you put on your APS-C camera body will have the focal length it will have and will be marked as so. That is, the focal length written on the lens won't be the crop equivalent. (Remember: Actual focal lengths are properties of the lens.) But then again, it really did look and feel like 50mm FF equivalent, not 75. 🤷‍♀️
  • I might go to the local Best Buy tomorrow and see if they have it. Still don't love that they raised the price $100, doesn't seem like there's any justification for it (more a testament to how overpriced the first-gen was than anything else). Can't decide if I would want to throw $1,600 at a phone, plus the premium that you pay for any kind of accessory (phone mount, case, skin, etc.). It's really just too bad that it doesn't support the Slim Pen 2's haptics. It makes buying one, versus keeping my Surface Pen 2, a bit pointless, which also makes the charging case a bit useless. I kind of feel it means I'll make less use of the inking than I otherwise would if I had an incentive to buy the improved pen (other than to get a pricey case for the convenience of having the pen close). I personally don't care about the update pace. The hope is that stock Android 11 has better support for foldables than Android 10, so it'll be more stable and not NEED as many updates. I don't think there's an excuse to drag feet on getting us Android 12 before the spring, but the hope is that the Duo 2 isn't a stability mess of the first-gen. I'll check out reviews in the morning, check it out in store, and see if it's worth the upgrade from my G8 (which would stick around as my music player, since Microsoft's audio solution is a big step down from the G8's headphone jack and DAC).
  • Waiting for Mr Mobile's review...
  • Yeah, Mr Mobile's review of the Duo 1 was very good. Frustrating, but good. Frustrating because of all the software issues. He did a good job of trying to capture how a power user might make use of the device. It didn't go so well! So I'm really interested in how things have changed for him.
  • I went to Best Buy to check it out. They did not have the Duo 2. I had to look really hard to find the Duo 1 -- it was tucked off to the side behind a post. The screen was smashed with a large chip out of the edge. Closing the brick and mortar Microsoft Stores and depending on BestBuy to showcase the product = fail. I won't be getting a Duo 2. I just purchased a Razer Blade 14" laptop, which is pretty nice. It's the first time I have owned a non-Surface laptop in over six years. The MS Stores did a nice job of getting you excited about the products. BestBuy, not so much.