What would make me buy a Surface Duo 2

Surface Duo 2020
Surface Duo 2020 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The Surface Duo is an intriguing piece of tech. Considered the spiritual successor to Microsoft's mythical Courier device of yesteryear, the Duo brings the best of Surface's engineering prowess to the Android ecosystem, bolstered by millions of apps Windows Phone simply could never obtain. The Surface Duo is admirable, exciting, and compelling... until you read the fine print, at least.

For me, the Surface Duo just isn't a device I could ever see buying. A long-time user of the Samsung Galaxy Android lineup, there are certain things I absolutely cannot see myself compromising on, despite the allure of dual-screen hinged productivity. To that end, the next Galaxy Fold looks like it could be my future phone. But what could Microsoft do to sweeten the deal, for me?

Again, these are just things that I want to see personally in the next Duo device, and not necessarily a criticism that goes broader than that. What would you like to see in a future Surface Duo? Hit the comments and let's chat. Either way, here are the things I consider an absolute must for personal productivity, entertainment, and value for money.

A more passable camera and mic

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

One of the most disappointing things about the Surface Duo is the quality of the basic functions of a smartphone. The camera samples in our Surface Duo review fall well below even the cheapest modern Galaxy devices, and given that the Surface Duo costs £1350 in the UK ($1876 USD), some of this stuff just isn't acceptable.

Whenever my lovely colleague Zac Bowden joins a Slack call on his Duo, it sounds like he's communicating from beneath the ocean, with technology that might be more at home on a WW2 submarine than a 2021 cutting-edge mobile device. The battery life also varies depending on how much dual-screen time you get, as you might expect. But if you're thinking "oh, I better not use the dual-screen too much or I'll drain my battery," it kind of defeats the point. With my Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, I basically never have to think about battery life, even if I'm out all day. Admittedly, I do nudge down the refresh rate and resolution to accommodate the battery, but beyond that, I'm never really thinking about burning it out.

I realize that things like battery life, mic quality, and camera capability are huge design challenges for a device like this. The fact that Microsoft and the Surface team were able to even approach this level of design while maintaining the slimness of the device is truly admirable. Admirable isn't enough though, when it comes to spending $1876 dollars on a phone, though. If it's not good enough to replace my far-cheaper Note 20 Ultra even on the basics, it's a difficult proposition to make.

Customizable OS shell, with accent colors

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

One other aspect of Android that I enjoy over iOS is the amount of customization you can get. Whether it's custom launchers, widgets, or other types of app integrations, Android is a far more "open" platform than iOS, which gives users a huge degree of control over their overall experience. That's why it's a bit annoying Microsoft hasn't done more in this space.

Bugs and usability issues notwithstanding, the Surface Duo's Android version, once again, feels lacking compared to the One UI from Samsung, or the Oxygen OS from OnePlus. You're stuck with basic blue for an accent color, which leads to an inconsistent experience with Windows and the Microsoft Launcher itself, which has a variety of color options to choose from.

I use the Microsoft Launcher on my Galaxy Note 20 and adore it. I love the clean interface, the OneDrive cloud backups, the Calendar view panel, and the fact I can line up the Microsoft Launcher accent colors with a custom theme from Samsung's Galaxy theme store. I don't think Microsoft needs to go as far as Samsung, allowing you to fully customize the shell with your own graphics and fonts and whatnot, but at the very least, some accent colors that match the Microsoft Launcher should be fairly simple. Microsoft even disabled the built-in Android accent colors you can unlock via the developer tools. Why?

A smaller, dockable stylus, with slimmer bezels

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Although I haven't used it a whole lot in the pandemic, one thing I often do with my Galaxy Note devices is hand-written notes. During visits to game developers and during meetings, taking notes with a stylus, scribbling quick diagrams and schemas often feels more ergonomic than trying to tap or swipe a small software keyboard. And sure, with the pandemic, I don't do it nearly as often as I used to. One has to hope that this whole thing will eventually come to an end, in some shape or form.

The Surface Duo does support the Surface Pen, to some degree. It magnetizes to the back, as a byproduct of the magnets used for changing the folding routine on the device. But a dedicated housing, similar to the S-Pen on the Galaxy Note, would obviously be preferable.

The broader canvas you get with the Surface Duo makes it an exciting potential tool for inking and notetaking, owing to a larger screen space for organizing content. Drawing on a Galaxy Note 20 is a pain, and frankly, even regular notetaking is, due to the dumb rounded edges that are frankly incongruous to the experience. I'd love to see a Surface Duo with slimmer bezels too since it makes it seem like a lot of that display space is wasted the way it is right now.

In any case, I'd love to see Microsoft double down on the inking aspects of this device since I don't think they're communicated too well in the marketing proposition thus far.

A sense of commitment

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

I appreciate the enormity of the engineering challenge I'm presenting here. But ultimately, this is the price Microsoft pays for wanting to make a smartphone with a twist — and it is a phone. I disagree wholeheartedly with Microsoft's attempts to avoid calling the Surface Duo a phone, purely to avoid the connection to Windows Phone's failure. If a device has telephony, a sim card slot, has apps, and makes calls then it's a smartphone.

I want to want a Surface Duo.

The avoidance and stigma around Windows Phone is not something many Microsoft fans will soon forget. I realize that future Surface Duo versions will hinge (heh, hinge) on the response of the wider market. As a former Surface fan, I like the idea of a world where the Surface Duo can find a niche for itself in an Android world utterly dominated by Samsung and a few others. I realize that my reluctance to purchase could hurt the chances of getting a future Surface Duo, but it's not really my responsibility to invest in a product that I don't feel represents value for money, based on enjoyment of the brand in general. Microsoft was late to the game and is paying for it.

Still, there are positive signs that Microsoft could be truly committed to the Duo, and that it isn't going to suffer the same fate as products like the Microsoft Band. Microsoft recently enlisted the talents of Ari Partinen, famed for contributing to the industry-leading Lumia cameras of yesteryear. Microsoft also grabbed Nuance, who built the vocal recognition systems found in the iPhone, too. Xbox Game Pass also now expands its touch controls to the bottom display on a Surface Duo, a feature that is wholly unique to the Duo.

I want to want a Surface Duo, but Microsoft's inconsistent commitment to consumer tech and "fun" has me scratching my head sometimes. Are they actually serious about this? I suppose time will tell.

What would you like to see in a Surface Duo 2 or 3? Hit the comments, let's chat.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • A device with looks and specs that belong in 2021 but totally innovates on it.
  • Windows in it.
  • Lower price, wireless charging and NFC.
  • A dual-screen, touch optimized version of Windows 10X. My Duo would be a pocket PC that could double as a phone, obviously with a high quality camera...
    Android (and iOS) simply aren't productivity OSs, and a dual screen device IS a productivity device. I would want a Duo, that could hook up to my monitor and peripherals, and be my truly mobile PC!
  • Windows 10X isn't a productivity OS as it doesn't have anywhere near the software required for a phone or PC in 2021. Android and iOS far out pace it when it comes to productivity. UWP didn't catch on and you are confusing full Windows with 10X. Full Windows wouldn't be useful on a phone sized screen and 10X will take years before it is even ready to be put on such a device, let alone be competitive with Android today.
  • It doesn't have to be full windows. Just support for calls and the rest is anyway available on Web.
  • Sounds like a terrible phone and everything isn't available on the web. Many apps aren't suitable for web, like home automation and such. 10X would be a huge downgrade from Android. There would be zero reason to choose it.
  • Examples to your claims?
    Are your the same guy who thinks as long as a device is capable of running Fortnite, the machine/OS is capable of running Unreal Engine, doing real world dev work?
  • Good camera setup ... everything else will be OK if the specs are good enough.
  • I've used the Surface Duo since it first came out (I bought it during the pre-release). I have grown to really love the dual screen productivity of the device. I don't agree with many of the points made by Jez in the article. My battery life has been fantastic. I use both screens continually and open and close the device all day. I never run out of battery in a day and may get to 20% about 10pm or later. I have never had compaints about the mic quality on Teams calls. Because of the pen input, I can get some real work done with this. I take notes during teams meetings on it in OneNote. I use one side as a scratch pad for hand calculations with the calculator up on the other side. If the pen were any smaller I would loose it. I like bringing two versions of the edge browser up so I can look at two pages at once. Outlook email is so much better with two screens. I love that it runs Android, so I can have all my apps. A windows only device has no appeal to me at this size because there are no apps. The large bezels don't bother me on this device, because you have to grip it somewhere when you flip the screens around.
    I do get frustrated with some of the bugs around the screens freezing, but I remember when the Microsoft/Arrow launcher was in a rough state too and I know MS will work these things out. For me the enhanced productivity more than outweighs the shortcomings.
    Here is what I would like to see in the Duo 2:
    Better camera for low light situations, more apps developed for dual screen devices (Google Maps for one). NFC would be nice but not a dealbreaker because I also have a smartwatch. I would also like to see inductive charging of the slim pen while it is magnetically attached to the outside.
    Perhaps a more intriguing question for Duo 1 owners is "would you pay another $1400 for Duo 2 after only one year with the original"? This is the question I am pondering.
  • Thanks for this review from a real user. I thought about buying the initial unit but the price was jyust too high. I do understand the extra cost of the 2 screens and the like, but at 1400 and still needing a Android device as well, plus my laptop it just seems too expensive. I don't care about the camera as long I can do decent video calls, and don't need speakers that are better than needed for calls as I'd use a bluetooth speaker or headphones listening to music or the like. Lastly I think the issue of commitment is real. Who wants a 2021/2022 Zune?
  • As a full-time user of the Duo since November, I completely agree with your POSITIVE assessment! 1. Battery life is not an issue, ever. I use one screen or two screens interchangeably throughout a 16 hour day. 2. I don't get complaints about mic quality. 3. I use the surface pen to take handwritten notes in OneNote quite a bit too. I don't want a dockable pen or anything that would compromise the device design, The Surface Pen is a full size pen that doesn't cramp my hand and I can use the same pen across my Surface devices. 4. Dual screen multitasking is the bomb. I'm never going back to a single screen, especially not a hideously bulky Galaxy Fold. 5. Android, warts and all, is where the apps are. 6. Enhanced productivity FAR outweighs the glitchiness. But I also hope Microsoft is trying to squash the bugs and is actively trying to make the camera software better. Or at least use my telemetry to make a kick-a** Duo 2. 7. Finally, yes! I would totally buy a Duo 2 right now if it were a reasonable upgrade. I betcha Microsoft will be offering good trade-in value for existing Duo owners too. Or at least I hope so.
  • Agree with all of this. People who haven't used a Duo enough to become accustomed to the dual screen multitasking, don't appreciate what they're missing. I moved to the Duo from a Samsung Galaxy. The camera, lack wireless charging, and NFC are all real downgrades, but the mic is fine (with all the problems Zac has described, I think he has a defective unit - I don't have any of those problems), battery life is better than fine (if anything, it's better than my old Galaxy). The Galaxy fold and their ilk are not really competitors to the Duo. From a UI perspective, those are tablets that fold down to phones. The Duo is a dual-screen device. That's a very different thing.
  • This is a very dynamic topic as there are a lot of moving parts to it. In retrospect the Samsung Fold is really a phone with two screens that still functions as a single screen device. You can virtually change the number of screens presented to you and how big you want them to be, but it doesn't provide any physical build limitations or restrictions. With the Surface Duo actually functioning as two independent screens, they have an actual battery for each screen. Extra components compromised some things like NFC and Qi Wireless charging. I'm sure MSFT is looking at improving on the form factor to bring some of those capabilities to the second generation, along with a better camera. The point of this device is predicated on productivity. Ask anyone who uses two monitors can they do more than using a single monitor? While the bezels aren't a big issue for me due to the wider screen orientation, I can see how others would like to see a smaller profile. I think another aspect of the Duo that is going a little underappreciated is the gesture orientation. The Fold doesn't have anything close. MSFT has done a good job issuing patches and security updates to improve the smoothness of those central functions. I would agree with a smaller stylus would allow for note taking while still maintaining how thin the device is, which is nothing short of amazing. The last part is that remember MSFT is only the manufacturing company of the device. The software aspect is still managed ultimately by Google, and they within itself will provide some hurdles that Samsung and other OEM's have been dealing with and mastered for over two decades. All in all I think MSFT made a strong submission in the first generation Duo. Like "jrhenn" the real question is was the Duo worth $1400 and would you buy a second generation Duo even with the desired improvements for the same price?
  • I also agree. it my primary device and I use it all day. no major issues. battery is fine. I always make it through the day. every once and awhile it seems to be dying quicker and a restart fixes it. but I had that with my iPhone too. I look forward to a new version with whatever improvements can be made but the only thing I real want is a better antenna and a better camera. camera is not as bad as everyone seems to think but low light is not good. daytime pictures no problem. my only real issue is that the signal strength compared to any other phone is not great. mainly indoors.
  • My wife and I (each) have a Surface Duo at this point on the planet I will never buy another non-dual screen phone. For this form factor, as stated here, there is much love for this dual screen’s productivity.
  • SD card support.
  • You Mentioned some of my wants
    I would like-
    -stereo speakers on either side like my Sony Xperia
    -stereo mics for recording
    -a slightly bigger screen, I like bezels for holding but they could push this screen out a little more
    -stylus in the device like Samsung OneNote
    -better camera, doesn't have to be top of the line, but a good camera without the camera bump
    And I've mentioned this before, but I can't stand the term SmartPhone. I liked PDA much better. The majority of us don't use it as a phone the majority of the time. I think Microsoft is moving in the right direction not to call it yesterdays old term SmartPhone.
  • 1. Need better performance using this for video meetings. This includes a better cam for indoors. As a productivity device, I basically can't use this for Teams. Plus the tent posture never seems to do what I want.
    2. Better journaling/note taking experience all around. If it's supposed to be a productivity device, this one is a no-brainer.
    3. Need more compelling use cases that use the dual screen. This doesn't mean one app that spans both screens. It means the interplay between both screens is more fluid based on context. This does require updated apps but also the OS is smother when changing postures. One good example is the keyboard never seems to open correct when in "laptop" posture. Another example is the cam never seems to have the viewfinder on the correct screen.
    4. Wireless charging and NFC would be nice. Those four things would catapult this device to another level. The hardware is already there. These nuances are holding it back.
  • It will undoubtedly get better performance with a newer generation Snap Dragon chip in it.
    Agreed about the note taking experience, it would be really cool if they could let UWP note taking apps work on the Duo through some way but that is probably wishful thinking.
  • Well about UWP on Android, that is wishful thinking considering UWP is a platform for apps on Windows, not Android. That requires alot of code and essentially forking Android to support a completely different app platform to another OS. But the easiest and quickest thing to do is to further improve OneNote app, make a dedicated Whiteboard app, and have a pen experience integration on Surface Duo just like how Galaxy Note have their S-Pen integration to Android, more than just supporting a pen input but adding pen-centric features, and overall UX around it. Currently Surface Duo have barebones support for pen. The only it is better than Galaxy Note is due to bigger flat screen and its 2, compared to 1 narrow screen with annoying side curves on Galaxy Note. Everything else, Galaxy Note S-Pen UX is better.
  • Yeah that is true but since UWP runs on WOA too (/Qualcomm snapdragon) I wonder if there could not be a some kind of bridge (some kind of emulation or translation or such). There is also Xamarin which contains UWP and that already works on Android but just not supports every UWP feature.
  • I agree, especially with note taking experience in Surface Duo. With its form factor, note taking should have been one of the core experience Microsoft could have done. Well, it was originally intent to but when they switched to Android, pen experience is an afterthought. The new Microsoft Launcher Stick Notes doesn't even support pen pressure either, so taking notes on it is akin to using big marker on a sticky note. For me NFC is the biggest thing I can't have Surface Duo (other than availability), then Wireless Charging though livable without it, still feels like a waste having wireless chargers around and not able to use them. Especially for a device costing so much even for base level. Camera is understandable engineering challenge. Still no excuse for having really poor or at best "meh" camera performance on such an expensive device. Hopefully the newly hired ex-Pureview engineer will able to engineer and design a better camera system for this form-factor. At best expect more on computation photography than raw camera prowess like on latest Xperia incorporating technologies from their Alpha Cameras as an example. Bezels for me aren't a deal breaker, but still could be improve upon by reducing it significantly and thus having bigger display. We don't need too big of a bezel just for holding the device. I don't think most are asking to bezel size on the sides of Samsung Galaxy S and Note series that has a trick to curve the display, making it thin. Reasonable thin enough top and bottom bezel is more than good enough withouth a punch hole. Again, similar to Xperia approach.
  • Good article. I think a build in stylus should be priority if possible (would also be very handy for Surface users to always have a pen at your disposal).
    Personally I also would like to see a Lite/budget version of it. Relatively low reso but otherwise decent screen like eg iPhone Xr has to reduce costs and further increase battery life. And SD 6xx or 7xx instead of 8xx. Slightly better camera than Duo 1.
  • Under $1k, current gen hardware, and a good camera.
  • That's not realistic. Other foldables generally have started around $1,500. Phones with modern flagship specs and ONE screen start around $800 (and exceed $1,000 when you go for the higher-end stuff), and you're not going to get the second screen and added stuff of the Duo with such a small added cost.
  • A hinge and a standard smartphone screen should add no more than $200, and that is with a decent margin. We aren't talking about folding screens here. The Duo is just a standard screen. They must be readily available for well under $100 for a manufacturer like Microsoft. The only reason Microsoft priced it so high was an attempt to appear ultra premium. They think they can put a huge price on it even if it is missing basic functions and it will make it desirable.
  • It's not just a screen and a hinge, though. They've also added Surface Pen/inking support to their screens, which only a couple of other phones offer. They've designed a split chassis with connection between the displays, along with the split batteries that requires engineering to manage. All of this is stuff unique to the Duo, so Microsoft incurs all of the R&D and is probably the sole source for some of these parts from suppliers. They don't get to dip into a more generalized parts bin, so that probably raises costs some too. That they've gone their own way with their own has likely added to build costs (not that MS needs the profit margins they're aiming for). Microsoft seems unwilling to take the early hits on profits to grow the Duo, which is lame. The path isn't unlike what Sony does with the Xperia's, where they overprice their devices against the competition. Despite having really small sales numbers, they manage to turn profits at Sony, where as the competitively priced LG is not shutdown after losing money for years. Microsoft seems to prefer that route, though I think they'll struggle to ever go beyond a niche offering, if they both aim for higher margins and never offer a mainstream device. MS might be OK with that, especially if they think they can use Android as a starting point to eventually shift to a W10X platform in a few years (if they ever make a usable dual-screen OS and release the Neo with success).
  • Dual screen smartphones have been around for years and they weren't 2x the price of a normal phone. Hinges and battery management isn't new. Microsoft is just trying to give the perception of an ultra premium device.
  • Split batteries is fairly new. Besides the phones you refer to suck monkey balls, hence why they are so cheap. For a folding phone or dual screen phone the design/details are critical, otherwise the experience will feel gimmicky and/or crappy and you might as well get a single screen phone.
  • The Axon 7 was perfectly fine. It wasn't as nice as the Duo for sure, but that doesn't mean the Duo should be twice as much, especially with all the missing features. Microsoft has been doing split batteries for years. When did the Surfacebook launch?
  • "The Axon 7 was perfectly fine. It wasn't as nice as the Duo for sure, but that doesn't mean the Duo should be twice as much, especially with all the missing features.", no they suck, the whole idea of dual screen phones is that it saves you time / increases your productivity. This only works if both the hardware and software are good enough, otherwise you might as well buy a single screen phone than. "Microsoft has been doing split batteries for years. When did the Surfacebook launch?", that is a laptop, not a phone
  • NFC. I love paying for stuff with my phone and a MUCH better camera.
  • windows cloud operating system instead of android as a option .
  • The most 'use case' excitement was the courier concept realised at last. Duo needs to actually nail that or become a curiosity. If Duo is the 'next level' in productivity, it has to go up a level in screen availability (dark mode gives a glimpse of that potential) and pen first. The phone, camera and dual screen apps will fall into the cadence of a user's workflow if that person is naturally 'doing' courier. PD
  • No Windows, no me...
  • The commitment is the biggest issue. I don't mean it in the "Microsoft messes around with phones too much" angle, which I understand, but rather about actually defining the market for the device. If they're going to give it a sky-high price tag, then they need to resolve the feature compromises. I'm not going to spend $1,500 on a phone and lose out on all of the stuff I like from my $600 phone. I get that asking for a headphone jack is probably too much, but do they really need to take away microSD support? Why can't we have Qi, NFC, 5G (and a modern SoC in general), and at least one camera lens that's worth using? If they're not going to fix those massive usability flaws, then the price needs to come down. I was ready to spend $1,000-1,200 on the Duo with some missing features because of its unique means of increasing productivity. When it came out at $1,400-1,500, I was out. If you're going to be behind on internal specs because you tinker with R&D too long to release with the latest SoCs, then don't price it above the latest and greatest. It can't be slaughtered in features by mid-range phones and say "but it's got two screens, so pay up." I get the sentiment of a smaller pen, but I feel the quality of the inking experience would go down if they implemented an S-Pen copycat. Maybe they could do that as a "get by with the basics" solution, and most of us would like that more than having to drop $100+ on a Surface Pen that is something of a clunky fit on the go. I'd understand that move, but I'm OK if they just want to continue building around higher-end inking experiences with their existing pen options. For me, the main thing is going to be around improving those hardware features. I'd rather pay $1,500 for a device that does all that I want than have it be a so-so companion device I give up on in 3 months because bringing it with me is a chore because its use cases are so few with a bad camera and poor features in general. Stop making the Duo look like a companion device. You might not want to call it a smartphone, but as the Surface Pro is "the tablet than can replace your laptop," the Duo needs to be "the foldable that can replace your smartphone."
  • I won't. Isn't it strange, that Microsoft put an operating system together that had two different formats with desktop and Metro when they made Windows 8? A Windows Duo, if you will. And now, they are coming out with a phone with two screens that technically improve nothing. "But you can see two things at the same time." Never mind that Windows management on a phone has gotten better. Never mind that a company that makes a program called Windows is using a different operating system and is releasing a hardware product that has two screens which goes against the thought of good windows management. Nope, you really need two displays for cut, copy, and paste. Or you really need to be watching a movie, while typing up a word document. Uck. Microsoft keeps "reaching" for gimmicks to out play Apple and they just keep embrassing themselves. Meanwhile, Apple makes another yearly iteration of the iPhone with top of the line incremental updates that people will buy. I'd like a single screen phone with Windows 10 Mobile or Windows 10X on it because a cross platform with things like Continuum are actually innovations. "It won't have the apps." Then make an Android option. I think Microsoft's best bet is Windows 10 Mobile still. "Well, what is the reason you think that?" because I've never really needed the apps. Maybe I'm wrong for this, but in some ways older people only need the basic utilities. I just think it might be more of a pro than a con that there isn't an overgrown app store. And with PWAs becoming more of a thing, maybe that changes things.
  • Maybe I'm wrong about all of it.
  • The 2 dual screen thing is likely something you need to get used to / try out (the software plays here a critical role to make it useful or not, one of stronger points of the Duo compared to eg that LG dual screen phone). I read many positive experiences from that regarding Duo owners. The problem is more stuff like bugs and camera etc (which probably both will improve) aside from missing extra's like NFC for some people.
  • A good camera, I don't want to be that person but I am. Then NFC. Wireless would be nice but I can survive without it. I see people saying Windows 10X. Interesting but I think I would be happy with streamed apps.
  • After owning about 5 windows phones. I don't think I can trust MS to make a phone again so they'd have to make a universal development platform that actually worked with support equivalent to competing platforms and a UI as unique as windows phone that they won't abandon. It will never happen. That said I will probably buy a surface neo if they haven't cancelled that already, because it is just something they do.
  • A universal development platform doesn't matter. They just need a device that people want to use. Developers will go where the users are. Maybe someday Microsoft will actually make a modern operating system that doesn't suck.
  • The Microsoft phone issue was always down to the platform. They had hardware, even OS features, but third-party support dragged them down. With Android as their platform now, that goes away. It's not like the Lumias (both from Nokia and Microsoft) were poorly specced (ignoring the mediocre Lumia 830 series). They definitely need to improve the stability of the Duo's software, and some of the hardware features, but at least Android won't leave them with the "I wish I had a banking app" complaints of the past.
  • Windows phones always had poor specs. I think the 950 was the first one to launch with a current processor. They were always at least a year behind as Microsoft was slow to support new chips. The lack of specs hurt their marketing options.
  • A Duo should have the ability to run Windows even if it is in a continuum fashion. Honestly nothing the Duo has for a Microsoft fan that any Android can't supply.
  • The sell job on the Duo is the form factor, not the Microsoft ecosystem. Yeah, running Android means you have the same Android as everyone else (with some variances between OEMs), but it also means you're not a platform disadvantage by having a Windows phone. They're trying to sell you a hardware experience, rather than a whole ecosystem like with Windows 10 Mobile. Yeah, any Android device can give you Android, but few can offer a dual-screen experience, and the ones that CAN are from LG, who has left the market. The only real competitor is the Z Fold right now, and it sits about $500 over the Duo (how that changes with the Z Fold 2 and Duo 2, we'll have to wait to see). If you want to multitask on a single-screen, it gets cramped quickly. The Duo's a good form factor for productivity, but it needs a lot of polish and they need to upgrade the internals to make it matter. However, you're not going to pick up a Galaxy S21 and get the exact same experience. Depending on your use case, you might get a better one with the Galaxy, but if you're aiming for multitasking and productivity, the Duo's going to win out. They're aiming for a niche right now, not the mainstream.
  • I really want a dual screen like the Duo for productivity >What would make me buy a Surface Duo 2 Having it for sale in Australia Must Have
    NFC (work arounds like carrying a wallet, having another phone or a watch are asinine IMO), everything is tap 'n go here and I haven't needed a wallet for 3 years or so, thank god.
    SD Expansion Really like but if everything else is awesome I can over look it
    Embedded pen (but still needs pen support)
    3.5mm jack Reasonable support is expected, akin to say Samsungs but I must admit the Z Fold form factor is more appealing , so maybe I will just wait for a Neo. I currently use
    a Note 9 and have found nothing to tempt me away and it's big enough I don't need a tablet. Maybe like the Surface Pro range we'll need to wait for the third iteration for MS to wrap their heads around how to do this. but tbf ever since MS killed my account (for reasons they won't say because you have no recourse) I am moving away from MS and everything else cloud (to Nextcloud self hosted) so I don't get caught like that agin
  • 1. Better camera, this is a deal breaker
    2. Up to date specs
    3. NFC
    4. Wireless charging It's 2021, 3 and 4 should already be there. These would make me consider it.
    A $1,200 price point would make me buy it. Everyone is different with what they want. These are only mine.
  • Why don't you think Microsoft is committed? They stuck at Surface Pro despite early failures. It's not being called a phone because it doesn't have the form factor of a phone. It's more a continuation of the Pocket PC from the early 2000s.
  • That's easy. Look no further than MS history. They drop things like a hot potato when things get rough.
  • Its similar like Google, they try to see what sticks and if it does not stick they kill it off and sometimes reuse it in an other product. Though I do think MS at least gives a few years of support for people that already bought such a device (eg my Lumia 950 XL got ~4 years of updates and Windows RT got security updates too, even though the latter was eventually useless). The real issue was the app gap (whatsapp stopping etcetera), but the Duo runs Android so it is a completely different story now.
  • The 950 barely made it two years. The AU was the last real update. Every update after that was minimal at best.
  • "Every update after that was minimal at best.", security updates are important
  • The Surface Pro started as a unique form factor with a competitive price and no major compromises or failings that weren't logically attributed to being a first-gen offering. The Duo is priced above almost anything else in the market, stripped out basic features users are now used to, and compromised on things like the camera, storage, and device stability as it continues to exhibit troublesome bugs 6+ months after launch. The lack of commitment comes because Microsoft seemed to kind of just toss the thing out of the door to have it reach market. They ended up a year behind Samsung on foldables, so they missed being the market leader like with Surface Pro. They aren't at a competitive price like the Pro was at launch (and kind of isn't anymore), suggesting they prefer to have earlier profitability more than they want to see mass market adoption. That also makes me worry that they aren't willing to tolerate pricey write-downs like they did to help the Surface Pro establish itself for long-term success. An expensive, buggy device with middling specs isn't a sign of commitment. We'll see with the next Duo if the first-gen concerns are because Microsoft was doing so many new things at once (first time with the form factor, first time on Android, etc.), or if they're really just trying to be a niche offering that doesn't care to be consistently competitive, which I think is a path to failure.
  • Jez.. I still can't believe you think Xbox is more important for Microsoft than Mobile... Xbox might be Microsoft's more popular product, but mobile popularity would help Microsoft much more.
  • This is why MSFT ported its office app ecosystem into Android and iOS.
  • Yeah, Xbox isn't more important. If Xbox is more important, it's because Microsoft managed the business that way. A better showing in mobile would have established Cortana as a real rival against Alexa and other AIs, rather than leaving her rotting in a closet. Mobile computing's growth means a mobile presence is also a big way to produce money long-term. That's in-line with how you mentioned mobile apps for Office, but it's also why xCloud going to mobile is so valuable. Microsoft has new sources of Game Pass revenue with xCloud. Xbox does do quite a bit for Microsoft now, but its prevalence over mobile is a matter of poor mobile management, not a sign that Xbox is a juggernaut for the company.
  • I am not a Duo user but I am a Windows phone fan. It seems like Jez would want a Duo to look like a Samsung device. For this, I disagreed. Samsung devices are great but there is no real need to have MS make a copy cat phone. I can see why Microsoft chose this niche route for their first device.
    I would say that, if any new technology that can improve the device but keeping the form factor of 4.8mm thin, that is great.
  • A full function OneNote app & the slim pen cradle/charger should have a built-in battery so it doesn't need to be plugged in every day.
  • Halve the price.
  • That is not realistic, buy a single screen phone than.
  • I'm eager to jump into the Duo world, but it has to make it to version 3. Thats about the only time I'll feel sure Microsoft are committed to the device. Like most Microsoft/Windows fans, I've been left deeply burned on more than one occasion (although, since switching to Android post Windows Phone, it would appear that Google have the same "we're done with this" approach to hardware and services) What would I want to see in a version 3 Duo? Hmmm, this could be fun :) I think Panos and Co have obsessed over the thinness of the device, but personally, I'd happily settle for a slightly thicker device if the trade-off was: # Vastly improved camera/video
    # Thinner bezels (but not too thin...I use a pro x and the landscape bezels are too thin, so lots of accidental screen touching. I could see that being an issue on the Duo)
    # Dedicated pen holder
    # Improved speakers/microphone
    # Dual SIM slot
    # Expandable storage
    # A small outer screen for notifications, quick responses and taking photos without opening the device On the software side, I'd love to see a Duo running Windows 10X, along with Continuum. I think 10X is perfectly designed for a Duo, particularly if it's based on Arm architecture. As for Continuum, it was a feature I used extensively on my Lumia 950. I wholeheartedly believe that Microsoft were onto something truly brilliant with Continuum. Granted, Windows 10 Mobile had extreme limitations, but 10X running on a Duo, capable of hooking up to a big screen (ideally wireless) and becoming a fully fledged windows experience, would be absolutely effing epic. Ok, Panos, you know what you need to do. Get on it sunshine 😁
  • Interesting points. Regarding the thinness, that is the reason why the device fits a pocket (otherwise it gets too big). The alternative would be a thicker device but no bezels, not sure what I would prefer here tbh.
  • Hey ochhanz, I agree that the thinness of the device is important, and its going to be a massive engineering challenge for the surface team to keep it that thin and build out a good camera system. Every modern, flagship mobile phone has a camera bump. Some of them are huge. The trade off for the ugly bump is very good pictures. But the bump is fugly as hell, and it would be a shame if subsequent Duo's end up with a great hulking camera hanging off the side. That said, I cannot imagine how the team will build a great camera into such a thin device. Not to mention a stylus holder or external screen...all of those things are going thicken it out. I think the surface team know that things like a stylus holder and external screen are "Nice to have" accessories, but a good camera is a bare minimum to make the Duo competitive in the smart phone market. Interesting times ahead
  • Hi, yeah its going to be interesting seeing them solve those issues. :-)
    I think a small camera bump might be the best middle option but even than it would possibly prevent users from keeping the Duo unfolded in their pockets (not sure if many Duo users do that though).
  • Remove the bugs, bugs and more bugs. The SD2 must have a polished UI upon release with very little bugs.
    Even now, the current Surface Duo is a mess 7 months on from the release date. Disgraceful.
  • A faster paced OS updates is also necessary. The fact that they will provide Android 11 around when Android 12 will be released is not acceptable for me. That has been one of the reasons I switched from Galaxy to Pixel.
  • Add modern bezels, increase thickness slightly to add missing features, and use a modern aspect ratio for each screen. Basically, take the OnePlus 9 and style it like the Duo. Adding a screen, case, and hinge shouldn't increase the price more than $300 above the $729 OP9. 5mm thick and 20:9 would fit in your pocket easier and make it feel modern while not affecting productivity. There is a reason every other phone uses this ratio.
  • "5mm thick and 20:9 would fit in your pocket easier and make it feel modern while not affecting productivity. There is a reason every other phone uses this ratio.", that is because most people use phones to consume videos or social media chatting where the extra vertical space makes sense, but on a more productive phone like the Duo where you eg read lots of emails, write some notes, do some drawing work / finishing touches etc., a good balance between horizontal and vertical space is more important. Bit like a mini tablet (/iPad mini) and a mole book.
  • Drawing on a phone isn't a thing. Emails and docs are just fine on modern screen ratios. Every phone wouldn't use it if it didn't work well.
  • "Drawing on a phone isn't a thing.", tell that to Samsung Note fans.
  • I'm not sure it is worth it to have a double screen for a phone experience (and at such a price!), that's the point. When you are on the go it's perfectly fine a good 6" display with a fluid system to switch apps, a notification center and possibly a digital assistant. When you need more productivity you usually need Windows, let's say at least on 8" displays and with no separation in the middle. They should improve the Windows 10 touch experience, or whatever new interaction, in order to make a mouse less important.
  • "When you need more productivity you usually need Windows, let's say at least on 8" displays and with no separation in the middle.", It depends on whether that separation is actually a dealbreaker or not for someone. I think I would not mind it that much, and it does help creating a good flow where when you eg click on a note in OneNote it actually opens the note in the 2nd screen. When you think about, there are many situations where having 2 apps open aside each other (without having to mess around with multi tasking) is quite handy.
  • You're right, it depends on the user and I appreciate Microsoft's efforts in the hardware innovation. Though my point is about the possible number of "productive users" that would prefer that solution to the alternatives. In the short term such new devices always promise a revolution, but after that the reality shows off and maybe it tells us about a beautiful idea with much smaller value than expected.
    Eventually, you have to deal with lots of unnecessary opening operations on a smartphone with many compromises, just because, say, once in twenty you might take advantage of 2 android apps side by side. We will see if they'll succeed in making it right though. Bye.
  • Hi, well the advantage here is that you can put it in your pocket compared to a tablet, and its slightly cheaper & more robust & flexible compared to a single screen foldable phone like the Galaxy Fold. The Duo still has a lot of compromises but except for the camera and price most of them seem to be easily solved if MS wants it.
  • Hi there, I was wondering whether that advantage is big enough. I don't even find the other foldables convincing enough, although to me, they at least get closer to replace a tablet and a smartphone, which makes the solution overall more affordable than it seems.
  • 12 gb ram, 512 storage, camera on par with samsung ultra flagships, fastest cpu. otherwise it's just 2 screens with wires.
  • For the critics here, I suspect you've not used one. It is so much more than the Galaxy folds or older dual screen phones. None of those are really comparable to the Duo in terms of what it enables you to do. For the Duo 2, I want, in order: great camera (camera in the Duo is truly terrible) that's much better about flipping screen (always seems to be facing the wrong way from the way I'm trying to use it), Qi charging, at least some modest waterproofing so I don't need to be afraid to have it with me when it's raining, NFC for pay-by-phone, and smaller bezels.
  • On things you can't do with other phones, that you can't tell from looking at pictures or reading reviews and generally things I think people who don't have a Duo don't realize:
  • 1) You can't drop the Duo (meaning it doesn't really need a case) -- when you're in a situation where you think you might drop it, you just fold it open around your hand and it grips itself in place [but it's tough too: my wife's cat knocked mine off the kitchen island once and the bathroom counter another time and it's completely unscathed (grrr…. cats, my German shepherd is far less destructive...)].
  • 2) You can always see the screen -- it has built in automatic one-handed tent mode, where all other phones when you set them down, their screens end up at a bad angle or you need to use 2 hands and a giant case to open up a clumsy stand.
  • 3) Dual screen automatic multitasking -- this is not like other Android phones where you can split screen, it's AUTOMATIC -- with no intent to, I find I use this all the time, keeping something open on one screen while writing a message or reading something else and comparing in another window.
  • 4) 3:2 aspect ratio, at a time when so many devices are becoming 18:9, 19:9, and thinner, basically like using the flat side of a knife blade for a phone screen, the Duo is actually a usable form factor when using a single screen (but I would like to see the bezels shrink).
  • 5) Unlike all other folder or dual-screen phones, you can use it like a regular single screen phone whenever you want -- just flip the phone around so the screens are on the outside. It's all Gorilla Glass, and you can put it in your pocket and just leave it that way permanently. In other words, the Duo is the only such device that you could just pretend its a single-screen phone and never tell the difference, if you wanted.
  • 6) Closing phone when you don't want to be disturbed -- just as you can leave the Duo folded open all the time, you can also close it and avoid being disturbed by flashing alerts.
  • Bonus: the finger print reader is amazing -- the slightest touch by any registered finger at any angle instantly opens the phone, exactly the opposite of my Galaxy, where it often took a few tries to properly position the finger for the Samsung to recognize it.
  • I love my Surface Duo and can't wait for future iterations. There are so many little moments over the course of a week where little situations pop up where the 2 screens make a difference that isn't possible on any other phone. The closest approximation is the Fold 2 but even that is more of a big screen than 2 screens. It's not a phone designed for everyone. But for people that hate flipping between apps for something as simple as looking at account information in one app and entering information into another app, the Surface Duo is perfect. So many times I'm watching Youtube on one screen and reading a website on another. so excited for Surface Duo 2 (what a weird name).
  • I bought my Duo about 2 weeks ago when I saw the price drop down to $1319CAD for the 128GB. I have a Galaxy Note 10 and I feel Samsung has done a nice job with their implementation. I make a point of using Microsoft apps and I like Samsung's decision to integrate more with Onedrive. The Duo is way better for media consumption than my Note10. Whenever I Iook back at my Note 10, I can't believe how annoyingly skinny it is. The Duo is really nice to hold, closed and fully open or tent. I appreciate the thinness of the panels now that I've held and used it. I'm ok with the performance of my Note 10 and I think the Duo feels fine. The sound it makes when closing is a bit delayed, would've been nice if they got that timing right :) Early stages of ownership, I really enjoy the media consumption aspect and wider space of the duo. Digital whiteboarding is much better than on the Note 10. Emails.... Amazing on the Duo. Remote Desktop is fantastic! Remote screen on one side, keyboard on the other side. I'm cloud computing right? lol. The Gallery app on the Note 10 is a beauty. Microsoft should port the W10 photos app over. I'm currently using Whatsapp web on the Duo, with the Note 10 still hosting it. Too bad there's no multi device option for Signal. I've already wow'd some people at the mall when bringing up my emails with online order information, QR code look ups and what not. The independent screens and aspect ratio seems to be a draw. Annoyed the Microsoft Launcher on my Note10 seems much more fully featured than on the Duo. If I'm going to out and active, I grab the Note 10, otherwise I'll take my Duo out. Still figuring out what works. I'll probably get a Surface Duo 2.
  • "Whenever I Iook back at my Note 10, I can't believe how annoyingly skinny it is", this is so true. I do not have a Duo but I do have a cheap 6 inch e-reader with a wide display and the difference with my phone (6.3") is huge for reading.
  • Chief on my list is the amount of Google. I was a Windows Phone user for reasons. High on that list is that I don't trust Google with my most personal piece of tech. It's why I ditched all of my Fitbit gear when Google bought them. I'd like to see Microsoft develop their own apps for calling, texting, etc. If I can get to the point where Google Play is literally the only Google app I have to use on the device, that's a win. Preferably, put Windows 10X. Since that's unlikely, I'll take replacing as much Google as humanly possible. Oh, and bring back Cortana as part of that. Next is feature parity. This kind of gets to the commitment side of things but it bothers me that there are Your Phone features that don't work on the Duo. Finally is hardware bumps. The camera could use an improvement. I honestly wouldn't mind a slightly bigger device for camera purposes.
  • A good camera is all I need I think. Rember 10+ years ago, the 1st smartphone you've bought? A new toy for you to play with, experiment on? Phones today don't have that spark any more. Smartphone OS is soooooo boring right now tbh. Except phone games (don't play it anymore thanks to Ultimate /XPA/xCloud), app business is practically in dead water. The big name apps and old historical apps with huge user base dominate the market & is all we human ever need. Other than the top3~5 in each app category & coupon apps from retail chains, the rest are just rubbish and dangerous anyway. I'd prefer a WCOS on Surface Duo 2. A dual boot option is nice too.
    1. desktop Edge with extension. No more YouTube ads.
    2. Computation cheaper XPA game running natively.
    3. xCloud.
    4. I get to read my news or email on a bigger screen when I want to.
  • 1st Body Frame: Titanium / Aluminium 7000 material.
    2nd CPU: QSD888.
    3rd RAM: 16GB DDR4.
    4th NVMe: 256GB/512GB.
    5th Battery: 10.000mAh (2x5.000mAh).
    6th Price: Under 1.000€.
  • 0th and most important: run Windows!
  • I had one and loved it....but went back to the note 10 plus. It felt too fragile, no ip rating freaked me out and the bumpers made getting it in and out of my jeans a hassle. The camera was a pain; signing in to places with covid driven qr codes was comedically shambolic. Most games didn't cope with the aspect ratio. I loved how thin it is but it needs an onboard pen solution; even something like the galaxy s21 cover would be better than nothing. I will buy one if it is built like the huawei mate x2, has an ip rating and packs a stylus. Oh and give us wireless charging so we don't have to stress about that usb c port crack issue.....
  • The huawei mate x2 is actually more fragile. Agreed about the stylus (there are covers however that have room for the flatpen).
  • Microsoft is approaching a valuation or $2 trillion. They can afford a loss leader. I bought the Band, they abandoned it, I bought multiple windows phones, they abandoned it, I really liked the Zune music interface and later Groove only to be abandoned again. I have the surface studio and I feel abandoned there too. They should have released a studio monitor so we could add a second screen and more accessories. All this simply to say that my trust in Microsoft has been eroded to the point where I can no longer buy their hardware. However if they were willing to take a loss on this device and sell it for $499, I might be tempted. Does the duo really have more tech in it than an Xbox?
  • "have the surface studio and I feel abandoned there too", considering its Windows 10, why do you feel that way?
  • highgrade games in graphics and sounds.
    New era of gameplay.
    And fortunately, for photos and music in superior quality. (why ?)
  • 90hz+ screen, symmetrical bezels, updated processor and 5G, preferably dual SIM capable (work/home device).
  • Dual Sim so necessary!
  • The phone is well designed and build. I like the dual-screen functionality. For the specs, the phone was expensive, and I waited until the price drop.
  • I pre-ordered Duo 1 and can't wait to pre-order Duo 2!
    Wireless charging and another camera would be nice.
  • I was an early adopter so I went through the early bugs. One bug that has yet to be exterminated is the reason I don't use mine anymore and would have to be #1 on my list. 1. Bluetooth audio. The Duo is a big device no matter how you look at it so if you answer as many phone calls as I do on a daily basis, you learn to use ear buds or something similar. Problem is that the volume levels are ridiculously low. If I only received 10-15 calls a day it wouldn't be so bad because opening to answer calls beats the hell out of swiping or pushing a tiny button on a screen. Opening and closing a phone to answer and end calls is the next best thing to actual physical send/end buttons - remember those? 2. A vastly improved camera is a no-brainer. We all know how suckass the camera is. Please, don't even try to convince me that the camera isn't so bad. It is. 3. NFC is a convenience that has really become a must-have ever since Covid-19 entered the lexicon. There are some very good hardware features that make putting it down difficult. The fingerprint scanner is one of the best I've ever used. It beats the crap out of Face ID when you're wearing a mask and puts every in-display scanner to shame. I own/owned a OnePlus 8, Note 10+, Note 20 and S21 so I don't want to hear how good they are. They're not. The aforementioned answering/ending calls is also VERY convenient. One hardware-related feature that needs some serious software help is accessing the Google Assistant while closed. I use my truck's stereo for making calls while on the road and it doesn't work unless it's open. That's wholly unacceptable.
  • I don't take many phone calls, so haven't hooked up BT ear pieces... However BT on my Invoke is really loud.
    BT in my car was fine too with whatsapp and signal voice calls I've cast miracast to my TV (2017 LG OLED) and that was plenty loud. In all cases I didn't notice I needed to crank the volume up. When I'm connected via Android auto on my car, Google responds with the device closed... Annoyingly often... Maybe it's different because of android auto
  • BT on my truck’s stereo is fine, ear pieces are a joke. The best ones were the Surface Buds but even they were too low in volume. Google responses are not my problem, it’s generating a command. Try saying “call home” with the Duo closed and you’ll see what I mean.
  • I have been waiting for the surface duo since it was announced and preordered it as soon as possible.
    I absolutely love the device. The most important changes I would like to see in the duo 2 are
    - TRUE dual sim
    - Better docking for the pen
    - Wireless charging
    - 5G
    - Slimmer bezels
    - Better camera
    - A protective case that respects the 360° hinge (instead of the bulky bumper)
  • #1 A good camera, at least as good as Samsung Fold or Flips cameras. I fully understand that this is an difficult engineering feat to accomplish but as the camera is one of the main features for me this is otherwise an deal-breaker. I started to use Lumia's for their cameras and then went to an Huawei P30 Pro for the same reason.
    #2 Getting the software in place. So far the monthly updates have mostly been about stability, that is fine and good but for me it is not a trustworthy investment as long as Microsoft can't show a steady stream of new functionality and apps designed for the Duo. I want something I believe will develop and improve in the future not only kept alive.
    #3 Improved pen support, close to Samsung level. It is in a notebook format and a killer point would be a heavy support for pen.
    #4 A non-glass outside, this is not specific for the Duo but I would prefer ceramic or poly-carbonate or even wood.