Will you consider buying the $999 Surface Duo 2?

Surface Duo 2 Hero
Surface Duo 2 Hero (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

As cool as a lot of people find Surface Duo 2 on a conceptual level, there's been a lot of hand-wringing over the device's hefty $1,500 starting price tag, which goes higher if you wanted more storage. And let's not even get started on the expensive accessories (don't forget to buy an $89 case from OtterBox after you drop big bucks on the Duo 2 itself).

The point is, Surface Duo 2 scares a lot of folks who aren't made of money. But we've arrived at a momentous occasion: The device is currently $500 off and that means the 128GB version is officially below $1,000 by a single penny, retailing for $999.99 at Amazon, Best Buy, and Microsoft's own store. Are you stoked to get in on the Duo 2 action now that the minimum price to entry is under four digits, or are you still in the "it's an overpriced experimental device" camp?

With meaningful updates under its belt and Android 12L on the way, Surface Duo 2 is in a better place than it was at launch. But even so, $999 isn't a small chunk of change, especially for those distrustful of Microsoft given its handling of the original Duo.

If you already own the device and none of this squabbling matters to you, don't forget to check out the best Surface Duo 2 accessories.

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

  • I'm waiting for the Surface Duo 3 with Windows 12 :)
  • I already have one, but what I still miss and will probably get me to buy Duo 3 when it releases is Qi charging. Lack of Qi is BY FAR my biggest pain point with the Duo 2 (with the original Duo, missing Qi came second to wanting a better camera).
  • It was sooooo hard to turn this offer down, but like you I want built in Qi charging. I got a new battery for my Note 9 instead. Yeah, my 3 and a half year old Note. I might get a Duo 2 next year when it's closer to $700...
  • By the time it's $700, you'll be talking about how we're close to the next generation of SoCs and that you'll wait for a Duo 3.
  • Well, with Microsoft seemingly going all in with Android on their Duo hardware, you might fair better waiting on the unicorn that is the Surface Neo. Windows on Surface Duo may be out the window, no pun intended.
  • I just don't understand this fascination with Windows on mobile hardware. It would be a poor experience and it's time people move on. I love Windows as much as the next guy, but Windows on mobile is over.
  • I have to disagree with you. It maybe your own opinion. I can respect that, but don't assume everyone will have the same. My wife and I are still using Lumia 950/XL, and they are still working perfectly.
  • Wow! How do you manage that? My wife kept using her 640/WP8.1 up until it really started to "lose" apps and/or their functionality about 3 years ago. Originally, about 2015, It was far easier to help convert her from feature phones to such an elegant phone OS/ecosystem as compared to Android 4-ish at the time. Then I had to guide her into the frequently messy Android ecosystem as when I returned to it a year or 2 later after giving up my 640 when it would not run apps my job required. I did get a 950 around then when it was really cheap on clearance just to see if WP 10 could keep it useful, but that did not work out for my needs/desires after retiring. I even tried the project to install the ARM-based Windows 10 as implemented for PC's, but it was too unusable with the tiny screen and other hardware limitations. I still fire it up once in a while and "dabble" with it to see if anything looks/works better ...
  • That does seem like the right price for the smaller (128GB) Duo 2, maybe even a bit of a bargain, considering the included hardware compared to other $999 devices. Curious to see how it sells at this price. Still going against the Duo 2 is availability where many people buy their phones. I don't know the stats, and I suspect more people buy phones from online sources like Amazon, bestbuy.com, and microsoft.com today than in years past (I bought mine as a pre-release from Microsoft), but without carrier financing, I suspect it's still a constrained audience. The Duo 2 is not available with carrier financing in the US, is it?
  • As someone who bought an original Surface Duo 128 at $499 and continue to use it regularly, I would say that you may want to hold out just a little while longer. Based on my experience, never buy a device on the promise of future software updates, and if Android 12L will bring out the full potential of these devices, then a $699 Duo 2 with 12L will be just about right. Especially since the camera quality, based on reviews, still doesn't compete with other phones at $999. The Duo line is steadily getting better, but paying premium prices for a work in progress is not recommended IMO.
  • The camera was my chief problem with the original Duo. It was terrible, mainly because it was slow and very bad in all but bright light. For slow shots in bright light, it wasn't that bad. The camera in the Duo 2 seems quite good to me. I'm sure you're right that other flagship phones have even better cameras, but the Duo 2 is fast, all the shots I take with it, even in low light, look clear and well colored to me. Plus, the double screen for the camera is a much better photo-taking experience than those other phones can provide. The zoom and wide angle lenses work exactly as you'd hope. It's a better camera than I had in my Galaxy 10 (admittedly a few years old by now) or my wife's Pixel 3a, both of which were considered very good cameras, just a few years ago. The only criticism I can think of for the Duo 2 camera is that the auto flash doesn't seem to engage the flash as often as I think it should, and I sometimes find myself wishing the flash provided better fill lighting. But those are probably more a matter of personal preference, rather than actual flaws.
  • I used to want a device that would replace my phone and laptop but I don't feel like I need/want that anymore. If I did, it would be the Surface Duo 2. I want great cameras, good battery life, and pocketability. Everything else is negotiable. The Duo 2 brings a lot more but misses those three things. I can wait for round 3.
  • Jerry, I would say the Duo 2 does bring those 3 things. The cameras are solid. They may not be the best, but they're worthy flagship-level cameras and are better than the best phone flagship cameras of just a few years ago. Better than current mid-range phone cameras. You'd have to be a serious phone photographer to find fault, and it would require side-by-side comparisons. I have been especially impressed with the clarity of images even when I zoom way in on the image later on my computer, which tells me that the lenses are as good or better than the pixel count of the sensor, a good sign often lacking in phone cameras. Battery life is great. Solid use through the whole day runs the battery down, but not to dead. You can count on getting a full day's use out of a Duo 2. Interestingly, I don't find it to be any better than the original Duo, which also had excellent battery life. So that would be my only criticism of the battery -- it's not an improvement, just retaining the already good battery life. It fits comfortably in a pocket, even in jeans with their notoriously tight and small pockets (easily and comfortably fits in my jeans front pocket, and I'm not talking about baggy jeans). Even if you fold it all the way around so it's open like a single-screen phone, it fits in most pockets, but with the added thickness from the camera bump when folded all the way open, it can be a little thick for jeans (but fine for khakis or a jacket pocket). For me, if putting it in jeans pocket, I do need to fold it closed.
  • I can't agree. The camera is fine, sure. I also think most people overstate their ability to see the difference between flagship cameras. The prominence of YouTube reviews that are super-zoomed to point out details you don't notice (or even care to look for) on a social media post is a detriment to consumers. The battery life, it's passable, but that's it. Playing Pokémon Go in single-screen is a battery hog, even as someone who manually lowers his brightness a lot. The Duo 2 isn't something where you can be active on your phone and nowhere near a charger all day. The pocketability is very user-specific. I've not had a pocket where I kept my G8 that my Duo 2 doesn't fit. However, taking the Duo out while sitting down is tougher. I'd say I have more trouble with having a place to set my Duo in most cars, rather than worrying about my pockets.
  • I have several issues with keeping anything electronic in a pocket:
    1. It's sharing space with keys, coins, nail clippers (nails snag a lot for some reason), etc that can do it damage.
    2. In warm weather I sweat enough that any item that cannot withstand moisture is at risk in my pockets, so that definitely applies to the Duo 1/2 with its minimal water resistance.
    3. Issue mentioned by Keith with getting the Duo out of a pocket while seated. For the above reasons my phones have always had to be in a belt holster, and there do not seem to be many decent choices of that for the Duo's.
  • No, I will wait to see what, if MS will release it, the Duo 3 will be: for me an external screen with "Always on display" or whatever will be called, much more ubiquitous pen experience and an improved Launcher are a must.
  • There should absolutely, positively, under no circumstances, ever be an additional screen on the Duo. It already has 2. If you want an always visible screen, just fold it all the way open. You can leave it like that all the time, and only fold it to a book shape if you need both screens at the same time. There is zero value to adding another screen on the Duo, just wasted cost, weight, and thickness. The added screen is the hack of a solution needed on a Fold, because the Fold's screen would break if you tried to close it with the good screen on the outside.
  • If MS would enable an always-on mode for the Duo, I would agree. They don't do that though, which is a letdown for users. Having it in tent mode and letting it display in landscape would be a great solution that they seem unwilling to explore.
  • That's a good point. Duo still doesn't have an equivalent to the Lumia Glance mode feature. That would be a great addition, especially in tent mode.
  • I agree that Duo doesn't need a big external screen like the Z Fold series, but I do wish they put on a small one, like the Z Flip 3 and Xiaomi 11 Ultra. It could display time and notifications, just like the current glance bar. The problem with the glance bar is it is hard to read in real life. Of course, MS can wrap the bar further around so it extends to the back of the phone. This is much cooler but will increase the cost compared to directly installing an external screen.
  • I agree. Although, I had no considered extending the curvature of the screen to increase the size of the notification bar. I think you are probably right about the cost of doing that. Even adding a notification bar that's about as wide and long as the camera bump a have it placed underneath of the bump. Just big enough to actually see call, text notifications and time.
  • Also sprach Zarathustra...
    Using the Duo, the Duo 1 because doing it with the Duo 2 is not possible thanks to the bumper on the back, fold 360 degrees is not a solution because the software does not support it: no way to tap to turn it on, no Glance, no ability to write on a locked screen etc.
    Btw you forgot to add "IMO" in your comment...
  • I think for a Duo 3, MS should have 2 options, one with a single camera for people like my who don't care and want one that folds flat, and another with the camera bump.
  • Am waiting for it to reach duo 1 price :)
  • Still doesn't seem to have any drop in the UK unfortunately
  • I would but as many other have said, but the original cost of $1499 made me hesitate and now I'll wait for SD 3. I still wish the Surface Team would make a candy bar option of the device with all of the bells and whistles to give people options. I think they have the know how to compete with the like of Apple and Samsung. It won't happen but just my opinion.
  • "now I'll wait for SD 3", which will be $1499+ when it releases. So wait till it drops to $999, which will be just before SD4.
  • MS did have a "candy bar option". It was the Lumia line running their own Windows Phone OS, and I liked it a lot better than Android (4.x when I switched). It was cleaner and simpler, and made switching my non-tech wife from a feature phone much easier than Android. This Duo Android variant, if anything, makes using the phone much more complicated than a relatively stock Android like our current LG 8X ThinQ's on Android 11. I decided to give the $999 Duo 2 at Best Buy a shot last week, and, after going all out on it over the long Easter weekend, decided it's just not for me (and absolutely not for my wife) for these reasons:
    * It's just too awkward to deal with the screens, and figuring out how/when to switch between them.
    * No wireless charging means more awkward phone positioning when setting it down with a charging cable.
    * The protective case I got for it compensates for the camera lenses' "bump", but it prevented flipping either screen all the way around to the back of the other screen, so constantly awkward handling of both together was unavoidable for me.
    * Lack of water resistance (aside from the most minimal one for "occasional" droplets from straight overhead?), and cases/covers to compensate (aside from putting it in a glorified ziploc bag). I can wash my LG 8X every so often while doing my handwashing.
    * Lack of belt holster cases that looked reasonably compact for daily "wear".
    * Lack of anti-glare matte finish screen protectors (at least I could not find any aside from a glossy one) - the glossiness of any phone's screen drives me crazy. All in all, it was too big a feature and form factor hassle for me to consider it worth $1K+, so it is going back to Best Buy (might have to pay $45 restocking fee, but I consider that reasonable for a 4 day trial). Per a suggestion from the Forbes writer, Ewan Spence, I am more inclined to consider the Duo "1" for a secondary PIM/micro PC type device, that I can dedicate to those sorts of functions, so am going to try a Duo 1 I just bought on eBay for $400-ish to see how that works.
  • Just got home with new Duo 2 and Pixel 6 Pro to replace a Duo and OnePlus 7 Pro.
  • Still an insane price for a smartphone imo, even if I have no doubt the price is justified for the hardware you're getting. At the end of the day it is still a $1000 phone, even if it is cheap compared to it's launch price.
  • Sold my Duo and my Fold 3, switched to iPhone and now have an ipad, Apple Watch, AirPods and MacBook Pro…. I hated Apple but dislike Google more… Wish I’d switched years ago… Still have PC’s for gaming and for applications which aren’t available on Mac… Windows is a better OS but Apple hardware has a premium look and feel… And being Google free feels great…
  • Glad you are happy with your switch, but I am an Android user and have been "Google free" for years. Android is open: It is quite easy to replace all Google native apps and services with equivalent 3rd party ones (in my case, Microsoft). The only Google service that I regularly use is Maps. It is a bit harder to do this on Apple mobile devices, which is likely why I will never own an iPhone.
  • Microsoft has services for outside work?
  • What do you mean outside work?
  • If u had 999
  • That ugly camera bump and lack of worked charging makes it a no go for me. I will wait for surface duo 3.
  • The camera bump is definitely not a positive, but it's fairly unnoticeable in person. It looks bad in photos, but other than keeping the Duo from folding completely flat when it's fully open, you don't notice it at all when you use the Duo. And it does still fold open flat enough to use it as a single screen phone just fine. The only issue is that it's enough thicker (maybe 1.5cm vs 1cm) that you wouldn't want to stick it in a tight (jeans) pocket fully open. But for a khaki or jacket pocket, even that is fine.
  • If I could hold one before purchasing I might consider it. There are none at any Best Buy near me for me to touch. I never buy anything without first touching it.
  • Those asking for Qi charging, that was one of my chief gripes as well. But came to realize that Qi is so sloooow compared with wired charging. Now I keep a magnetic nub plugged in to my SD2 all the time and just go between car and desk with magnetic USB cable charging available in both. Is Qi convenient? Sure. Is it a value prop worth waiting for? Eh, debatable. To each his/her own.
  • Yeah, mag charging is definitely the next best thing. That's what I do now. But I very much miss just setting the phone down wherever I am, and it's charging. I have Qi chargers in my bedroom, office, car, TV room, etc. So charging "speed" isn't a factor if the phone is basically always charging.
  • I will still hold out for qi, although the mag does solve one problem I have with the charging point being the weak link to the life of the phone. I have had to many electronics get tossed due to no longer being able to change them where the qi has extended the life of many for me.
  • Yes, the only thing holding me back is the camera. I guess I have to be convinced that the camera is decent. I currently have a Pixel 6.
  • It's decent. It may not be as good as the Pixel 6, but I think it's better than the Pixel 4, which has a great camera. It's a flagship-level camera, just not the best camera. Zoom and wide-angle work seamlessly too.
  • The pen is what kills me the most I would like the galaxy pen experience. One that pops out instead of attaches.
  • The only thing, I'd or do buy from Microsoft is Xbox games, Xbox merchandise, and Xbox consoles, everything else is to expensive.
  • I feel the same way, in terms of what I'd buy, but for different reasons. Microsoft has shown time and again that they will abandon their products at the drop of a hat. The only product class protected against that is Xbox. I've been burned way too many times...Windows Phone, Windows 8, Cortana, Microsoft Band (1 & 2), Microsoft Health, the list goes on...
  • I just picked up 22 Ultra because of trade in almost gives phone away. They do something similar I will bite.
  • If it's selling for this now just imagine the Black Friday deal we should see soon enough. Maybe I'll bite then.
  • It's still very expensive.
  • Have the original Duo, just picked up the Duo 2. It feels much more complete and less buggy. Very happy with this one.