Last October Microsoft officially showed off the Surface Duo, it’s first dual-screen Android smartphone. Earlier this year, Microsoft officially announced the Surface Duo for $1,399 and it went on sale in the USA earlier today.
As the device is now official, the first reviews have finally been published and here’s what everyone has said about Microsoft Surface Duo.
The Surface Duo is decent as a phone, quite bad as a tablet, and somewhat functional as everything in between. That is, when the software works as promised. But bugs and app incompatibility plague this $1,399 device, which will need monthly updates from Microsoft to fix its numerous issues.
The Verge said:
In truth, there’s nothing the Surface Duo can do that you can’t do on your current smartphone or tablet. Your smartphone surely takes better photos, and your tablet doesn’t have a big gap in the middle of it. But the difference with the Surface Duo is that the way you do things is unique. I found myself tackling tasks that would have frustrated me on those other devices.
Microsoft is charging a starting price of $1,399 for the Surface Duo. Given its capabilities relative to other phones, it is absolutely not worth that price. And even after a couple of weeks, I’m not entirely convinced that the Surface Duo actually makes me more productive than any standard single-screen phone. But even though it doesn’t always get it right, sometimes there’s just a little less mental friction to multitasking on the Duo. I often feel more productive with the Duo.
With the Duo, Microsoft took a risk to re-enter the mobile space and they took a different approach that they hope will find a market. And if I haven’t made it clear, the Duo, for the right type of productivity user, is the best device available today but it is not for everyone: it is not a mass-market device and it is not perfect. But I would be lying if I said I did not love what Microsoft is trying to do here and the hardware that they put together.
The creation of Duo was not something Microsoft tossed together with components from a shelf but instead is an artfully crafted piece of hardware whose software is still maturing. For those who have been waiting for years for a Surface PDA, your day has finally arrived but for those looking for a general-purpose smartphone, this likely isn’t your hardware.
I cannot currently recommend the Surface Duo because it’s expensive, awkward to use, and buggy. I get the idea here: Productive people multitask, so having two screens to work on is better than one (I say, writing this on a dual-monitor setup). But something doesn’t quite track here. Stretching my thumbs to deal with the two screens, trying to type while holding on to the sides of the device, feels less comfortable and less productive than working on a laptop or even an iPad. The various software bugs don’t help; they make the Surface Duo feel even more like a science project and less like a finished solution.
I wish the Duo had come out a year ago, when it would have been on par with a group of experimental, failed folding phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate Xs. Now, Microsoft is a year behind Samsung, which has the excellent Galaxy Z Fold 2. The Duo 2 can’t come soon enough.
The Microsoft Surface Duo arrives in kind of a weird time. A huge number of professionals are now working from home long-term, and the idea of always being online and working is unfortunately widespread across different industries.
On paper, that makes it seem like the Surface Duo is overpriced. While that may just be the case, Microsoft has put in a ton of work to make the actual experience of using the phone way better than we could have imagined. The LG V60 may have provided a hint of what a dual-screen phone could be like, but the Surface Duo makes it feel necessary.
Tom’s Guide said:
I want to love the Surface Duo, and sometimes when I’m using it, I really do. Despite its flaws, this device feels truly special. The Surface Duo’s meticulous craftsmanship and thoughtful design supports its dual-screen ambitions remarkably well. It encourages you to try things and work in ways you previously never imagined on a mobile phone.
What surprised me most about the Surface Duo during my time with it is that it proves Microsoft right in a sense. I can recognize now that there’s enormous potential in dual-screen devices when done properly, and Microsoft has gotten closer to realizing it than anyone before them. As it stands, though, the Surface Duo’s potential is in dire need of refinement, and it’s saddled by a few too many headaches to recommend.
XDA Developers said:
The Surface Duo is meant for a very specific group of people. It’s meant for Android users who use the Microsoft 365 suite regularly. To be honest, that probably isn’t you and I. It’s going to be the people on Wall Street, or maybe even students. It’s going to be those who can really make use of the dual-screen in a way that isn’t shallow. It’s the people who are going to throw up Outlook on one screen and Microsoft News on the other and spend their days on phone calls when they are not reading both. It’s the people who are fine spending $1,399.99 on a phone because it’s actually going to be useful for them.
Or because they want something unique and want it to be a good talking point that can also get some things done while at it. Or maybe they want to do all of this, and are also looking for a device that will get three years of updates, is easily bootloader unlockable and has its factory images and kernel sources available.
In conclusion, while Microsoft has taken a bold step with Surface Duo, the device is still not perfect and last gen’s hardware is just a deal-breaker for most, if not everyone. That said, Microsoft is on the right track with Surface Duo. In the long run, dual-screen devices are far more durable than foldable phones, at least until someone can figure out how to bend glass perfectly to make a sturdy dual-screen phone. However, seeing how things are going, one could expect others to follow a similar design, albeit with better hardware.
If you’re interested in getting yourself a new Surface Duo then you can check out our article about the different buying options available for US residents.