Microsoft Surface Duo review: Buy it for dual screen use, not for its old specs Review

Just about every personnel in my engineering organization, irrespective of whether an engineer, accountant, or manager, has at least two screens linked to their computer for ideal productivity. The Area Duo delivers a equivalent structure that you can keep in your hand and get with you. If you get much more completed with two screens on the go, then this may perhaps be the unit for you, but two screens on a cell phone may perhaps also be too distracting.

The Microsoft Area Duo has been my major smartphone for the earlier 3 weeks and even following a day it was obvious to me it is a unit developed for productivity. Folks are inclined to both love or loathe, with minor space for middle floor, owing in massive element to the $one,four hundred commencing price tag.

I’ve been a Microsoft mobile unit person given that 2000 and even now just one of the causes I stored considering I have to have to continue to keep the Area Duo is due to the fact I love the Microsoft logo emblazoned on the front of the Duo and the plan of what Microsoft is bringing to the table with the Duo. Wanting deeper than the front of the unit, I have been pretty satisfied with the practical experience. It really is only when I place it future to the Z Fold 2 that I know the Z Fold 2 is the unit for my needs.

Also: Area Duo assessment: Why I am still bewildered about Microsoft’s twin-monitor unit

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley mentioned the adhering to in her assessment: “Two weeks later on, I have to say that I am not positive that the Duo scratches any itch for me. It really is an intriguing thought, but it unquestionably feels like a Era one alternative that is in search of a dilemma much more than a alternative to a dilemma I have with mobile gadgets.”

Just one would believe the Area Duo would be great for a person like me who spends lots of several hours a day on a cell phone. Prior to the coronavirus lockdown, I was commuting two several hours a day on a coach, traveling for company regular monthly, employing Microsoft items for function (Outlook, Teams, OneDrive, and OneNote), and employing my cell phone as my secondary computer. Points have adjusted a bit with remote function, but even then there had been a number of of my common techniques around the earlier 3 weeks that are compromised on the Area Duo, and for much more than $one,four hundred I am not completely ready to make all those compromises.

Microsoft Area Duo requirements

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • Displays: Two 5.6 inch, 1800×1350 pixels resolution (401ppi) AMOLED, Corning Gorilla Glass displays
  • Functioning technique: Android ten
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal storage, UFS 3.
  • Digicam: 11MP f/2. camera
  • Connectivity: WiFi-5 802.eleven a/b/g/n/ac (2.four/5GHz), Bluetooth 5., GPS/Galileo/GLONASS/Beidou
  • Sensors: Twin accelerometer, twin gyroscope, twin magnetometer, hall sensor, fingerprint sensor, proximity sensor, twin ambient light sensor
  • Battery: 3,577 mAh non-removable
  • Dimensions (Open up): 145.2 x 186.9 x four.8 mm
  • Dimensions (Shut): 145.2 x ninety three.3 x 9.9 mm
  • Fat: 250g

Leading ZDNET Critiques

Wanting at the specs earlier mentioned and throwing out the two displays, the Area Duo appears to be a mid-selection Android cell phone. The story of the Area Duo is a great deal much more than a requirements sheet, but for $one,four hundred just one does have to consider the technology inside of the unit.

Also: The Area Duo is just not for all people. But here is who will love it


The hinge and outdoors of the two displays is desirable and powerful, specially as a Area fan. Soon after 3 weeks, the hinge has the very same rigidity and smoothness as it did when I initial opened up the box.

The Area Duo is pretty thin and it matches just high-quality in my pants and shorts pockets. I love opening and closing it, as very well as flipping it into numerous modes.

The two 5.6-inch AMOLED screens look fantastic and supply a fantastic visible practical experience. The bezels are a bit massive for my preferences, but there is a have to have for some amount of money of bezel in purchase to keep and use the unit.

There is a solitary eleven-megapixel camera positioned at the major of the appropriate monitor. It does high-quality in very well-lit environments, but is fairly awful in small light conditions and has pretty number of possibilities for having imaginative shots. I largely meant to use it to seize documents, but even then it did not complete regularly. Flipping the displays all-around to use the camera was also not a trustworthy, regular practical experience.

The speaker is satisfactory but will not arrive close to competing with present day smartphones with stereo speakers. The power button serves as the fingerprint scanner and this was a flawless practical experience that I would want to see in its place of under exhibit fingerprint scanners.

Battery lifestyle has been solid for the earlier 3 weeks, obtaining me through comprehensive, extended days every single solitary day. I under no circumstances concerned about the Area Duo dying throughout the day, which is a fantastic signal even when employing two displays.

The Area Duo retail offer contains a silicone bumper that attaches with two-sided tape. I place it on following a couple of days and it does a fantastic work of safeguarding the edges and holding the unit from sliding off of a table.

Also: Area Duo is a productivity revelation, not a sort element revolution


The Area Duo runs Android ten with the September 5, 2020 Android security update. The Microsoft Launcher serves as the foundational UI for the unit and is a pretty stock Android practical experience.

Out of the box, the Area Duo employs the newest Android gestures for navigation and following striving out the old Android 3-button controls I promptly went back again to gesture navigation. I discovered that gesture navigation allows you promptly and effortlessly swipe apps all-around on the exhibit and is what the Duo was optimized for.

The crucial unique factor additional by Microsoft is App Groups. Pair up two apps into a solitary shortcut on your home monitor and with a solitary faucet two apps launch at as soon as, just one app on each and every exhibit. Soon after 3 weeks, I have about ten of these App Groups setup for ideal productivity.

You can swipe up from the base and then drag an app to the other exhibit or drag and keep it around the center to have it open across equally screens. Some apps, primarily Microsoft apps, are optimized for this cross-hole comprehensive monitor practical experience. For case in point, in Outlook your inbox appears on the remaining exhibit and then the contents of the picked e-mail surface on the appropriate exhibit. Although this setup is the major configuration I like to use, there is no way to have Outlook launch like this so every single time you want a cross-hole practical experience you have to drag an app up and across the center.

Cell phone phone calls are greatest created with a headset or in speaker mode. The unit is a bit huge and awkward to keep up versus your ear for cell phone phone calls.

If you want to use apps largely in solitary exhibit mode, there is no unique enhancement required as the apps perform just like any common smartphone. Spanned apps have to have some tweaks for an ideal practical experience, but if the developer hasn’t completed just about anything to the app it must still function in a stretched out fashion. A couple apps did not function in spanned mode, but at the end of the day I only made use of optimized apps across the hole.

Tent mode is beneficial for looking at online video content in a fingers-free fashion. When I viewed movies, I tended to use the Area Duo in “laptop” mode with the major exhibit playing online video and the base monitor made use of for examining e-mail, searching the web, and other secondary functions.

I thoroughly savored the practical experience where just one app prompts me for a password and I have my password manager on the other exhibit. Drag and fall also performs in pick out apps, but I truthfully did not use this a great deal in my day-to-day function.

Also: Galaxy Z Fold 2 in depth: Flex Mode, App Continuity, and multitasking

Cost and competitiveness

The Area Duo is only readily available in Glacier White shade with two storage possibilities. The 128GB product is priced at $one,399.99 and the 256GB product is $one,499.99.

Although lots of of us in the mobile local community look at the Z Fold 2 to the Area Duo, these gadgets are not direct opponents as just one delivers an optimized two-monitor practical experience and the other delivers a foldable cell phone with an optimized massive inner monitor practical experience. That mentioned, the Z Fold 2 is $500 to $600 much more costly.

The closest twin-monitor practical experience in the smartphone entire world is the LG Velvet or LG V60 with the Twin Screen protect. LG receives a large amount appropriate with really able telephones and a equivalent two exhibit with center hinge style and design. If LG would devote much more time tweaking the software program to assistance the twin-monitor practical experience then there would be minor cause to obtain the Area Duo.

Why am I returning the Area Duo?

There is a large amount to like about the Area Duo and it is a solid commence for Microsoft. That mentioned, listed here are a number of causes it just is just not the unit for me:

  • Digicam: At initial I did not believe I captured enough content with a cell phone camera to make any difference, but it turns out I really get pics each day. The Area Duo has a solitary camera that requires pics that match $300 to $four hundred telephones and the person practical experience to seize a shot is cumbersome.
  • Flip open to do just about anything: I get the plan that closing the unit allows you shut down from function. Having said that, obtaining to open it up to do just about anything at all is a bit of a ache for a cell phone that you use all day for numerous interaction needs. Just one could have it folded with the two displays on the outdoors, but I will not like obtaining equally displays exposed.
  • App security: Microsoft will unquestionably boost the software program with updates, but around the earlier 3 weeks I have witnessed OneNote crash about every single third day. This is a core Microsoft application and just one of the only ones that assistance pen handwritten assistance. It must be flawless on the Area Duo.
  • Minimal stylus assistance: Even though LG will not ship its Twin Screen suitable gadgets with a stylus, improved stylus assistance is presented on the LG V60, LG Velvet, and some others. Aid for the Area Pen is constrained to a number of apps with stylus assistance and easy navigation. Microsoft must have at least integrated the features of stylus assistance to the amount of LG, even if not to the amount of Samsung on its Note gadgets.
  • Wireless payment assistance: The lack of NFC baffles me, but I suppose the payment practical experience would be awkward due to the fact the exhibit would have to have to be rotated all the way back again to use Google Pay. Having said that, you should not have to have a smartwatch to get edge of mobile payment terminals.
  • 5G: Very simple, the Area Duo will not have it and all other flagships in 2020 do assistance 5G. I’ve been spoiled by Samsung’s functionality with 5G and I am just not going to pay back much more than $one,000 for a cell phone that are unable to get edge of the greatest pace assistance I pay back my carrier to supply.

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 assessment: Foldable perfection virtually accomplished

Erica Griffin place together just one of the greatest movies evaluating the Area Duo to the Z Fold 2 with a aim on productivity. She obviously reveals lots of examples of why the Area Duo is an superb option for lots of persons and her twelve-moment online video may perhaps convince you to give just one a try.


I love the Microsoft Area Duo hardware, besides for the bezels, but there are too lots of compromises with the requirements and beta software program. Microsoft supplies a glimpse of what is to arrive in the future and I look forward to the future era unit that is positive to implement lots of classes acquired with this initial try.

For all those who want to use two apps at the very same time in a comprehensive monitor smartphone format to get function completed then the Area Duo may perhaps be great. Then again, if you will not have to have to swipe apps across the displays then you may perhaps want to consider a LG Twin Screen unit as these supply much more present day smartphones and a great deal much better stylus assistance. If the Area Duo was readily available for $900, then I would consider holding it, even in this initial era configuration.

Microsoft’s Area Duo is a polarizing unit and even in my 3 weeks with it, I seasoned love and loathe for it. Probably I will overlook it following some time away, but following swapping my SIM back again into a Note ten Additionally I extremely question I will believe of it again right until the next era is uncovered.