Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review
The company is back this year with a new surface duo that looks like it might fix some of the originals flaws instead of a finicky and low quality camera. The duo 2 packs a triple sensor system on its rear, in addition to a selfie shooter inside this device also has a narrower overall footprint, faster, refreshing screens and some updated software theres also support for microsofts slim pen 2, which should make drawing and taking notes a More intuitive experience, but despite having addressed many of the previous generations issues and adding some useful updates, the duo 2 still remains a frustrating device and at fifteen hundred dollars its still a pricey product with a niche limited appeal, Music by now, youre, probably familiar with the Duos proposition the second generation features a pair of 5.8 inch screens connected by a hinge, its also running android 11. This year with some tweaks to improve multi display use combined. The two panels offer an 8.3 inch canvas which is slightly bigger than before. You can flip one screen all the way around to use the duo 2 in a phone like single screen state use one side as a stand to prop the other half up or have both displays facing you like a book or tablet like the original. This thing is an attractive piece of hardware, with an impressively thin profile and a sleek silhouette. The duo 2 is a bit heavier than its predecessor, though, and i chalk most of that gain up to its camera module.
Despite the chunky protrusion on the back of the right screen, though, the duo 2 is evenly weighted and felt balanced when open, it is heavier than the samsung galaxy z43, though my main concern, when i first saw that camera bump, was that the two sides would no Longer lay flush against each other when opened all the way up, but the bump was surprisingly unobtrusive and i didnt mind using the duo 2 as a single screen device, but its a bit too wide to replace my phone when the panels are back to back the System will keep the last screen you used active, while the other will show a message saying you can double tap it to switch over youll notice, odd aspect ratio issues here and there thanks to the uncommon 1892 by 1344 resolution, but for the most part, apps expand To cover the whole screen nicely, if you enable the automatic span setting, i did appreciate the 90 hertz refresh rate when scrolling through my social feeds, the amoled panels are lovely, delivering crisp and colorful image and video quality, although i do wish they got a bit brighter Since theyre about 200 nits dimmer than the iphone 13 series when closed the duo, 2 is basically useless, since, unlike the galaxy z43, it doesnt have a so called external screen. The new glance bar is an effort by microsoft to offer you at least bare bones notifications. While the device is closed, the inside edges of the screens are curved slightly, so you can see a little bit of the display through the hinge when the glance bar is enabled.
You can see the clock and other system info on this tiny sliver and it will light up in different colors when you have incoming calls or messages. I liked unplugging the duo 2 and seeing it light up in green, to show me how much charge was left, while the glance bar is somewhat helpful. Its also super tiny, which means you need to have supermans eyesight, to see the clock from more than say. A few inches away, plus the glance bar works just with first party apps. For now, which means you get alerted only to text messages and phone calls. You can also use the duo 2 in a few other modes thanks to the hinge, which is as sturdy and smooth as before its easy to open without too much force yet strong enough to prop up one screen without budging. Perhaps the most beneficial way to use the duo 2 is in book and tent modes, the latter of which is a wonderful way to play games, while seated at a desk. The 002 excels here, letting me easily keep an eye on twitter or youtube live chat. While im working on my laptop, i enjoyed endless rounds of solitaire on the duo and with the duo 2 i took my casual gaming to greater heights with airplane shifts. Then, when youre ready to turn your attention to something more intensive switch over to book mode and hold the duo 2 up with both displays facing you, its not ideal for idle doom scrolling, while you watch tv or firing off a quick reply to your crib, chats, Though, when you have both screens on, they basically demand, you be actively engaged, whether its reading a book or building a shopping list on one side, while looking at recipes on the other.
The duo 2 is satisfying in this mode if youre, using it vertically flip to landscape orientation, though, and the entire ui just struggles to keep up. I want to commend microsoft for all the work, its done to improve the duo 2 software compared to the hot mess of last years model. The system does feel more cohesive. Part of that has to do with better support for multi screen devices in android 11., but quarks still remain and theyre still too numerous for me to list individually. So im just going to give you a few examples. Basically, i hope you werent banking, on using this thing horizontally, like i said before, the ui doesnt know what to do with the swipe, based navigation and in landscape mode. The typical swipe up to go home gesture doesnt work instead, youll have to swipe in from the right to either go home or see all apps to go back. You can only swipe in from the left, which is bad news for anyone who preferred it. The other way, also trying to type in this mode, is still a pain. You lose more than two thirds of the screen to the keyboard and theres a weird row of empty space at the bottom. So good luck trying to see what you composed earlier. The camera was one of the most frustrating things about the original duo and though i was hoping that it has vastly improved here. Unfortunately, it still sucks sure the hardware is better.
You get a triple camera system with a 12 megapixel main sensor, a 12 megapixel telephoto lens and a 16 megapixel wide option with a 110 degree field of view. The selfie camera also got an upgrade with a 12 megapixel sensor. This time, instead of last years, 11 megapixel one, the quality of the photos taken by the duo 2 is correspondingly better as well. In general, pictures were rich and bright with sharp details, theres a weird cast in some of the photos where the camera seemed to white balance, the same scene differently, but thats. A minor issue more disappointing is the front camera which delivered noisy pale shots of my friends and i in our matching outfits in an office one night. The biggest problem, though, is that the duo, 2s camera app is still trying to do too much. I thought that, with a dedicated rear and front camera setup, the system no longer had to guess what screen you wanted to use as a viewfinder. But no, if you unfold the duo too, so that the screens are more than 180 degrees away from each other, microsoft. Disables the rear, camera and youre stuck with the selfie option. Presumably this is to prevent the situation where youre just shooting the back of the device, but really what it does is just take away user control. The ui is also supposed to allow you to use the spare screen as a photo viewer, so you can see your shots right after snapping them, but this didnt happen consistently and in a 10 minute photo shoot.
The camera died on me at least three times showing a generic error message its as, if microsoft never tried this camera out in the real world, and if it did, it did so with an incredible amount of patience and forgiveness for its own flaws software. Quirks aside, the duo 2s snapdragon, 888 chipset seemed to struggle in certain situations when i played a few rounds of airplane chevs in one screen mode, the device ran hot and then completely stalled. Leaving me unable to serve food to my impatient passengers. The thermal issue doesnt just occur when i have the two screens flipped all the way around either. On the whole, the area under the camera module tends to get warm, but when the 302s sides are stuck back to back, it seems to keep the heat from dissipating quickly enough. The one thing i am impressed with is that the duo 2s battery life, isnt worse than before, which i know, is a very low bar this years model clocked 10 hours and 16 minutes with our video rundown test playing on one screen and the android home page On the other, the original duo came in at 10 hours and 32 minutes and considering the faster screens on this generation. That seems fair for what its worth the fold 3, which has a 120 hertz panel, lasted 14 hours and 3 minutes. I could go on about all the little ways that the duo 2 struggles, but that would take forever.
Some of the issues are minor and just require a little adjusting, while others like the camera app are downright bad. I appreciate the faster screens too, but at this price theyre almost table stakes, i havent been able to test the slim pen too, either since microsoft and 71 in time for this review, but its worth noting that youll have to pay an extra 130 dollars for it. Ultimately, despite the attempted improvements, the duo 2 is still a novel device, thats costly to boot, and only people with the 1500 to spare and really really want a dual screen phone to play around with, should consider getting it for in depth.