Microsoft recently gave us the Surface Duo 2 – the developed version of it’s previous flagship the Surface Duo. Those of you who aren’t familiar with the Surface duo- It is the dual screen foldable android gadget developed by Microsoft and we couldn’t have been less excited about this product. The Microsoft duo from last year was an initial design to what holds great potential in the upcoming future. The multi-tasking experience, sleek design, modern hinges are all appreciable works of the brand. However, The Surface Duo lagged in various parameters and wasn’t ready for being the flagship we wanted. For the same reason, we were more excited about the surface duo 2. Let’s see how much potential this next version holds.
Is Duo 2 better or worse?
As I mentioned earlier, the Microsoft duo didn’t live up to our expectations. By that I mean, the phone was neat but we knew it was going to be released with outdated specifications which made usability a little annoying. One of the best things about the duo was it’s incredibly slim design and the nifty tech the company put into the hinge on the side.
Apart from the good stuff, the duo was terrible at a number of things. The device lacked performance and the software was very buggy. We understand it takes a lot to build a UI that coincides with their concept of 2 folding screens, but the software was majorly flawed. Also there were no rear cameras, and the selfie camera which was also the prime, was pretty awful. Microsoft priced this complete deal at a very high price which eventually dropped down to a modest one due the following time.
Having spent time with the Surface Duo 2, it looks as if Microsoft took into account all the flaws and made them objectively better. I mean they were better on paper and somewhere on usability too, However, it turns out that it made the situation somehow worse for the Duo 2. The new Microsoft Duo 2 is loaded with high end specifications, better displays, thinner bezels and a complete 3 camera setup on the back. Let’s talk about how these updates have outshone themselves on the device hands on, in detail.
Price and Release date in India
Before going ahead, The Surface Duo 2 is yet to be launched in India and is expected to launch in December 2021. The starting price is marked at $1499 globally, i.e. Rs.1,10,000 roughly.
The flagship comes with the high powered Snapdragon 888, which is one of the fastest processor chips for smartphones currently. The 8GB RAM and 512GB internal storage give you more than enough space.
The display on the Duo 2 is a couple of inches brighter than on the original Duo at 8.3 inches spread across the much shorter bezels. Thanks to the new camera bump on the back, there is no flash or webcam on the front. This certainly makes room for a bigger and better display. The screen is now much brighter at 800 nits with a 90Hz refresh rate. This really smoothens the overall function of the smartphone. Also, the screen is curved at the edges. This makes you interact with the screen even when the device is closed. The curved edges give a more complete image of the screen and makes you want to span more apps across it.
When you do Span apps, some apps are created for 2 screens which work really well with the new curved edges on both displays. It feels as if it is a single screen. The UI isn’t integrated for every app and the two screens just mess up some words and even graphics in the middle of the applications. This is just minimum functionality but it’s there. Unlike the Samsung Flip or the moto razr which have small working displays on the outside, Microsoft still keeps no screen action on the front. We need to give a huge applause to the creators of the hinge on this gadget. The hinge is completely stable at every angle and is perfect to compose, play 2 player games and whatnot.
The cameras on the duo 2 have improved significantly. From just a front camera and flash to a complete 3 camera and flash setup on the back. The Camera bump is made of a 12MP primary camera, a 2X telephoto and a 16MP ultra-wide camera which is standard for flagships like the Duo2. The camera has an HDR mode for sharp photos, a portrait mode and an optical zoom. They give quite decent output for a device this expensive. You shouldn’t expect something extraordinary with these cameras but just the opposite. The cameras on the Duo 2 are present on the rear of the device. With no screen on the front, you have to fold open the complete device, unlock it and then open the camera application. This is tedious for point and shoot, Which is universally the purpose of smartphone cameras.
The camera can be utilized easily for clicking pictures, video calls, etc but the process behind the camera makes it annoying for anyone. The device is not flat when using in single screen mode due to the camera bump which makes it inconvenient to hold for longer durations. Microsoft played out the whole camera condition neatly by just giving a slight difference in the angle of the camera so that the rails of the bump completely land on the back of the device. Also, the back of the Duo 2 has magnets which seems to be holding the complete thing together. This covers the camera and you just cannot click any photo on a single screen.
The Duo2 has a set of 2 batteries making up for a total of 3600 amperes of battery powering two screens. You get an 18wat fast charger with the box which charges the device at a sufficient rate. The onscreen time I got with the Duo 2 was close to 4 hours and when multi-tasking the battery drains easily. In my opinion this is standard specs, not even flagship level and Microsoft could’ve easily done more. Considering the intent of the device, the battery is “just okay” with only an 18watt charging cube to power it up unlike other competitors who are adapting multiple ways to make those bars last longer. Making the device thicker could also help fit more battery on the inside, and similarly much more can be achieved.
Check all Specifications here.
The Duo 2 has the amazing multi tasking feasibility and holds great potential.As soon as developers start integrating apps for the 2 screen UI, the split screening, reading and viewing would be much simpler on the Duo2. The fingerprint sensor and power button are now one which is slightly convenient for the user. The phones unlock as you go to open the screen. Apps from Microsoft like the outlook run smoothly in dual screen mode and we would love to see more apps like that come together. The UI and layout of the complete device is exceptionally better. Brighter screens and small notches make the device look seamless. The new darker colour makes the Duo2 look more professional and sophisticated. There is still the fundamental flaw with the concept which cannot be overlooked.
The Fundamental Flaw
As we discussed in the beginning the Duo 2 is much better on so many parameters you just ignore what’s wrong until you go hands on. Microsoft considered every detail from last year’s device and made an objectively better device this year. But it turned out to be a worst nightmare for the producer and the consumer. What’s made the device better has also made it worse. With no outside display, one has to completely open the full device. This is even when you only need to answer a call or take a quick snap due to zero functionality outside the device.
Unfolding becomes annoying for every small thing. Microsoft wanted the device to be sleek and seamless as possible and the power of the device got left behind. A thicker layout will give you more space to add batteries. Since last year, the software of the Duo2 is still very buggy and has had unresponsive issues. The screen doesn’t seem to like it when you start your finger from the bezel and is unresponsive in that case. There are multiple missed button presses and complete lapse of responsiveness. The three camera setup on the back did give you better cameras for shorter bezels but now there is no front camera. Also the surface was ambidextrous but now you cannot lay it on the rear back. When using in single screen mode, the edges and the complete screen are vulnerable to scratches.