Microsoft is late all the time. It was late to bring out the PlayStation, the windows mobile OS, the tablet (in response to iPad), and now to bring out an android mobile device. Every time they come out with a device, it’s already too late for the market. The same is true for the Microsoft Surface Duo.
Microsoft announced the Surface Duo specs in 2019 and released it in 2020, almost a year later. Here is the Surface Duo specs table.
|Surface Duo Features||Specification|
|Battery Capacity||3577 mAh|
|Camera||Only one 11MP camera.|
|Display||Dual Display. Each panel is 5.6” AMOLED screen with 1800×1350 (4:3), 401 PPI display. When both displays are open like a book, it measures as 8.1” display.|
|Storage||128 GB / 256 GB.|
|RAM||6 GB DRAM.|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, WiFi, LTE.|
|Connections||USB C 3.1|
|3.5 mm Headphone Jack?||No.|
|Headphones in the box?||No.|
|Operating System (OS)||Android 10.|
We are quite sure you are not impressed by the specs sheet at a price point of $1400. According to many tech reviewers, these specs already seems too old. Moreover, what advanced benefit does this device brings to the table for us?
Yes, we understand that having two screens allows us to do a lot more productivity work, but not everyone needs that. While reviewing Surface Duo, many people invoke the analogy of using a PC with multiple monitors. We understand the metaphor, and we believe this phone will be a perfect choice for many users. However, it is our understanding that it will be a niche product for a niche market.
Pros of Surface Duo.
These are the pros of Surface Duo.
Surface Duo is a beautiful phone.
Not everything of the Surface Duo is terrible. We love this phone’s design. This phone is beautifully crafted with glass and metal. In our opinion, this is one of the most beautiful dual-screen phones currently on the market. Its design is stunning and beautiful. It’s a very slim and light phone even when folded.
Another neat feature of this phone is the hinges. These works in a buttery smooth way. The hinges can rotate 360 degrees and stay locked at any position. It is significantly different from Samsung Galaxy Fold. Those Fold devices only have two positions — closed or fully open. But you can keep the Surface Duo in any position you like, and it improves the functionality of the phone a lot.
Surface Duo is for professionals.
Microsoft is trying to become the Blackberry with this android phone. They are targeting professionals, not the general consumer. If you buy a surface pen and this phone, it will become a perfect note-taking device. This dual-screen phone has many benefits. You can read a book, watch a video, join a video meeting on one screen, and write notes on the other screen.
Surface Duo is not as bulky as a Laptop or Tablet but also not as small as a phone. So, for emailing, browsing the internet, reading books, reviewing PowerPoint presentations, or excel sheet becomes easy everywhere.
You can learn more about the usage of Surface Duo from this Microsoft presentation.
Surface Duo runs on Android OS, not the Windows mobile OS. It allows us to install all the android productivity apps required for professionals.
Cons of Surface Duo.
These are the drawbacks of the Surface Duo.
Surface Duo is expensive but offers less.
The starting price for the 128GB version is $1400 before taxes. With taxes, this device would cost more than $1500. However, at this price, Microsoft is not giving us a state of the art device but giving us a year old phone. On top of this, there is no NFC, no wireless charging, no headphone jack, no waterproofing, no surface pen, and no headphones. Our simple question is, BUT WHY?
If Microsoft expects us to drop $1500, then we expect more for our money. This Surface Duo is nothing but two phones are joined together by a hinge. It is not even a foldable screen that you can slap a $1400 for the device’s novelty.
This Surface Duo is nothing but two phones are joined together by a hinge.
Surface Duo is a bloatware warehouse.
Previously we wrote an article about the pros and cons of Samsung devices. You can read that article here — Pros and cons of Samsung phones. In this article, we criticized Samsung for their bloatware apps. Microsoft Surface Duo took this app stuffing to another level.
List of pre-installed Microsoft apps.
- Microsoft Word.
- Microsoft Excel.
- Microsoft Powerpoint.
- Microsoft Office Lens.
- Microsoft PDF Reader.
- Microsoft Outlook.
- Microsoft Teams.
- Microsoft OneDrive.
- Microsoft Edge.
- Microsoft OneNote.
- Microsoft News.
- Microsoft Authenticator.
- Microsoft Bing Search.
- Intune Company Portal.
- Microsoft Solitaire Collection.
- Surface Audio.
List of pre-installed Google apps.
- Google Search.
- Google Assistant.
- Google Calendar.
- Google Drive.
- Google Duo.
- Google Photos.
- Google Play Movies & TV.
- Google Play Store.
- Google Maps.
- YouTube Music.
List of pre-installed apps on the AT&T device.
- HBO MAX.
- AT&T TV.
- My AT&T.
- Call Protect.
- Amazon Shopping.
List of other apps.
- Sound recorder.
As you can see from the above list, dozens of apps do the same things. For example, Chrome – Edge, OneDrive – Google Drive, Google Search – Bing Search, Youtube Music – Spotify, Outlook – Gmail, etc. We understand that its an android phone, and that’s why it comes preloaded with Google apps, and because Microsoft is making this phone, that’s why Microsoft is also preloading many apps. But not allowing a user to uninstall any apps that are unnecessary to the user is unfair.
Moreover, it is an android device with 6GB RAM. Each android device runs hundreds of processes in the background. When new, this device performs smoothly. However, after 8-12 months later, when the battery degrades slightly, this device will struggle to run multiple apps.
Single 11MP camera.
Surface Duo only comes with a single 11MP camera. It works both as a primary and selfie camera. Generally, on the phone, there are multiple cameras on the front and the back. We click on a button to activate either the front camera or the rear camera on the camera app. But on a Surface Duo, you have to fold and rotate the device itself to take pictures. Depending on the Surface Duos 360-degree fold, the same camera works either as a selfie camera or the primary camera. The icing on the cake is that the camera is not even that good.
We don’t care about the megapixel of a camera on the phone. It’s because megapixel on the phone camera does not mean anything. If you stuff a very high megapixel camera on the phone does not mean it will take a good picture. But, if I’m spending $1400 on the phone, we expect more from the camera.
Poor Battery Life.
Surface Duo has short battery life. This phone does not have a full day battery life. Microsoft claims that Surface Duo can last up to 15 hours for local video playback. But it’s a misdirection to hide how low the battery performance is. During the test, they turned off the mobile network, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, adaptive brightness and played a downloaded mp4 video files in a loop in only one screen while keeping the other screen off.
But in the real world, we use both screens, keep either WiFi or LTE on, surf web pages, watch Netflix or YouTube, send emails, use the social network, take photos, play video games, and many more things. When you do all this heavy stuff on your phone, the 3577 mAh battery on the Surface Duo discharges rapidly.
Surface Duo comes with a Snapdragon 855 processor. Unfortunately, it is an ancient processor — even mid-range phones now on the market ship with 855 snapdragon processors.
All the storage space is not available.
If you buy 128GB version of Surface Duo, then only 109GB is available for you to use. The remaining 19GB space is used by the Android OS and all of the Microsoft bloatware. On the 256GB version, only 234GB is available. Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4023513/surface-storage-options-and-hard-drive-sizes
This huge OS indirectly tells a different story — there are hundreds of processes running in the background. When your phone becomes 12-18 months old, this bloated OS will put a considerable strain on the battery, processor, RAM, and other parts. It will slow down your phone, and the productivity of your phone will take a huge hit.
Surface Duo’s Frequently Asked Questions.
Is Surface Duo Runs Android?
Yes. The Android operating system powers the Surface Duo.
Is Surface Duo waterproof?
No, Surface Duo is not waterproof.
Does Surface Duo support wireless charging?
No, Surface Duo does not have any wireless charging capability.
Why is Microsoft making Surface Duo?
We believe Microsoft made this phone because they are desirous of Samsung, Huawei, Motorola, and others. After all, they are all making folding phones that have foldable displays. Microsoft also wants to make a foldable phone, but they don’t have the flexible display technology. So, what is their response? Make a foldable phone with 2 screens. This type of patchwork phone or device release is not new for Microsoft. They did it before, and in this video, we are going to talk about that.
In 2007, Apple announced the iPhone. At first, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughed at Apple and said that a phone which does not have any keyboard and asking price of $500 will fail. But when they saw that millions of people buying the iPhone at $500, Microsoft realized they made a mistake. So, they rushed to create a mobile operating system and announced windows phone. But by the time windows mobile operating system and their phone came out in the market, it was already too late for them.
At that time, Microsoft was pushing with Netbook. At that time, Netbooks were selling well, and Microsoft thought Apple would release something like that. So, they did not take seriously any rumors of a Tablet that Apple is going to unveil. But in 2010, Apple announced the iPad. A new category of device — the iPad — were superior to Netbooks in design and performance. Again, Microsoft got blindsided by the iPad announcement. Microsoft never imagined that Apple would release a Tablet powered by iOS, the iPhones operating system. They quickly announced that they would release a Tablet named “Surface RT” powered by Windows mobile operating system. This announcement was only to get press attention. Again Microsoft failed.
In 2019, Samsung, Huawei, and other phone manufacturers announced they are bringing out a foldable phone. Microsoft saw it and could not resist itself but to announce a foldable phone too. But they realized they don’t have the flexible screen technology. So, they responded with a foldable phone that has two screens.
Don’t get me wrong. Surface Duo is a nice looking phone. But, we believe all the buzz surrounding the folding phone is not because people want a folding phone, but because it’s a folding phone with a folding display. And Microsoft read this market sentiment in the wrong way.
We think Microsoft is confused with this device. It is not big enough to be a Tablet or small enough to be a phone. If it’s a phone, then why not ship a headphone in the box? If it’s a tablet competitor, then why not give a bigger battery?
Slapping a premium price on a phone does not make it a premium phone. We believe the value proposition of this phone is very poor. We are paying a lot but getting less out of this device. However, you may have a different usage scenario of this phone then we can imagine. Nevertheless, before you make your purchase decision, please visit your nearest BestBuy location, try this first, and then take your final buying decision.