As Apple prepares to unveil its new iPhone 12 lineup next month, Microsoft has launched the Surface Duo for $ 1,400, a foldable smartphone that offers two displays and is vastly different from anything Apple does has to offer.
We tested some foldable smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Galaxy Z Flip. So we thought we should take a look at the Surface Duo too, as foldable smartphones offer interesting new technology that we may see from Apple.
Unlike the Galaxy Fold, which offers a single foldable display with the display technology for the hinge, Microsoft has adopted the foldable design with two separate screens connected by a visible hinge. This is smart because Microsoft’s Surface Duo doesn’t have the durability and performance wrinkle issues that Samsung devices have seen.
The Surface Duo is well built and a lot of emphasis has been placed on the design of the hinge, which is no surprise given the price. The Surface Duo and the hinge in particular feel of high quality. This is a foldable smartphone that resembles a high quality, futuristic device. Even with two 5.6-inch screens (8.1 inches together), the Surface Duo is surprisingly thin, but it’s the hinge that stands out.
Microsoft did a good job with the build quality of the Surface Duo, but the design of the device is the best part as the software can’t keep up. Microsoft uses Android software developed by Google. The lack of integration between hardware and software affects the user experience and feels incomplete.
The Surface Duo is running a Microsoft version of Android 10. It offers the Android 10 features and some add-ons developed by Microsoft for the dual screen, but the operating system does not feel optimized for this form factor with two screens. Microsoft and Google can of course improve the software through updates over time, but this isn’t ideal when it comes to release.
Despite the poor software, the Surface Duo offers some notable usage benefits when it comes to productivity. Certain apps can be set up to start at the same time as app groups. Here’s how to pair OneNote and Outlook, a web browser and YouTube, etc. This is great for multitasking, although some apps can also be opened to both screens for composing an email on one screen and browsing your inbox on the other. However, this feature isn’t optimized for all apps, which is a major drawback.
There are several Surface Duo usage modes. Book mode, as the name suggests, is when both screens open like a book. In single screen mode, one of the screens can be mirrored in a row for a more traditional smartphone feel, while in create mode the Surface Duo can be rotated into a laptop-like clamshell orientation. There is also a tent mode where the two sides are positioned in a tent shape to view media content.
For most users, single-screen mode, in which a display is stacked on top of each other, is the most convenient as most users don’t want to take a photo or chat with someone using a book-like form factor, but this can be useful to get the option too have to fold out another screen to get the job done.
When it comes to specs, the Surface Duo has years of technology with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip and is limited to an 11-megapixel camera, which just isn’t impressive when every other smartphone maker is focused on camera quality. It also has thick bezels that smartphone manufacturers are moving away from, which is worth noting.
Overall, the Surface Duo brings innovations to the smartphone sector and we are excited to see where Microsoft’s technology will lead in the future. However, given the $ 1,400 price tag, software issues, and overall ease of use, this device is not suitable for most people and not one that we would recommend.
There have been some rumors that Apple is investigating a foldable iPhone, and Apple has pending some patents for foldable smartphone technology, but it is still unclear whether this technology will last and whether a foldable Apple iPhone will ever get out of prototyping -Phase. We don’t know when Apple might be releasing a foldable “iPhone” if one is actually in the works, but it definitely won’t be in the near future.