Microsoft’s dual-screen Surface Duo came into customer hands last Thursday, the day the company lifted its embargo and gave pre-order members of the trade press the opportunity to post their reviews. This resulted in a flurry of coverage worthy of a category-defining device that had been eagerly awaited since its announcement nearly a year ago.
This snowstorm of coverage was almost overwhelming, involving tens of thousands of words, hundreds of pictures, and enough videos to fill a YouTube channel.
The reviews were very extensive, but most of them came to similar conclusions. The hardware is great, the software has yet to be worked on, and the performance is reasonable, but it̵
The camera has received the most criticism, and rightly so, given the price tag of over $ 1400 for this unusual device, and most reviewers concluded that this is an exciting device that isn’t primetime ready yet is. However, everyone agreed that a Google-Microsoft partnership deserves special attention.
This isn’t just another phone, and the reviews offer a myriad of fascinating perspectives on why the Surface Duo is an interesting experiment and how it could improve over time. For those who want to know more, I’ve rounded up the top ten reviews here so you can get an idea for yourself.
Surface Duo Review: Why I’m Still Confused About Microsoft’s Dual Screen Device
Our own Mary Jo Foley did her trademark “Non-Reviewer Review” of the Surface Duo, highlighting the daily experience of someone who primarily uses computer devices for writing. She was pleasantly surprised by the “premium and droolable” Duo hardware and the battery life that “actually fulfills Microsoft’s” all-day “promises”.
Unlike most of the other reviewers, she found the Surface Duo camera “OK … not amazing, but … the image quality was passable and better than I feared.”
The real downside of this device is the “confusing” navigation. Conclusion: “Does the duo make me more productive than a normal mobile phone because it has two separate screens side by side, as Microsoft claims? My answer after two weeks is no. The non-intuitive gestures and the constant guessing of how apps will open and work.” slowed me down. ”
Microsoft Surface Duo Review: Double Problems
Over at The Verge, Dieter Bohn says the Surface Duo has “the right ideas” but is “spoiled by faulty software and a bad camera.” Not all bad, actually: “The Surface Duo camera is junk. … I’d berate this camera on a $ 300 device. The Surface Duo costs $ 1,400. Microsoft should have simply called this a webcam. It would have the expectations appropriately set a great webcam! ”
Ultimately, Bohn says he can’t recommend the Surface Duo in its current incarnation at the current price. “But,” he adds, “The Surface Duo offers more than a glimmer of vision and potential. Microsoft has the clearest and strongest vision for a new direction in mobile computing that I’ve seen this year, but is choosing A direction and getting there are still two different things. ”
Wall Street Journal
Microsoft Surface Duo Review: Two Screens, Too Many Problems
One of the industry’s most influential reviewers, Joanna Stern, points out the potential of the Surface Duo: “When it worked, the duo felt like the first real innovation in smartphone design I’ve seen in years. The entry into mobile Cellular devices actually reminded me a lot of the original interface: a new flexible design that can unlock more productivity. “
After a neat recitation of the many problems with the pre-release device, her conclusion leaves no words empty: “Microsoft’s new book-like phone-tablet thing for $ 1,400 is not ready for me and not ready for you. … Me I’m hungry for the real power and productivity that this pioneering device promises. It just has to work. ”
Don’t miss the accompanying video starring pop tarts.
Surface Duo review: a dual-screen phone of tomorrow … that’s not quite finished today
As usual, Daniel Rubino did a thorough, well-organized review (with video) aimed directly at readers (and viewers) who are already familiar (and knowledgeable about) the Windows landscape.
Rubino dings the duo for performance: “[N]o Surface Duo will be accused of being fast. Instead, it’s acceptable, and some would accuse me of being too generous there. “He speculates that the” so-so “6 GB of RAM is at least partially to blame, and a strange design decision in competing devices like the Samsung Note 20 Ultra ship with 12 GB.
“Those who know Android, love Microsoft 365 and Office, and consume information continuously, would benefit most from Surface Duo,” he concludes. But even then, “You might wait a few months to see the software improve.”
Microsoft’s Surface Duo is a perfect mix of phone and tablet
Owen Williams is the outlier in this series of reviews, with one unabashedly enthusiastic review starting with the premise that the duo are “more of a foldable tablet than a smartphone [for] A very specific group of people who like Surface devices (like me) and care about getting more work done on the go with a single device. ”
The dual screen experience is “transformative” … When I first used the Surface Duo, I was skeptical of how much value the dual screen would add: I never wished my phone had more screens, but the duo did Not only does it convince me the extra space is worth it, it has fundamentally changed the way I think about my phone. ”
It’s not all positive, of course. The camera is “good for video calls” but “mediocre … compared to a Pixel or iPhone”. Overall, though, this is the one the duo’s designers will turn to when they need to cheer up.
Microsoft Surface Duo review: hot mess
Android Central’s heading says it all. It’s a thorough review by Daniel Bader who has made good faith efforts to use the hardware and Microsoft-centric software despite using all of Google’s services.
Bottom line: “The Surface Duo shouldn’t be available for purchase right now. The software is still far too buggy to ask people to spend $ 1,400 on the privilege of owning Microsoft’s smallest Surface yet.”
Microsoft Surface Duo Review: Is This The New Normal?
Like so many of the reviews I’ve looked, this one by Mashables Joseph Volpe underwent a title change after it was first published. The original title was “Is This the Future of Smartphones?”
And like all headings in the form of a question, both titles are ultimately subject to Betteridge’s Law of Headings: “Any heading that ends with a question mark can be answered with the word No.”
It’s a thorough review, covering the same area as the rest of the examples listed here, but the conclusion is far more optimistic: “I like the duo. Yes, despite all of these flaws and the obvious lack of a front-facing notification panel. It has the makings of something great … It’s just that $ 1,400 is a lot to claim that convenience, especially when it’s not full service. ”
Microsoft Surface Duo test: two screens, unfinished software
Harry McCracken, who has been in the business long enough to have seen a lot of hyped devices, looks appropriately skeptical at the Surface Duo. He found it “extremely bizarre, overcome by a combination of obvious flaws and usability problems that Microsoft didn’t quite solve”.
After reciting some of these issues in detail, McCracken issues a wait-and-see verdict: “The company stresses the duo’s software is in the works and plans to release software updates monthly. Chances are, things will get a lot better after an update or two will work. But even if I were excited about the idea that this device is, I would wait and see instead of rushing my money now. ”
(And a historical footnote: one of my all-time favorite McCracken articles this year is 2012 after looking at another device that was ahead of its time: “Newton, Reconsidered”.)
Microsoft Surface Duo Review: Exciting, Expensive, and Unpredictable Business
Engadget’s Cherlynn Low gives the Surface Duo what Ivy Leaguers might call “Gentleman’s C”, a rating of 71 on its 0 to 100 scale, and a hint that the initial results of the Google and Microsoft collaboration are promising:
“The Surface Duo is decent as a phone, pretty bad as a tablet, and somewhat functional as everything in between. That is, if the software works as promised. But bugs and app incompatibility plague this device for $ 1,399, which requires monthly updates are Microsoft to fix its numerous problems. ”
Microsoft Surface Duo test: cool design, jerky performance
CNET’s Scott Stein opened his review by stating that the device “looked promising … like the perfect little device for this new work-from-home world”. And then things fell apart into three phases: Phase 1: What a pretty design. Stage 2: Whoa, why isn’t anything working smoothly? Level 3: How exactly do you use this? Level 4: I miss my old comfortable phone.
Like so many of his colleagues, Stein concluded that the Surface Duo needed time: “I love the idea of experimenting, but I don’t like using experiments that don’t feel good. And right now I don’t see who this is duo is for. But in a year it could be a better solution. ”
Microsoft Surface Duo Review: Starting a Dual Screen Revolution
Sam Rutherford led his review with a note saying the duo were “one of the most controversial phones in recent history” and a targeted reprimand about the “vitriol, disbelief and direct hatred” the device has drawn. That will give you an idea of where this will land. “”[A]In some places, the $ 1,400 Surface Duo feels very experimental. But that’s to be expected when a device tries to start a revolution. ”
It hits the same high notes (the design embodies “thoughtful elegance”) and the low notes (overwhelming specs and a “particularly disappointing” camera).
It is therefore not surprising that the conclusion is positive: “[E]Because of its shortcomings, the Surface Duo is already an incredibly powerful business phone. … this is Microsoft trying to replicate what it did when it created a new category of devices with the original finish. It’s not perfect, but the revolution is here. ”