Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Review
Im Alex Colon and Im here with Sascha Segan and today were going to be talking about the Microsoft Surface. Duo 2. Sascha Im going to have to interrupt you from reading on the Surface Duo, 2 and, as you can see, this device its not quite a phone, its not quite a tablet, its somewhere in the middle, but its also neither. Were going to call it a Phone for the sake of making things easy in this video., But this is Microsofts latest 1500 device.. We gave it three and a half stars and were here to tell you what we like about it, what we dont like about it and who we think its good for., So Sascha lets start talking first about this interesting, design. Yeah. This is genuinely the weirdest device that Ive handled in 2021., And so, if you want to bring in the first Surface Duo here, that was the weirdest device I handled in 2020.. So they are definitely continuing the trend of having the strangest hand helds, which we have seen here at PCMag.. The thing about the Surface Duo that really grabs us and confuses us is the fact that it is not really a phone or a tablet in the form factor that most of us are used to from the past 10 years., Its a little book. Closed. There is no external display at all.. In fact, the only information you get is a little light bar along the side.
That tells you, if you have any missed texts or missed calls., When you open it up, you can open it up and use it in various different postures, almost like a Lenovo Yoga laptop. And every posture has different features that do different things., So its very flexible And it does some things that no other phone does, but it also doesnt do things that say your Samsung Galaxy Z, Fold 3 does in that you can just pick up the Z Fold. 3 turn it on hold it up to your head and make a phone call.. You cant really do that with the Surface Duo, 2. Everythings a little more complicated., But, on the other hand, … Sorry, I was going to say with the Surface Duo 2. If you want to make a phone call, you have to physically open it and basically turn the two screens around and then youre still using a 3.6 inch wide, very large phone for a call. Yeah.. So you, as you said, you open it. You turn one of the screens backwards, and then you have very much this phablet here and its got a flagship processor. Its running Android, 11 Snapdragon 888. Got great 4G and 5G reception., But it is kind of really wide for your hand and its wide to hold Up to your head., On the other hand, can your Z Fold 3 do this? Can it sit on your table like a table tent and do a speakerphone call sitting on the table with you, leaning back No, the Z Fold 3, its a little awkward to do? That.
You can unfold it like this, but its not quite the same.. This table tent mode really grabbed me in a lot of circumstances. Its great for watching videos, its great for playing games such as Xbox streaming games with a controller. Its great for speakerphone calls. So thats a mode that made me go kind of wow about the Surface Duo. And then, of course, its main mode is having these two screens and whats important to understand about. It is theyre, not really one screen.. You can span an app across both screens, but theyve got his bezel in the middle and the bezel. Really I mean its a real gap.. It really messes with your content.. So what you really … Yeah, really here on the home screen its very prominent. Yeah absolutely.. So what you really want to be running is two apps.. You want to have say: Ive got, Google Drive here and Ive got a web browser here. Or Ive got here. Goes Microsoft OneNote with my web browser. Theres a couple of apps such as the aforementioned OneNote, which are designed to …, which are designed to work with the two screens.. So, for instance, I have my OneNote index over here and I have my OneNote text over here., But for the vast majority of apps, what youre really doing is youre looking at a webpage over here and copying it into a document over here. Or youre. Looking at a spreadsheet over here and writing an email about it over here.
Mm hmm. And so its good for that productivity type of workflow, if youre in spreadsheets a lot or if you happen to do a lot of copying and pasting on your phone Mm – hmm Mm hmm. Or, if you, for instance, tend to scroll down webpages clicking on various links, but you dont want to have to always be fiddling with the back button. Like you can have your index webpage over here and then the thing that youre reading over here. And Yes, you can have two windows in other Android devices, but its a little more awkward.. The software interface for multi windowing in Android is really un intuitive and you know often kind of doesnt work., Whereas here the physicality of it really makes a difference. And so the hinge.. I think a lot of this hinges on the hinge.. There are many different ways as you started to point out that you can use it.. What are some of your personal favorite ways that you are using it as youre reviewing the device? Okay, so I think one of the coolest uses here is the way the camera app works. And Im loading up. The camera app here to show you. So youve got the view finder on the top half and then, when you take a photo, you can review the photo on the bottom half. And for me, like. I never know whether the photos Im taking are quite in focus and kind of having to jump out of the camera app to look at the gallery.
Always kind of brings me out of my flow. So having that right there to check that its in focus thats. Pretty neat. Mm hm, although I will say you are at risk of looking like someone who uses a tablet to take photos.. Oh yeah, totally cause youre doing it in the little laptop mode. Right. Completely okay. So that is definitely one use.. As you said, the copying and pasting another use., Another thing that I really liked about. It was specifically using the New York Times news app, because when I would tap on articles on the front page of the virtual newspaper, the article would then open in the other window. Mm hmm. And so thats a really pleasurable experience.. I also … Lets talk about. Can we talk about some of the things that dont work so well with the two different screens Yeah.? So the first Duo was super duper buggy.. The first Duo was unusually buggy. Mm hmm.. This Duo is only slightly buggy.. I have more faith in Microsoft right now to fix the bugs, but there are some things that are not working so well, such as auto rotation. Right.. So you see here, oh its working now.. The last take. We did on this video, the rotation totally wasnt working.. So there you go., Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesnt.. The cameras are not terrific, especially in low light.. They have the flagship level specs. But when you compare them to another flagship like say the Z Fold, 3 theyre, just not quite there, yet.
And two giant screens in a relatively thin device means the battery life is not great. Mm hmm.. I got about 10 hours using one screen, but why are you using this for one screen And guess what Using both screens? At the same time, all the time I was getting – maybe five six hours of use, time. Thats a lot shorter than most other flagships.. On the other hand, most other flagships arent a 8.3 inch tablet., And I would say finally, if you intend to use it as a tablet that bezel really gets in the way. Games, for instance, that tend to focus you on the center of the screen. You know theyre just focusing you on the bezel., So most games, you end up just playing on one screen, because they just dont know how to deal with the bezel.. Now. You did, though, have a few gaming experiences that you liked, where you were using the tablet. In a …, What mode is it that you coined So yeah. Little laptop mode. Yeah.? Oh, are you thinking that little laptop mode or table tent mode, I might be thinking of table tent, which is the more Okay. laying down V shape. Yeah. Table tent? Is this one. Now? Are these Microsoft terms, or these are Sascha Segan terms, Table tent mode? I think is from the Lenovo Yogas.. Oh okay. Cause thats a thing that they initiated. But yeah. It was really nice to .
.., so the device works with an Xbox wireless controller and Microsofts Xbox Game Pass streaming service. And in that case I could very easily prop the device up on a desk and it sits there very nicely in a triangular mode, and I Sit back with my controller and play the games., And that was a pretty pleasurable experience, at least in games, that didnt have too much lag on the streaming service and that really varies from game to game. Mm hmm, and so I think weve covered pretty well what You can and cannot do with these dual screens. Lets talk just a little bit more about how this functions as a phone with the hardware and the connectivity, because, ultimately, even though, were saying its, not quite a phone and it isnt quite a tablet, it is essentially Being sold as a phone and were reviewing it as phone., So lets talk about it as a phone. Yeah. So this is a Snapdragon 888 running Android 11.. It benchmarks very similarly or even slightly better than devices like the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the Galaxy Z. Fold. 3, so thats nice. Web browsing performance is particularly speedy.. Radio performance is actually excellent.. It works on 4G and 5G with all three major carriers, including both 5G millimeter wave and sub 6.. It has a physical SIM slot and a Nano SIM, and you can use both at once, so its a dual SIM phone. On Verizons network. I found that it actually outpaced the Z Fold, 3 somewhat.
, So good connectivity. In terms of call quality. It is awkward to hold up to your head and weird. If youre making calls with a Bluetooth headset its fine. Speakerphone is not thunderingly loud, but its absolutely fine in a quiet room and once more, as I said, using this table tent mode for the speaker, phone Is a fun way to do it. Its a nice experience. Mm hmm.. So I guess this brings me to my ultimate question.. Who is this for Yeah.? Who is it for I mean who is it for Okay, so Ive gotten some emails over the past year? From actual fans of the original Duo. And now that is a small and passionate group, because this phone was broken when it launched. Right. And they had to wait several months for a software update to even make it usable. And those folks are really people who enjoy The doing two things at once, aspect. They want to be able their dream on their portable device, has always been able to have two windows open. And if thats you, if youre that person, if you are referring to one thing and copying it to another, if youre Writing an email about one thing, while looking at a webpage youre writing the email about, if youre, really sick of using that Android multitasking button to flip back and forth through apps thats, who this is for. And its a niche of people, its not a mass market.
. But I think those people are going to be able to tolerate the slight bugginess that were experiencing right now, which I think this year, Microsoft will get past. And theyll enjoy not having to flip back and forth between apps., Right and so ultimately, thats. Why we gave the phone three and a half stars.? You know you very clearly state that a device that is this niche would never get our Editors Choice Award., But I do think that that rating makes sense, because we are recommending it to a very specific subset of people. And if that happens to be you, you just might love this phone. Yeah, I mean Ive run into a couple of those kinds of products recently. These products, where theyre not for everybody. Theyre, not even really for most people., But a few people are really going to Like them., That E Ink Monitor, for instance, that I reviewed recently. And the Duo 1 was a device. I could recommend to no one because of the bugginess., But the Duo 2 theyve made it.. You can check it out, now. All right, so that is the Microsoft Surface, Duo. 2.. It is a major step up from the original.. It is a 1500 phone.. We give it three and a half stars. For more on it. You can see our review. Its on PCMag.com..