Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Review: Double Jeopardy
There is no busier time than the month so insane we gave it a new name so to see just how well this new duo does or doesnt do at helping me keep my head on straight. I decided to take a page out of my buddy, the unlockers book and take you along for part of an atypical tech tober day in brooklyn im michael fisher. I believe you know my friend, david cogan today were doing a day in dumbo on the duo. Two awesome: why dumbo for the duo? Well, the down under manhattan, bridge overpass neighborhood of brooklyn, has been an influencer mecca for years, thanks to the photogenic opportunities it offers its also the home of brooklyns, first new public library to be built. Since the year i was born and if theres a phone more book like than the surface duo, i havent seen it so what better venue to test the duo? 2S, most improved piece of hardware, thats right in place of last years. Glorified webcam is an honest typanos. Triple camera array prominently protruding from the phones posterior its angled, so the phone can close flush with it when its folded back and it protrudes, because it has to the only way to squeeze ultra wide wide and telephoto cameras plus optical stabilization. For those last two into a phone, this thin is to make it a little bit thicker and a little more awkward too yeah. They fold the phone back on itself and instead of the sheer sided slab of last year, the duo ii better resembles a wedge of cheese.
Also, the position of that camera means you have to keep the phone open while using it. But microsoft has at least put some thought into that. The second screen now becomes an instant preview, while youre shooting and a clever photo editor when youre done, if youre out and about without a david to snap, a selfie for you, the duo 2 can become its own tripod. Just like those foldables. I love so much and speaking of selfies, the new front facing camera is just fine for the video calls for which its intended. Like the half hour teams meeting i enjoyed with daniel rubino over 5g. The only complaint i had was that the speakers, while louder than last years, still didnt get quite loud enough, but take the 202s photo and video clip alongside those from any other flagship or high end smartphone its a different story. I shot alongside the iphone 13 pro for this video and i dont think ill be shocking. Anyone when i say the duo, 2 didnt measure up contrast, dynamic range, night mode frame rate, you name it. The duos camera is mediocre through and through in video mode. Its automatic exposure careens wildly between extremes, like a 2013 budget phone and the telephoto camera, offers only 2x zoom, which even the traditionally slow apple has finally upgraded to 3x optical. The duo 2 is also more restrictive when it comes to how you use it. The accelerometer still behaves like it does on a conventional phone.
So often i wanted to shoot in landscape but ended up shooting in portrait by accident, and if you want to play back the video you just shot in that clever new span mode preview. Dont try to adjust the volume, because the duo will still treat it as a shutter button. By default, you need to first bring the preview back to a single screen which also isnt the smoothest process. Look in a vacuum. This camera is fine. If you stick mainly to stills and youre willing to snapseed a bit, but when you put a camera bump this big on what was formerly one of the sleekest smartphone designs ever one that costs as much as this one does. I think people have a right to expect more than fine im going to keep sharing samples from the duo 2 as we go on and david has comparisons with many more phones in his real world test which ill link below. But i want to move on from camera chatter to talk a little bit about what microsoft got right with this phone. Our first stop in dumbo is a calming amalgamation of coffee shop, japanese, restaurant, art gallery and bookstore, in other words, the perfect venue to showcase the surface 202s hardware. Despite being a bit thicker than its predecessor. It fits nicely into a pocket and, while id buy the white version, if i were splashing, the cash, the new obsidian colorway is also quite striking.
The displays are perfectly color, synced, refresh at 90 hertz peak at 800, nits of brightness, and now they curve at the hinge evoking the pages of a book while also enabling a bit of cleverness ill come back to in a sec. The inner glass has also been upgraded to gorilla glass victus, whose coating is so silky. You dont want to stop touching it. Its just a beautiful product. Even microsofts case is better this year. If you want to protect the gorilla glass, 6 exterior well, half of it anyway, it snaps onto the front some stick on rails, buff up the back half and it serves as a magnetic landing pad for the optional surface, slim pen 2, which charges while its docked. I love that the duo 2 gives its stylus a proper home, but, like rubino i was bummed at how little there was to actually do with it. No haptic support no extensive suite of built in apps or features, and the button is useless you can draw and you can erase a microsoft has promised an outlook update to let you draw directly within an email which i was looking forward to testing, but wasnt ready By press time, at least, if more features do come to the pen side of things, the hardware is ready for it and the pen stuck on there just completes the book analogy so beautifully that i kind of love it anyway. Speaking of books lets hit that library and start talking battery life right after this ive lost count of all the meals for two or meals for three ive cooked up during all the time weve spent at home this past year and hellofresh was great for that, but Its also great now that we can finally have friends over we went to college together back when i only knew how to make macaroni and cheese.
This video is sponsored by hellofresh the meal delivery service, so flexible. You can plan out your next few months of meals right from your phone or computer youll, get fresh ingredients delivered to your home with no need to mask up and hit the grocery store, and those ingredients include everything you need to make a meal thats as healthy Or as filling or as carb, smart or as vegetarian or meatitarian as you want, ive been a paying customer for eight months at this point, and i can tell you that hellofresh is always delicious, no matter which options you go for and no matter how bad you Still might be at knifework or keeping the kitchen clean after all that time, youll still be surprised at how easily a hello fresh meal comes together. It usually takes me about 40 minutes, but quick and easy options like sesame, beef, tacos and oven ready. Pizzas can get you down to 20.. You know my favorite part is still that flexibility. You know if plans change and you decide to go out to eat or disinvite some friends. Instead, you can just skip that week. Go to hellofresh.com and use code, mr mobile14, to get 14 free meals, plus free shipping, one more time go to hellofresh.com and use code, mr mobile14, to get 14 free meals, plus free shipping, thanks to hellofresh for sponsoring this video onward to what was intended to be The principal focus of the day, the adams street library, a former warehouse nestled beside brooklyn bridge park in a devastatingly photogenic part of the metropolis im, still tickled to call home.
Well, it turns out the library, while beautiful is also the kind of place where the wall bordering the childrens area has a bunch of architecturally entrancing but acoustically transparent holes thats why some libraries make walls without holes in them? Nevertheless, we had to hang for a while, because five hours after the day started id already blown through the surface duo, twos entire battery the phone dying. Just as i sat down a look at the power, consumption report showed the principal culprits to be google photos and the camera itself, and that makes sense. I saw much better endurance on more typical workdays, which forces me to wonder how much of the excellent endurance i reported on last years. Duo came from my never wanting to use its terrible camera anyway, i plugged in and in a little under an hour id recovered about 65 of a full charge, which i didnt even have to open the phone to find out thanks to that new glance bar. But as with so many things about the duo 2, my love for that concept is equal by my frustration with its execution. The glance bar is an ingenious use of the curved display edges to show you the time, inbound calls and notifications like it always on display, but in my testing the missed alerts, didnt always appear, or they appeared only to vanish a second later and even if they Worked as intended, the glance bar only supports bare bones.
Notifications like missed calls texts, team, pings and low battery alerts, as yet theres. No third party app support, so this great idea in theory is kind of worthless in practice and that truism extends beyond the glance bar and even beyond the camera which, during the course of dinner drinks and a delightfully unexpected detour to a jazz performance at a bar. Under the manhattan bridge fully drives the point home that its not at all suited for this kind of evening as an excuse to use both screens at once. David recommends that i learn more about the beer im pondering on the menu. So i download untapped and i do the dual screens also came in handy when i needed to look up whatever batarja dimujin is oh dear. Yes, this did come in handy. I will not be having any roe on my spaghetti and when i needed to make sure my calendar was clear for my guest spot on the engadget podcast and when david and i decided to drunkenly calculate youtube analytics like you do. But while it is legitimately handy for those niche occasions and neat for a photo app for a few reasons, its usually just faster to do the same thing on a phone thats, not the duo too. The problem is most damning in the harsh light of the next day, calling the bar from last night to see if they found the tripod i drunkenly left. There is awkward not because im embarrassed, but because its not all that comfortable to talk on a cheese wedge and when i pivot back to the multitasking.
The duo 2 is supposed to help with it keeps getting in its own way. Sometimes apps open links on the facing screen like theyre supposed to other times they dont. Sometimes they do when you dont want them to, because it serves no purpose to split the interface. This way, switching screens is smoother. Now, thanks to the phone defaulting to the right side, but it still has hiccups like apps, sometimes restarting when they switch over one day. The notification shade moved into the gutter for no reason. Another day, the keyboard bumped up into the same place and made the top row inaccessible and that keyboard is the worst thing of all whether youre using microsofts, swift key, which i find not very good or my preferred g board. The touch response issue. That was the biggest reason i couldnt use the duo last year. Well, its improved on duo too ill give them that, but it is still there a barely perceptible lag when typing mixed with the propensity to confuse taps for swipes and vice versa. It makes every touch interaction, just inconsistent enough that, despite its prodigious spec sheet, i feel like this phone just isnt keeping up with me and id love to be able to say its just me folks, but check out pretty much every other review out there. For the same observation, i love the idea of the duo just as much as i did last year. This is still my favorite kindle and without those touch issues it would stand a good chance of being one of my favorite portable consoles too thanks to xbox game.
Pass and from a work standpoint, all you need to do is run outlook, calendar and inbox side by side to see just how fantastic this little pocket pc could be, but the bugs and the compromises and the very valid concern that some of them might still be Here next year, because some of them are from last year folks thats, the kind of thing you expect from a 10 year old android phone, not something built for 2021, not one whose stated purpose is to make your work easier and not something that costs fifteen hundred Dollars this review was produced following six days with a surface 202 review sample provided by microsoft and, if youre saying thats, not enough time for a full review, hey part of me agrees, which is why ill continue to check in with this device into the new year. If it gets some big upgrades that fundamentally change the experience, watch for a re review on my into the fold series and subscribe to the mr mobile, so you dont miss it as always.