Microsoft Surface Duo Review: Form A to Z

How you utilize your mobile device is completely altered by the Surface Duo. The Surface Duo, which resembles a pocket-sized laptop more than a phone, is undoubtedly the best mobile work tool available right now, despite the relatively outdated technology.

Two-minute review

The release of the Microsoft Surface Duo occurs at an unusual time. Today, a significant portion of professionals work from home on a permanent basis, and the idea of working constantly online is very pervasive throughout several businesses.

Even if the greatest laptops have always had some level of connectivity and availability, phones have always been more of a stopgap until you can return to your primary machine to conduct the actual heavy work. The Surface Duo, however, even while it has several drawbacks that prevent it from becoming the actual solution right away, provides a peek of what a professional phone might look like in the future. But what first-generation product actually fully resolves the issue it is intended to address?

Given that Microsoft is asking an outrageous $1,399 / £1,350 (about AU$1,930) for the Surface Duo, there will undoubtedly be those who laugh at the price. To put that into perspective, the LG V60, which has a second screen that can be detached, is only $799 (about £615, AU$1,100). Remember that LG’s gadget features a more recent CPU, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, as well as an extra 2GB of RAM.
That gives the Surface Duo the appearance of being pricey on paper. Even while that might be the case, Microsoft has worked very hard to improve the phone’s usability beyond our wildest expectations. A dual-screen phone may have been hinted at by the LG V60, but the Surface Duo makes it seem essential.

That gives the Surface Duo the appearance of being pricey on paper. Even while that might be the case, Microsoft has worked very hard to improve the phone’s usability beyond our wildest expectations. A dual-screen phone may have been hinted at by the LG V60, but the Surface Duo makes it seem essential.


We would use the word “sexy” to sum up the Surface Duo design if we had to. Even though it doesn’t enable wireless charging, the dual-screen tablet boasts an all-glass chassis.

There is barely any space between the two screens because to these delicate but lovely hinges. Even if the design is captivating, the way the device feels as it opens and closes is even better.

Microsoft managed to create a hinged device that feels tremendously robust without being difficult to move. The Surface Duo’s screen doesn’t even start to sway as we’re walking and texting, despite our fears when we first saw the tablet back in October 2019 when Microsoft introduced it.

Instead, the hinge has been improved for comfort and durability, giving the tablet a solid feel without looking like one. Because it feels so fantastic, we have definitely found ourselves repeatedly opening and closing the device.

The Surface Duo has a remarkable degree of symmetry. Beyond the fingerprint sensor, lock button, volume rocker, and USB-C charger on the right side of the smartphone, which has the same thickness on both sides, the displays share the same resolution and size.

All of this contributes to the Surface Duo’s extremely natural feeling of use in any angle. Depending on the task we’re actually doing, we frequently find ourselves changing the device’s orientation. When we simultaneously browse Twitter and Instagram, we’ll have it open like a book. The second screen is then turned horizontally so that it can function as a full-screen keyboard whenever we need to rapidly react to a work email without getting up from the uncomfortable posture we’ve assumed on the couch.

Alternately, you can fully spin the device to use it as a single-screen device that will allow you to take images and make phone calls. We find that we rarely use the Surface Duo as a single-screen tablet because, as we’ll discuss later, it’s not particularly good at either of these things.

To check the time, you can just slightly open the gadget. This is advantageous because there isn’t an external monitor, but you can just use this view to check the time because you can’t actually see any notifications.

There is only one marking on the rear of the phone despite all of this shifting it around: a perfectly centered, perfectly square Windows logo that will always look good regardless of the angle or direction you are holding the phone.

Microsoft has established itself as a master of design, producing computers that are on par with MacBooks, especially in the last few years with its Surface range of laptops and desktops. Yet Microsoft has outdone themselves with the Surface Dual, the most stunning Surface Device we’ve ever used. We just hope that Microsoft’s design ethos, which was applied to this tablet, is carried over to the rest of the series, making the Surface Book 3 seem fairly dated in comparison.

Dual screen

The dual-screen feature is the core of the Surface Duo, so if that isn’t something you absolutely must have, there isn’t much of a reason to buy it.

When the device is open, you can run two complete apps side by side or even expand an app across both screens, albeit the utility of that is restricted. Media consumption is the only application that readily comes to me for spreading an app over both monitors. Even if there is a minor gap between the two displays, it still exists and is clearly not suitable for watching a movie or other media. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is likely what you want if all you want is a large screen to watch media on.

But that’s where Microsoft’s own collection of apps come into play. The whole Office Suite was preinstalled on the Surface Duo by Microsoft, and once you start using these applications, the value of the second screen becomes clearly evident.

The view changes when you open Outlook across both screens by simply swiping up from the bottom of the display and moving the app over the middle of the tablet. Certainly, you can use your web browser and email client simultaneously. The email you are presently reading will be open on one display, while a list of your recent emails will appear on the other.

OneNote is the finest illustration, though. Even though we had to provide our own Surface Pen, having this app open on both displays was like having a tiny notebook with endless paper. Even while it is tremendously frustrating, Microsoft’s steadfast refusal to integrate a Surface Pen even with its Surface Pro series where it makes the most sense explains why it isn’t included here.

In any case, taking notes on the Surface Duo is a dream come true and may be enough to persuade many individuals to purchase the product, especially if they are already ardent users of Microsoft Office.

But the majority of the time, we use this phone with Slack and Twitter open on opposite screens. What we wanted from this phone was to be able to rush to the bodega to grab breakfast while still having a dual screen arrangement to effectively pretend to work. And goodness knows, it delivers.


Only a single-lens 11MP camera, located on the front of the right screen, is available on the Surface Duo. When you turn the smartphone around to use a single screen, the camera will serve as both the primary camera and the selfie camera.

It won’t compete with the iPhone 11 Pro or the Google Pixel 4 because it just has a single lens, but it’s okay.

If your use case fits with what the phone is intended to do, it’s simple to overlook the fact that this isn’t really a device for individuals who take a lot of images all the time.

Don’t get us wrong, the camera is still capable of recording 4K video and has a halfway respectable portrait mode, but it is unquestionably the device’s weakest component. Although we nearly wouldn’t even want a camera to be on the back of the phone due to its symmetrical design, it is definitely something we can deal with.

If you choose the Surface Duo, just be mindful of the poor camera experience.


This smartphone only has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Processor from last year and 6GB of RAM, which are clearly not top-tier specifications, especially for a device whose sole purpose is multitasking.

The specs are more than adequate for skimming through email and social networking, but once you start adding heavier apps, things start to run less smoothly.

In the early days of using the Surface Duo, we had the brilliant idea to stroll through our neighborhood while playing Pokemon Go and using Discord just because it was something we could do. However the game soon stopped responding, which caused the chat application to stop responding as well.

Even though most game UIs don’t scale well due to the reduced aspect ratio of the two screens, this workload isn’t one that the device is intended for, thus it’s sad that it’s so difficult.

The hardware on sale should work if your only genuine plan is to do the intended workload. Just don’t anticipate using this device for a lot of extremely demanding creative activities.


We weren’t expecting the Surface Duo to have a particularly long battery life because it only has a 3,577mAh battery and is powered by last year’s Qualcomm flagship chip. This is especially true because the Surface Duo needs to power two displays. We received a welcome surprise.

We only experienced poor battery life on the first day, with the device dying just before we went to bed, but it was likely due to the device being set up for the first time and us prodding it repeatedly.

The Surface Duo served as our primary device for just over two weeks during which time we discovered that it normally had a battery life of just over a day. The battery lasted all day even on days when we loaded up Pokemon Go to test how the device handled games or viewed a lot of video content.

Even if the battery does finally run out, the accompanying 18W charger charges the gadget remarkably quickly, keeping us in the action for a short period of time. With the all-glass construction of the Surface Duo, it would have been good if Microsoft had decided to allow wireless charging. But, perhaps that feature will be added in the future (if there is one)


The Surface Duo’s two panels are really amazing if you need mobile access to a serious productivity tool. On a phone, multitasking has never been simpler.

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