Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 is a newly enhanced pocket foldable
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 enters the foldable phone fray, with a host of improvements that bolster its status as a miniature workstation
Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 comes hot on the heels of the original, which we sampled back in March. Just as Samsung has stuck to its guns with the revised Z Series of folding phones, which use folding screen technology, Microsoft has decided that its own form factor – two independent flat screens separated by a slick hinge, is the best and most productive way forward.
The main enhancements with the second-generation Surface Duo 2 are the addition of 5G and a triple lens camera. Each screen is now slightly larger, at 5.8in versus 5.6in, while the main productivity plus points over its folding rivals are the clearer delineation between the screens when using the device half open – for video calls, watching movies, typing into a Microsoft 365 app, or gaming.
The more rounded screen edges mean that notifications can be displayed along the spine when the Duo 2 is closed, along with the time, unread messages, missed calls or the state of battery charge. The fingerprint reader is now incorporated into the power button, making the opening experience more straightforward, but it’s still a bit of a performance to unfold compared to a traditional phone. The neat ‘peek’ mode shows the time when you open the screen a fraction, but it’s not a device for sending sneaky messages in meetings.
The Duo 2 is part of Microsoft’s substantially revised and revamped Surface eco-system, timed to coincide with the launch of Windows 11. Also newly launched is a newer, sleeker pen, the Surface Slim Pen 2, that clips magnetically to the edge of the screen. Enhanced haptic feedback means the nib can ‘drag’ realistically across the screen, as if you’re writing on real paper.
The multitasking capability is Duo 2’s best feature, with the ability to flip apps between screens, take video calls while still browsing documents, preview emails, edit photos easily, or read e-books as if they were a real folding book. The latter is made possible by an enhanced version of the Kindle app, one of a handful of third-party applications that have been revised to take advantage of the Duo 2’s twin screens, along with all Microsoft’s own software.
Gaming also benefits, with touch controls located on the lower screen to keep the action free from intrusive fingers. Any two apps can be ‘pinned’ together, so they both spring open at once in their own screen. Finally, the Duo 2 is now available in Obsidian Black as well as the original Glacier White.
Is the Duo 2 the future of phones? Probably not. Some are wondering if there’ll ever be a Duo 3, such is the fast-moving world of tech and the pressure to get an instant hit. Microsoft no longer sells a conventional smartphone, and it’s probably simpler to consider the Duo 2 as a small tablet, rather than a large phone.
As such, although it’s not really a pocketable device for everyday use, Duo 2 is best treated as a miniature workstation. And this is where it’s in a field of its own. §