Microsoft’s dual-screen Surface Duo began arriving in customer hands last Thursday, the same day the company lifted the embargo and allowed members of the tech press who had received early shipments to post their reviews. This resulted in a wave of coverage worthy of a category-defining device that had been eagerly awaited since its announcement nearly a year earlier.
That coverage blizzard was almost overwhelming, encompassing tens of thousands of words, hundreds of images, and enough videos to fill a YouTube channel.
The reviews covered many topics, but most reached similar conclusions. The hardware is gorgeous, the software still needs work, and the performance is adequate but met by components in need of an upgrade.
The camera has come for major criticism, and rightfully so, especially considering the $ 1
This isn’t just another phone, and the reviews offer a wide range of fascinating perspectives on why the Surface Duo is an interesting experiment and how it could improve over time. For those who want to find out more, I’ve summarized the top ten reviews here, so you can make up your own mind.
Surface Duo Review: Why I’m still confused about Microsoft’s dual-screen device
Our Mary Jo Foley did her trademark “non-reviewer review” of the Surface Duo, highlighting the everyday experience of someone who primarily uses computing devices for writing. She was pleasantly surprised by the “premium drooling” Duo hardware and battery life, which “actually lives up to Microsoft’s” all day “promises.
Unlike most other reviewers, he found the Surface Duo’s camera “OK … not great, but … the picture quality was passable and better than I feared”.
The real downside to this device is the “baffling” navigation. Conclusion: “Duo makes me more productive than a normal cell phone because it has two separate screens next to each other, as Microsoft claims? My answer after two weeks is no. The non-intuitive gestures and constant guessing how the apps will open. and work slowed me down. ”
Microsoft Surface Duo review: double problems
At The Verge, Dieter Bohn says the Surface Duo incorporates “All the right ideas” but is “ruined by faulty software and a bad camera”. Actually, not just bad: “The Surface Duo’s camera is garbage. … I’d blame it for a $ 300 device. The Surface Duo costs $ 1,400. Microsoft should have simply called it webcam. It would have set expectations appropriately. . Plus, it’s a great webcam! ”
Ultimately, Bohn says he can’t recommend the Surface Duo in its current incarnation, at its current price point. “But,” he adds, “there are more than a few glimpses of vision and potential in the Surface Duo. Microsoft has the clearest and strongest vision for a new direction in mobile computing that it has ever seen this year, but it is choosing a direction and arriving at your destination are still two different things “.
Wall Street newspaper
Microsoft Surface Duo review: two screens, too many problems
Joanna Stern, who is one of the most incisive reviewers in the industry, notes the potential of the Surface Duo: “When it worked, the Duo looked like the first real innovation in smartphone design I’ve seen in years. Access to mobile mobile devices actually. it reminded me a lot of the original Surface: a new flexible design that can unlock greater productivity. “
After a clever recitation of the many problems with the pre-release device, his conclusion doesn’t mince words: “Microsoft’s new $ 1,400 book-like phone-tablet deal isn’t ready for me and isn’t ready for you. … I am hungry for the true power and productivity promised by this gadget that conveys future feelings. It just has to work. ”
Don’t miss the accompanying video, in which Pop-Tarts plays a starring role.
Surface Duo Review: A dual-screen phone of tomorrow … that’s not quite ready today
As usual, Daniel Rubino did a thorough and well-organized review (with video) aimed directly at readers (and viewers) who are already familiar (and comfortable with) the Windows landscape.
Rubino plays the Duo for the performance: “[N]or one will accuse the Surface Duo of being fast. Instead, it’s acceptable, and some would accuse me of being too generous there. “He speculates that the” so-so “6GB of RAM is at least partly to blame, and a strange design decision when competing with devices like the Samsung Note 20 Ultra ship with 12GB.
“Those who know Android, love Microsoft 365 and Office, and constantly consume information would benefit most from the Surface Duo,” he concludes. But even then, “Maybe wait a few months to see how the software improves.”
Microsoft’s Surface Duo is a perfect blend of phone and tablet
Owen Williams is the outlier in this series of reviews, with an unashamedly enthusiastic review starting with the premise that the Duo is “more a foldable tablet than a smartphone. [for] a very specific slice of people who like Surface devices (like me) and who care about doing more work on the go with a single device. ”
The experience of using two screens, he says, is “transformative … When I first started using the Surface Duo, I was skeptical of the added value of dual screens: I never wished my phone had multiple screens. But not only that. the Duo convinced me that the extra space is worth it, but it has completely changed the way I think about how I use my phone. ”
It’s not all positive, of course. The camera is “good for video calling” but “mediocre … compared to a Pixel or an iPhone”. Overall though, this is what the Duo designers will turn to when they need to cheer up.
Microsoft Surface Duo review: hot mess
The title of Android Central says it all. It’s a well-thought-out review by Daniel Bader, who made a good faith effort to embrace Microsoft-centric hardware and software despite being all-in on Google services.
Conclusion: “The Surface Duo is not expected to be available for purchase right now. Its software is still too bug-ridden to ask people to spend $ 1,400 for the privilege of owning Microsoft’s smallest Surface.”
Microsoft Surface Duo review: is this the new normal?
Like many of the reviews I’ve read, this one from Mashable’s Joseph Volpe also underwent a title transformation after its initial release. The original title was “Is this the future of smartphones?”
And like all question-form titles, both titles ultimately succumb to Betteridge’s Law of Titles: “Any title that ends with a question mark can be solved with the word no.”
The in-depth review covers much of the same ground as the rest of the examples listed here, but the conclusion is considerably more optimistic: “I like the Duo. Yes, despite all those bugs and that blatant lack of a front panel notification, it has the makings of something great. … It’s just that $ 1,400 is a lot to ask for that convenience, especially when it’s not full service. ”
Microsoft Surface Duo review: two screens, incomplete software
Harry McCracken, who has been in this industry long enough to have seen a lot of overrated devices, takes a suitably skeptical look at the Surface Duo. He found it “bizarre in the extreme, overtaken by a combination of bugs and usability issues that Microsoft hasn’t completely fixed”.
After detailed recitation of some of these issues, McCracken gives a reliable verdict: “The company points out that Duo’s software is in the works and says it plans to release monthly software updates. The odds look good that it will perform much better afterwards. one or two updates. But even if I was fascinated by the idea this device represents, I’d wait and see rather than throw my money down right now. ”
(And a historical note: one of my favorite McCracken articles of all time is this 2012, after the facts, another device that was ahead of its time: “Newton, Reconsidered”.)
Microsoft Surface Duo Review: An exciting, expensive and erratic affair
Engadget’s Cherlynn Low gives the Surface Duo what Ivy Leaguers might call a “gentleman’s C,” a score of 71 on its 0-100 scale, and a note that early results from the Google and Microsoft collaboration are promising:
“The Surface Duo is as decent as a phone, pretty bad as a tablet, and somewhat functional like everything else. That is, when the software works as promised. But bugs and app incompatibilities plague this $ 1,399 device. which will require monthly updates from Microsoft to resolve its many problems. ”
Microsoft Surface Duo review: beautiful design, extravagant performance
CNET’s Scott Stein opened his review by noting that this device “looked promising … as the perfect little device for this new world of work from home.” And then things fell apart, in four stages: Stage 1: what a beautiful design. Step 2: Whoa, why does nothing work without problems? Step 3: how exactly do you use it? Step 4: I miss my old handy phone.
Like so many of his colleagues, Stein concluded that the Surface Duo needs time: “I love the idea of experimentation, but I don’t like using experiments that don’t make me feel good. And right now, I don’t see who 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 that the Duo is “one of the most controversial phones in recent memory” and a sharp rebuke to the “vitriol, disbelief and direct hatred” the device has attracted. Which gives you an idea of where this will end. “[A]In places the $ 1,400 Surface Duo looks very experimental. But this is quite predictable when a device is trying to start a revolution. ”
It hits the same high notes (the design embodies “a thoughtful elegance”) and low notes (disappointing specs and a “particularly disappointing” camera).
It is therefore not surprising that the conclusion is positive: “[E]Despite its flaws, 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 Surface. It’s not perfect, but the revolution is here. ”