I’ve been living with the surface duo Microsoft’s answer to dual screen folding phones.
And so far, it’s been pretty rough.
This is what I like to call the five stages of dealing with duo.
Stage one wow it really is beautiful.
So when you open up the surface duo out of the box for the first time, the feel of it wins you over it’s glass, it’s metal.
It feels like a little moleskin book.
The hinge is really smooth.
Everything feels ready for something kind of special to be going on.
And when I held it in my hands.
It felt lighter and thinner than I expected.
And kind of like a little magic book.
I thought to myself if I could open this up and I could work on it, and it could feel really comfortable.
Plus, it sometimes feels like a 3DS, when you hold it like this, when you fold it back, it feels like a phone.
It’s a little bit like a tablet when you hold it like this.
So I kind of like all those dimensions, but that’s before you turn it on.
Stage 2 well, this software is not great.
Now, I’m not just talking about the idea of what the apps can do, but the general performance on the surface duo so far.
Admittedly pre release has not been good.
I’ve been finding that everything has been feeling really janky.
So you’d hope that at least that the phone would feel really nice and smooth and everything would flip around and orient the way you’d expect on a phone or a tablet.
And even though the surface duo has dual gyros and accelerometers and proximity sensors on this, that are meant to know how it’s turned and how it’s flipped.
I found that in practice, that was really rough going.
So if I turn this around on its side, it usually took a while to get the orientation to flip, and sometimes it wouldn’t flip at all.
And when it came to touch responsiveness, I also found that things sometimes didn’t quite work.
And even Android apps wouldn’t necessarily show the buttons in the right place and if I clicked on them, they didn’t necessarily respond.
And the camera app, the shutter button didn’t know its response, which is definitely not good.
The other strange thing about the Duo is [UNKNOWN] expect when it flips over in tent mode that you’d have screens on the front and back That isn’t the case, only one screen activates and the other one turns off.
But you can then double tap to activate, which also sometimes didn’t quite happen.
And if you did, was it the app on the back or the app on the front that ends up appearing?
Well, depends on how you’re holding it.
If you flip it, it might bring up the other app or not.
And I found that I didn’t really know which app I was going to be invoking.
It drove me crazy.
What I’m trying to say is that the duo started to drive me crazy.
[SOUND] I just feel like it’s a real pain to set up apps, and the keyboard in particular.
This is a selfie video of me while walking.
There’s no optical image stabilization.
Stage 3, how are you even supposed to use this thing?
So I thought I understood that this would be kind of like a magic book.
But for reading on it, I found that some apps take advantage of dual screen.
If you don’t, you’re scrolling two different apps at the same time, which is a little awkward.
And if you’re using the Kindle app, which does work with dual screen now if you drag to fill both screens.
Kinda feels like reading a book.
But the other modes like a 3ds mode where you’re meant to maybe type or work on things like a sidekick, and see things on the top screen didn’t always work as expected.
The keyboards shifting around drove me crazy.
And there are only a certain handful of apps that work in dual screen and really understand each other.
Those are Microsoft’s core apps.
You have to be into Microsoft’s ecosystem to do that.
Google’s core apps which is what our office uses are the ones that don’t work well in dual screen yet and aren’t made to handshake with each other.
Because Google hasn’t really built that support in Android yet.
I’m sure that will happen.
But right now, they kind of feel like they’re off on their own islands.
Also, this is a big device, it’s wide.
So if you’re taking a call, it feels bigger.
And I’m going to unfold this and take the call.
If you take photos, there’s only one camera and it’s not good.
So if you use it, you’re gonna have to flip over, to flip the phone to take photos like this or to take a selfie.
And if you’re using it for video conferencing, Zoom and stuff like that, and who isn’t?
Sure, it’s really cool to be able to open up, Zoom and have another app at the same time.
But orienting those two halves to work together is super frustrating.
If I flip it like this like a laptop, I don’t find that the other app always stays open.
And sometimes the zoom flips my face around weirdly.
By the way, let’s talk about videos and things like surfing the web.
If you open this up in a tablet mode, so it gets an 8.1 inch screen You could scroll a web page and have it fill the screen.
And that’s pretty cool when it comes to watching videos.
Unlike some sort of thing like like a Samsung phone that would unfold and feel like one giant screen.
You’re getting a big screen here with a giant seam in the middle.
That’s not ideal at all.
And it really kills the excitement of putting that field one giant screen in your pocket.
You kind of have to live with this more as two separate screens.
By the way gaming.
I didn’t even talk about that yet.
Sure, there are all sorts of ways this reminds me of Nintendo 3Ds.
We could play some sort of game that would expand across both screens.
But there are no android games that do that yet, except for a Microsoft Solitaire app.
So if you’re dreaming of that, you’re gonna have to wait.
And that means you’re gonna launch a game in one pane or the other, kinda like any other Android device.
And I did try connecting Xbox game pass ultimate, which is gonna be available on Android phones officially soon.
And I stream to this I connected a controller.
Sure it works but that’s only on one screen.
And when I tried opening sign on the other screen, things also got pretty weird.
Again, how am I supposed to be using this?
Stage four I just want my old comfortable phone back.
So after a while We’re all at home or I’m at home all the time, phones or lifeboats, Chromebooks or classrooms.
My kids are on everything.
I’m trying to find stuff to knit together to make work and survive in this insane year.
And while I know that the duo is trying to help and say two screens are better than one.
When something is this frustrating to use for basic tasks, I’m just gonna want to cast it aside and go with the thing that I know works well.
In that case, it’s gonna be a normal smartphone.
It’s gonna be a Chromebook.
It’s gonna be a laptop, an iPad.
Something that I already have set to go.
And I think that’s going to be a case for a lot of people.
You could get this sort of dual screen thing for 1400 dollars, or you could get two or three other devices that cost that or less and you can also multitask.
And also, most everyday phones also have better features than this phone has.
The duo is extremely lacking in the camera department.
There are things like portrait mode, there’s panorama, there’s slow mo video there’s an 11 megapixel camera, but it does not perform well it doesn’t look good.
And you’re also using a Snapdragon 855 processor, which is not the cutting edge and it doesn’t have five g you’re paying 1400 dollars for something that doesn’t have five G.
So clearly this is a stepping stone device.
Speaking of comfort, I’m worried about breaking this thing.
I’ve been coddling it while using it.
It’s all glass and metal, glass on all sides.
Now it’s Gorilla Glass 5 and Microsoft says it’s sturdy.
But how well is it rated for dropping?
They haven’t Provided any specific claims or promises and there’s a rubber bumper in the box, which indicates that you might want to handle with care.
I put it on, I prefer it because otherwise I worry about this sliding right out of my pocket.
It does fit in my pocket, you know, but I have big pockets.
So, to me it feels kind of like a moleskin Do you feel comfortable putting a moleskin in your pocket, you might not.
It’s definitely wider in bulkier than your average phone and all of those things really take me out of my comfort zone.
I’m sure they would for you to stage five.
Thinking about the future.
Since I’ve been using the Microsoft Surface duo, there’s been a software update and that’s much closer to what the launch software Is going to be like, and it’s been getting better.
So now, all of a sudden I’m already starting to see some improvements.
Plus, using the pen which is not included, is a big difference maker.
I think I think the Surface Pen really feels nice when writing on the duo and it’s kind of designed for that type of annotation.
I feel like if you don’t have the pen, you’re not really making the most of what the duo is all about.
So these are factors to consider.
You could be seeing improved software over time and you could be seeing something that begins to feel better over the next six months.
But do you want that type of device?
Do you want a prototype that’s going to keep evolving Do you want to feel comfortable with the idea of dual screen future?
Now this isn’t the only dual screen folding phone that’s out there.
Samsung has a number of them.
And Microsoft is trying to solve the productivity question on these.
And to me it hasn’t been solved yet.
But Microsoft isn’t done trying to figure it out next year.
They’re going to have a whole line of Windows devices or at least a couple that will be dual screen.
One called the Neo that’s being promised.
And Android may continue to explore dual screen in all sorts of other new ways.
The idea is not going anywhere.
But I feel like this is more like the original smartwatches that I looked at, or early VR headsets.
Before we got to something like the Oculus quest or the Nintendo Switch or polished Apple Watches Had a lot of experimental ideas that weren’t fully there.
But on things that work really well, what I really want is to be helped out.
I want to be ruled by incredible software and tutorials.
They’re going to make me want to use this and fall in love with it.
And that’s a software or hardware integration thing.
That takes a while and it doesn’t always happen.
I think about the future and I think about floating screens and I think about wearables vibrating and I think about some weird fluidity between physical and virtual.
The duo did not make me think of the future.
It made me think of a frustrated president trying to stay afloat with a bunch of broken Devices lying all around and trying to just keep myself going in a year where I feel like I’m falling apart.
The Duo’s ideas may be Noble but the beta experimental feeling of it.
I can’t deal with lately and I feel like it’s best ideas aren’t fleshed out here.
They maybe they’ll come in 2021, but I really have no idea.
I just know that, I can’t deal with this anymore.
Microsoft Surface Duo review: 5 stages of dealing with the Duo – Video
I’ve been living with the surface duo Microsoft’s answer to dual screen folding phones.