Surface Duo: What are you expecting from the upcoming reviews later this week?

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Looking at YouTube videos and Twitter comments I’m expecting:

Physical Hardware:

  • Excellent aesthetics and premium feel.
  • Has a wow factor.
  • Very well balanced.
  • Hinge feels good.
  • Does fit in the pocket, however, it may be a tight fit for some, and it won’t fit in some pockets where your current phone does fit.
  • In “span” mode the seam in the middle prevents from a proper tablet like experience and can be annoying if apps have not added support for it. Developer support will be paramount for the “span” mode.
  • Think of it as a two screen device and expect to use it as two seperate screens rather than a single large screen, especially in “book mode”. In portrait orientation the seam is less of an issue.
  • The bezels are too big for a modern smartphone, though you will get used to it (like the notch on many phones).

Camera:

  • Not a flagship camera.
  • Takes decent pictures though as long as flagship quality is not what you are after.
  • Not sure how they can significantly improve the camera quality without a camera bump as all flagships have had camera bumps and multiple lenses in their flagships for the last few years.

Software:

  • Good gestures and ideas.
  • Software experience still needs improvement.
  • Software experience does not have the wow factor that the physical hardware has.
  • Some bugs still need to be ironed out.
  • Need app developers on board so that apps make the most of the dual screens and so the seam does not annoyingly cut through the middle of the app.

What are you all expecting?

Comments (32)

32 responses to “Surface Duo: What are you expecting from the upcoming reviews later this week?”

  1. Avatar

    Usman

    It'll be compared against the Fold 2, which albeit has modern specs, NFC, better cameras. This is a first Gen device, Fold 2 being a refined gen 2 device.


    I think the hardware design will get great reviews, but the problems will be :

    • Last years specs for the high price tag.
    • Large screen bezels
    • Single front facing camera
    • No NFC, no wireless charging
    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to Usman:

      The last is the killer for me. At that price, it is a replacement for a smartphone, not an additional device, and NFC is probably the feature I use most.

      • Avatar

        miamimauler

        In reply to wright_is:

        The Duo will be judged harshly due to its ridiculous price and what it is missing.


        Yes, I look forward to generation 2 but MS have done themselves no favors and have set themselves up for criticism.

        MS must have known that the price was inevitably going to draw comparisons with other flagships. Why would they have left out not just NFC but other features as well?

        They would have been better off charging more but actually making it a flagship device. Look at the Samsung Fold, it's more expensive but it has everything you would expect. MS have tried to have it both ways here.

        • Avatar

          Lauren Glenn

          In reply to miamimauler:

          Yes, but the omission of band 71 is an odd one too since even the LG V30 was the first to have this band for TMobile... this is an LTE and also a 5G band.... useful in some rural areas (and others too)... It's an odd omission considering it's not even something new. This has been around for at least a couple of years because my LG V30 had it and they're already up to the V60


          This seems like it was made as an AT&T phone where someone said, "oh, yeah... that'll work on TMobile too... right? Yeah, you're fine."

        • Avatar

          wright_is

          In reply to miamimauler:

          Yes. This needs to be marketed as a corporate device for some vertical markets. As long as it is just waved about as an Android device that makes phone calls, it is going to be compared to current high-end smartphones and it comes up lacking in most areas.

          If there was some sort of coherent marketing message about what this device is supposed to be for, other than being a smartphone, it might go down better.

          • Avatar

            james.h.robinson

            In reply to wright_is:

            Who knows, maybe Microsoft will start bundling the Surface Duo with the Surface Hub, once the early adopters finish being guinea pigs for version one.

          • Avatar

            Chris_Kez

            In reply to wright_is:

            I'll have to respectfully disagree with regards to the marketing, such as it is. Has there been been any actual marketing beyond the on-stage demos and the short YouTube promos on the Surface channel? They do have to show that it makes phone calls, but perhaps they could dial that back. Otherwise they've spent most of the time showing it do a bunch of dual-screen stuff, much of it productivity related. They have a hypothesis that there's something to dual-screen mobile productivity, and Duo V1 was designed-- it's many considered tradeoffs included-- to test that hypothesis; that's it. I think it would be a mistake for MS to pigeon-hole this as a limited-vertical corporate device before it even gets out into the world. Let people who are taken with the concept-- and have money to burn-- try it out and see whether there's something to be found in the core conceit and then go from there. Microsoft has telegraphed from the very beginning that they are not trying to compete directly with other flagships or with other foldable phones. They are trying to do their own thing. Yes, some people will inevitably try to compare them. Microsoft knows this and does not care. They didn't "forget" NFC, or "overlook" the importance of a camera to most consumers, or "fail to consider" that Samsung would release an improved Fold 2; Microsoft simply has a different agenda for V1. It really seems to be messing with people's heads for some reason.

            p.s. V2 is already in the works, and I imagine advances in materials, design and manufacturing processes will make NFC and other improvements possible; chips get smaller and cooler while materials get thinner, lighter and stronger. I doubt we'll see a camera bump on V2 given how wedded they seem to be to a thin device.

  2. Avatar

    james.h.robinson

    I think even the "objective" reviews are subjective. Here's what I mean:


    If the reviewer perceives this device as a "traditional smartphone" and compares it to other phones in the price range, the Surface Duo will lose.


    If the reviewer perceives this device as a "foldable smartphone" and compares it to other foldables in the price range, the Surface Duo will do okay (especially since most of the other foldables cost noticeably more).


    If the reviewer perceives this device as a something similar to an iPad mini broken into two screens and folded in half (I believe the two screens combined are roughly the same size as the iPad mini's one screen), then the Surface Duo MIGHT win based on tighter integration with Microsoft, USB-C support, and built-in calling capability.


    If the reviewer perceives this device as a new category, then who knows?


    Either way, this device is basically an experiment. Early adopters beware.

  3. Avatar

    mclark2112

    They had one at the ATT store, and it was turned on, uh oh!


    It's a very premium and cool device. I don't see how it would replace a phone, far too big, but it isn't quite big enough to replace a tablet. I really wish they had built the Neo, but running Android. That would be interesting.

  4. Avatar

    StevenLayton

    What am I expecting in the reviews? Words, sentences, paragraphs and punctuation? All adding up to something that I'll want, but can't afford, lol.

  5. Avatar

    peterc

    For me tech reviews make for interesting reading, they can help when making purchasing decisions where they flesh out interesting aspects, thoughts and findings.


    With the surface duo I’m most interested in the fact it’s got an unlocked boot loader and Microsoft are encouraging mobile devs and tinkerers to go and play with the device and show us what can be done etc.


    So I will read Paul or Brads points of view, I will read others too, but the reviews and user experiences I’m most interested in for the Duo will come from the XDA developers website and reading what people there can do with the device once they delve into the ROM side of life etc. Let’s see who creates or adapts some apps or OS features etc to utilise the Duos unique features, the dual hinged folding screen....... I suspect the XDA people will shine a light on its true potential.


    As for what I expect to see from mainstream tech journo reviewers like Paul, will depend greatly on what their personal viewpoint is on what future mobile productivity handsets will do and look like. Anyone who sees this as an expensive foldable android handset will probably say as much, plus a list of what’s not as good as other handsets etc. In my opinion, that’s not the story for this device.

  6. Avatar

    Lauren Glenn

    I like the concept.... only problems I have with it at the moment are:


    • No micro SD expansion
    • No band 71 for T-Mobile (This is an LTE band for TMobile -- 600MHz that they also are using for 5G even though this unit doesn't do Low Band 5G which isn't a deal breaker... not having band 71 isn't ideal... basically, this is just another AT&T phone for us)


    For the price, I'll have to pass.... now if it ran Windows, maybe I'd think differently... maybe... but probably not.

    • Avatar

      anoldamigauser

      In reply to alissa914:

      As a T-mo user, I have to agree with you about Band 71.

      As someone who has no interest in feeding Google's ad machine, I would also be more interested if it ran a version of Windows. The device I would be looking to replace would be a laptop, specifically when travelling. A portable device, that could be carried discretely, supported something akin to Continuum, could connect to a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, and had LTE/5G connectivity would be ideal.

  7. Avatar

    codymesh

    I disagree with the part about the software. I expect the software to be good and receive a thumbs up. Thus far, the software for most other foldables have not been anywhere as robust as they need to be.


    And just like how both Apple and Google both ripped off Windows 8's tablet-centric experiences (now a staple in window management everywhere), I expect Google to eventually just bake some of Surface Duo's features into the OS.

  8. Avatar

    John Craig

    Overall, I think (hope) it'll do well, as long as reviewers stick to the understanding that this is (A) a first-generation product, and (B) not intended for mass adoption.


    The reality is that reviewers have nothing to properly benchmark the device against. Other mainstream foldables are going with single screens, and the apps & operating system is built for that experience, although I've read that not many app developers have figured out how to use the extra screen dimensions.


    To the best of my knowledge, the Surface Duo is the only two-screen, foldable phone device to come out, and reviewers are going to have to measure it in isolation.


    The worst-case scenario will be those reviewers who completely miss the point, see this as Microsoft's attempt to jump back into mainstream mobile phones, and try to compare it spec-for-spec with current flagships, such as the Note 20, OnePlus 8, iPhone 11, etc


    If that happens, it's going to get slammed.


    Whatever the outcome, I just hope it doesn't cause Microsoft to switch direction and abandon the product line.


    Without bias, I honestly think the Duo represents the best folding screen mobile concept to date, and there's little doubt that a second and third version would address a tonne of concerns about dated hardware, big bezels, poor camera, etc. Microsoft just need to believe in the device enough to see the possibilities that the Duo holds.


    I'm pretty sure they do. Microsoft has it faults, but it also has a lot of smart, visionary employees.

  9. Avatar

    BigM72

    Hardware:

    Wide - hard to handle


    Camera:

    Crap camera (device so thin) but ok to take pictures of whiteboards and documents with office lens


    Software:

    good but limited app adoption, question mark on traction amongst app developers

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