End of year review of the Microsoft Surface Duo

End of year review of the Microsoft Surface Duo

As we are coming up to the end of the year I thought it would be an appropriate time to look back at how well my Surface Duo was been working for me since October.

The Surface Duo was a much-anticipated device of 2020 which left some reviewers and tech pundits disappointed but how well does it work for normal user like me? In this video I go through my experiences with the foldable device both good and bad.

The Good

Starting with the good. I love using the Surface Duo, there is something about the device that makes it feel great to use. I really like using the wider screen on the phone, I much prefer it to the tall thin screens like the Galaxy Note 20. The device is incredibly thin and it a bit of a shame to put the bumper on it, but better safe than sorry.

Having a dual screen reminds me of using a laptop with a 2nd monitor. Once you have used multiple screens with Windows your productivity increases and it’s hard to go back to a single screen. You can have to web pages side by side or two different apps side by. Some apps support dual screens, for example Outlook can span both screens with the email list on the right screen and the email viewed on the right screen. Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive and other Microsoft apps support dual screens, it seems most Google apps don’t which is a shame. You can also use it in laptop posture and have a virtual keyboard on the bottom screen. Plus, you have the support of the Surface Pen which makes it great for taking notes.

It also works great for gaming. I setup Xbox game streaming from my Xbox and in laptop posture the device is great, you can place it on your lap or table and use an Xbox controller.

There are no issues about performance with the Surface Duo. I know the processor is circa 2019 but it fast and responsive and feels just as quick as my Note 20 Ultra so no complaints in that department.

There were also reports of buggy software and Microsoft seemed to have address that with the October and November updates. I haven’t had any serious issues with the device, I have had the odd launcher bug and I am using the beta version which gets frequent updates so you can expect the odd bug but there is nothing that has ever caused me any issues.

The Bad

The main issue is the camera. For use with Teams or Skype calls the camera is great, but for any low light or action shorts it pretty bad. The main issue is having to fold it around to take a standard shot with the front facing camera and this delays the process while it switches around, and many times I have missed the shot. So, while it does work I tend to use the Note 20 for photos when I want high quality shots.

No NFC. Contactless payment is essential in 2020 and not having it on the Duo means you must use another device or a card. I use a WearOS watch which has Google Pay but I would rather use the phone.

No wireless charging. The Surface Duo doesn’t have wireless charging which is a shame. I have tested some magnetic USB-C cables which work as an alternative but it’s not as convenient as wireless charging.

Expectations for 2021 for the Surface Duo

For 2021 I would like to see more apps support dual screens and some more options to customize the launcher. Microsoft are launching the Surface Duo in the UK, France, Germany, and Canada next year so it will be interesting to see if the hardware stays the same for the international release.

2021 could see a Surface Duo 2 which may address the weakness of the current device. For me, the device works brilliantly, and I wouldn’t be without it.

Here is my video:

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