Band-wise, the Surface Duo is better equipped for AT&T and Verizon than T-Mobile. Wi-Fi 6 makes the most difference if it's transmitting a super-fast network or in a very busy location like a coffee shop. Microsoft stumbled after Apple and Google made touch-friendly interfaces and unified app stores the order of the day. The Surface Duo has the worst outward-facing camera experience of any phone I've ever tested. Swipe across, and icons move over both. The Duo has Wi-Fi calling, but know that if you want to do that on AT&T, you have to buy the AT&T-locked model. But because you're holding the Duo with both hands, and it's a little large, there's a lot of thumb stretching and repositioning of hands and fingers to get from the tops to the bottoms of the screens. Like a Lenovo Yoga notebook (specifically, the Yoga Book), the Duo folds open a little bit, halfway, into a tent shape, or all the way back, and stays that way. The Duo exists to solve a real problem. The Surface Duo is made of two glass slabs connected by a metal hinge. Microsoft's Surface popularized a new category: the 2-in-1 PC. I wish the Duo had come out a year ago, when it would have been on par with a group of experimental, failed folding phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate Xs. It has no optical zoom lens, so photos taken with any level of zoom are somewhat digitally blurred. Using the Surface Pen makes it an even more book-like experience, as you look at something on one side and scribble notes about it on the other screen. I tested a pair of Surface Earbuds with the Duo, which don't come with the phone. The screens are each 1,800 by 1,350 pixels; together they're 2,700 by 1,800. But for hooking into Windows, it's just the same Your Phone app (allowing for file transfers and cross-device notifications) that you get on other Android devices. This is the first discount we’ve seen on the unlocked Microsoft Surface Duo since it was released in September, and it’s unlikely we’ll see this price drop again before the holidays. That starts with the icons, squarer than on most Android devices, calling to mind Windows Phone's old Live Tiles. The Duo never fell back into low-power mode. The screen would also wake up spontaneously, for no apparent reason, and then go back to sleep. Double the screens, not quite double the fun. PCMag.com's lead mobile analyst, Sascha Segan, has reviewed more than 1,100 smartphones, tablets and other gadgets in more than 15 years with PCMag. Time Magazine has named Microsoft’s Surface Duo as the Best Invention of 2020 in the Consumer Electronics category. Yes, the inward-facing camera is far better than any laptop's webcam. Each posture has a distinct use. By pulling up and across from the bottom of the screen, you can get an app to span both screens. Most coffee shops don't have Wi-Fi 6 routers yet, but if your Duo is a three-year purchase, it would be nice to have the future-proofing. The Office apps on the phone are designed to work across both screens. It's obvious, from the actual form of the device, how to open an app on each screen, and even the drag-and-drop or drag-and-span gestures of moving apps around is much more obvious than it is on Android or iOS. Don't have a Prime membership? It also works well with Kindle or other apps that can put different pages of content on the two screens. Sometimes you just need to launch what you've got so you can move on to the next version. Happy shopping! The Duo's 4G performance is simply good enough that 5G doesn't matter right now. Want the mobile and desktop experience without having to buy a keyboard separately? That's fine if you don't intend to whip out the device and just start using it. Dragging and dropping content between the two screens, by and large, doesn't work, but cutting and pasting does just fine. It's a dual-screened Android phone. On Verizon, I got an average of 303Mbps down where the S20+ got an average of 244Mbps down. The screens are also tougher—they're real glass, not the flexible "ultra-thin glass" that Samsung uses. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. So if you’re looking to grab one as a gift, or you want one for yourself before the new year, you should act fast on this deal. Sometimes the screen wouldn't rotate when it needed to. The Duo's use of a year-old processor and 4G are forgivable; the processor is fast enough, and the 4G performance is terrific. The table tent mode is great for watching several hours of Netflix. The 360-degree hinge lets you drag and drop between screens, use one side to type and take notes while you view the results on the other, or put it in tent mode so you can sit back and watch videos. And I have one. I ended up using the Duo folded all the way back most of the time, as a 5.6-inch, 5-by-4 phablet; that's really the only way you can comfortably hold it in one hand and operate it with the other. The only way to reliably activate the outward-facing camera is to open the phone in book mode, launch the camera as a selfie camera, and then fold the screen back, rotate it, and wait, which isn't at all practical. Back in the early 2000s, a new version of Windows Mobile was always the flagship announcement at the 3GSM or MWC trade shows—alone, it would have been a reason to fly across the Atlantic. There was a day when Microsoft dominated handheld computing. While it costs even more, the $1,999 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a much more successful example of a folding phone. The GFX Car Chase benchmark got 37fps onscreen, 42fps off using a single screen. That’s something our expert reviewer mentioned that allowed for increased productivity in our Microsoft Surface Duo review. If you’ve ever thought two screens would help you get more done on your smartphone, you should definitely check out this $200 discount on the Microsoft Surface Duo. The device really wants you to do two things on the two screens. The photos the camera takes, meanwhile, look like images from a phone that's several years old. It brings in up to 11.5 hours of battery life in such an elegant, compact form factor. It helps to use USB-C or Bluetooth headphones, as there's no 3.5mm jack, but you can absolutely use it held up to your head if you need to. Therefore, I got shorter battery life than I did on the Galaxy Z Fold in its big-screen mode (11.5 hours). This seems really cool, but as with the Yoga Book, the ergonomics of typing quickly on a flat piece of glass are off; it hurts your fingers after a while. We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. At one point, when they were connected, the app said the earbuds had zero percent battery, while Bluetooth settings said they had 97 percent battery. While he's a fourth-generation Manhattanite, he now lives in Queens with his wife and daughter. While the Surface Duo doesn’t live up to some other high-end phones with regards to the camera, it does have a single 11-megapixel camera that’s selfie-ready, supports 4K video, and features panorama and portrait modes. PCMag, PCMag.com and PC Magazine are among the federally registered trademarks of Ziff Davis, LLC and may not be used by third parties without explicit permission. This feels like a gap in understanding. Stretching my thumbs to deal with the two screens, trying to type while holding on to the sides of the device, feels less comfortable and less productive than working on a laptop or even an iPad. The Duo has been gestating for a very long time—a year and a half, to hear some people talk about it. It's ambitious, certainly, but it's not entirely successful, with bugs and ergonomic issues that sometimes make the Duo confusing and frustrating to use. Microsoft … The Surface Duo fails as a primary camera for the world around you, and that in itself is enough reason not to recommend it. If you’ve ever thought two screens would help you get more done on your smartphone, you should definitely check out this $200 discount on the Microsoft Surface Duo. But something doesn't quite track here. The two 5.6-inch screens are in a wider 5-by-4 aspect ratio than we're used to from phones nowadays. The dual-screen Android smartphone ($1,399) opens like a spiral binder, revealing a pair of screens. All Rights Reserved. Tap a link, in a message or document, and it opens on the other screen. It felt like I was looking at images from a Galaxy S7. —Patrick Lucas Austin, Jessica Pettway for TIME; Prop styling by Stephanie L. Yeh. The Surface Pro X is the sleek new re-design of the Surface Pro that we've been hoping for, packing Microsoft's new SQ1 chipset and a larger 13-inch touchscreen. Microsoft's folding Surface Duo phone tries to redefine windowing for a handheld world, but it stumbles on usability. I hoped the Duo would have exclusive hooks into Windows or Microsoft Office, but that isn't the case. If you try to wake the phone up with the screens folded all the way back to take a quick shot, often the wrong screen will light up so you're staring at a black, unlit panel, or the screen you want will light up with an icon that says "double tap to switch screens," and yet double tapping on the screen does nothing.