Surface Duo 2: Can This Be Saved?

[Music] hey what's up mkbhd here so you remember the original surface duo the dual screen foldable android device from microsoft had a lot of potential and a lot of hype behind it we were hoping it would be great and then it just wasn't really that good at all disappointingly it had pretty weak performance the software was very buggy and uh the camera was trash but like the one nice thing about it was it had really nice sleek thin hardware and a great hinge but there was a lot to fix but now one year later we have the sequel the shiny new dark colored sequel the answer to microsoft's nightmares the surface duo 2. sweet so this isn't the full review i haven't had it for very long but i have some initial impressions on it which are that i think that this device and all microsoft has done to it has revealed that this idea may not really have a great feature it may be fundamentally flawed in the way it's used like microsoft went through and valiantly improved a ton of stuff about this especially versus the original they found a lot of flaws they made them all objectively better and yet some of that stuff still also made it worse see pretty much all the changes microsoft has made are objectively better than the last one so there's a bunch of stuff here they have all new high-end specs inside they've made the displays bigger and faster with thinner bezels and they added a set of real cameras on the back and there is much better software implementation to tie it all together but yet this surface duo has a completely new set of problems that this surface duo didn't have but then the cherry on top is this new one is now uh 14.99 1499 that's actually more expensive than the first one which started at 13.99 before it plummeted the whole year it was out i think it was eventually like 900 off or something like that so you might think wow that's a bold move making an even more expensive surface even when the first one flopped so hard but this was also clearly gonna cost more to make so you might remember when the first surface duo came out it had one-year-old slightly out-of-date specs this one's launching with the highest end chip it's a snapdragon triple eight is eight gigs of ram and up to half a terabyte of storage and they've done a lot with this new display here so first of all it's slightly bigger it's 8.3 inches corner to corner now with nearly the same size footprint because the bezels are smaller all the way around especially that top bezel no more flash needed since the main camera system is on the back now and this display is also now brighter up to 800 nits and it is higher fresh rate now it's a 90 hertz panel weirdly there is no option to change refresh rate anywhere in the display settings like you can't knock it down to 60hz if you want to but whatever everything is smoother especially while scrolling but the the main new thing here with this display is it curves over the edges in the middle near the hinge from both sides so it kind of gives this sort of subtle waterfall look and the dual screens now kind of have this effect of looking closer together almost like it's one giant folding screen and this definitely encourages you to span apps across both displays more often and yet treat it like one big display the only problem with that is when you do lots of those important pixels in the middle of the screen are now just spilling over that edge into being unreadable but also some are completely missing like you can't read whatever's supposed to be in those middle few pixels so any pictures or any text that are supposed to be in the middle of the screen are now just gone which is beyond annoying it's a it's a bit of a problem for any sort of reading and you can forget about spanning games horizontally imagine trying to aim something with the crosshairs missing now it's the surface duo so horizontal gaming isn't really a huge thing this is actually a great form factor for split gaming like this emulator games all that sort of stuff split screen top bottom gaming and that's actually one of the biggest i've had a little bit of time to play with this game passes on this device and it's a lot of fun but yeah the missing text in the middle of the screen uh not great but then the other big change to the hardware as you've already seen is it has real cameras on the back now it's got a whole triple camera system a 12 megapixel primary plus a 2x telephoto and a 16 megapixel ultra wide all stacked into this camera bump that has matte rails all the way around the outsides there's a flash next to it there's hdr portrait mode optical zoom like these cameras they're not amazing but they are way more capable than before so objectively if we just ignore the design for a second that's better like they've put better cameras on this phone device but you know obviously microsoft never really wanted to bolt cameras to the back and ruin their like perfectly clean sleek thin design that's why they didn't do it with the first one and they got the great hardware but then that meant to take pictures of stuff you'd have to flip it open and use the selfie camera like that and then this was just a webcam it was pretty bad so this time yeah there's a set of real cameras on the back they've caved and done it and i can confirm they're all better than the webcam was so having some optical zoom having the ability to take decent videos that's all nice i mean it's a 2x telephoto which isn't that great but it's something but now that they've made this change which a lot of people including me were wondering if they would do it or not it turns out that this is now a bit more annoying to use so obviously with this mesa sticking out the back you're now unable to fully open the surface duo to flat anymore so anytime you use it with one hand fold it back it's got to be slightly open like this just a few millimeters short of going flat which is enough to be easy to slip your finger in and like close it quickly but it is not as comfortable to use it for a while and hold it like this with one hand now i do admire that they've shaped this camera bump to match the exact angle that the back screen folds over and touches it so that it lays flush just a neat little little couple degree adjustment there it's nice it feels like there's also magnets in here to hold it against that camera bump but now as you've noticed that's covering the cameras which means anytime you want to take photos you have to swivel it down because closing it up covers the camera so now you have to have it open fully like this every time you take pictures i don't know maybe you do the viewfinder open at the top and then the photos populating at the bottom and that's cool enough when it works maybe that's more fun for some people for taking pictures but overall yeah that's it's physically less convenient especially when you just want to snap a quick photo real quick so you can see why this idea even though it's a really cool idea feels broken like microsoft found ways to make this objectively better especially on paper than the last one but yet it got more annoying it got worse to use and i think fundamentally i was thinking about all the different ways that they could maybe save this maybe they can fix this in some way maybe making it thicker maybe you know filling it in so that the camera bump isn't a bump what are the things that they could do i couldn't come up with any because i feel like the thing that is flawed about this is the lack of any outside display just this passport design like of course there's a ton of software optimization that's gone into making this ui work with two screens and that's super cool maybe making it a little bit thicker would give you some more battery to power these two screens for longer but that wouldn't really solve anything you know i thought a lot about the aspect ratio about the layout of everything but even the layouts better here too now the power button and fingerprint reader are combined into one believe it or not it wasn't on the first one and i really like the matte black rails and this new darker color it just feels much more professional it feels more my type to be honest but even in the software the software was buggy last time on the surface duo and it is buggy again this time too mainly i've been having touch responsiveness issues where it really doesn't like when i start a swipe action from off the display like if i swipe up from the bezel it constantly doesn't respond when i do that plus there's all kinds of missed button presses and momentary complete lapses of all responsiveness it's still really bad for a device of this price and you know i'd say i hope they can fix it with some software but you know there's been an issue for a full year now so i'm not exactly optimistic but the fundamental flaw is like there's no outside screen which means there's no usability when it's closed you have to open it to do anything so we've seen uh you know even the moto razer and samsung z flip 3 have decently usable outside screens and then of course the fold 3 just has a whole smartphone ui basically on the outside you can use it a whole bunch without ever even opening it now there's a lot of foldables that have all these different ways of using it without opening it but with this you have to open it and then unlock it and use it every time and it sounds like such a small thing just sounds i feel like i'm just like complaining and it seems really petty but when you actually use it it becomes a pretty big deal and this also means anytime you fully open it and fold it over flat you have just straight display glass now on the outside so if you were to put it in your pocket like this or put it down on a table like this that makes the glass pretty vulnerable to scratches and it's also just the the extra layer of having to open it unfold it unlock the phone and then get started with everything even for like the quickest little thing if you just want to snap a quick picture or you just take it out your pocket for a quick phone call every time that's a huge deal to me now you can view some quick things like the time and check your notifications by actually checking that curved over part of the display in the middle of the phone while it's closed which is more than nothing it is actually super cool that it curves over so much that you can actually see it and read it in there but you don't really interact with it at all and that's that's the absolute minimum in terms of functionality and also this is one just one more thing but this is minor if you try to place it down on a desk like this it works but with the camera bump now you cannot place it down on a desk on the other side or it's annoying i mean you can but it's very wobbly and annoying so it felt like an ambidextrous device before now you always have to remember to get it right so here's my question to you we've seen companies go back on things right like we just we just with apple saw them release the new macbook pro that we're all loving because they went back on a ton of the stuff that we've hated about the last couple years of macbook pros and now we're all over it again and so i wonder if there should be something considered with the surface duo like what do you think should microsoft give up on the outside screen form factor or should they do an outside screen or should surface do i would just stay the way it is for the people who like it the way it is and who will pay that price to use this as it exists today i don't know i'm curious let me know in your thoughts below in the comments section i'm very curious if anyone has any other ideas about surface duo but that's pretty much it anyway stay tuned to the next video where we have something that i'm a lot more excited about for sure much more positive video it's techtober there's a lot coming thanks for watching catch you guys the next one peace

As found on YouTube

Surface Duo first look: Microsoft’s foldable Android phone

– Remember Windows Phone
from way back when? Well Microsoft is kind
of getting back into making smartphones. This is Surface Duo, and it runs Android. Not Windows or Windows Phone. That's right. Microsoft is making a
Surface phone with Android. If that sounds surprising, it's because it really is. But we'll get back into the Android side in a minute. Duo is part of two new futuristic dual-screen devices that
Microsoft announced today. And they're coming in Holiday 2020. Surface Duo has two 5.6 inch displays that fold out into an
8.3 inch device overall. And it's just 4.8 millimeters thin. It folds like many two-in-one laptops thanks to a 360 degrees hinge. And it's designed to
get more done on the go. It looks tiny for this type of device, and it felt kind of like a Galaxy Note in my pocket. Now, I wasn't allowed to play around with the software on this device, but it looks and feels
like a tiny pocket tablet that's also a phone. The difference between this and any other Android phone, except maybe the Galaxy Fold, is visually obvious.

But Microsoft thinks this is part of a new category of devices that allow people to do a lot more with tablets and phones
than they do today. As part of this idea, Microsoft also announced a
Surface Neo device today. Which has two larger 9 inch displays. The Duo and the Neo share a very similar design, but they don't share a
common operating system. Neo, the larger dual-screen device, runs Windows 10 X, and has all your familiar
desktop and tablet apps. The reason this isn't
running Windows Phone is because Microsoft gave up on that operating system years ago, when it couldn't convince developers to create apps for it's devices. Now we sat down with Microsoft's Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, on the Vergecast this week, to talk about why Microsoft
chose Android this time for the Surface Duo.

– [Panay] Well because, those are the apps you want. I don't know how to answer it differently for you. Because there's hundreds
of thousands of apps and you want them. Asati and I talked about it, it's about meeting our
customers where they are. And I don't think the, you know, the mobile application platform's going anywhere any time soon, you need the apps. – So you'll get the apps you'd expect from a phone inside
the dual-screen device, but how is this different from any other smartphone? I mean it obviously looks different. And the main idea is making use of these two displays in ways we're only starting to see other Android phone makers explore. You could run a game on one side, and a game pad on the other, or multi-task by dragging
and dropping content between apps. Microsoft hasn't thought
of everything you'd do with the Surface Duo just yet, but that's why it's announcing it now so developers can fill in the gaps.

They're really aiming to introduce a new form factor here, and a way for a device to
adjust itself on the go, no matter the task. We've seen foldable devices from Huawei and Samsung, but the Duo has two separate displays that are made of glass, rather than foldable plastic. Which given the issues
with Samsung's Galaxy Fold, that might be a good choice right now. Microsoft has been
working on this hardware for three years, and Panos Panay tells us that this device won't change much by the time it debuts late next year.

The real key question will be whether Android app developers create the apps and
experiences that really take advantage of this dual-screen device. And whether consumers
want this type of hardware in a phone form factor in the first place. That's why Microsoft also has its largest Surface Neo device running Windows. And it really feels like the company wants to offer a Surface at every shape and size. Microsoft also seems to be implying that the operating system really doesn't matter for
Surface devices anymore.

And it's willing to partner
with Google and others to offer what makes sense. So does that means that
Android is the future for Microsoft? – [Panay] (clears throat)
No no no no no no. You want to give customers what they want in the form factor that they're using. We've learned this, you know, the right operating system
on the wrong product or the other way around, pick your words, but what's the right operating system for the form factor? And in this case, in mobile devices, Android's
the obvious choice. But anything above that, Windows is everything.

Superior for me. – So, will the Surface
Duo and the Surface Neo combine in the future? Will there be a smartphone
that turns into a tablet, that then turns into a laptop, then you dock and turns into a real PC? We're years away from anything even getting close to that. But it opens up the questions about where this dual-screen and foldable hardware is going exactly. And they're really hard
questions to answer right now. Microsoft will now need to convince app developers and consumers that these dual-screen devices are truly the new device category that we've
all been waiting for.

Wherever things end up, it looks like Microsoft want to be ready at every point with Surface. You want a phone that's a little bit more than a phone that
has an extra display? Surface Duo. You want a tablet that
transforms into a laptop? Surface Neo or Surface Pro. Microsoft is covering
every hardware base here, and it's leaving it up to you to decide what device you actually need.

– [Panay] You know, I think like anything, look at the product you think is most interesting to you and where you think you can be more creative, that's what I would push. And I think this products gonna be there next year. Not in a hurry, you know, hang out. Take photos or do whatever it is you do on your phone today
for a little bit longer and then, see if we can convince you that you can be more
creative on this product. – It's been a crazy day of Surface devices and there's a bunch of hands-on videos you should check out
on our YouTube channel.

Be sure to also definitely
check out the Vergecast, 'cause it has the full
interview with Panos Panay, and you don't wanna miss it..

As found on YouTube