Microsoft Surface Duo 2 hands-on: once more, with cameras
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Microsoft Surface Duo 2 hands-on: once more, with cameras

Right this moment, Microsoft is unveiling the Surface Duo 2, a brand new Android-based smartphone with two screens and a raft of updates over the problematic original Surface Duo. From enhancements to the cameras to greater screens to software program tweaks to a greater option to retailer a Surface Pen, Microsoft is addressing all the apparent issues from the primary mannequin.

As earlier than, it’s a dual-screen machine meant to assist individuals multitask by letting them run two apps facet by facet. The general design may be very related, however Microsoft has softened the corners and allowed the glass to curve into the sides extra. It’s a pleasant object to carry despite the fact that it’s not fairly as visually hanging as the unique.

Microsoft might have been forgiven for quietly letting its dual-screen Android machine thought fade into obscurity. It wouldn’t be the primary time it had failed at telephones, and everyone is aware of difficult the leaders within the cellular area is troublesome, even for tech giants. As a substitute, the corporate’s doubling down with a brand new model that may begin at a whopping $1,499.99, $100 greater than the unique.

For that sky-high value, Microsoft is placing in utterly trendy specs. That was the primary downside with the unique Duo: even on the day it was launched, it was already behind the instances. The Duo 2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 5G, 8GB of RAM, batteries that add as much as a capability of 4,449mAh, and extra.

The second downfall for the unique Duo was the cameras. Microsoft’s answer was once more the apparent one: simply add cameras. Particularly, there’s now a digicam bump on the again that homes a large, ultrawide, and a 2x telephoto lens. The specs behind these lenses appear stable on paper. The wide-angle has a 12-megapixel dual-pixel PDAF sensor with 1.4μm pixels behind a lens with f/1.7 aperture, for instance. We’ll want to check the cameras in our assessment to see in the event that they’re any good, in fact.

An enormous digicam bump presents a specific downside for the Duo 2, nonetheless. It’s a tool that’s meant to have the ability to be folded in half, not simply to shut the screens in, however to have them on the surface so you need to use it one-handed. Microsoft’s answer is to barely angle the bump in order that it aligns the glass because it closes, and to incorporate a small magnet to attract them collectively. There’s additionally a plastic ridge across the lenses to guard either side from scratching.

It’s additionally simply open sufficient at that time to briefly stow the brand new Surface Slim Pen 2 between the 2 halves of the machine. Microsoft may even promote a particular case with wiring inside it that may draw energy from the Duo and reroute it to cost a magnetically mounted Slim Pen on the surface.

In any case, the hole when in single-handed mode is a worthwhile tradeoff for the cameras, and Microsoft tells me that the majority customers spent most of their time utilizing it with each screens anyway.

Each of these OLED screens are barely greater and nicer-looking. They’re every about 5.8 inches diagonally or 8.3 inches when considered collectively (with, it should be stated, an enormous hole between them). In addition they have a 90Hz refresh price, however I didn’t get sufficient time with them to say how a lot that contributed to smoothness. The bigger display screen additionally means smaller bezels, and the entire thing appears to be like rather more trendy, particularly within the new, darker coloration possibility.

The curved glass on the sides allows a neat little trick: you may simply barely see some show contained in the hinge when it’s closed. Microsoft is utilizing that area as a type of mini-outer show for notifications. You may see the time and a few indicators for notifications, and it additionally lights up for incoming calls. It’s not as helpful as a real outer show, however it’s higher than nothing.

The Duo 2 ships with Android 11, and Microsoft once once more guarantees well timed software program updates. That’s a promise it solely nominally stored with the unique Duo — it received safety updates and a few bug fixes however continues to be solely on Android 10. Microsoft says it’ll attempt to get an 11 replace out for the older machine quickly. We’re expecting Android 12 for Pixel telephones any week now, too, and no phrase on when to anticipate that replace for both machine.

In any other case, in terms of software program, we’re principally tweaks to the system that Microsoft established for multitasking. One new change is that the Surface Duo 2 defaults to assuming that the right-hand display screen is the “main” one, so if you fold it into single-screen mode it’s the one that may keep lit up by default. That small enchancment might make a giant distinction, as all too typically the unique Duo’s accelerometer couldn’t inform which facet was up.

The unique Duo (*2*) as a result of Microsoft’s concepts for find out how to make a multitasking cellphone have been genuinely new and considerate — however the implementation was so dangerous that it was practically inconceivable to expertise Microsoft’s imaginative and prescient. The query for the Surface Duo half deux is easy: can it flip a tragedy right into a redemption story?

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