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Microsoft launches the Surface Duo 2, a dual-screen device you'll actually want to buy

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Hinge
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Hinge (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has announced the new Surface Duo 2 at a launch event on Wednesday.
  • The device features a modern chipset, 5G connectivity, and a new Glance Bar to display notifications when the device is closed.
  • Available colors include Glacier white and Obsidian black, and the Surface Duo 2 is available to preorder now for $1500.

Microsoft has finally taken the wraps off of the new Surface Duo 2, the company's second-generation dual-screen Android smartphone mobile device, at a launch event on Wednesday. The Duo 2 was among several new Surface devices that Microsoft announced at the event.

Source: Daniel Rubino / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Android Central)

While the original Surface Duo didn't exactly live up to the hype, Microsoft seems determined to address those shortcomings with the sequel. While the design is essentially unchanged from the original, the most notable difference can be seen on the outer chassis; the Surface Duo 2 is equipped with a rear triple camera setup.

It features a 12MP primary sensor, a 12MP telephoto lens with 2X optical zoom, and a 16MP ultrawide camera, along with a Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor. It may sound a bit paltry compared to some of the best Android phones on the market, but it's a huge step up from having zero rear cameras and the unfortunate 11MP sensor on the original. Speaking of, that front-facing camera has received a slight upgrade to 12MP.

On the inside, the device features two 5.8-inch PixelSense AMOLED displays that "combine" to provide an 8.3-inch 2688x1892 PixelSense Fusion display with a 90Hz adaptive refresh rate. Similar to the first model, those displays can be used in tandem or separately for multitasking and in various configurations. Microsoft has even equipped the displays with a new trick called Glance Bar that allows them to show notifications when the Surface Duo 2 is closed, thanks to the slight curve at the end of each panel.

While it doesn't necessarily make up for the lack of an external display like what's found on the best foldable phones from Samsung, it's a step in the right direction and a neat way to get around slapping a third panel onto the 5.5mm chassis. Users should be happy to know that the inner displays are also covered with Gorilla Glass Victus for added durability.

There are quite a few notable upgrades internally as well. The Surface Duo 2 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, which sees Microsoft equipping its foldable with a modern chipset instead of settling for the previous year's model as was done with the original Duo. It also means that it gets 5G connectivity, with support for both sub-6 and mmWave, at least in the U.S.

Other notable upgrades include Wi-Fi 6, NFC, and stereo speakers. The battery capacity has increased to 4449mAh for "all-day battery life" with slightly faster charging at 23W, although you won't find a charger in the box. RAM has also been increased to 8GB, which should handle multitasking and gaming better, and there's now a 512GB storage option.

Surface Duo 2 Game Gameloft

Source: Daniel Rubino / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Android Central)

So with all these upgrades, what's missing? As far as we can tell, Microsoft made no mention of any official IP rating, which is unfortunate given the work Samsung has done to make the Galaxy Z Fold 3 more durable in that respect. There's also no way to wirelessly charge the device, to the dismay of those who are fans of the feature.

The Surface Duo 2 comes in the same Glacier white as its predecessor and a new Obsidian black. It's available for preorder now and retails in select countries for $1500. It will ship on October 21 with Android 11, although hopefully, it will get Android 12 sooner rather than later.

Microsoft also announced the new Surface Slim Pen 2 which can be used with the Surface Duo 2 and attaches magnetically thanks to a new bumper case. While it's attached, the Duo 2 will wirelessly charge the pen.

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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

15 Comments
  • Hope we Duo owners get Android 11 on October 21st...
  • I've not seen any mention of whether or not the new camera bump prevents the device from folding over flat. One of the selling points of the first was that you could fold it over and use it like a 1-handed single-screen phone if you wanted to, in addition to a 2-handed double-screen device. With the camera bump now there, it feels like this isn't really possible (at least not without it staying partially open)?
  • I saw on the verge that it doesn't close completely flat but there is a slight... "angle to the camera bump so that it aligns the glass as it closes, and to include a small magnet to draw them together. There's also a plastic ridge around the lenses to protect both sides from scratching. " I intend to grab the pen cover and a Surface Slim Pen 2. I believe that this will enable closing it flat at least when the pen is stowed... and charging.
  • The inability to fold it flat and the fact that I would need to spend 1600 bucks to get 256GB are preventing me from jumping on this. I hate the camera bump and it literally takes away the biggest innovation the original had which was the ability to fold flat in both directions.
  • I suppose that's fair, but I'd conversely state that the garbage-tier camera of the Duo 1 is a big reason I never bought one. I can live with the camera bump, but not having a decent camera was a non-starter. LG managed to go without a bump for the G8, so I am left to wonder how thick MS would have had to make the Duo 2 for that to be possible (or how much they'd have had to sacrifice on the rear camera quality). Ultimately, I'd rather have the compromises of the Duo 2 to those of the Duo 1.
  • Still no definitive word on whether it has wireless charging?
  • No wireless charging, unfortunately. I've updated the article to reflect that.
  • Inductive charging for the Surface Pen silo/area, that's the only "wireless charging".
    They crammed in much more hw this time, into what is still, a very slim form factor.
    I'd say by the Duo 3 it will be there...
  • I'm intrigued. But....way too much $$$. Hello Black Friday!!
  • A "Pro" phone or any phone claimed to be "for productivity" that lacks BASIC features like a headphone jack and expandable storage - just like this Surface Duo 2 - is a fraud. No, I'll actually not want to buy. Just like I didn't want to buy the previous one for the same reasons.
  • At this stage in the game, trying to claim the phone is bad in some way because of the lack headphone jack or storage is just pointing out that you have nothing better in life to ***** about. You're entitled to your opinion, but if your opinion was in-line with the rest of the userbase the phones would have a headphone jack and expandable storage. Basically, people that buy expensive high end devices don't care as much. Sure, many might say they wish it had them... but if they actually cared they wouldn't buy it.
  • Okay, boomer, but no, your logic is highly flawed & too absolutist.
  • If love to own one but I'm not sure of the form factor as a phone and it's way too costly to buy as a second device. I'll have to test it in person when it arrives at best buy. It's got to go a long way for me to give up my Note 20 Ultra but I am very interested.
  • Bad timing for a costly mobile productivity device. Many former office workers who might have bought this 2 years ago are working from home these days and just no longer have as much a use case for this.
  • Nevermind. I missed the NFC portion. Finally!