The Surface Duo is frustrating to both Windows and Android users, and that's a good thing

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

If you've been reading the tech internet this week, you've probably been unable to escape the barrage of coverage and commentary surrounding what might be described as Microsoft's most anticipated "product" since Windows 95 — the Surface Duo.

Microsoft Surface Duo

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

For those who've been living under a rock, the Surface Duo is Microsoft's "phone but not a phone" device that leverages the company's successful Surface hardware line and brings it to a much more mobile-friendly form factor. It is much smaller than other Surface devices, it supports the Surface Pen and Bluetooth keyboard accessories, and what else? Oh right, it freaking runs Android!

As soon as the device was confirmed earlier this this week, and prices and availability were announced, a whole new news cycle was created around the staggering starting price of $1,400. Our colleagues over at Windows Central created a poll (which we shared with our readers), asking the following question.

Will you buy a Surface Duo for $1,400?

AC/WC Surface Duo poll 8-12-20

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

I don't know about you, but the initial response after less than a day surprised me a little bit. Don't get me wrong; I'm not at all surprised that the majority of participants said that they would not purchase this device at that price. But I was surprised at the disparity.

Over three-quarters of poll participants were opposed to picking up a Surface Duo for that steep asking price. Now, these results may be affected by Android users' participation (in other words, if it were a poll of just Windows Central users and Surface stans, perhaps the numbers would be different.

Even still, there were some interesting and informative comments from both camps on the price of the device, as well as other factors that would affect their purchase decision.

The readers at Windows Central had a range of feelings on the subject, but on the whole, tended to sound a bit more open to the idea of the Duo.

I think it's worth it. I'm definitely buying it - Siegfried GredingI understand why they priced it where they did. I just wish they would have acted in good faith and bundled in some Earbuds and/or a pen. At $1400-1500, they do need to deliver on the experience, and I imagine that the experience is improved by those two accessories." - IndistinguishableI just went off a few days ago about the price of phones getting ridiculous after the Samsung presentation. Like 13/14/15 - 20 hundred is way to much for ANY mobile device. THESE MANUFACTURERS ARE TRIPPING!!! I'm getting this day 1 😏 - Mister Burns

Here on Android Central our readers had some strong opinions, as you might expect, and not many of them were favorable.

I desperately want this device but $1400 is a bitter pill for 6GB of RAM and an 18 month old chip (based on when the Samsung Galaxy 10 came out with an 855 chip in 2019). I have a sense that I'll be waiting for v2. - adamleonardAs a Galaxy Note fan who has been disappointed by what Samsung is doing to the series, I was so looking forward to this. Any company that will seriously compete with the Note series has my wallet's vote. Unfortunately, this isn't that competition. Microsoft had a whole year to figure this out, and they release this crap. How will their hype man Panos Panay spin this? I won't dive into the other notable omissions, but No NFC?!?!? That's the basic. I know 2020 has been a not so great year, but no NFC in 2020? Ok, so they don't want to patronize Google with GPay, how about lease the MST tech then from Samsung and add Samsung Pay. Aren't they buddies with Samsung? Then there's the Price. What exactly is $1399? The hinge? The Microsoft name? - JesseMacocoIntriguing device, love the design and the specs are good, but no. Not interested. It's simply put, too expensive. Speaking for myself, as just an average consumer, the entry to mid-range level devices is where I'm at. I've never missed any of the (supposed) extra bells and whistles on the premium or flagship phones. This too rich for my taste... PS Plus the Duo name is already used by the Google app...LOL... - adonesc76

As you can see from the poll numbers and post comments, the majority of our Android Central and Windows Central readers seem to believe that $1,400 is, in fact, too high a price to pay for the Surface Duo. But that wasn't the only interesting takeaway from this poll.

Folks in both camps and on both sites also lamented the lack of NFC support for payments, the seemingly lackluster "potato" camera, older SOC, low amount of RAM, and the unpocketability of this hybrid foldable. Let's also not forget that the Surface Duo is only optimized to work in the U.S. at this point. Several commenters mentioned that they thought the product would (need to) get markedly better in V2, just as the Galaxy Fold seems to have done, before they'd consider buying it, regardless of price.

As a newly declared mid-ranger champion, I was particularly heartened by the number of comments from people who said that they wouldn't buy any phone at that price range, whether it be a Galaxy Note Ultra, Galaxy Fold 2, iPhone 11 Pro Max, or Surface Duo.

So what about you, fellow Android user. Are you going to pick up a first-generation Surface Duo? Why or why not? Let me know what you think about the value proposition in the comments below.

Jeramy Johnson

Jeramy is the Editor-in-Chief of Android Central. He is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.

  • I paid $400 for my LG G8X with a dual screen that's bigger 6.4" each, less bezel, running the same 855, 6 GB RAM, NFC Wireless Charging and a screen on the outside so you don't have to open it every notification. The Surface Duo is basically the same phone for $1000 more. The gap between the screens is smaller. Only difference I see.
  • Yes, this supports app spanning, Your Phone and app streaming to Windows 10.
    You can put this in your pocket folded out Thanks to the 360°hinge, so you don't have to open it every notification either.
  • Love the G8x, too. Much better than this, but I think dual screen should be the future of phones.
    How did u get it for $400? Sprint? AT&T?
  • With Sprint. I got it for $15 a month for 18 month lease with a payoff at the end of 187 so it was about 457 total including the dual screen and a $200 mastercard i finally got after 14 weeks. So if you take off the $200 i got back it was only about 250.
  • I'm never paying that much money for something that lacks so many essentials.
    It's not just the old processor. It's the lack of other basics I also don't tolerate on Galaxies, IPhones or iPixels. No expandable storage, no headphone jack, no wireless charging, no good cameras... What exactly am I paying for?
    The hinge design? 'cause that's the only really new thing in this tablet. 'cause dual-screens aren't new on Android at all. I'm normally a Surface fan, but this Duo just doesn't offer me anything for my money. Not to mention that, once again, Microsoft expects us to buy the pen separately even though it's clearly an important part of the experience.
    Well, if I refuse to pay full price for the Surface Pro - which I love, find extremely useful and is the only tablet I'll ever recommend anyone - I'm certainly never paying full price for the Duo. In fact, considering what's offered (or better yet, not offered), I wouldn't buy it even for half the price. Maybe version 2 will be better, but if tradition is maintained, the Duo will only become good with the 3rd generation (just like the Surface Pro and Laptop).
  • I will never pay $1,400 for anything that has old technology or tech that was omitted. If it had SD865+, NFC, and 8-12GB of RAM, then maybe I would pay $1,400.
  • As a W10X device, I might have been interested. An Android (phone) needs at the very least a great if not fantastic camera; I'd never buy a smartphone if I didn't trust it to get most photos right...
  • LG has a dual screen phone for half that price. No, its not a surface phone, it may not do the apps as well, but HALF the price.
    I just find it ridiculous that phones have gotten SO expensive, there is NO reason for it, other than the various companies trying to recoup R&D costs for a short development cycle since they want to introduce a new flagship every 12 months. A good high end phone should not be outside the budget of the average person.
  • I've actually been waiting on this phone since announcement, but they lost me with pricing. At this moment, you can buy a brand new i7 256gb Surface Pro for less than than the 128gb Surface Duo at Best Buy...they probably priced it based on the Fold, but it should've been closer to the V60 Dual Screen which is less than $900 with 5G, expandable memory, more RAM, wireless charging and NFC...I don't know what they were thinking when they priced it out...Microsoft made the same mistake they made with the XBox One launch pricing
  • I think that people forget that microsoft has been out of the mobile game for a while, so it doesnt have the same product pipeline that say Samsung does so it's first generation is going to be weak. Like the Surface line -- if they can keep to it -- got MUCH better over time and this device may even force Microsoft to make the Surface more "tablet friendly" which it is not today and better integrate Office products (their ultimate goal). On the camera front, they owned Nokia which forever had the best cameras, so I think the camera gaffe is a big one. Of course spec-monsters won't like it but visible things like NFC, wireless charging, and poor cameras are biggies. A larger question in form factor, do people really need two screens. I'm not sure if you noticed but most people use their $1000 phones for social media, gaming, and watching videos. Perhaps they create a second screen that has better controls, but this means Google has to get on board.
  • Ayeee!! I made it y'all. Check me out!
  • I paid $1500 for my Samsung S10+ and I have hated this device ever since. It's probably one of the worse experiences I've had with Android and I have been waiting to replace it ever since. Surface Duo is the replacement for me. It's the same price as the Samsung S10+ but includes 2 screens (Samsung S10+ only has 1 screen), and supports a digital pen which the Samsung device does not support. I don't care about NFC (Rarely used it) and I don't take pictures on my phone. This is going to be the best upgrade I've had in a while.
  • Dual screens are awesome.
    But LG's Dual Screen phones are much better, and in the 600-900 range!
  • How are they better? I assume you have used LG's. Have you used the Duo? How does screen spanning work on the LG? Can you tap a link on an email on one screen and have the browser open on the other? Those I am actually curious about. How's the pen support on the LG? That one is facetious.
  • For my personal use, very likely no, will not get it at this point. My Note 9 is still an excellent phone. Since I'm an IT Director at work, quite likely I will buy one via work a couple of months down the road to trial. Having made a mock up out of cardboard, the size isn't concerning to me. It seems to pocket easier than my Note 9 with the Clearview stand case and doesn't seem any more inconvenient to hold. The Note 9 with that case is thick, the thinness of the Duo offsets some its width in the hand.
  • I bought the surface pro 1 and still use it (the original one),
    i also have a surface pro 2, which is slightly better. i'm sure if i got the surface duo, it would be a huge step up
    from the windows phone (7.5) that i'm using now for the last
    6 years. so if i got it, i'm sure i would be using it several years down the
    road also. i don't care or know about nfc, wireless charging,
    and i don't need a high defintion camera either. looks good to me. later
  • I have to say that all the new screens, from just the increasingly large screens to folding or multiple screens make me feel like an old man wondering what the kids see in it. If I could get the Moto G power series phones in a 4-5 inch screen it would be perfect. As it is... it's still okay. I get wanting things like wireless charging, nfc, and even better nightshot. I don't get wanting an extra separate screen or opting for what seems to be a sub par screen just to get a folding phone, especially if it means I can't get good basic features.
  • I am definitely getting this, at the very least to try for the return period lol. As a Microsoft fan I've been waiting for a device like this for a long time. Currently am using a Oneplus 7 Pro which uses the snapdragon 855. I havent had any issues with apps feeling sluggish. I do PIP for video while I play some games, no slowness then. The battery in the Oneplus 7 pro is a 4000 mah battery. Only 500 bigger than the Surface Duo, which is about 12.5% smaller? I dont know if i will miss that much battery life. It really comes down to how they optimized the software. Wireless charging and NFC to me are kind of niche. Theyre useful for some people but most people i know dont really use their phones for payments. A lot of that could be because the area i live in a lot of places dont do contactless payments. Even walmart doesnt have it. For myself I just used them once or twice and forgot about them. The camera is another area I dont fall in line with a lot of people. I would just like a camera that is "good enough". If it can take fairly clear pictures and be used for video calls I'm good with that. I kind of wish they would have added some sort of notification LED to the front of the device, maybe even make the logo light up. I'm usually against making the phones thinner. I feel like they make a phone thin and sacrifice the battery for no reason. However! this is one of the cases I can actually understand why they made the phone thinner. If they had made it thicker it would probably be closer to the size of the Galaxy Fold Z 2 when folder. It would add to how BIG this phone is already with the screens being wider than normal. Also would have been nice if there had a solution for storing the surface pen if you have one. Since it seems like they are encouraging that use case it just would have made sense. The big difference between this device and others like it (other 2 screen) is the software. Microsoft really seemed to work hard on the user experience on it. I dont care about bezels I just want a good clear screen and something i can multi task with. I'm excited for this phone and understand it's not for everyone. I feel like if you're interested in this kind of device it doesnt hurt to try it out. Microsoft has a 60 day return policy!