The future arrived this week: Surface Duo


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Nov 4, 2005
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I got a pal in the US to buy it and courier it over to the UK. After an agonising week it arrived. I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this since it was announced about a year ago.

Let’s face it, mobile phones have become tediously boring rectangular slabs with minimal innovation recently. It’s just become a megapixel game with little tweaks. Boring boring boring. When conferences were a thing, I attended Mobile World Congress every year and it was just a sea of black rectangles. At least Samsung are trying different things with their Fold, and there’s the Motorol Razr which doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere.


The above shows the BBC and Times apps simultaneously. I’d normally have Slack and Email, or Email and Calendar, or Google Docs and Sheets or Reddit and Youtube.

With the Duo, Microsoft have been thinking differently about how people use a pocketable device. For anyone what has used two monitors, and then tried to go back to just one, you’ll know what I mean. The Duo is just like that. Even though I’ve only been using it for a few days, when I went to use my Note10 again to get some login info for some apps, it just felt rather primitive. Two screens, designed specifically to allow you to do two things at once, is a game changer.

I remember when I had the first iPhones in the UK (I ran the tech delivery project for the iPhone for O2), and showed them to my close friends and family. It was so different to anything else it just made people re-evaluate what a phone was. Then, I got the gen 1 iPad. My pals thought I was mad. “What the hell are you going to do with that?” they said. Now they’ve all got one (or two). I feel the Duo is the same - a completely different way to do things. And, best of all, when you close it you’re saying “thanks very much, I’m done now, don’t bother me.” No attention seeking notifications saying “look at me, you’re missing something“. Thanks social media, I’m not interested now, I’ve closed you, bye.”

The build quality is stupendous. It’s one of those things you pick up and just hold and fiddle with because it’s so lovely. Everyone says it’s really thin. It is. It’s really really thin. And the wider aspect ratio of the screens is so much nicer than long, thin screens of many phones. Using Kindle for books when spanning both screens is eerily book-like. Plus of course, you can use one of the excellent Surface Pens with it, which works especially well with OneNote in spanned mode.

There’s been a lot of trashing of the software by well known reviewers, but I’ve had a different experience. With the latest beta launcher installed, it’s really very good for a 1st release. Let’s not forget that the original iPhone was the absolute worst performing cellular radio device we’d ever tested at O2. Or that my iPad Pro often freezes with everything upside down or that I’m on my 3rd shitty keyboard for it. Or the debacle of Macbook keys being so appalling you can’t type on them. Let’s get things in perspective.

Take a look at this review from someone who really gets it

And if you want to see some of the cool stuff you can do with it, check this out

Yes, it’s expensive, yes it’s got early software, but the great news is that the hardware is excellent, and the software can be improved. If you want a triple-lens camera, get something else. If you want NFC, get something else. But if you want a highly innovative and extremely useful experience that will change the way you use a portable device, this nails it.

Hopefully they’ll be in the UK soon - paying sales tax in the US then VAT on import to the UK plus courier charges is a bit of a bummer!
I’m not sure that I agree that it’s the future, sticking two separate screens together while other manufacturers are folding single screens in half seems rather pedestrian.

With the lack of top end hardware features the USP of being able to snap it closed is not enough to sell me on it. And if I’ve got to have another device to get the missing features then I may as well just buy a phone and a tablet rather than a phone and the Duo.

There doesn’t seem to be anything it actually does better than a normal tablet other than being able to be folded up when putting it in a bag / pocket. And it’s arguably worse in use than a tablet of the same overall screen size when in use. It’s also hideously priced considering the lack of features most would expect from a $1400 device.

You can buy a high end phone and a very good tablet for that money.
Yep - definitely not for you.

The user experience with two separate screens is significantly different to having one single screen. That first video I linked to gives you a good idea of why. It’s worth a watch.

I predict a lot more devices coming out with a two-screen form factor.
Yep - definitely not for you.

The user experience with two separate screens is significantly different to having one single screen. That first video I linked to gives you a good idea of why. It’s worth a watch.

I predict a lot more devices coming out with a two-screen form factor.

I honestly can’t see it being for many.

I’ve watched the video, there is nothing there that requires two screens. It’s all in the software and could be implemented to any tablet put into “split screen mode”
sorry pal but the future arrived the week before lol.
Galaxy Z Fold 2
Had mine 6 days now its the best bit of tech I've ever owned or seen.
build quality and design is from another dimension.
The duo looks to me like only half a product, its missing something like a smart watch or smart glasses for it to function as a phone and a tablet.
with no outer display to show info on calls and alerts it won't work in the real world, I mean what a pain it must be to have to keep opening it for every alert or call to see if was something important or not!!
I bet diamonds it will be a flop.
I suggest you go try out a Z fold 2 in store and you will see the light mate.
All the reviews I seen, this phone is a flop as the software is extremely buggy. I went with the Fold 2 as it suited me better.
I just watched that first video. Wouldn't mind a DUO but not at those prices if the software is buggy. Has potential for certain people. Mainly for the multitasking capabilities. I wonder how hardwearing the hinge is with frequent use. The Fold not having the crease in the middle is nice though. Would have liked that on the DUO.
Just what you need from your device costing £1000+...

Never buy the 1st gen of such products. Wait for gen2.

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