The Microsoft Surface Duo is one of the best built dual screen foldable devices to date. Made to do all the functions of an ordinary phone or tablet plus more. Its front and back are completely covered by gorilla glass and yet, it is still remarkably thin.
The firm 360° hinges which do not let the screen wobble when the device is folded outwards are some of its likable features. The full spec sheet for this beauty can be found on GSM Arena but to sum a few things for you, the Surface Duo comes with a 8.1 AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 5, Android 10, an Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 CPU and an Adreno 640 GPU.
It has no memory card slot but comes with the option of 128GB, 6GB RAM or 256GB, 6GB RAM. As for the camera, the main one has a single 11 MP lense capable of shooting 4K content at 30/60fps, 1080p @30/60fps, while the selfie one can do the same too. It has a Li-Po 3577 mAh, non-removable battery with USB Type-C 3.1 fast charging.
There is no doubt that this device is impressive. However, the same cannot be said for the software. Microsoft has had to use Android because of its popularity in the consumer market. There are upsides to this and some downsides as well.
The Good: The Microsoft Surface Duo Runs Android!
As long as Microsoft uses Android software in the Surface Duo line-up, the product will appeal to both the consumer and enterprise market. Given the fact that Google’s Android is widely used and popular, it makes perfect sense for the tech giant.
Secondly, Microsoft already has android applications for almost all of its desktop applications. Why then should it go ahead and create a new operating system which is completely new to developers and customers just for a single product yet it can tweak android which is already popular in the mobile market to do what it wants.
Android is the clearly the best choice for a device like the Surface Duo.
The Bad: Google is a Rival
Yes, of course, Microsoft benefits from the software they get from Google but this puts it in a complicated position where it is sponsoring its rival. We also can’t ignore the fact that it will take a while for Surface Duo users to get major updates from Google.
Just look at the competition they are facing from the company that is giving them Android software for the Surface Duo;
- Google Sheets/MS Excel
- Google Docs/MS Word
- Google Slides/MS PowerPoint
- Chrome OS/Windows 10
- Google Pixel/Nokia
- Google Pixel book/Surface laptop
This proves that Microsoft is not only competing with Google for the hardware market but also software too. It’s a shame because the tech giant is capable of building its own operating system to run mainly its applications and most of all, stay in its eco system.
As for now, the Surface Duo depends on the android eco system. If Google decides to release a similar product in future, how will Microsoft beat it on its own turf?
For a company with a goal of being in every household, it is literally handing over power to one of its biggest rivals. I can only describe this as a myopic resolution that will have a serious impact on Microsoft in the long run in case foldable phones evolve. Google is a RIVAL not a friend.
What Can the Surface Duo Do That Ordinary Smartphones Can’t?
Nothing at all! Quite honestly, there is not much that this device can do that my ordinary smartphone can’t. Using android puts it in competition with all devices that depend on it too.
“In truth, there’s nothing the Surface Duo can do that you can’t do on your current smartphone or tablet. Your smartphone surely takes better photos, and your tablet doesn’t have a big gap in the middle of it. But the difference with the Surface Duo is that the way you do things is unique. I found myself tackling tasks that would have frustrated me on those other devices.” – Dieter Bohn from The Verge
There’s no doubt that if Microsoft had waited an extra year to release this product with more productive applications and less buggy software, our first impression would have stayed positive.
Since it is already here, let us agree that the android version on your smartphone is more stable than the Surface Duo. In fact, most of the applications run better on your current smartphone than it.
Therefore, we must compare this device to many others which run android with no special exceptions and if we are to consider that, this device is not among the best we have seen because of the software. At least not yet.
If in the future, this device can get some software that suits its design for example since it has a small glass book like feature, a pen can be attached to the next version by default with some special character recognition software for people’s handwritings.
Microsoft could also market this device like a scholastic requirement which includes some programs from its suite that help students study free of charge so that it’s perfect for education
In conclusion, I believe the biggest problem with this device is that its design does not clearly relate with the day to day tasks done by people, and there is no evidence that it can do any of them more efficiently than any other cheaper device. Some practicality has to be attached to it in the next release in order to attract the greater market.
The Surface Duo costs around 1,200 Euros (UGX 5,218,800), and is already available for those who wish to try out their luck with the latest trend of foldable devices.
Also read: How to Make Money With a 3D Printer
Author: Solomon Mugisha
A Software Engineering student and tech enthusiast, Solomon Mugisha is an avid writer with a strong passion for technology. If he ain’t programming something, is definitely writing it down which is why he is known for his catchphrase: “if you can’t write programs, write files”.