December 7, 2021


Born to play

I don’t like Microsoft’s Surface Duo as a phone, but would love it as a tablet

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

For virtually a month, I have been working with the Microsoft Area Duo, the firm’s first Android-powered cellphone. We have now lined the Duo in terrific depth, including a non-reviewers evaluate, from ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley and another review from ZDNet’s Matthew Miller. 

I have experimented with, several times, now to do the job the Duo into my each day workflow. I have employed it as my main cellphone for a number of days, I have employed it as a secondary unit for jotting notes with a Slim Area Pen, and finally, I have employed it to monitor Twitter or my inbox while watching Twitch or YouTube films. 

With the Duo, Microsoft took a novel approach to reimagine the smartphone. As an alternative of a black rectangular unit, like virtually each and every cellphone unveiled in the last 5 decades, Microsoft took two shows, place a hinge between them, and lined the outside in glass. The Duo opens like a e book, devoid of an exterior exhibit to allow you know if you have waiting messages, notify you when you’re obtaining a get in touch with or even supply a glanceable clock to examine the time. 

You both open up the Duo and hook up to the digital globe, or you’re absolutely slash off from the seemingly frequent stream of data that pings standard telephones through the working day. 

I realized virtually right away the Duo won’t actually do the job as a cellphone in the standard feeling. There are just much too several concessions — no front exhibit, the digital camera is mediocre at greatest, and the in general kind issue just feels uncomfortable when working with it as a single monitor unit. 

But just after a pair of months, I came to the realization that a even bigger model of the Duo would make for a excellent pill. 

I know, I know.
Microsoft now declared the Neo

, a unit that looks virtually accurately like the Duo, only even bigger, and it operates Home windows 10X. But last week, Microsoft removed the Neo’s item web page from its site altogether. We now realized it was delayed, and that Microsoft was going to aim its Home windows 10X initiatives on single monitor gadgets before shifting on to the Neo, but removing the listing completely won’t bode perfectly for an eventual release. 

But back to the Duo. 


Exactly where the Duo demonstrates the most potential is with multitasking and working with a lot more than one app at a time. The fact that you can find a actual physical divide between the two screens, as opposed to a foldable exhibit like the Galaxy Z Fold 2, forces you to be deliberate with what app or applications you have open up, and on which monitor, but the choice generating stops there. 

For example, on the iPad, it generally feels like an both-or unit. Possibly you’re working with one app at a time, in the default comprehensive-monitor environment, or you use a shrunk-down model of the app in slide more than, or you can use a split-monitor look at, which can then alone be adjusted to several sizes. In turn, you’re compelled to make a great deal of mindful selections about which app goes where, and how significantly monitor real estate does it warrant, or is it superior if this app is employed in slide more than? You should not get me incorrect, I really like doing the job on the iPad, but its current multitasking setup needs to be refined. 

The Duo eliminates some of people selections and leaves you with a a lot more purely natural experience of working with a lot more than one app a time, with the flexibility of folding the 2nd exhibit back and working with a single app in a a lot more compact setup. 

I was let down with the Area Pen experience on the Duo, however. I actually desired to use it to take notes in the course of conferences, but identified myself struggling with errant scribbles many thanks to palm rejection problems. 


The application, as a total, is in need of quite a few enhancements. Even however the Duo demonstrates the potential for twin-monitor gadgets and multitasking, it really is comprehensive of bugs and usability problems. Dragging applications from one monitor to the other, or hoping to develop it to take more than both screens isn’t generally a smooth procedure. And Android’s gestures compete with Microsoft’s multitasking gestures at times, this means you will not actually know if you’re going to go back a monitor or open up the app switcher look at. 

As I box up the Duo and wait around to get my $one,500 back, I am remaining experience hopeful about the 2nd or 3rd generation Duo. Microsoft has identified a way to bring the ease of pairing gadgets like a Area Pen, and a seamless audio experience with the Area Earbuds to a non-Home windows unit, and it really is performing so with a absolutely novel layout. 

Hopefully, we see a Duo+ in the around foreseeable future. Or, you know, that Neo unit we once heard about.