Microsoft debuts Surface Duo 2 dual-screen Android phone with larger displays and 5G

·Technology Editor
·3 min read
Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 brings 5G, three cameras, and larger screens to the company's foldable smartphone. (Image: Microsoft)
Microsoft's Surface Duo 2 brings 5G, three cameras, and larger screens to the company's foldable smartphone. (Image: Microsoft)

Microsoft (MSFT) on Wednesday unveiled its Surface Duo 2 dual-screen smartphone. The second generation of the company’s foldable phone, the Surface Duo 2 looks to improve on its predecessor, by adding a trio of new cameras, a faster processor, and 5G connectivity.

The gist of the Surface Duo 2 is that two screens are better than one. To that end, Microsoft has combined two panels with a hinge to make an Android-powered (GOOG, GOOGL) device that lets you not only use both displays at the same time, but also seamlessly move apps and content between them.

That capability will cost you a pricey $1,499 when the Duo 2 hits store shelves. It’s available for pre-order today.

The first-generation of the Duo made a splash thanks to its unique design. While the original Duo had no exterior screen at all, the Duo 2 now has a sliver of screen called the Glance Bar that peeks out from where its displays come together and provides you with the time and notifications when the Duo is closed.

Three cameras and better performance

Microsoft has seemingly addressed a number of the original Duo’s shortcomings with its Duo 2. One of the biggest issues with the first-generation version was its lack of any truly capable camera. To keep the exterior of the device flat on both sides, Microsoft had the Duo’s interior selfie camera pull double duty as its main camera. That, however, made for some subpar photos when compared to its contemporaries.

The Surface Duo 2 gets three new cameras to better compete with contemporaries like the iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy devices. (Image: Microsoft)
The Surface Duo 2 gets three new cameras to better compete with contemporaries like the iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy devices. (Image: Microsoft)

This time around, Microsoft has outfitted the Surface Duo 2 with a trio of external cameras. Like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones, the Duo 2 gets a wide-angle camera, an ultra-wide angle camera, and a telephoto camera. There’s also a dedicated night photography mode, 2x optical zoom with the telephoto lens, and the ability to record 4K video at 60 frames per second.

As for the occasionally sluggish performance, the Duo 2 should have that sorted out. This time around, Microsoft has dropped Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 processor into the Duo 2, which means the phone should run as smoothly and quickly as any of the leading smartphones on the market. What’s more, the Duo 2 gets 8GB of RAM and 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage.

On top of that, the Surface Duo 2 gets 5G connectivity, something that was conspicuously absent from the first-generation Duo.

Larger screens and Microsoft apps galore

The Duo 2 also gets two larger displays this time around. Rather than two 5.1-inch panels, the Duo 2 gets two 5.3-inch screens that open up to an 8.3-inch display that you can use to move your apps across or as a single canvas for more expansive apps.

You can use one app across both of the Surface Duo 2's screens. (Image: Microsoft)
You can use one app across both of the Surface Duo 2's screens. (Image: Microsoft)

Of course, while the Duo 2 runs on Google’s Android, the phone runs a whole slew of Microsoft apps, the most important of which is Microsoft 365, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, and Outlook.

Microsoft’s first stab at the Surface Duo was a flawed, but still-impressive smartphone that challenged what the supercomputer in your pocket should look like and be capable of. With the improvements the company has made to the Duo 2, the company could have the makings of a hit on its hands.

We’ll just have to wait to see what it’s like to use the Duo 2 in the real world to see.

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