The Microsoft Surface Duo 2 has a low bar to clear when it comes to surpassing its predecessor. The original Surface Duo fascinated our reviewer last year with its unique dual-screen form factor and clever features. Still, outdated hardware and software quirks made it impossible to recommend, particularly at its $1,399 price.
We are almost two years removed from Microsoft’s initial Surface Duo announcement, despite its eventual September 2020 launch. Given the timeline, you would expect significant changes. While rumors point to that being partially true, there are some head-scratching hardware rumors. Moreover, the hardware is just part of the puzzle; we know Microsoft has been working with Google to improve the software experience, which could make as much of a difference as the hardware upgrades.
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With foldable phones garnering increasing interest thanks to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip lines, foldables from TCL, and possibly something from Google later this year, Microsoft has a chance to make a splash.
Here’s everything that we know so far about the Surface Duo 2, including the expected release date, price, specs, and more.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 release date
Microsoft hasn’t made any official announcements yet about the Surface Duo 2 or its release date, but rumors suggest that it will be sometime in September or October. The original Surface Duo launched on September 10 last year, so this projection aligns with our expectations and rumors dating back to early this year.
It’s worth noting that this is terrible timing for Microsoft. It will be launching the Surface Duo 2 directly into the iPhone 13 event buzzsaw that we expect in mid-September, or the Pixel 6 launch, which is garnering more interest than any Pixel has in the past.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 price
We have nothing official on price yet either, only the $1,399 price of the original Surface Duo. However, the Surface Duo 2 is expected to receive major hardware upgrades which might not bode well for its predicted price drop.
After watching the original Surface Duo price crater over the last few months, we hope Microsoft finds a way to bring the Surface Duo 2's price down, as we saw from Samsung with the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 specs
hese are all unconfirmed specs based on the latest rumors.
|Microsoft Surface Duo 2|
|Display||2754 x 1892 at 120Hz|
|Storage||128GB or 256GB|
|Cameras||12MP wide-angle, ultra-wide, telephoto|
|Connectivity||5G, BT 5.1, and NFC|
|Colors||White or Black|
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 design
Leaked images and reports from Zac Bowden of Windows Central, who has an excellent track record on the Surface lineup, reveal there are minimal changes to the Surface Duo 2. This includes the overall dimensions and screen size. That isn’t a serious concern as the design wasn’t one of our most significant issues with the Surface Duo; it’s divisive, but not necessarily a problem with the device.
That isn’t to say that there aren't any changes. The most noticeable couldbe the addition of a triple camera array to the back of the device. The prototype hardware leaks don’t make this look great. It is more of the jutting rectangular camera bump of the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Z Fold 2 that Samsung wisely dumped this year. According to a patent spotted earlier this year, the hinge may also be more durable than on the previous model.
On the inside, the most impactful change is a bezel reduction. The Surface Duo featured comically large bezels, so it would take a dramatic reduction to get anywhere near a modern look. However, we should temper expectations based on the current rumors as this doesn't seem to be encroaching on bezel-less displays.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 cameras
While the camera array looks outsized, the good news is that the large array is due to Microsoft including a triple camera setup this time around. Leaks suggest the primary will be a 12MP wide-angle alongside an ultra-wide and a telephoto. Don’t expect Galaxy S21 Ultra-class photos, but image quality could get closer to the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The camera performance on the original Surface Duo was adequate but not excellent, and the single wide-angle was limiting. The internal camera may be that same 11MP found in the Surface Duo, which should be fine for video calls and selfies.
The new rear camera looks awkward from a design standpoint on the thin Surface Duo. I understand what Microsoft was thinking by not including rear cameras on the original. Still, even with a blended phone/tablet replacement, there’s no getting away with a single camera in 2021.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 display
With LG out of the phone business, Microsoft is alone in the dual-screen folding phone world. The original featured twin 5.6-inch displays that created an 8.1-inch tablet when used in full-screen mode. We don’t have screen size specs yet; the only indications are that it is close in size to the original Surface Duo.
Rumors suggest the full resolution might be 2754 x 1892-pixels this time, a slight increase from the 2700 x 1800-pixel resolution on the Surface Duo. The additional pixels could reflect an increase in screen size or simply a higher PPI (pixel per inch) count as we found the Surface Duo screen to be less sharp than expected for its price point.
The biggest rumored upgrade is the jump to high refresh rate panels. This is another case where the market moved faster than Microsoft could react, and 90Hz or 120Hz panels were standard on flagships from every company other than Apple last year. This alone will have a significant impact as smoother animations and navigation can profoundly affect the overall user experience.
With Samsung adding S Pen support to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, we may see Microsoft play up the stylus support for the Surface Duo 2 this year.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 performance
The Surface Duo famously included outdated hardware when it launched last year with the Snapdragon 855 processor and 6GB of RAM. For basic phone tasks, this was fine, but considering the $1,399 price point, the lack of a top-of-the-line processor and limited RAM was unacceptable.
The anticipated move to a Snapdragon 888 will be a huge upgrade. It’s a two-year leap from the early 2019 hardware that Microsoft launched last fall. Given the multitasking possible with the Surface Duo 2’s form factor, 12GB of RAM would be preferable, but 8GB is a reasonable trade-off if Microsoft brings down the price.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 outlook
When Microsoft first announced the Surface Duo in October of 2019, it drew a lot of positive attention. Samsung’s original Galaxy Fold was off to a disastrous start, and it seemed like Microsoft had a solid opportunity to swoop in and make a name for itself in the nascent foldable market.
Unfortunately, delays led to the phone not arriving until September of 2020, which meant the Surface Duo had painfully old hardware inside. Compounding its problems, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 announced in August 2020 featured an unbelievable hardware transformation that left the Surface Duo looking even more outdated.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 included some nice updates from the Galaxy Z Fold 2, but it’s less of a leap forward and opens up a window of opportunity for Microsoft. The Surface Duo 2 should unquestionably be more capable than its predecessor. Still, Microsoft needs to deliver a much more cohesive and reliable software experience while coming in well below Samsung on pricing. The Surface Duo 2 will always be a niche device with its current design, but it could own that niche if it can come close to standard $1,100 flagship pricing.