Just over a year after the original, Microsoft returned with a a second generation of the Surface Duo.
The premium foldable headlines with a variety of notable upgrades ranging from the top-tier Snapdragon 888 chip, 5G connectivity, greater RAM, larger displays and a triple camera set-up. We’ll be diving into all the key specs and features below.
Much like Samsung’s dual-screen Galaxy Z Fold 3, Microsoft’s big focus on the Duo 2 is productivity – particularly with immersive multi-tasking across the two screens with Microsoft 365 apps and stronger camera support for video calls. The processor and RAM boost also makes the Duo 2 more equipped gaming, especially as the device comes with Xbox Game Pass built-in.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Surface Duo 2, including release date, pricing, specs and new features added in software updates.
When was the Surface Duo 2 released?
Announced on 22 September
On sale from 21 October
The Surface Duo 2 is on sale now, following its release on 21 October. That was less than a month after it was announced, a big improvement on the lengthy delays with the original.
The handset is available in Glacier (white) and a new Obsidian (black), with a new 512GB storage option too.
At launch, the Duo 2 started at as the same price as it’s predecessor in the UK, but $100 more in the US. Here are all three configurations:
128GB storage – £1,349/$1,499
256GB storage – £1,429/$1,599.99
512GB storage – £1,589/$1,799.99 (in black only)
However, the device has seen some steep discounts in the UK and US just a few months after being released. We’d be surprised to see the Duo 2 return to its RRP from these prices anytime soon:
128GB storage – £860/$999.99
256GB storage – £940/$1,099.99
512GB storage – £1,034/$1,299.99 (in black only)
Surface Duo 2 design & features
There Duo 2 improves on the original Duo in a few significant ways. Here’s what you can expect…
Snapdragon 888 5G
The biggest jump is under the hood for the Duo 2, which moves up from the Snapdragon 855 to the new Snapdragon 888 with 5G, which means you can expect significantly faster core performance and graphics speeds along with greater battery efficiency.
There’s also the welcome boost to 8GB RAM (from the original Duo’s 6GB), making the handset all the performance-driven whether that with gaming or multitasking across demanding apps.
The step up in performance specs isn’t a surprise given how much Microsoft touts the Duo 2’s productivity benefits. With two displays, Microsoft promises the Duo will allow running two apps simultaneously, dragging and dropping between screens (in supported apps), creating App Groups for the apps you use most often, note taking and sketching and optmized display experiences with recreational apps such as TikTok, Kindle and Spotify.
Of course, mobile productivity gets a boost with 5G – whether that’s for calls or collaborating on Microsoft 365 or accessing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and using the Duo as an on-screen controller.
The Duo 2 preserves the AMOLED display quality of the original Duo, but the panels are larger. The single panel spans 5.8in (1344×1892) and reaches 8.3in (2688×1892) when fully open, adds a fifth of an inch more to the original size.
Refresh rates get a boost too – while nowhere near the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s 120Hz, the Duo 2 moves up from 60Hz to an adaptive 90Hz.
A “glance bar” along the spine of the phone also shows you all the essential notifications and details, including battery life.
This was significantly improved in a June 2022 update, with the likes of WhatsApp and Telegram also now supported. As Windows Central reports, it also brings improvements to how the Slim Pen 2 stylus works and makes the camera experience better.
The original Duo had a 3,577mAh battery, which it said could get you up to 15.5 hours of local video playback, 27 hours of talk and up to 10 days of battery life on standby. The Duo 2 gains a 4,449mAh battery, with All-Day Battery Life, according to Microsoft. The upper limits of video playback remains at 15.5 hours but talk time gets a minor bump up to 28 hours, maximum.
Microsoft is also introducing 23W Fast Charging (to be sold separately), up from the original Duo’s 18W.
One of the biggest upgrades in the Duo 2 is the triple camera set up with a 16Mp ultra-wide (f/2.2 aperture, 110-degrees), 12Mp telephoto (f/2.4 aperture with 2x optical zoom and OIS), and 12Mp wide lens (f/1.7 aperture with OIS). The front-facing camera offers a 12Mp sensor (f/2.0 aperture).
It’s a significant jump up from the original Duo’s 11Mp camera which served both as the front and rear camera.
Video recording features include HDR video in 4K (at 30fps and 60fps).
The Duo 2 runs on Android 11 and comes pre-loaded with the full range of Google apps (Assistant, Calendar, Maps, Photos etc.), while also offering core Microsoft apps too including Edge, OneDrive and Teams.
However, with early reviews suggesting software is once again the major sticking point, Microsoft has released a substantial update for the Duo 2. Microsoft simply says the update “improves device stability”, with no mention on how this is achieved. Initial reviews on Reddit have been positive, with users reporting a faster, bug-free experience.
Software was the Duo 2’s big weakness in our full review, but that might not be the case for much longer. Android 12L was first announced by Google in 2021, and is designed to make the OS feel more optimised for tablets and foldables. In a blog post from March 2022, the company confirmed that a planned update to devices from Samsung, Lenovo and Microsoft will begin ‘later this year’. The Duo 2 is the obvious candidate, but it may also be available for the first-gen Duo.
But a recent Windows Central video claims the Duo 2 is good right now, following several recent software updates from Microsoft. With the company expected to focus on software rather than releasing the Duo 3 in 2022, this bodes well for existing and prospective owners of the current generation.
Microsoft highlights some of the Surface Duo 2’s key features in a recent video on its ‘Microsoft Mechanics’ YouTube channel:
The five-minute clip covers design, software, multitasking and more, making it worth watching if you’re a current or prospective Duo 2 owner. You’ll also hear some justification for the dual-screen form factor, with Microsoft findings suggesting using two screens side-by-side reduces the mental workload compared to single-screen devices or foldables.
The Surface Duo 2 also ships with the following Microsoft applications:
Intune Company Portal
Microsoft Bing Search
Microsoft Lens – PDF
Microsoft Office: Word,Excel, PowerPoint & More
Microsoft To Do
Xbox Game Pass
On 6 December 2021, the Surface Duo 2 received its biggest update so far. As Microsoft’s support page explains, it fixes the following issues:
Addresses scenarios outlined in the December 2021 Android Security Bulletin
Improves system reliability and stability
Improves app navigations with added support animations
Improves camera usability
Improves touch responsiveness
Improves support for LDAC enabled Bluetooth devices
Improves reliability in the Android Auto experience
However, the more exciting news is that version 2021.923.272 also brings several new features. If you use the Duo 2 regularly, these may improve your experience:
Ability to open OneNote by clicking top button of Surface Slim Pen 2 (once paired with Duo 2)
Ability to choose which of the two displays acts as the default when folded
Ability to customise how the Duo 2 behaves when answering phone calls
Want more Surface Duo 2 goodness? It featured as the lead talking point in episode 84 of our weekly podcast Fast Charge, where we also discussed the affordable new 5G-capable Nokia G50 and our impressions on the first public release of iOS 15.
Here’s everything you need to know about the original Surface Duo.