After many years of development, Microsoft’s Surface Duo dual-screen smartphone is finally upon us. It’s a revolutionary new form factor, but like many first generation products, it’s not hard to see its blind spots.
The Surface Duo 2 is apparently already in the works and code-named Zeta — so hopefully Microsoft is already working on fixes to some of these issues.
From slimmer bezels to a better camera, waterproofing, and more, here are a few things we’re hoping to see on the Surface Duo 2.
Better camera with a rear-facing lens
Topping our list of things we want to see in a Surface Duo 2 is a better camera. The Surface Duo is sporting a single 11-megapixel front-facing camera with a 2.0 aperture. The phone also doesn’t have a rear-facing camera sensor, which means that you need to fold the two screens on the Duo over and turn it around each time you want to take a photo.
Microsoft has indeed tweaked the camera software on the Surface Duo so you can switch between the screens to take a photo easily, but many people have worried that the photo quality on the Surface Duo isn’t that good. Compared to other modern smartphones that have two, three, and even four main camera lenses, the Duo might not easily replace a DLSR for taking professional photos in most situations.
The Duo is also using phase-detection autofocus (PDAF) technology for focusing on images. It isn’t always as accurate as the laser autofocus found on other modern phones in the same price range as the Duo, especially in low-light situations.
And, here's three photos with the Surface Duo… same scene, different result? Be the judge. pic.twitter.com/vE67f3cAaT
— Arif Bacchus (@abacjourn) August 31, 2020
This is why we hope that on the Surface Duo 2, Microsoft considers adding a second camera to the rear of the device, so it will be easier to take photos, without the need to flip over the phone. A sensor with more megapixels or the addition of a second camera lens would also be appreciated,, so the photo quality could be improved.
Of course, that will mean making some major design changes on an already thin phone. But we know that Microsoft was experimenting with this idea, as an early prototype of the Duo did have a camera hump on the back. Here’s to hoping it comes to the Surface Duo 2.
Better specs with 5G and microSD card support
Another area of controversy surrounding the Surface Duo is its “outdated” specs. Microsoft is launching the Duo in mid-2020 with a mobile processor from last year — the Snapdragon 855. This isn’t something new for the company — Microsoft’s Surface Pro the 2-in-1 tablets were always a year behind Intel’s latest processors up until this year’s Surface Pro 7.
The Snapdragon 855 was originally introduced by Qualcomm in late 2018 and launched in March 2019. It has since been found on many other phones from 2019, like the OnePlus 7 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, LG V50 ThinQ, and the Sony Xperia X1.
At the time when Microsoft was developing the Duo, this processor was probably considered the latest and greatest. However, in 2020, and heading into next year, it is now slightly outdated, and even lacks support for 5G — which most new phones in the same price range, like the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, are already supporting.
In some of those other phones, the Snapdragon 855 is plenty snappy — good enough for multitasking and the many other things Microsoft says the Duo can do. However, compared to other premium phones in 2020, the Duo is a bit behind at launch when it comes to its internals.
For instance, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 comes with the Snapdragon 865+ that gives it 5G support. The Fold 2 also has 12GB of RAM, compared to the Duo’s 6GB. That extra RAM would have been useful for the Duo, especially when it comes to multitasking.
Then there’s the lack of SD card support. This has always been a big feature on Microsoft’s Surface devices and even on the LG Velvet. The Surface Pro features a microSD card slot, as does the Surface Book. However, the Duo doesn’t have one. If you want extra storage, you need to pay up and upgrade to the 256GB model. We really hope the Duo 2 features SD card support to help erase that pain of paying for extra storage.
We also hope that Microsoft launches the Surface Duo 2 with a newer processor. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 768G 5G processor would make a lot of sense, as it’s the latest from Qualcomm and was just announced in May. However, if judging from the Duo, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an older processor in the Duo 2, maybe the 765G 5G. This is the same one that can be found in the LG Velvet 5G.
Improved design with slimmer bezels
A final point that many have mentioned when criticizing the Surface Duo is its overall design. It is true that the phone is thin and light — it’s one of the thinnest devices ever created by Microsoft — but there is still one major fault. The bezels.
Unlike most modern 2020 smartphones like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 or the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the Duo has thicker bezels along the top and the bottom of the phone. These are present because Microsoft had to place thin cables inside the Duo, and route cabling for the hinge. They do make the phone look a little unsightly and inefficient, even if they give your hands something to grip when holding the Duo.
Microsoft has learned a bit from this issue in the past. After people complained about the Surface Pro Lineup having thick bezels, Microsoft listened and introduced the Surface Pro X, which cuts down the thick size bezels for an all-around slimmer look. If Microsoft could do this with the Surface Pro X, we hope it could also do this with the Duo 2.
Other things for the list
Although the camera, specs, and design are the three main things we hope Microsoft can improve on the Surface Duo 2, there’s a lot of other things that we hope come to the Duo 2. That includes the addition of Qi wireless charging, a feature that is all but common on modern smartphones. Also on our list is NFC support, as it has become essential for contactless payment, as well as sharing files with Android’s File sharing feature, Nearby Share. Finally, there’s waterproofing, as we all want to avoid accidental water damage to a $1,400 smartphone.