Microsoft Surface Duo 2 – my experiences

I wrote my first experiences about Surface Duo 2 a few weeks back. I got my loan time with Duo 2 extended due to holiday season but all times come to an end and I had to say goodbye to Duo 2. Now it is a good time for some more thoughts about this productivity device.

The short list is

  • ✅ Microsoft Teams usage with Duo 2 is a very good experience. Calls, meetings, team browsing and so on is what this is made to. Superb experience.
  • ✅ Audio and Camera in calls are good. Only thing I don’t appreciate is the low angle of camera – alternatively if I keep Duo 2 in my hand it does wobble easily.
  • ✅ Using two screens is very useful for note keeping and other productivity tricks
  • ✅ I do like the new Slim pen
  • ✅ Reading documents, web articles and especially Kindle books is great (more of this later)
  • ✅ Microsoft Whiteboard ❤️works like charm on Duo 2, despite the odd forced portrait only mode when used on both screens
  • ✅ Answering a call isn’t that quick/intuitive when you need to flip screen open and fold it to answer. Not my preferred way, but keeping the whole device flipped open isn’t very good either. This is where using earbuds and smartwatch help – no need to take the device out to answer.
  • ✅ No face recognition – having to use fingerprint feels … slow but it is understandable because Duo 2 doesn’t have IR camera which is required & compatible with Windows Hello.
  • ✅ Flashlight with double-press of power button when Duo 2 is closed. Little thing, but easiness to use is great

I used Duo 2 in various Teams calls, with Surface Buds and with Surface Duo 2 audio. Despite not being able to change the video background everything else was smooth.

Kindle reading experience

I happened to buy a few Metaverse books from Kindle and installed Kindle to Surface Duo 2 to read them. The experience was better than I expected. Of course I have to show the “oh, this doesn’t look good” picture first:

But that applies only to those times where there are content only on one page (like cover). When actually reading the book I enjoyed how pages can be changed in a natural way – including the animation of flipping the page. I also like how there isn’t too much content per page – it is easier to focus compared when reading on iPad or screen. I never thought how good dual screen would be on this one – and the hinge is very natural there. Kindle app supports dual screens really well.

Of course when you can the cover displayed it doesn’t look good, but the user experience with Kindle is very good.

Microsoft Whiteboard

Whiteboard is one of my favorite apps. I also used Duo 2 when I was doing a Whiteboard presentation for M365 Below in Chicago community event on Jan 14th. Airmore-app is very efficient when demoing the screen to the audience (I know, there are other ways too but this has been very good when switching between demos, apps and devices) and showing Whiteboard with that was spot on.

The user experience when using Microsoft Whiteboard app on Surface Duo 2 is spectacular. It is fast, in fact way way faster and smoother than running the new Whiteboard on my Surface Pro 7! Slim pen is the perfect companion for Duo 2 – especially with Whiteboard.

Camera

Of course I needed to test out the camera. This would be very important in case I would some day purchase Duo 2 as my primary mobile phone. Camera results looks quite good. Camera can be opened with a double press on power button, but to be able to use the main camera Surface Duo 2 must be flipped open wide.

Some snap of my current phone, OnePlus 8 Pro. Sharp, good details.

Documenting my Stream Deck key lights controls. I had these lights on, so there was a heavy opposing light situation causing the haziness.

This haziness doesn’t happen with OnePlus 8 Pro camera.

And using panorama mode with key lights on, created quite a misty result.

Again, this haziness does not happen with OnePlus 8 Pro camera. But panorama is otherwise a lot better with Surface Duo 2. Monitors and other straight lines look so much better with Surface.

And finally a selfie in portrait mode. Technically good, natural look and feel. Too bad there isn’t an automatic filter that would upgrade my looks too 🤭😁

Conclusion

Overall, I am very happy about Surface Duo 2 and thankful that I had time to test it for some time. I didn’t make it my primary phone during this time, so I didn’t carry outside for pics or put into to my everyday use with consumer apps also. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work as one – except for having to open the screen to do something. My single display mobile has a wallet cover so I think I would get used for opening routine. It would be bigger (wider), but fortunately I have usually big pockets in my jeans. I can see a lots of productivity value with two screens so I need to consider my future mobile: perhaps two screens isn’t such a bad idea..

What would take some to get used to is the keyboard. It is the same as with iPad currently: since it is not the primary one I don’t use it too much. Cortana audio dictation is much more interesting already – especially when working with English content.

Having said all this, I am not going ahead and spending a big money to get myself Surface Duo 2 at the moment. Primary reason is that my current phone still has lifecycle left and I don’t see why I would put money to the new phone right now. Perhaps Duo 3 or 4 will be out when I am thinking my next mobile phone – and based on Duo 2 I think they will be in the game.

Earlier I was thinking that my next phone might be Surface Duo -series, iPhone or Samsung flagship. Having had this chance to use Duo 2 for a month I might actually drop out iPhone off after all. Staying in the Android ecosystem has it’s benefits (apps I have bought for one) but also I would be really considering having a dual-screen device as my next one. Thinking about the price-range all these devices are roughly as expensive (no, I would not choose a mid-level iPhone or Samsung). OnePlus Pro -series has great specs for the lower price but I think it’s battery saving logic is affecting Intune and Teams. Camera quality aka pictures is an another factor that I would have to count it as well and that is very very good on Samsung & iPhone flagship models. I am glad I don’t have to choose the next model today. 😂

All good things must come to an end. Goodbye, Duo 2, for now.

It will be interesting to see how well Mesh for Teams will work on Surface Duo 2. My guess is that it will be a great device when you need to join immersive Metaverse using a mobile device.

avatar
Vesa Nopanenhttps://myteamsday.com/
MVP for Office Apps & Services (Teams & Collaboration focus), Principal Consultant in Office 365 and Modern Work. Extremely passionate about Microsoft Teams's power to change how people work together. Helping and coaching customers to find benefits, solutions and value when adopting new tools, methods, ways or working and practices into daily work-life equation. I am always eager to challenge current situation and dig out new possibilities and ways to think and work. You could describe me as a jack of all trades but my main focus area and deep personal driver is Microsoft Teams since it has changed the way I work and did a giant step forward to make it possible to work from anywhere - the location does not matter even us much as it mattered before. Microsoft Teams opened the path for many organizations to rethink their practices, worklife, culture and start the change. That's why I am very passionate about Teams.

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