Microsoft’s true first Android phone is intriguing and interesting but it’s hard to deny that the Surface Duo’s appeal is hampered by two things: its price and its specs. Despite being a seemingly futuristic device launched in 2020, the phone has the innards of a 2019 flagship, raising some concerns about its performance. One Geekbench score, however, could put those worries at rest, though only if you pit the dual-screen phone against devices launched last year as well.
The Surface Duo is launching in 2020 with a 2019 Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, not even an 855+, but that’s not the only spec that’s failing to meet expectations. With no 5G, a single camera, and 8 GB of RAM, the phone’s $1,400 price tag feels almost like a joke.
To be fair, the Snapdragon 855 is no slouch, even by this year’s standards, especially if you take 5G out of the equation. In fact, Geekbench scores actually put it ahead of 2019 premium phones, especially against last year’s batch of foldable phones. Of course, it probably won’t hold a candle to this year’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 but the price of that higher-end model still hasn’t been revealed at this point.
The Surface Duo might have other deal-breakers, especially when 5G future-proofing and camera quality is concerned. On the other hand, it also has other perks, like the ability to use an active stylus and prop up the device like a mini laptop. It also doesn’t require a second screen on the back but the wider screen is easily juxtaposed with the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s tall cover display.
In the end, Microsoft will have to play up the software experience of the Surface Duo. At the moment, it’s aiming after heavy users of its productivity and enterprise suites, which probably won’t appeal that much to other Android users. It is, of course, working with other developers and Google itself to adapt their apps to a dual-screen setup but it remains to be seen how much will be ready by the time the device ships next month.