I’ll start with a confession. While I love my Microsoft Surface laptop, spend my days using Microsoft 365, and think Microsoft Teams is hands down one of the biggest breakthroughs in collaboration, I have been a loyal iPhone user for many years. I mean sure, I’ve occasionally strayed to Android or Microsoft – but like many, the flirtation never lasted. So, while I will try to keep an open mind as I test out the Surface Duo 2, it will take something special to pry my iPhone from my hands.
The age-old iOS versus Android debate
While you will encounter some fierce debate on this topic, each of the operating systems has its pros and cons. It is tricky to compare like for like, since iOS is pretty much inseparable from most Apple hardware, Android can be running on a low budget phone from the supermarket or a top of the range Samsung device. This does, of course, mean that there is more choice when it comes to Android devices, and so already if cost is your number one priority, Android would come out ahead.
But hold on a moment…since when were the devices we spend so much of our lives using a mere matter of dollars? Apple has done a remarkable job of redefining what user-friendly means, making iPhones very easy to use for people of all ages. Have you seen a five-year-old navigate an iPhone? Although Android has done well catching up, some would argue that because the OS is not locked down tighter than the crown jewels, you gain flexibility to set up your phone exactly how you like it. That’s less important to me than simply setting up and enjoying the device – and what a device! While Android options have definitely improved, can they lay claim to the iconic design of the iPhone? Overall, there’s no clear winner, as it simply depends on what matters most to the user.
Unveiling the Microsoft Surface Duo
I totally get the attraction of unboxing videos. That moment of peeling back the cardboard to unveil a shiny new toy is the closest most adults get to the feelings of a kid on Christmas morning. In spite of my admitted iPhone leanings, I couldn’t help holding my breath. Could this be the one to finally sway me to the dark Android side?
First impressions were favourable. I had chosen a Surface Duo 2 with 256GB storage in black, paired with a Surface Slim Pen, and black bumpers. It weighs in heavier than the iPhone 13 Pro Max, at 284g compared to 240g, as you’d expect from the dual screen device. The build quality was immediately evident, and a quick test of the hinges showed that they worked smoothly. Hinges? Ah yes, the Surface Duo 2 has dual screens, giving a lot more real estate to work with. If there’s one thing I love as much as overall design, it is having extra screen space!
Much has been made of comparing the camera with the various versions of iPhones. The camera does protrude slightly, which aesthetically breaks the perfection minimally, but it does have a purpose in that it makes it easy to fold the Surface Duo 2 backwards and forwards one handed, so if you’re on your way to a meeting, juggling a coffee, you’re less likely to spill it. Performance-wise, the camera will easily cope with Microsoft Teams calls, scanning documents, and adding selfies or cat pictures to social media, though it won’t wean the serious photographers from their DSLRs just yet.
Switching on, it was easy to set up with Windows Hello. The fingerprint reader was easily trained, although I may miss the facial recognition of my iPhone – you get used to that handy feature. Something I’d disliked in my previous ventures into Android territory was the sheer amount of random, unwanted applications that were preloaded. This isn’t a problem with the Surface Duo 2, since almost everything is Microsoft 365 related and necessary for business. Migrating data, though there are tools provided, does take some time and effort, so if you’re changing between operating systems, don’t expect to be fully up and running in a couple of minutes. If you’ve been adding more and more data to store everything on iCloud, don’t forget to back up everything to OneDrive before you say goodbye to that monthly bill.
One thing that struck me was that, rather than following a well-worn path of trying to out-iPhone the latest iPhone, the Surface Duo 2 instead strikes out in a new direction. It is sleek, beautiful, and if you like an innovative approach, then look no further. This is no pale imitation or iPhone wannabe, and that might just be what is needed to present serious competition to the already established front-runner.
As far as first impressions go, I’m impressed, but it will take a lot more than a shiny new toy fresh out-of-the-box to lure me to the Android side.
Want to find out how I fare with the Microsoft Surface Duo 2? Join me in this blog series as I challenge myself to experience my day-to-day life both in work and leisure with my new Microsoft Surface Duo 2 in-hand.