This can be very uncommon for a product to really obtain higher months after it was launched. However, usually forgotten by Microsoft Floor Duo 2, which was launched in October 2021 with a excessive worth and an entire listing of errors and issues that made it very irritating to make use of, it has overcome this pattern. In actual fact, Duo 2 has improved a lot that it is now one in all my favourite cell gadgets, despite the fact that it is nonetheless bizarre and distinctive sufficient that I can not suggest it precisely to most individuals.
In case you forgot, Floor Duo 2 is a foldable cellphone with two massive screens linked by a hinge. Not like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold three, which takes a single tablet-sized display and folds it in half to slot in your pocket, the Duo 2’s two screens make it look extra like two massive telephones hooked up collectively. and working the identical software program. You may simply run two apps facet by facet, as if you happen to have been holding two telephones on the similar time, or you’ll be able to prolong a single app on each screens to imitate a small pill. Each halves of the cellphone are skinny sufficient to fold collectively like a e book and slot in a pocket with relative ease. Pair it with Microsoft’s Floor Slim Pen 2 and you’ve got a transportable digital pocket book that may work simply as nicely for taking notes, studying an e-book, or writing an e-mail.
Once I checked out Floor Duo 2 final 12 months, none of its intelligent design or e book options mattered. The machine was truly damaged, caught by software program errors that made you sort indignant, irritating to make use of, and in the end disappointing. It was a $ 1,500 novelty that might solely appeal to essentially the most daring Microsoft guys, desirous to endure its many flaws, in order that it may have the Courier machine, by no means launched, that they’d been dreaming of for over a decade.
However remarkably, Microsoft didn’t surrender Duo 2. In actual fact, the corporate continuously launched month-to-month software program updates to repair the numerous points that Duo 2 had at launch. A few of these updates consisted of straightforward safety patches and minor bug fixes, whereas others, such because the latest June replace, included extra vital fixes and added new options. Primarily, Microsoft addressed the contact latency points that have been prevalent at launch and made it very troublesome to sort on the Duo 2’s digital keyboard – and even navigate the interface.
Realizing that Microsoft dealt with lots of my preliminary Duo 2 complaints, I took benefit of a latest worth discount (the cellphone can now be bought for $ 1,000, which remains to be costly however considerably decrease than the launch worth) and a beneficiant worth. alternate provide and I purchased one in all my very own. The aim was to see if I may get a greater concept of what Microsoft was making an attempt to perform with this machine when the errors that cease the present did not get in the way in which.
And reader, I can lastly say that I perceive. Duo 2 is the one cell machine I’ve ever used, permitting me to do issues I simply cannot do with a standard smartphone. It additionally does sure issues, equivalent to multitasking and e-book studying, higher than Z Fold three’s single massive display.
Within the final month, plus, I have been utilizing Duo 2 to learn a whole lot of books within the Kindle app, which takes benefit of twin screens to supply a extra book-like expertise than every other machine. I managed my incoming messages and calendar on the similar time; We edited Google Docs whereas maintaining with a Slack dialog. I used Slim Pen 2 to take handwritten notes in OneNote. I learn numerous articles in my Pocket queue with the applying unfold on each screens and Duo 2 became a portrait orientation. I’ve watched so many movies unfold throughout each screens that I do not even discover a slight hole. There’s something unquestionably satisfying about finishing a process on Duo 2 after which closing it like a e book and slipping it into your pocket.
Duo 2 didn’t exchange my principal smartphone as a result of I exploit it for varied duties: messaging, calls, pictures, sensible house management, music and cell funds on iPhone; studying, multitasking, note-taking, and YouTube on Duo 2. I have never picked up a name on Duo 2 but, as a result of if you happen to’re not utilizing wi-fi headphones, it is awfully bizarre to take action. More often than not, I used Duo 2 precisely as I’d use an iPad Mini, besides that it folds in half and suits in my pocket. It isn’t even correct to name this machine a “cellphone” relying on how I exploit it. (Microsoft tried to place the unique Floor Duo as one thing apart from a launch cellphone, however moved away from this advertising and marketing with Duo 2.)
Microsoft has made the Duo 2’s digicam app quicker and extra responsive, however I’ve by no means used it to take pictures. It is too awkward to take photos and I’ve my iPhone for that anyway. In actual fact, I might moderately the again hood and its digicam disappear fully, and the Duo 2 ought to keep the extra elegant traces and the power to fold itself that the primary Duo had.
Apart from being a clumsy digicam, there are different issues concerning the design of the Duo 2 that make it troublesome to make use of as a principal cellphone. There is no fast strategy to verify notifications or do one thing with one hand – you have to open the machine to make use of it. (The latest addition of third-party chat notifications to the “hinge show” within the June replace does not change that.) It is a way more intentional machine than weak telephones that may be simply unlocked and used with one hand if you need to kill a while in line on the grocery retailer. Samsung’s Z Fold three is one a lot better machine to interchange each a cellphone and a pill, just because you’ll be able to nonetheless use it when folded and closed.
Duo 2 can be removed from a sturdy machine. Though I have never had a break within the month and used it once more, it isn’t water and mud resistant, so you do not need to moist it. Its design makes it extraordinarily troublesome to position a housing and keep the flexibleness of the hinge. (I used the Microsoft Floor Pen charging cap and bumper together with a Dbrand pores and skin.) Even when it is folded and closed after I’m not utilizing it, it isn’t one thing I’d merely throw away with keys and free commerce. concern that one thing will get caught within the hinge.
The software program additionally has a whole lot of room for enchancment. Other than the Kindle app and Google Play Books, the one apps that may work very well on each screens are made by Microsoft, despite the fact that the Duo 2 has been available on the market for eight months. There are nonetheless occasions when an app or hyperlink opens on the display reverse to what I count on, or when a gesture to show an app in full display fails. Inserting the pen into something apart from Microsoft’s personal functions remains to be dangerous. I do not suppose I’ve ever used the drag-and-drop function as a result of it is supported in so few functions that it isn’t value remembering.
Issues might enhance with the upcoming Android 12L replace, which is designed to enhance experiences on foldable gadgets like Duo 2 and Fold three. However I believe that even after this replace, I am going to nonetheless use most apps on one. display.
All which means regardless of updates and bug fixes, Duo 2 is just not but a cellphone for everybody and even most individuals. It’s best suited as a secondary machine for particular duties, identical to an iPad or a secondary pill on your smartphone. Even with the latest worth discount, it is nonetheless costlier than an iPad or different small pill. It’s very best solely for individuals who will recognize the power to hold it on the go in a number of locations, even when they have already got one other cellphone within the different pocket.
Rumor has it that Microsoft won’t be launching a Duo three this 12 months, however will hold it for 2023. This is able to give it extra time to repair the problems and keep away from the buggy releases that affected each the unique Duo, in addition to Duo 2. Microsoft may additionally handle facets of Duo design that make it troublesome to make use of as a principal cellphone (an exterior contact display would go a good distance right here). Perhaps he can discover a strategy to connect and cargo the pen with out resorting to a foolish and costly prime case. A latest firm patent imagines a Duo-like machine that makes use of a single panel that may be folded 360 levels as an alternative of two separate screens hooked up to a hinge. I am undecided what the issue could be, apart from clearing the hole between the screens when watching a video, however it could undoubtedly look nice.
In any case, if Microsoft stays devoted to the Duo type issue and retains repeating on it, I am going to comply with. Duo 2 has gone from one of the vital problematic gadgets I’ve reviewed to one in all my favorites, and I am curious to see the place Microsoft takes it. Within the meantime, I’ve one other e book to complete studying.
Photograph by Dan Seifert / The Verge