At present, Microsoft is unveiling the Floor Duo 2, a brand new Android-based smartphone with two screens and a raft of updates over the problematic unique Floor Duo. From enhancements to the cameras to greater screens to software program tweaks to a greater solution to retailer a Floor Pen, Microsoft is addressing all the plain issues from the primary mannequin.
As earlier than, it’s a dual-screen machine meant to assist individuals multitask by letting them run two apps aspect by aspect. The general design may be very comparable, however Microsoft has softened the corners and allowed the glass to curve into the perimeters extra. It’s a pleasant object to carry despite the fact that it’s not fairly as visually placing as the unique.
Microsoft might have been forgiven for quietly letting its dual-screen Android machine thought fade into obscurity. It wouldn’t be the primary time it had failed at telephones, and all people is aware of difficult the leaders within the cellular area is troublesome, even for tech giants. As a substitute, the corporate’s doubling down with a brand new model that can begin at a whopping $1,499.99, $100 greater than the unique.
For that sky-high worth, Microsoft is placing in utterly fashionable specs. That was the primary downside with the unique Duo: even on the day it was launched, it was already behind the instances. The Duo 2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 5G, 8GB of RAM, batteries that add as much as a capability of 4,449mAh, and extra.
The second downfall for the unique Duo was the cameras. Microsoft’s resolution was once more the plain one: simply add cameras. Particularly, there’s now a digicam bump on the again that homes a large, ultrawide, and a 2x telephoto lens. The specs behind these lenses appear stable on paper. The wide-angle has a 12-megapixel dual-pixel PDAF sensor with 1.4μm pixels behind a lens with f/1.7 aperture, for instance. We’ll want to check the cameras in our evaluation to see in the event that they’re any good, after all.
A giant digicam bump presents a specific downside for the Duo 2, nonetheless. It’s a tool that’s meant to have the ability to be folded in half, not simply to shut the screens in, however to have them on the surface so you should use it one-handed. Microsoft’s resolution is to barely angle the bump in order that it aligns the glass because it closes, and to incorporate a small magnet to attract them collectively. There’s additionally a plastic ridge across the lenses to guard each side from scratching.
It’s additionally simply open sufficient at that time to quickly stow the brand new Floor Slim Pen 2 between the 2 halves of the machine. Microsoft can even promote a particular case with wiring inside it that may draw energy from the Duo and reroute it to cost a magnetically mounted Slim Pen on the surface.
In any case, the hole when in single-handed mode is a worthwhile tradeoff for the cameras, and Microsoft tells me that the majority customers spent most of their time utilizing it with each screens anyway.
Each of these OLED screens are barely larger and nicer-looking. They’re every about 5.8 inches diagonally or 8.3 inches when seen collectively (with, it have to be stated, an enormous hole between them). Additionally they have a 90Hz refresh price, however I didn’t get sufficient time with them to say how a lot that contributed to smoothness. The bigger display additionally means smaller bezels, and the entire thing appears to be like way more fashionable, particularly within the new, darker shade choice.
The curved glass on the perimeters permits a neat little trick: you possibly can simply barely see some show contained in the hinge when it’s closed. Microsoft is utilizing that area as a sort of mini-outer show for notifications. You may see the time and a few indicators for notifications, and it additionally lights up for incoming calls. It’s not as helpful as a real outer show, nevertheless it’s higher than nothing.
The Duo 2 ships with Android 11, and Microsoft as soon as once more guarantees well timed software program updates. That’s a promise it solely nominally stored with the unique Duo — it bought safety updates and a few bug fixes however continues to be solely on Android 10. Microsoft says it’ll attempt to get an 11 replace out for the older machine quickly. We’re anticipating Android 12 for Pixel telephones any week now, too, and no phrase on when to count on that replace for both machine.
In any other case, on the subject of software program, we’re principally taking a look at tweaks to the system that Microsoft established for multitasking. One new change is that the Floor Duo 2 defaults to assuming that the right-hand display is the “primary” one, so if you fold it into single-screen mode it’s the one that can keep lit up by default. That small enchancment might make an enormous distinction, as all too typically the unique Duo’s accelerometer couldn’t inform which aspect was up.
The unique Duo was one thing of a tragedy as a result of Microsoft’s concepts for easy methods to make a multitasking cellphone have been genuinely new and considerate — however the implementation was so dangerous that it was almost unattainable to expertise Microsoft’s imaginative and prescient. The query for the Floor Duo half deux is straightforward: can it flip a tragedy right into a redemption story?