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Microsoft atones with Surface Duo 2, adding 5G, Snapdragon 888, and triple camera

At today’s Surface event, Microsoft unveiled the second generation of its Surface Duo device, called the Microsoft Surface Duo 2. It’s the “world’s thinnest 5G device,” according to Microsoft, which is quite a claim to make.

The updated hardware carries over a few aspects of the first edition including the ultra-slim build, dual screens, and a 360-degree hinge capable of all the postures of its predecessor. This generation bumps up every other specification to what you’d expect to see in a 2021 flagship.

The Surface Duo 2, open to show its two screens.

The new Duo features a Snapdragon 888 processor and 5G (mmWave and sub-6) connectivity. Along with that comes a 90Hz refresh rate on both screens, which measure 5.8 inches each. That’s not as good as the 120Hz refresh panel on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but it’s a nice improvement over the 60Hz from the original.

The Surface Duo 2 can be configured in 128GB, 256GB, and a new 512GB capacity, all with 8GB of LPDDR5 memory. Other improvements include the addition of NFC and almost 25% more battery at 4,449mAh. The Microsoft Duo will not ship with a charger in the box,  joining the rest of the market in that unfortunate trend. Microsoft is selling a 23-watt fast charger separately.

The Microsoft Duo 2 can accept Slim Pen input

One particularly notable improvement comes in the form of the triple-lens rear-facing camera system. You get a 12-megapixel main sensor at f/1.7 aperture with optical image stabilization (OIS), a 16MP ultrawide camera with f/2.2 aperture and 110-degree field of view, and a 12MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, f/2.4 aperture, and OIS.

The phone also has a 12MP, f/2.0 aperture front-facing camera. The main camera is capable of 4K video capture at 60 frames per second.  This is a major improvement over the original Duo’s single 11MP camera.

The Surface Duo adds a Glance Bar to the hinge mechanism that can show you notifications without opening the device. The glance bar’s notification icons are color-coded, so you can see the notifications waiting for you and how many.

A side view of the Surface Duo 2.

Of course, like the original Duo, the idea here is that you’ll be able to run two apps side-by-side, and some apps will be optimized to use both screens at once. The software was a major downfall of the original Duo, so we will wait for our full review to evaluate that part. Overall, this is a significant step in the right direction for Microsoft and the Surface Duo 2.

The new Surface Duo 2 will be available in two colors: Glacier, and Obsidian Black. Pricing starts at $1,499 and it is available for pre-order starting today, with availability on October 5. For more on what gets announced at the Surface event, you can watch live and follow our coverage. 

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