Skip to main content

Forget the Steam Deck — this modded Android phone is a gamer’s dream

Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 is one of the most divisive devices out there. On one hand, its dual-screen design has won laurels, and there’s a very small bunch of loyal enthusiasts that swear by its productivity tricks. But there are a whole bunch of practical flaws with the camera, battery life, and UI departments that kept this phone-tablet hybrid from realizing its true potential.

Of course, a sky-high asking price didn’t do it any favors. However, one enthusiast has turned it into a handheld gaming machine with a few cool add-ons — and it honestly looks pretty incredible. On Reddit, one Surface Duo 2 owner (going by the username u/Sarspazzard) showcased their Frankenstein version of Microsoft’s doomed phone after giving it a glorious handheld gaming makeover.

Modified trim of Surface Duo 2
Sarspazzard / Reddit

One-half of the modified Surface Duo 2 has controller grips attached to it, hovering over the left and right triggers on the screen. Nestled between the handles at the back is a small power supply unit that is hooked up to an actual cooling fan sold by Black Shark, a Xiaomi-backed company from China that makes over-the-top gaming phones.

The fans are there to keep the device cool while gaming, but they didn’t offer much of a performance boost, according to our DIY champ. “I ran some Geekbench tests, and I only saw a bump of like 10 to15 points on single-core and multi-core with the cooler,” says the Surface Duo 2 owner.

Modified Microsoft Surface Duo 2
Sarspazzard / Reddit

The other half also has a dock, which enables passthrough charging. But more importantly, it allows the addition of an external storage solution like a thumb drive, which is key considering that the 128GB of onboard storage inside the device isn’t enough to store a lot of game files. Plus, the Surface Duo 2 doesn’t allow storage expansion via microSD card, so an external dock was the only recourse.

“These features are USEFUL to us. I’m talking about microSD support and 3.5mm headphones. There was no good reason to remove them in the first place,” the modder writes in one of the comments. Valid point there! But given the odd placement of the USB-C port on the Surface Duo 2, a 180-degree male-to-female USB-C was required to connect all that gear to the actual device.

Modified Surface Duo 2
Sarspazzard / Reddit

Apparently, the whole modification was done to play PC and console games with a layer of emulation on top. One half of the Surface Duo 2’s screen serves the actual game visuals, while the other half has the on-screen buttons and a pair of physical trigger pads hovering alongside the two top corners.

The mobile gaming segment is no stranger to such add-ons, as they really give an edge in games like Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG: Mobile. The best part of this gamified Surface Duo 2 is that it doesn’t require any specialized custom gear, as most of it is easily available from outlets like Amazon.

Modified Surface Duo 2 gaming rig
Sarspazzard / Reddit

The only apprehension is that the Surface Duo 2 was launched at $1,500, and even after the occasional price drops, the price only fell to around $1,000. That’s a steep price, and only worth it if you want to really push its computing prowess, gaming potential, or just need a keeper piece of tech memorabilia.

There are, of course, pitfalls with running emulated game files. The Surface Duo 2 modder warns that unplugging often crashes the game. If you really need to enjoy mobile games on a handheld, the new Razer Edge or Logitech G Cloud handheld are the best options out there. Otherwise, you will only find true handheld gaming nirvana in devices like the Steam Deck or the Nintendo Switch.

Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: Which reigns as king?
The Microsoft Surface Duo 2 rests on a staircase railing because: right angles.

Microsoft released a series of new portable powerhouse products at its Surface event, including the next generation of their mobile line, the Microsoft Surface Duo 2. This is the successor to the much-criticized Surface Duo, which received negative reviews and lackluster sales due to issues with subpar hardware and software. With the Duo 2, Microsoft has taken criticism to heart and revamped it with flagship-level hardware and promises of an improved software experience.

The Duo 2 now joins other foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, which is widely considered to be one of the best on the market in terms of performance and features, and the compact, consumer-friendly Galaxy Z Flip 3. The specs between the Duo 2 and Fold 3 are similar in most regards, but there are some key differences, and Samsung has generally had more experience when it comes to folding-phone hardware. There's also a price disparity, with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 costing an extra $300 over the Duo 2. Read on to see our breakdown of how they differ and which one is better.
Specs

Read more
Microsoft Surface Duo 2: Everything you need to know
The Microsoft Surface Duo 2 has a triple camera setup.

Microsoft has officially announced the Surface Duo 2, rectifying many major complaints that plagued the previous model. Reviewers and early adopters of its predecessor were critical of the software, cameras, and performance, but optimistic about changes future devices might bring. The Surface Duo 2 features improvements in all those areas, and extra features unique to dual-screen smartphones.

Now that the Surface Duo 2 is official, here's everything you need to know.
Price and release date

Read more
The new Surface Duo 2 costs $1,499, and that’s probably OK
The Microsoft Surface Duo 2 has a triple camera setup.

Microsoft introduced its successor to the Microsoft Duo today at its annual Surface event and had the absolute gall to charge yet another $100 for its all-new not-a-phone, the Surface Duo 2. You'll recall last year, when the original Duo hit the shelves, it carried a $1,399 price tag. Since then, the price has dipped to fire-sale levels, hovering around a far-more-palatable $400. So, when Microsoft introduced the Surface Duo 2 at a higher price point, it's bound to give you some pause, and rightly so.

Last week, I wrote up my wishlist for what we needed to see in the Surface Duo 2. Long story short, I asked that Microsoft ditch the not-a-phone narrative, add in flagship specifications, and for the love of Pete, fix the software. Today we found out that Microsoft at least checked one of those boxes.

Read more