Microsoft’s new $1,500 folding phone is a huge improvement from last year


Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Microsoft‘s $1,500 Floor Duo 2, the corporate’s second folding telephone, launches Thursday. I have been utilizing it for a few week and it is an enormous enchancment over the first model Microsoft launched last year, which was too buggy and underpowered.

Microsoft would not make some huge cash off of {hardware}, and it has a poor monitor file with telephones. Whereas the Home windows Cellular working system was well-liked earlier than the iPhone launched in 2007, the corporate’s {hardware} has by no means caught on with shoppers the way in which iPhones or Samsung telephones have. The Floor Duo 2 most likely will not change that narrative, since its design and value will solely entice a distinct segment viewers. Microsoft probably will not promote a ton of those.

However the Floor Duo 2 affords one thing distinctive that you aren’t getting with another telephone available on the market. It has two screens that may run totally different apps aspect by aspect. The corporate thinks individuals might be extra productive with the Floor Duo 2. I am undecided I am extra productive with the Floor Duo 2. I nonetheless take out my laptop computer after I must get work performed. However it’s novel, enjoyable to make use of and truly works this time.

This is what it’s good to know concerning the Floor Duo 2.

What’s good

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

The Floor Duo 2 is sort of a shiny glass Moleskine pocket book with chrome accents. Like the primary iteration, it seems excessive finish, with two skinny halves that fold collectively right into a tiny pocket book. It opens as much as reveal two massive 5.8-inch screens that, used collectively, provide 8.3 inches of house to run two apps aspect by aspect or to span a single app, like Outlook, throughout each. 

The shows are barely greater than final yr, so you may have more room for apps. I’ve the black mannequin, which seems nice, nevertheless it will get coated in fingerprints. So it’s possible you’ll wish to contemplate the white model as a substitute.

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Microsoft addressed almost all the {hardware} complaints final yr. The 2020 Floor Duo lacked a variety of options of competing high-end gadgets. The Duo 2 has the identical Qualcomm chip as different prime Android telephones, as a substitute of a barely older one. It has help for quicker 5G mobile networks — nice for streaming video games or downloading a film earlier than you hop on a flight as soon as the Covid pandemic ends — and in addition provides NFC help, which I take advantage of on a regular basis for cell funds.

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Final yr’s Floor Duo launched with terribly buggy software program. It was sluggish to open apps, the screens would not reply should you tried to flip it again into the single-screen mode, and the digicam did not at all times work the way in which it was presupposed to. Microsoft addressed a variety of these bugs. The Floor Duo 2 feels quick and apps open the way in which I count on them to. I nonetheless bumped into occasional bugs the place a video would quickly run the wrong way up, nevertheless it usually mounted itself in seconds.

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

The Floor Duo 2 generally is a pleasure to make use of. It is not at all times as handy as an iPhone or an everyday Android telephone, which has only one display screen and is faster to entry. However, I really like that I can prop up the Floor Duo 2 and watch CNBC on my desk whereas I am engaged on my laptop, or learn a e-book within the Amazon Kindle app with a web page on every show.

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I loved chatting with buddies on one aspect of the display screen whereas studying a information article on the opposite. And I appreciated taking part in video games with Xbox Sport Go with a related Xbox controller, or with the added touch-screen buttons that seem on one display screen whereas the sport seems on the opposite. It is only a actually distinctive expertise you will not get wherever else. The closest comparability is Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3, although the within of that telephone is a single full display screen so the Fold is best for watching films.

Microsoft additionally added stereo audio system, which have been lacking final yr. Which means it sounds just like the audio is coming from either side of the telephone, as a substitute of only one aspect, and it made a distinction whereas watching movies.

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

And, like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3, it helps pen enter. I used the Floor Slim Pen 2 ($129.99), which is handy for taking notes or simply sketching. That very same pen works with the Floor Professional computer systems, so it’s possible you’ll already personal one (or an earlier mannequin).

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I do not want a pen usually, nevertheless it’s helpful to have for after I must signal one thing for my kid’s day care. It is helpful for scrolling round apps and shifting via emails, too. I like to recommend additionally contemplating the Floor Duo 2 Pen Cowl, which protects solely the entrance glass of the Duo 2 however holds and prices the pen with a magnet.

What’s dangerous

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Whereas the Floor 2 Duo is a breath of contemporary air in a sea of telephones that largely look the identical, it is also simply not terribly handy if it’s good to simply rapidly ship a textual content message or make a telephone name. You must open it to reply a name, for instance. You might at all times simply depart it folded again, nevertheless it looks as if it is higher to maintain these large shows protected by preserving it closed. The Floor Duo 2 is smart as a secondary gadget, possibly one that you just largely use for work and watching TV, however whereas nonetheless additionally proudly owning an iPhone or a separate Android telephone. Kind of like a transportable pill that matches in your pocket. It is how I spent a variety of time with it.

I admire that Microsoft bends the screens ever so barely over the hinge so that you could see icons representing notifications on the aspect, or an incoming name, or how charged the battery is, nevertheless it solely lights up when a brand new notification is available in. So, you need to crack open the telephone to see your alerts. And the battery charging indicator would not keep on the entire time it is plugged in, so it’s good to unplug and plug it again in once more to see how charged it’s (or open it). Microsoft may repair this by permitting the hinge to reply to a faucet, lighting up the slim display screen to present a standing replace.

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Final yr’s Floor Duo had a digicam that wasn’t very nice for a lot outdoors of video chat. Microsoft addressed these complaints by including three further cameras to the again, together with a wide-angle, an ultra-wide angle for becoming extra into an image and a zoom lens. The cameras are high quality, however they’re nonetheless inferior to what you’d get on telephones that value tons of of {dollars} much less, just like the common iPhone 13 or the Samsung Galaxy S21. There is a split-second delay whenever you take a photograph, so I usually missed my son smiling earlier than he moved on to do one thing else. Or the image would prove blurry. These are points which might be usually mounted in software program updates, so it isn’t an enormous concern. However try to be getting a a lot better digicam on a $1,500 telephone.

Floor Duo 2 pattern picture

Todd Haselton | CNBC

My greater concern is that it is simply bizarre taking photos with the Floor Duo 2. You must maintain it with each screens open, so it is type of like taking photos with a e-book. It might be helpful to have a tiny display screen on the entrance that could possibly be used as a viewfinder and to indicate small notifications. The excellent news is the colours in photos are much better than final yr’s single lens, which regularly produced actually washed-out photographs.

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

There is a hole whenever you fold one display screen again onto the opposite, for the reason that digicam lenses come out. It makes the Floor Duo 2 a bit of fatter to carry in single-screen mode, nevertheless it’s not as dangerous because it may appear. Microsoft did a pleasant job angling the digicam lenses so that they relaxation in opposition to the again panel, and it nonetheless feels sturdy regardless of the additional hole.

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I like that I can increase apps like Outlook to span throughout each shows, to see messages on one aspect and the contents of an electronic mail on the opposite. However even different apps which might be designed for spanning throughout each screens do not at all times look nice. Some content material is reduce off by the hinge within the center, for instance. Different apps do a greater job, like a brand new TikTok app, which reveals you what is trending on one aspect and a video on the opposite. I might wish to see extra apps add help for each screens, however I do not assume builders are going to be incentivized to do it if tens of millions of individuals aren’t utilizing this telephone.

Lastly, the Floor Duo 2 would not help wi-fi charging and is not as water resistant as costliest telephones are. I hope to see Microsoft add these options subsequent yr.

Do you have to purchase it?

Microsoft Floor Duo 2

Todd Haselton | CNBC

The Floor Duo 2 is means higher than Microsoft’s first try. It is not a mass-market telephone for most individuals, nevertheless it’s price a glance should you’re searching for one thing extra distinctive than an everyday telephone or assume it is perhaps helpful to run two apps aspect by aspect. I favor the flexibleness of Samsung’s dearer $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 3, and admire that telephone’s water resistance, so that you must also give {that a} look.



Microsoft’s new $1,500 folding telephone is a large enchancment from final yr
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