Microsoft’s new dual screen device has a natural rival in the Samsung Galaxy Fold, but which one looks to be the best handset so far?
Microsoft’s new “device” (which, curiously, the brand never described as a phone) was a surprise announcement at its latest tech event, which also saw debuts of the Microsoft Surface Neo, Microsoft Surface Pro X and Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. Microsoft has been out of the mobiles market since it put the Lumia line out of its misery, but it will be back before Christmas 2020 with the dual-screen, folding Microsoft Surface Duo.
Does it stand a chance of beating the Samsung Galaxy Fold at its own game? Here’s what we know about the two devices so far.
Related: Best Phones
Samsung Galaxy Fold vs Microsoft Surface Duo – Screen
The Samsung Galaxy Fold consists of one small outer screen that measures just 4.6 inches with a resolution of 720 x 1680 pixels, and a much larger internal screen that can unfold to 7.3 inches and has a 1536 x 2152 resolution.
The Surface Duo has a similar design, at least in comparison to the more radical Motorola Razr 2019 and Huawei Mate X — but there’s a key difference. Although it has an external screen as well, its internal display is divided into two separate 9-inch screens rather than being a continuous panel with a crease in the middle, giving an overall span of 13.1 inches when unfurled. Based on the demo at Microsoft’s event there appears to be the option of using the screens for different purposes, such as using one as a keyboard.
We weren’t awed by the crease in the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s display (which we found to be obvious and a little off-putting), and while it’s hard to see a physical divide being more attractive, the different functionality might at least make amends for the split.
Samsung Galaxy Fold vs Microsoft Surface Duo – Performance
Samsung’s Galaxy Fold runs on the Snapdragon 855 chipset and – much to our surprise – this is matched by the Microsoft Surface Duo (according to Wired). We would strongly expect this chip to upgraded to the successive Snapdragon 865 chip by the time of release, which would be almost 12 months after the launch of the new chip.
In our reviews, devices toting the Snapdragon 855 (including the OnePlus 7T Pro and the Sony Xperia 1) have fared well, posting strong performances – if not quite as blistering as Apple’s powerhouse A13 Bionic chip found on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. Based on these results, both devices should deal handily with high-intensity tasks such as gaming and photo editing.
Samsung Galaxy Fold vs Microsoft Surface Duo – Operating system
The Samsung Galaxy Fold runs on Android 9, which we expect to see upgraded to Android 10 in due course. Fortunately, this new operating system has made specific UX changes to suit foldables, such as enabling multiple windows to be in use, changing aspect ratios, and software apps transitioning smoothly between open and closed versions. This should give a natural-feeling experience to users looking to acquaint themselves with the radical new form factor.
You might think that Microsoft’s return to mobiles could mean the resurrection of Windows Mobile, but you’d be wrong – it will also adopt the Android 10 operating system (likely with the heavy Microsoft Launcher for Android as an interface). This will give it access to all the same apps from the Google Play Store and all those software tweaks, so the two look to be on a level playing field on this contest.
Samsung Galaxy Fold vs Microsoft Surface Duo – Camera
The Samsung Galaxy Fold boasts a total of six cameras fairly similar to the ones found on the Samsung S10 Plus, and we’d anticipate them to perform accordingly. On the rear, there’s a 16-megapixel ultrawide lens, a 12-megapixel telephoto sensor, and a 12-megapixel wide angle camera. On the inside, housed in a hefty notch in the corner, there’s a 10-megapixel and 8-megapixel dual set-up, whilst the front has a lone 10-megapixel camera.
Meanwhile we know very little about the camera on the Microsoft Surface Duo, except for the strange fact that you will have to open it fully to get access to the camera, as there’s no camera on the external body. We believe this design is most likely to be changed before release, because it would very surprising if it hit stores in this unwieldy form.
Samsung Galaxy Fold vs Microsoft Surface Duo – Early verdict
It’s very hard to make a judgement at this stage, since specs are so thin on the ground for the Surface Duo and we’re still at least a year away from release. Samsung has had teething problems with the Fold, despite being the more established player in the mobiles market, so anything could happen. Stay tuned for more details.