Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Duo review: Is this the new normal?

Microsoft Surface Duo $1,399 View Product The Good Gorgeous design • Super lightweight and thin • Flexible and sturdy hinge • Compose / tent / book postures add versatility The Bad Buggy • Lack of a front-facing notification panel • Lack of water resistance • Steep navigation learning curve • Hard to control one-handed The…

Microsoft Surface Duo
$1,399

View Product

The Good

Gorgeous design • Super lightweight and thin • Flexible and sturdy hinge • Compose / tent / book postures add versatility

The Bad

Buggy • Lack of a front-facing notification panel • Lack of water resistance • Steep navigation learning curve • Hard to control one-handed

The Bottom Line

The Surface Duo is a right step in a different direction for Microsoft’s mobile efforts. This dual-screen Android device is far from perfect, but it’s a great starting point for what is surely to come.

⚡ Mashable Score 4.0

😎 Cool Factor 5.0

📘Learning Curve 1.5

💪Performance 3.5

💵Bang for the Buck 4.0

The Surface Duo is an odd duck.

I’m not drinking the Microsoft marketing Kool-Aid when I say this, but this thing doesn’t feel like a phone, although it runs Android. It’s not even an effective tablet, thanks to that screen-swallowing metal hinge. No, this “thing” is more like a laptop with two connected, touchscreen monitors — except it’s not a sufficient laptop replacement. So what is it then?

It’s important to preface this review by scrubbing your brain of any “mobile phone” associations because, aside from the fact that you hold the Duo in your hands, the comparisons are not entirely appropriate. This is not an apples-to-apples situation; it’s more like apples-to-durian fruit. In my short time with the device, I’ve come to realize that it does rightly occupy its own space within the larger foldables category without actually being one of those full-fledged foldables. Its dual 5.6-inch 1800×1350 AMOLED screens open in a book-like manner to form a bisected 8.1-inch display, making the Duo an outlier — while its “cousins,” Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold 2, embrace single bendable displays. 

There’s one other inescapable thing about the Duo you’ll come to realize within your first few hours with it: a steep learning curve. You won’t use the Duo like you use your current phone, though you will try. Instead, the Duo will teach you how it wants to be used through trial and frustrating errors, most of which are navigation-based. But as with all new things, it’ll eventually become familiar and you’ll settle into a rhythm with it.

The question is whether it’s worth the hassle.

A premium feel to match the price

It's a book. It's a phone. It's a ... Surface Duo.

It’s a book. It’s a phone. It’s a … Surface Duo.

Image: zlata ivleva / mashable

Starting at $1,400, the Surface Duo is far from impulse-buy territory, but it’s also more affordably priced than something like the bank-breaking, $2,000 Galaxy Z Fold 2. Its Android core and related suite of pre-installed Google apps, including Gmail, Maps, and more, help to lower the risk/novelty factor some, allowing curious early adopters to dabble in Microsoft’s new Android-pond without ditching the mobile ecosystem their virtual lives have come to depend upon. 

But that doesn’t mean Microsoft has ceded the show entirely to Google. The company’s left its imprint on the Duo, packing it with all of the Office apps you expect (i.e., Outlook, OneDrive, OneNote, Teams, OneDrive), plus others like Skype, LinkedIn, and Edge.

For the price, Microsoft is giving users 128GB of storage — upgradeable to 256GB for an additional cost — paired with 6GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 855 CPU, and a 3,577mAh battery that never once posed a problem throughout my time testing the device. (In fact, I hardly worried about battery life at all since it lasted over 10 hours on a single charge with heavy use. Normal use gets you more than a day.) 

All of this is housed inside of an elegantly thin and lightweight device that weighs just a little more than half a pound and measures just under 5mm when unfolded. This emphasis on a featherweight build means the Duo is truly portable — you can slide it easily into your pants pocket or toss it in a bag without weighing down your shoulder. But the Duo’s slight profile also works against it to a degree. By emphasizing thinness, the product team behind the Duo also sacrificed some much-needed convenience in the form of a front-facing notification panel.

This may seem like a minor design omission, but losing the ability to check notifications at a glance actually heightened my anxieties. I found myself reaching more often for the Duo, not because I wanted to play around with it, but because I was paranoid I’d missed an email or text. Microsoft has positioned this as the working professional’s device — you know, those multitasking A-types who have no problem emailing you after work hours, and are ready to respond to Slack pings while on the treadmill past 10pm on the weekend. And it’s done that group a disservice in this regard. 

Sure, you could argue that a connected smartwatch would alleviate this pain point (and it’s possible many of those overachieving A-types already use one), but that’s not included in the box. So that excuse doesn’t really factor in here.

The Surface Duo "hinges" on this sturdy fella.

The Surface Duo “hinges” on this sturdy fella.

Image: zlata ivleva / mashable

I’d assumed the Duo’s “peek” posture, which allows you to slightly open the device to glance at the time, would rectify this misstep. I was wrong. This mode only shows the current time — that is when you manage to open the device to the exact degree to trigger it — not the number of unread emails and texts, or whatever other notifications you rely on. If you really want to know what you’ve been missing out on, you have to fully open the Duo. It’s not ideal. And that’s just the way it is.

Its convenience shortcomings notwithstanding, the Duo is undeniably a thing of beauty. It’s a solid, premium piece of engineering, and for that Microsoft deserves credit. You’ll know this cost $1,400 because it feels like it cost $1,400 — it’s just sturdy. And you can tell the Duo belongs to the Surface family, too, because of the minimalist design at work. When closed, the only noticeable embellishment is the silvery Windows logo on its front. The rest is a sea of glacier white that’s broken only by its silent 360-degree metal hinge. 

Everything you need to physically control the Duo is placed along the right edge of the right display. Here is where you’ll find the reliable fingerprint sensor sandwiched between the volume rocker and power button above it, and the SIM card tray below. The USB-C port, which can be used for fast charging with the included 18W power supply or for connecting to a PC or laptop, lives on the bottom edge of the right display.

Assume the single-screen posture.

Assume the single-screen posture.

Image: zlata ivleva / mashable

As for its cameras, well… the Duo only has one. (I know — gasp, clutch your pearls, shake your head — whatever helps you process this departure from normalcy.) This lone 11-megapixel camera (f/2.0) sits above the right display and does double duty as your main and selfie cam, depending on the posture. Fold the left display back into single-screen mode with the right screen facing outwards, and you can shoot “rear” photos like you normally would with a regular smartphone. If you need to swap into selfie mode, just flip the Duo around and it should automatically adjust, lighting up the display you’re facing. This doesn’t always work seamlessly, however, and in those instances an onscreen prompt will instruct you to double-tap your desired display to “wake” it.

Your guide to ‘good’ postures

By now, you’ve surely come to realize that “posture” is just Microsoft’s fancy way of describing how you hold and fold the Duo. There are five of these modes to choose from — book, compose, single screen, tent, and peek — though I came to rely on just two. 

Compose

Compose mode works best for scrolling through social media or watching Twitch.

Compose mode works best for scrolling through social media or watching Twitch.

Image: zlata ivleva / mashable

Of the bunch, the most enticing and useful posture is compose — but not for the reasons Microsoft intended. This mode allows you to flip the Duo into a laptop-like orientation, freeing up the bottom display to function as a fullscreen keyboard, with the “compose” window (for emails or texts) up top.  

I managed to pleasantly while away a couple of hours with the Duo in this posture as I listened to Spotify on my Surface Earbuds and slowly thumb-typed out a journal entry. But the experience wasn’t without frustration. Due to the power button’s placement on the right side of the fingerprint sensor — a natural resting place for your right pinky finger when holding the Duo in the compose posture — I found that I kept accidentally triggering it and turning o

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Microsoft

Swiveling LG Wing 5G takes dual-screen phones in a new direction

LG finally took the wraps off its new smartphone and it’s certainly … different.  The LG Wing 5G comes with two displays: a main display on top that swivels to reveal a second screen underneath. If you’re wondering why LG decided to suddenly experiment, it’s all part of the company’s new Explorer Project, which it…

LG finally took the wraps off its new smartphone and it’s certainly … different. 

The LG Wing 5G comes with two displays: a main display on top that swivels to reveal a second screen underneath.

If you’re wondering why LG decided to suddenly experiment, it’s all part of the company’s new Explorer Project, which it announced earlier this month. 

This isn’t the first phone LG got experimental with this year. This summer, the company launched the minimalist LG Velvet. Still, it’s safe to say the LG Wing’s “T-shaped” dual screens push the boundaries further in both design and features. 

While pricing and availability will vary depending on the carrier, LG says you can expect the phone to set you back around $1,000. However, you won’t be able to purchase it unlocked — the LG Wing 5G will first be available from Verizon with T-Mobile and AT&T to follow.

So, what exactly can you expect from the LG Wing 5G? Let’s get into all that it has to offer.

Blast from the past, sort of

If the look of the LG Wing makes you feel a bit nostalgic at a glance, that’s likely because you’re having flashbacks to the LG VX9400. And in case you’re wondering, yes, LG did use this as inspiration for its latest device. But this time, you’re not swiveling the phone to access the keypad.

When you're using just the front display, it's called Basic Mode.

When you’re using just the front display, it’s called Basic Mode.

Image: LG

When you're using both displays at once, you're in Swivel Mode.

When you’re using both displays at once, you’re in Swivel Mode.

Image: LG

The LG Wing’s main screen is a 6.8-inch FHD+ P-OLED edge-to-edge display (2,460 x 1,080 resolution) with a 20.5:9 aspect ratio. You can use the top display as you would any other standard touchscreen smartphone, which LG refers to as “Basic Mode.”

When you swivel it open, the front display rotates 90-degrees clockwise to reveal second 3.9-inch OLED display (1,240 x 1,080 resolution) underneath. That way, you can run two apps on your phone simultaneously.

Referred to as “Swivel Mode,” you can have Google Calendar running on the top display while also watching Netflix or scrolling through social media on the bottom. Or, if you’re out and about, you can have Google Maps running on one display and take a phone call on the other.  

Or, you can also expand one app across both displays. For example, if you’re editing a photo or video, you can have the gallery up on the top (larger) display while you edit content on the second screen.

This push for multitasking ha

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Microsoft

Apple goes to war with video game streaming platforms in App Store rules update

The video game industry is none too pleased with Apple right now. In an attempt to extend an olive branch to streaming game services that were previously barred from the App Store, Apple has announced a new set of guidelines allowing game streaming services like Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia on the platform for the…

The video game industry is none too pleased with Apple right now.

In an attempt to extend an olive branch to streaming game services that were previously barred from the App Store, Apple has announced a new set of guidelines allowing game streaming services like Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia on the platform for the first time.

Nice, right? Wrong. Many in the industry are up in arms over the new guidelines.

Apple’s old rules blocked these streaming apps from the App Store, which essentially means you can’t use them on iOS devices like the iPhone. In August, when Facebook launched its Facebook Games iOS app, the social media company at being unable to include, well, any games.

At the time, Apple that the company reviews app content before allowing it in the App Store. Being that these video game streaming services offer an ever-changing lineup of gaming titles, Apple’s position was these types of apps weren’t allowed in its App Store.

Howev

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Microsoft

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review: The foldable we all want but don’t need… yet

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 $1,999.99 View Product The Good Robust cover display functionality • Sleek and durable design • Very capable cameras • Improved display with 120Hz refresh rate The Bad Way too expensive • Thick and heavy build The Bottom Line The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is proof that Samsung is capable of…

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
$1,999.99

View Product

The Good

Robust cover display functionality • Sleek and durable design • Very capable cameras • Improved display with 120Hz refresh rate

The Bad

Way too expensive • Thick and heavy build

The Bottom Line

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is proof that Samsung is capable of successfully manufacturing a foldable phone that’s both sleek and powerful. But at $2,000, it’s more elite toy than must-buy.

⚡ Mashable Score 4.5

😎 Cool Factor 5.0

📘Learning Curve 5.0

💪Performance 4.5

💵Bang for the Buck 4.0

Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Fold 2 represents one very crucial thing for the company: redemption. With an upgraded, durable screen that’s been kept at somewhat of a similar price point (at $200 more than the original Fold), it appears as if the South Korean tech giant is trying to make up for its prior foldable missteps and lost time.

Rather than completely overhauling the original Fold’s design, Samsung instead fixed what was broken by incorporating elements it already knew would work: an Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) display and a free-standing hinge. 

But in addition to providing a solid build, the company’s now also pivoted its messaging: The Fold 2 is more than just a smartphone. It’s fully optimized as an on-the-go productivity workhorse with a variety of multitasking features.

Now that Samsung’s increased the size of the cover display, you can use the Fold 2 much like you would any other “normal” smartphone. That means you can quickly answer texts, make calls, scroll through social media, or even answer emails comfortably without unfolding it. And for those moments when you need a bigger display or to pull up a few apps to multitask, simply fold back that front cover, and you have a tablet at your disposable.

This concept isn’t at all different from the original Fold, and it’s no longer even novel to consumers. It’s now been a year since Samsung’s first foldable was introduced to general buzz and then immediate disappointment. And, as a result, the Fold 2 doesn’t feel ahead of its time or futuristic. 

The good news is that, unlike Microsoft’s distantly related Surface Duo foldable, there’s no steep learning curve to be found here. By offering the familiarity of a standard smartphone coupled with the option to switch to tablet mode when necessary, Samsung has made the the Z Fold 2 more approachable, allowing users to adapt to it in baby steps. 

While I could go on about why I believe the Z Fold 2 is truly an excellent piece of hardware, it’s important to not stray far from reality here. This device is nothing more than proof that Samsung can make a Fold that works. More importantly, the Z Fold 2 also allows the company to maintain its position as the go-to brand for smartphone innovation. 

At $2,000, the Fold 2 certainly isn’t a device Samsung is relying on to boost its sales; it’s for those with disposable income to drop (during a pandemic marked by massive unemployment, nonetheless). Case in point: With the purchase of a Fold 2, Samsung promises its users access to “VIP benefits and experiences” through its Galaxy Z Premier program, in addition to an optional membership for something called a “Founders Card.” 

You know, very elite stuff.

Finally, a design that’s anxiety-free

If the first-generation Z Fold hadn’t been such a spectacular hardware fail, with its frail and fragile display, I wouldn’t be focusing on the Z Fold 2’s design all that much. Thankfully, durability isn’t a cause for concern this time around. 

At 2.7-inches thick when folded, the Z Fold 2 is a chunky device. And while I can’t comfortably slip it into my pockets, its thickness does make it more comfortable to hold with one-hand. I found I could firmly grasp onto it without worrying about accidental drops. It felt vaguely similar to holding a candy bar phone, which is actually a feeling I didn’t know I missed. 

Told ya it was chunky.

Told ya it was chunky.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

This balanced design means that navigating the 6.2-inch HD+ Super AMOLED cover display was a lot easier, too. That’s particularly important seeing as how Samsung increased the size from 4.6-inches on the last Fold, making it more functional. But more on that, later.

The Fold 2 opens up to reveal a 7.6-inch AMOLED display that’s made of Ultra Thin Glass, which in layman’s terms basically translates to flexible glass with a layer of plastic over it. It also comes with a screen protector pre-installed for that extra peace of mind. Much like my experience with the Galaxy Z Flip, I encountered no issues with the screen during my time with the Fold 2.

Samsung recommends leaving the screen protector on and any removal should be done by its own repair service or third-party technicians. This is likely due to last year’s debacle when some tech reviewers peeled what they thought was the screen protector on the Fold, but turned out to be the display — which ultimately destroyed the phones.

The 6.2-inch cover display gives you access to all your apps.

The 6.2-inch cover display gives you access to all your apps.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

It opens up to a 7.6-inch main display on the inside.

It opens up to a 7.6-inch main display on the inside.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

With a 1080 x 2636 pixel resolution, colors on the Fold 2 appear bright and vibrant even when in direct sunlight. And with a 120Hz refresh rate, it’s also super responsive when tapping, scrolling, or typing. It also helps that Samsung’s incorporated its signature Infinity-O technology into the Fold 2’s design, giving it a nearly bezel-free viewing experience. 

It’s also worth mentioning that there is a crease visible in the middle of the screen, which is inevitable for foldable displays in the present day. And while I would typically complain about something like this, it’s really not that noticeable. It’s also a fair compromise given that the Fold 2’s display is actually, ya know, functional.

When you flip the Fold 2 over to its back, you might notice that it looks super similar to the Note 20 Ultra with its brushed aluminum frame and rectangular triple-camera module. The camera bump isn’t nearly as thick here, though. So you don’t have worry about the device rocking back and forth while using it when placed on a flat surface.

In terms of buttons and ports, the Z Fold 2 features the standards: a USB-C port, power button (which doubles as a fingerprint sensor), volume rocker, and SIM card tray, as well as two speakers (one at the top and one at the bottom). 

The free-standing hinge allows you to position it at multiple angles.

The free-standing hinge allows you to position it at multiple angles.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

Holding this entire phone together is the free-standing hinge which gives you the option to position it at different angles, as opposed to just fully open or fully closed. When taking selfies or watching YouTube videos at my desk, I’d often prop the Fold 2 up halfway. This position also proves useful for hands-free video calls, as well. 

In addition to providing versatility, the free-standing hinge also makes the device feel more durable when folding and unfolding it multiple times throughout the day. While I can’t say for sure whether that impression will wear off over time, it does feel promising at this very moment.

To really drive home its emphasis on the new hinge, Samsung is offering users the option to choose from an array of hinge colors (i.e., gold, red, metallic silver, and blue) to complement the Z Fold 2 in either Mystic Bronze (the color of my review unit) or Mystic Black.

Performance that offers the best of both worlds 

Before we dive into what it’s like to use the Fold 2 on a daily basis, let’s gets some specs out of the way first. 

As far as its chipset goes, the device features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865+ processor with support for both flavors of 5G. That means you’ll be able to use either sub-6 5G or mmWave (for faster speeds), depending on what’s available in your area.

That screen protector is a fingerprint magnet, though.

That screen protector is a fingerprint magnet, though.

Image: brenda stolyar / mashable

Then, there’s the 4,500mAh dual battery which is bigger than the 4,380mAh battery found in the original Fold. 

With standard usage (i.e., scrolling through social media, taking some photos, answering emails and Slack messages), I was easily able to get through a full day with some power left over for the morning. If you plan on using it for some heavy all-day multitasking, then I’d say you’ll be able to push it until the evening.

As for storage configurations, the Fold 2 is only offered with 12GB of RAM and 256GB internal storage. 

Now, let’s move on to my experience using this device as a daily driver. For starters, it’s worth noting the Fold 2 is a lot more versatile than the first-generation version, thanks to that enhanced (and fully functional) cover display. As I mentioned  earlier, you can now comforta

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And now Triller is trying to buy U.S. TikTok, report claims

If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em. That appears to the thinking of Triller, a U.S.-based “social streaming” app, which according to Bloomberg teamed up with an asset management firm in an attempt to buy TikTok for $20 billion. Or, more specifically, to buy parts of TikTok for $20 billion.  Those parts include TikTok’s U.S.,…

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If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em.

That appears to the thinking of Triller, a U.S.-based “social streaming” app, which according to Bloomberg teamed up with an asset management firm in an attempt to buy TikTok for $20 billion. Or, more specifically, to buy parts of TikTok for $20 billion. 

Those parts include TikTok’s U.S., Australian, New Zealand, and Indian components — locations where the ByteDance-owned company ran into various legal troubles, faced security concerns, and risks possible shuttering. India went so far as to ban TikTok outright in June for “[engaging] in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” 

Triller, perhaps smelling blood in the water, joins the ever-growing list of U.S. companies trying to get a piece of TikTok’s huge social media market share. As of the time of this writing, Microsoft, Twitter, Oracle, and Walmart have all reportedly expressed interest

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