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Home » Microsoft Surface Duo 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: which foldable phone will win?

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 vs Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: which foldable phone will win?

In this face-to-face between Microsoft Surface Duo 2 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, we’ll explain how these two phone-tablet hybrids compare. Microsoft’s latest device has two separate screens, while the Samsung is a true foldable one. Both are quite similar on paper besides being quite expensive.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 looks more futuristic, acting as both a phone and a tablet thanks to its indoor and outdoor displays. The Surface Duo 2 can only be used unfolded, making it difficult to operate with one hand.

While waiting to get our hands on a Surface Duo 2 later in October, we wanted to give you a taste of how Microsoft’s device compares to Samsung’s best foldable phone. The two devices have similar specs, which puts Microsoft in a good position to challenge Samsung’s foldable device.

Surface Duo 2 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3: Specs

Surface Duo 2 Galaxy z fold 3
Starting price $ 1,499 $ 1,799
Attach 2x 5.8 inches (1344 x 1892); 8.3 inches (2688 x 1892) combined 7.6-inch AMOLED (1,768 x 2,208) internal; 6.2 inch AMOLED cover (832 x 2268)
Refresh rate 90 Hz 120 Hz
CPU Snapdragon 888 Snapdragon 888
RAM 8 GB 12 GB
Storage room 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB 256 GB, 512 GB
Rear cameras 12MP (f / 1.7) main, 16MP (f / 2.2) ultra-wide, 12MP (f / 2.4) with 2x optical zoom 12MP (f / 1.8) main, 12MP (f / 2.2) ultra-wide, 12MP (f / 2.4) telephoto with 2x optical zoom
Front camera 12MP (f / 2.0) 10MP (f / 2.2), 4MP (f / 1.8) UDC
Drums 4449 mAh 4400 mAh
Charging 23W 25W

Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3: price and release date

Microsoft announced the Surface Duo 2 at its Surface event on September 22. The phone will arrive on October 21 with a starting price of $ 1,499 for the 128GB model. There will also be 256GB and 512GB options. You can pre-order the Surface Duo 2 now from the Microsoft store.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was released in late August with a starting price of $ 1,799 for the 256GB variant. The 512GB model costs $ 1,899. Check out our Galaxy Z Fold 3 best deals page to make sure you get the best deal.

Surface Duo 2 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3: Design

The Surface Duo 2 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 share some similarities in that they both fold up, but that’s about where it ends. The biggest design differences are in the layout of the internal screens and the fact that Microsoft’s phone does not have an external cover screen like the Fold 3.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 in hand

(Image credit: Coupang)

The Surface Duo 2 is a foldable phone like the first Duo, where the screens are separated by a bezel. It can open different apps on each screen or expand one on both panels. Close the phone when you are finished.

The lack of a cover screen on the Surface Duo 2 requires you to open the phone to use it. This means that there is no need to hold the phone with one hand, as the two 5.8-inch displays measure 8.3 inches together. While the Surface Duo 2 looks like its predecessor, it won’t be comfortable to use under most circumstances.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 can act like a phone when closed, even though it’s thicker and heavier than a traditional smartphone.

Surface Duo 2 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3: screens

With these phones, the real allure – or gimmick, depending on your perspective – is the dual display. The Surface Duo 2 includes two separate 5.8-inch panels with a resolution of 1344 x 1892 each, or 2688 x 1892 together. Microsoft said both displays have 90Hz refresh rates, which means smoother scrolling and higher frame rates in supported games. It can also be useful when scrolling through documents, presentations, or spreadsheets.

Multi-active window Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

(Image credit: Avenir)

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 unfolds into a 7.6-inch display with a resolution of 2208 x 1768 and an adaptive refresh rate of 120 Hz. It also has a 6.2-inch (2268 x 832 ) at 120 Hz, which makes the Fold 3 a phone and a tablet.

microsoft surface duo 2 texting

(Image credit: Microsoft)

We don’t know much else about the Surface Duo 2’s displays like its color saturation or accuracy. Microsoft doesn’t have a steep hill to climb to improve the new phone’s screens – the original Surface Duo had a disappointing 460 nits peak brightness in our testing. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 also disappointed, with 422 nits in our lab. Microsoft says its new device has a peak brightness of 800 nits.

Surface Duo 2 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 lying face down on a laptop

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The Surface Duo 2 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 both have triple rear cameras in a wide-angle, ultra-wide, and telephoto arrangement. Microsoft’s new phone has a 12 MP main camera, 16 MP ultra-wide, and 12 MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. Inside there is a 12MP front camera.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 offers a similar lineup, with a 12 MP primary telephoto, 12 MP ultra-wide, and 12 MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. But where it beats the Surface Duo 2 is that it has two front cameras: a 10MP camera on the cover screen and a 4MP sub-screen camera on the inside.

Microsoft is talking about the Surface Duo 2’s camera, but again, almost all phone makers are doing it for their phones – we advise some skepticism here. Microsoft has the size and the technical know-how to do something good in terms of computer photography, so we’ll have to see.

Surface Duo 2 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 3: performance and 5G

The Surface Duo 2 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 both use the Snapdragon 888 system-on-chip, which is Qualcomm’s best. It powers many of the best Android phones and the best gaming phones. In the case of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, it handles multiple screens, high refresh rate, and gaming apps very well.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 standing on a table

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

When Microsoft launched the Surface Duo last year, it opted to use 2019 hardware, namely the Snapdragon 855. While not a bad chip, it wasn’t as good as the Snapdragon 865. because many were disappointed to see a $ 1,400 phone use a year-old processor. So at least the Surface Duo 2 has the current specs.

Microsoft has gone for 8 GB of RAM for its new phone, while the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has 12 GB. Considering that one of the distinguishing features of the Surface Duo 2 is that it can run two apps side by side, we we expected more RAM, especially in a device that starts at $ 1,499. 8 GB is probably fine, however.

Microsoft has added 5G to the Surface Duo 2, aligning it with other 2021 flagships, including the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The Surface Duo 2 also has NFC technology, unlike its predecessor.

Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3: Battery life and charging

Foldables have one notable weakness: battery life. The cost of having devices that fold in half is reduced space for power supplies. This has hampered the viability of some phones, including the Galaxy Z Flip 3 (which we otherwise loved).

Galaxy Z Fold 3 closed and S Pen

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The first Surface Duo had a paltry 3,577 mAh battery, which gave a disappointing result in the Tom’s Guide battery test. At less than 7 hours, the Surface Duo left a lot to be desired in this regard.

The Surface Duo 2 appears to have fixed this problem, with Microsoft increasing the battery capacity to 4,499mAh. That’s bigger than the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s 4,400mAh. Samsung’s best foldable also performed poorly in our battery test: 7 hours and 52 minutes in 60Hz mode and 6 hours and 35 minutes with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate enabled.

For charging, the Surface Duo 2 supports up to 23W (compared to 18W on the Surface Duo), while the Galaxy Z Fold 3 goes up to 25W.

Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3: Software and Special Features

As Microsoft continues to delay updating the Surface Duo’s software, the Surface Duo 2 will ship with Android 11 out of the box. If and when it gets Android 12, everyone’s guessing, given Microsoft’s track record of updating their phones. The Duo 2 will come with preinstalled Microsoft bloatware and an upgraded Microsoft launcher.

Duo 2 Surface Editing Features with Slim 2 Pen

(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the main features of the Surface Duo 2 is the ability to run two apps side-by-side or have one that spans both screens. With the new Surface Slim Pen 2, the Surface Duo 2 is expected to have similar productivity features to the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Since Android 12 is yet to be released, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 runs Android 11. Samsung has gotten better about Android updates in recent years, so we’re hoping the foldable will see the latest version of it. Android by the end of the year or shortly after the Galaxy S22 launches early next year.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 and S stylus

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a wide array of features, such as the incredibly useful taskbar, DeX mode (which is a desktop user interface when you connect the phone to a monitor), drag and drop, Flex and App Pair mode. That’s not to say that the Z Fold 3 supports the fan-favorite S Pen, allowing for precise note-taking, document markup, and several artistic possibilities.

Samsung has given some serious thought to taking full advantage of the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s foldable display. We’re still not sure what functionality Microsoft expects for the Surface Duo 2.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: Outlook

We don’t know how Microsoft’s new foldable phone will fare compared to Samsung’s foldable, but our interest is certainly piqued. Microsoft has left a lot of room for improvement with the original Surface Duo and the successor seems to have fixed several issues, like specs and 5G.

Battery life will be a major hurdle for the Surface Duo 2 to overcome, although the Galaxy Z Fold 3 isn’t doing very well either. Battery technology just hasn’t caught up with foldable / foldable phones yet.

The Surface Duo 2 is available October 21, so stay tuned for our review.

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