Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 vs. Microsoft Surface Duo

Two unique and capable folding phones face off

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Galaxy Z Fold2 vs. Microsoft Surface Duo
 Lifewire

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 and the Microsoft Surface Duo are two of the most interesting and unique phones on the market today. Both are folding phones, adopting a unique two-part design with a flexible screen or hinge that lets them act as a phone for one-handed use and unfold into a tablet-sized device for multimedia and multitasking. We took a look at both phones, comparing their design, display quality, specs, and more to help you decide which one to get. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 Microsoft Surface Duo
120Hz HDR10+ display No high refresh or HDR10+
Snapdragon 865+ processor Snapdragon 855 processor
12GB RAM 6GB RAM
5G connectivity No 5G connectivity
Three 12MP rear cameras Single 11MP rear camera

Design and Display 

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 has a broad resemblance to a Note 20 when looked at from the back. It has a plastic edge-to-edge screen on the front, a glass back, and an aluminum frame. When snapped closed, it looks like two phones stacked on top of each other making it slightly thick. There’s a triple camera array on the back, along with a pair of selfie cameras on the front. Because the front of the screen is plastic, it’s not as durable as glass and may be prone to scratches (it comes with a screen protector installed by default). 

When you unfold the screen, it comes out to 7.6 inches, while folded it has a 6.23-inch cover display. The screen resolution is a crisp 2208x1768 pixels, which works out to 373ppi. The screen is a foldable version of Samsung’s AMOLED, giving you bright and vivid colors boosted by HDR10+. The panel is also a high refresh display at 120Hz, giving you smooth motion and transitions, especially for multimedia and games. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.

The Surface Duo is quite different from the Z Fold2 in design Rather than having a folding screen, it’s actually two screens connected by a hinge in the middle. That means you get a phone with a Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, and it’s not a folding screen so you have less worry about creases and breakage over the course of use. The downside is that there’s a quite sizable bezel on both the top and bottom and a bezel down the middle where the hinge meets. Apps, shows, and games won’t look nearly as seamless as the Z Fold2. 

The screen itself is of middling quality. It’s 5.6 inches folded and 8.1 inches unfolded, making it slightly bigger than the Z Fold2. It has 2700x12800 pixels, working out to a crisp 401ppi. It’s also AMOLED so you get deep blacks and nice colors, but it’s not a high refresh panel nor rated for HDR10+, so you’ll be missing smoothness and dynamic range. 

Performance and Camera

Samsung has packed the Z Fold2 with specs on par with its flagship phone lineup. You get a Snapdragon 865+ processor, which is the best Android chipset on the market. It has 12GB of RAM and 256GB/512GB internal storage. Multitasking and demanding games shouldn’t be a problem to run despite the large and hungry display. 

The camera setup consists of three 12MP sensors: a standard wide-angle sensor, a telephoto sensor for 2x optical zoom, and an ultrawide sensor. Pictures are on par with the Note20 Ultra and other high-end Samsung phones. It can also record 4K video at 60fps, and there are a pair of 10MP selfie cameras on the front. 

Surface Duo
Microsoft Surface Duo.

The Microsoft Surface Duo isn’t nearly as capable as the Z Fold2. It’s powered by a somewhat older Snapdragon 855 chipset, has 6GB of RAM, and 128GB/256GB storage. While apps and games should still run fine, for the most part, it won’t score nearly as well in benchmark tests and might chug more for running lots of apps side by side. 

Camera capabilities are even more shortchanged. There’s just a single 11MP rear sensor with no other sensors for telephoto zoom or ultrawide shots. It can record 4K at 60fps. There’s also no selfie camera, instead, it simply uses the rear camera for selfies. 

Software and Connectivity 

Both the Z Fold2 and Surface Duo run on Android 10. Samsung has its custom One UI skin on top, giving you a variety of features, Samsung apps, and things like the Bixby voice assistant. There are also several customizations for multitasking to help you run apps side by side, split the screen, Samsung DeX, and more. The S Pen doesn’t work for the phone currently. The Z Fold2 has full 5G connectivity

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G
Amazon

The Surface Duo also runs Android 10, but it’s been some time since Microsoft has released a phone, let alone an Android phone. However, you’ll find similar features to make multitasking easier, run apps side by side, and it might actually work better for workflow because there are two separate screens allowing you to compose an email in one while connecting on Zoom with the other. It’s compatible with the Surface Pen for note-taking and can link to Windows. 5G connectivity is not supported. 

Price

At MSRP the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 will run you $2,000, making it one of the most expensive phones you can get, though many carriers are offering it for $1,000 with a trade-in. The Microsoft Surface Duo is cheaper at $1,400 and is currently on sale for $1,200, which makes sense since there aren’t nearly as many high-end components or features packed on.

Final Verdict

If you’re willing and able to shell out $2,000 for a phone, you may as well get the Galaxy Z Fold2. Samsung has had experience making a folding phone before, it packs in all the best hardware like the Snapdragon 865+, high refresh display, and 5G connectivity. It also looks a lot nicer overall. The Surface Duo may have more productivity potential due to the dual screens, Microsoft apps, and Surface Pen support, but it’s underpowered when it comes to hardware and camera capabilities and doesn’t have 5G support making it hard to justify.

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