Sep 22nd, 2021

2021 is definitely the year of the foldable phone, at least for many, as we now have another addition to the growing lineup of options. Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 is the latest foldable device to hit the market, yet takes a different approach compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Z Flip 3, and Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold. Just like its predecessor, the Surface Duo 2 relies on two separate displays, connected by a hinge, that can be operated independently or as one big screen. But how well do the Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3 and which should be your next foldable phone?

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3: Spec Comparison

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Price $1,499 $1,799
Screen size Dual 5.8-inch PixelSense (90Hz) 7.6-inches (120Hz)
Cover Screen Size N/A 6.2-inch (120Hz)
Main Screen Resolution 2688 x 1892 2208 x 1768
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM 8GB 12GB
Storage 128 / 256 / 512 GB 256 / 512 GB
Battery 4500 mAh 4400 mAh
OS Android 11 Android 11
Rear camera Triple cameras:
12MP, f/1.7 (main)
16MP, f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
12MP, f/2.4 (telephoto)
Triple-cameras:
12MP, f/1.8 (main),
12MP, f/2.2 (ultra-wide),
12MP, f2.4, (telephoto)
Front camera 12MP 10MP (cover), 4MP (main)
Bluetooth v5.1 v5.0
NFC Yes Yes
Dimensions (Open) 145.2 x 184.5 x 5.50 mm 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4 mm
Dimensions (Closed) 145.2 x 92.1 x 11.0 mm 158.2 x 67.1 x 16 mm
Weight 284 g 271 g
Water Resistance N/A IPX8
Wireless Charging No Yes
Stylus Support Surface Pen / Surface Slim Pen S Pen Fold Edition / S Pen Pro
Special features WiFi 6, sub-6 and mmWave 5G, 23W fast charging, Fingerprint scanner (power button) WiFi 6, sub-6 and mmWave 5G, 25W fast charging, Fingerprint scanner (power button)

Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3: The Similarities

Comparing the internals of the Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3, there really aren’t that many differences. Both devices are powered by the Snapdragon 888, and both offer either 128GB or 256GB of storage. Android 11 is found across the board, although, the Surface Duo 2 uses Microsoft Launcher and a slightly-tweaked interface. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 relies on Samsung’s One UI 3.1.1 that made its debut with the Z Fold 3 and Flip 3.

Camera-wise, Microsoft added a triple-camera array to the back of the Duo 2, which matches up with the triple-camera array found on the back of the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Both devices feature a 12MP wide-angle lens, along with a 12MP telephoto lens. The only difference here comes in the form of the 16MP ultra-wide found on the Duo 2 compared to the 12MP ultra-wide on the Fold 3.

Considering that the Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3 are essentially tablets, it makes sense for Microsoft and Samsung to support stylus input. This was already technically possible with the original Surface Duo, but Microsoft confirmed that its new Surface Slim Pen will also work. On the other hand, Samsung introduced a dedicated S Pen Fold Edition, while also releasing the S Pen Pro with a hardware switch that allows you to ensure that you’re using the right type of pressure.

As for features of the folding screens, Microsoft and Samsung have respectively included software tweaks for unique interactions. The only actual difference is the implementation due to the differing designs. For example, with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, you can use Flex Mode and prop up your phone. But with the Surface Duo 2, you have the ability to adjust the hinge to different positions in order to do whatever it is that you need to.

Other similarities for these two devices include support for Wi-Fi 6 and both sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G connectivity. Both are equipped with an NFC chip for contactless payments, and we have an embedded fingerprint scanner located in the power button for either phone.

Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3: The Differences

We won’t spend much time on this, but the most obvious difference between the Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the screens. Samsung’s option provides a closer-to-traditional experience with the Cover Screen, before unfolding to reveal the 7.6-inch tablet-like main screen. The Surface Duo 2 opts for a different approach thanks to the unique hinge system that connects the dual 5.8-inch PixelSense displays. While we were happy to learn that the Duo 2 now offers a 90Hz refresh rate for both panels, it still falls short of Samsung’s 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate integrated into both the Cover Screen and main display.

Under the hood, Samsung paired the Z Fold 3 and its Snapdragon 888 with 12GB of RAM, while Microsoft opted to max out at 8GB with its Duo 2. And that also extends to the storage, as the base model Duo 2 is equipped with 128GB, compared to the 256GB base option for the Z Fold 3.

There are a couple of other areas where the Z Fold 3 excels compared to the competition. The first of which is in the size and weight, measuring in at 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4mm when open, and weighing just 271 grams. The Surface Duo 2 measures 145.2 x 184.5 x 5.50mm when open and weighs 284 grams. The weight difference is really the key here, along with being substantially wider than the Z Fold 3, which could combine for an unpleasant experience when holding the phone for long periods of time.

Samsung also introduced the first foldable phone to sport an official water-resistance rating, as its IPX8-certified. This means that the Z Fold 3 can withstand being submerged in up to five feet of water for up to 30 minutes. While there were hopes that Microsoft would follow suit, it just wasn’t meant to be this time around, as there seems to be no official water-resistance rating available with the Duo 2.

Finally, we have the price. And here’s how the pricing shakes out for each device:

  • Surface Duo 2
    • 128GB: $1,499
    • 256GB: $1,599
    • 512GB: $1,799
  • Galaxy Z Fold 3
    • 256GB: $1,799
    • 512GB: $1,899

Of course, both of these devices are expensive as it is, but you can get 512GB of storage with the Surface Duo 2 for the same price as the base model Galaxy Z Fold 3 with 256GB. And while that sounds pretty good, that does not take into account the different sales, deals, and promotions that are available. For example, at the time of this writing, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is on sale for $1,599, matching up head-to-head with Microsoft’s brand Surface Duo 2.

Which foldable phone works best for you?

Let’s face it, you really won’t be disappointed with either the Surface Duo 2 vs Galaxy Z Fold 3. Both of these devices are technological marvels in their own right, with one offering dual displays, versus a single foldable screen. Both offer a similar experience for foldable phones, just using different implementations, such as Flex Mode versus just folding the hinge back.

Pricing is even the same, considering that we’re now starting to see a few discounts and sales for Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3. Perhaps things would look a bit different if Microsoft had come in with a starting price of around $1,200. But instead, Microsoft is looking to take on Samsung directly with the Duo 2. Let’s just hope that the Duo 2 doesn’t suffer from the same software frustrations as its predecessor.

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