My Hands-On Journey with the Massive Microsoft Surface Duo 2 – The Biggest Phone Yet

As a longtime tech product reviewer nerding out over the latest mobile innovations, I was immediately intrigued when Microsoft unveiled the radically plus-sized Surface Duo 2 foldable last year. With its twin unfolding displays measuring a mammoth 8.3 inches diagonal, this "phone" obliterates the usual notions of pocketable portability.

I knew I had to get my hands on the world‘s biggest cell phone to see if its outrageous dimensions translated into productivity prowess worthy of the $1,500 asking price. Or if the Duo 2 marked the point where smartphones officially went hilariously overboard on display real estate.

After extensively testing this mobile behemoth for the past month, I’m ready to break down everything you need to know about living day-to-day with the largest phone ever brought to market.

Just How Giant is the Microsoft Surface Duo 2?

Let’s begin by fully visualizing the extreme proportions Microsoft engineered with the Surface Duo 2.

Surface Duo 2 fully open

The Surface Duo 2 flaunting a tablet-rivaling 8.3 inch screen

Fully unfolded to reveal both 5.8 inch AMOLED displays, it measures at a staggering:

  • 8.3 inches (11 inches diagonal) – for comparison, the original 2007 iPhone was just 3.5 inches
  • 5.5 inches wide
  • Over 0.25 inches thick even when closed

It‘s far beyond standard extra large “phablet” dimensions. This is an outright two-handed tablet shape requiring dedicated bag space rather than pocket portability.

In fact, the Duo 2 is closer in size to early bulky 1980s cell phones than contemporary smartphones.

To showcase just how extreme we’ve gotten, check out this phone display size progression:

YearPhoneScreen Size
1946AT&T Bell Labs Proto-Mobile5 inches
1973Motorola DynaTAC5 inches
1984Motorola DynaTAC 8000x9 inches
2002Danger Hiptop/T-Mobile Sidekick2.6 inches
2007Apple iPhone3.5 inches
2011Samsung Galaxy Note5.3 inches
2020Samsung Galaxy Z Fold27.6 inches
2021Microsoft Surface Duo 28.3 inches

We’ve seen a 128% screen size surge in just 10 years. Where does it end?

While the Surface Duo 2 takes “oversized” to unprecedented levels, Microsoft argues all that real estate turbocharges productivity. Does that claim hold up or is a phone this big simply too ridiculous to actually use? Let‘s investigate further…

Living With a Hilariously Large "Phone"

Make no mistake – the Duo 2‘s game changing dimensions affect your entire user experience…


Hauling around an 8 inch slab in your pocket is obviously off the table. Even large coat pockets likely won‘t cut it. Most outfits will mandate lugging a bag specifically to encase this mobile behemoth.

It also won’t comfortably balance for long phone calls without a headset. Flip open that mammoth display for quick repartee and your arm will tire fast.

Everyday Use

From unlocking the device to snapping photos, the Duo 2 regularly requires two-handed operation. Forget using it comfortably with just one hand for most tasks.

Fortunately, the dual screen setup balances weight nicely when fully opened. But you relinquish that trademark phone convenience and quick access. This is more an ultra portable computer than everyday mobile companion.

Productivity Potential

Here’s where the Duo 2’s sprawling real estate shines brightest. By dividing full widescreen space between two squared-off displays, Microsoft enables powerful app multitasking and creative new use cases.

I can comfortably research topics in Edge while taking notes in OneNote. Streaming Netflix as I browse the web or play Xbox Cloud Gaming with a YouTube walkthrough running aside the game window.

The Surface Duo 2 fully owns mobile productivity in a way no conventional smartphone can match. But does that business-centric versatility justify its unwieldy design?

The Viability Conundrum of Plus-Sized Phones

After extensively testing the Surface Duo 2 as my daily phone, my key takeaways are:

For mobile professionals – this is a potential laptop replacement offering functionality akin to dual monitors with unique viewing flexibility. If your mobile usage skews toward productivity, the Duo 2 warrants consideration.

For casual users – two screens rarely offer meaningful benefit over modern app switching. And the excessive size hampers portability without sufficient upside.

The Duo 2 nails use cases like collaborative mobile work and maximizing screen real estate. But its core content consumption strengths – gorgeous displays and top notch speakers – get lost in the functionality shuffle.

And while Microsoft apps shine on the dual interfaces, third party optimization issues persist. Software just hasn‘t fully caught up to unconventional hardware.

Analysts similarly debate the Duo 2‘s long term viability, citing narrow appeal given its price and branding:

"Only a small percentage of smartphone shoppers will be drawn to the Duo concept." - Forrester‘s Thomas Husson

"It‘s still not clear there‘s a sufficient market for these products." - IDC‘s Ramon Llamas  

So while game changing for some, the Duo 2 seems unlikely to drive an industry shift toward larger phones. We may remember it more as an ambitious novelty than watershed device.

And until dimensions can decrease further, plus-sized foldables face inherent niche appeal. But innovation often overshoots acceptable limits before finding the right balance.

If Microsoft can trim just an inch or two in follow-up dual screen models, that sweet spot blending bigscreen utility with reasonable portability may not be far off.

The Bottom Line

The Surface Duo 2 didn‘t fully sway me on supersized phones as essential productivity tools rather than expensive novelties. It nails use cases like splitscreen app multitasking but falls short as an all-purpose flagship.

And the core experience feels more akin to a mini tablet or foldable laptop than smartphone evolution. But Iapplaud Microsoft for ambitiously pushing boundaries and use cases – even if this first effort skews a bit too unrealistic for most.

If you heavily prioritize screen real estate and computing versatility over pocketable portability, the Duo 2 delivers productivity in spades. Just brace for its hilarious size drawing eyes and elbowing bags everywhere you take it!

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