Surface Duo teardown magnifies flaws and strengths

Ewdison Then - Sep 30, 2020, 9:06pm CDT
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Surface Duo teardown magnifies flaws and strengths

The Microsoft Surface Duo is probably one of the prettiest phones we’ve seen this year but it may have also become one of the most disappointing. Beyond the 2019 specs in a 2020 device, the software experience has also been less than gratifying thanks to the accumulation of small but annoying bugs. The teardown and repair narrative is even worse as iFixit showed and now JerryRigEverything’s Zack Nelson makes that journey with an even more tragic ending.

Nelson is no teardown expert compared to iFixit but he does have had enough experience to know his way around. That, unfortunately, was not enough to save the Surface Duo right from the start. This $1,400 device was not designed to be easily repaired, perhaps even by Microsoft’s authorized personnel even.

Images of the Surface Duo’s innards circulated before its official launch and while it did show a beautiful masterpiece, that beauty comes at a heavy price. Taking the device apart wasn’t just extremely difficult, it was also practically pointless since many of the parts aren’t modular enough to be easily replaced. Yes, that includes the USB charging port that is often the first to wear down.

The Surface Duo’s one saving grace is ironically also its simplest: the hinge system. In contrast even to the already simpler Motorola Razr hinge, Microsoft’s design is even simpler and not vulnerable to minute particles. This is perhaps the only part that’s really designed to last.

If Microsoft manages to push out software updates that will fix many of the Surface Duo’s bugs, the devices might still have a chance to become one of 2020’s most notable products. Those with a mind towards durability, repairability, and longevity, however, might want to sit this one out and wait for a Surface Duo 2. Presuming, of course, that one will be coming.


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