Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Microsoft Surface Duo: two different foldable ideas

Samsung has come to dominate the fledgling foldable phone format, with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 representing one of two third-generation foldable devices from the brand.

But it isn’t the only hinged phablet in town. Last year, we received the Microsoft Surface Duo as a bold new attempt at smartphone legitimacy from the Windows maker.

Microsoft has just announced the Surface Duo 2, but that’s not out yet so here we’re focusing on the first-gen model. So how do these two smart hybrids compare? Does Samsung’s iterative headstart show in the final reckoning?

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 vs Microsoft Surface Duo price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 hit shops on August 27, 2021 in the US and UK, and September 10 in Australia. Prices start at $1,799 / £1,599 / AU$2,499 for the 256GB model, while $1,899 / £1,699 / AU$2,649 gets you 512GB of storage.

The Surface Duo was made available on September 10, 2020 in the US and February 2021 in the UK. Prices started at $1,399 / £1,350 (about AU$1,930) for 128GB of internal storage, moving up to $1,499 / £1,449 (about AU$2,080) for 256GB.

That’s already a fair bit cheaper than the Galaxy Z Fold3, and we’ve only seen that Surface Duo price drop since launch. In fact, we’ve seen the device go for as low as $700 / £680 for the 128GB version and $750 / £730 for the 256GB variant.

Whatever happens over the coming sections, then (SPOILER ALERT: it really is quite a one-sided battle), remember that the Microsoft Surface Duo can be had for less than half the money of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3.


Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Image 2 of 2

(Image credit: Microsoft)

These are two of the most head-turning smartphones on the market, but in terms of pure design, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 wins out. It doesn’t get everything its own way, though.

At 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4mm unfurled, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a much squarer and thicker device than the 186.9 x 145.2 x 4.8mm Surface Duo. It’s also a fair bit heavier at 271g versus 250g.

That thickness really makes all the difference when both devices are folded. While the Microsoft Surface Duo still resembles a regular phone at less than 10mm thick, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is about 50% thicker.

Microsoft’s hinge system is also more subtle and pretty, with a minimal gap and an awesome feel. It’s remarkably solid despite its daintiness, too. Samsung’s third-gen hinge is more of a triumph of iteration, with a rather utilitarian approach.

It won’t open a full 360-degrees in the way of Microsoft’s hinge. Samsung’s device can still be used in this ‘closed’ position, but only by implementing a second external display, which feels like an altogether less elegant solution.

Microsoft’s foldable tablet is slightly sexier, then, but it isn’t quite as rugged as the Samsung. It doesn’t have the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s IPX8 waterproof rating, and its front and rear are coated in Gorilla Glass 5 rather than the Samsung’s superior Gorilla Glass Victus.


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 screen (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

Both phones employ two displays, although their implementation is very different.

While Samsung uses one large foldable 7.6-inch AMOLED screen, and one 6.2-inch AMOLED Cover Display, Microsoft splits its 8.1-inch AMOLED into two distinct halves – hence the Duo name. These can serve as a single display, but the point is to have clear separation for the Duo’s split-screen functions.

Samsung’s main screen is undoubtedly more of a feat of engineering. While you’ll notice a ridge running down the middle, it’s less obvious than Microsoft’s clear separating bezel. Indeed, in general we didn’t find it desirable to run cross-screen media and the like on the Surface Duo, whereas it’s quite feasible on the Galaxy.

At 1800 x 2700, the Microsoft screen is sharper than its 1768 x 2208 Samsung equivalent, but we’re only talking a small difference in pixel density: 401ppi vs 374ppi.

Both of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3’s screens benefit from a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, too. Microsoft’s device only hits a standard 60Hz.

All in all, despite an ostensibly similar form factor, these are two very different approaches to display technology. We’d have to give Samsung the nod on raw quality and media readiness, but there are one or two ways in which the Microsoft Surface Duo’s dual screens prove more impressive.


(Image credit: Future)

For two ostensibly premium, forward-thinking devices, the camera experience is universally disappointing. Still, the Microsoft Surface Duo’s camera is markedly more disappointing than that of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

The latter’s triple 12-megapixel camera system isn’t bad at all. It just doesn’t represent any real progress from the Galaxy Z Fold 2, and it fails to match up to the excellent Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra camera that wowed us earlier in the year.

It’s still led by a fairly large and capable 1/1.76in 12-megapixel wide sensor, though, which can capture decent images. And that’s still backed up by a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto sensor with a 2X optical zoom.

By contrast, Microsoft’s solitary 11-megapixel f/2.0 sensor is decidedly lacking. We described it as “easily the weakest point of the device” in our review, although it does feature a halfway decent Portrait mode, and it can still record 4K 60fps video, just like the Samsung.

The Duo’s overworked camera has to pull double-duty as a selfie camera, too, and on that front at least it’s a qualified success. Samsung has opted for a dedicated under-display 4-megapixel solution, which is clever. When you come down to the business of shooting selfies, however, it turns out poor results.

Still, Samsung also includes a separate 10-megapixel selfie camera on the Cover Display, which is a little better.

Specs and performance

There’s a full year between these two products, so you’d expect the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 to be a generation ahead in terms of performance. In fact, it’s actually two generations ahead of its Microsoft rival.

While the Galaxy Z Fold 3 runs on the Snapdragon 888, like most other current flagship phones, the Microsoft Surface Duo runs on the creaky Snapdragon 855.

Even at the time of launch, we commented that this should really have been the Snapdragon 865, which was the Snapdragon 888’s immediate predecessor. Time hasn’t changed our mind one bit.

Samsung also packs its foldable with double the RAM of its rival: 12GB as opposed to 6GB. In devices such as these, which are built for juggling and stacking multiple applications, that’s a notable advantage.

You also get more generous storage with the Samsung, with a choice of either 256GB or 512GB. Microsoft only offers 128GB or 256GB. Neither packs a microSD slot, however.

One other difference that hasn’t helped the Microsoft Surface Duo age well is the lack of 5G connectivity. Needless to say, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 supports this next-generation – or rather current-generation – network connectivity.

Both foldables support their manufacturers’ advanced styluses: the S Pen for Samsung, the Surface Pen for Microsoft. Both are great, but you’ll have to buy them separately, which is a shame all-round.

Samsung and Microsoft both include their own custom software to take advantage of these styluses, as well as those expanded screens. Both are derived from Android, although the Samsung utilizes Android 11, while the Microsoft Surface Duo is still stuck on Android 10 at the time of writing.


You wouldn’t choose either of these devices if stamina was a primary concern.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 packs in a 4400mAh battery – less than even the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus – while the Microsoft Surface Duo includes an even smaller 3577mAh cell.

This isn’t very promising from the get-go. However, while neither device inspires confidence in daily use, only the Samsung proved a particular disappointment in this regard.

We found that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 would rarely get through a full day if we hit its 5G and camera hard. Conversely, the Microsoft Surface Duo managed to get us through a full day consistently across the two weeks of our test period.

Of course, much of this performance is a result of the fact that the Surface Duo doesn’t include modern energy-sapping features such as 5G and a 120Hz display. We’d much rather have the option to toggle these functions on and off, as is the case with the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

On the charging front, Samsung wins comfortably – but it isn’t a particularly impressive effort in either case.

You get 25W wired charging support with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and a mere 18W with the Microsoft Surface Duo. With more traditional rivals offering 65W and 67W charging, neither is a great offering from either manufacturer.

Still, at least Samsung offers 11W wireless charging. Microsoft doesn’t offer any such thing, despite coating its sleek foldable in glass.


The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

In an emerging yet sparsely populated foldable phone market, Samsung is the undisputed king. Its Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the most capable and fully rounded smartphone-tablet hybrid on the market, with Microsoft’s older, prototype-like Surface Duo not really able to compete in most regards.

It isn’t a complete whitewash, however. The Surface Duo has a more elegant and tactile design, and is significantly more affordable these days. There are elements of its dual-screen approach that we really like, too, especially when it comes to running two apps side by side.

But the Galaxy Z Fold 3 blitzes its opponent in most areas. It’s way more powerful, offers more fluid displays, is built a little tougher, and it has a much more capable camera system.

In addition, you also get 5G connectivity and wireless charging with the Samsung – neither of which are anywhere to be found on Microsoft’s foldable.

In a way, this doesn’t feel like a fair fight, and the real test will come when Microsoft launches its second-generation foldable. For now, however, Samsung is safely installed as the provisional king of the foldable format.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Intel unveils 12th Gen Intel Core; launches 'world's best gaming processor', i9-12900K

Today at Intel Innovation, Intel unveiled the 12th Gen Intel Core processor family with the launch of six new unlocked desktop processors, including what it claims is the world’s best ... Read more »

Chicago just approved one of the US's largest basic-income pilots: $500 monthly payments for 5,000 people

Marquisha Byrd makes face shields for frontline responders at Dimo’s Pizza in Chicago, April 16, 2020. Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images Chicago's city council voted Wednesday to approve one of the US's ... Read more »

[Awards] Incheon Free Economic Zone communicates with globe

Kim Jae-beomINCHEON FREE ECONOMIC ZONE AUTHORITY By Kim Jae-beomDirector of media & culture division I am very glad to see the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority being recognized at The ... Read more »

Cybercriminals claim to have hacked NRA

A ransomware group that experts say is based in Russia has posted what it claims are 13 National Rifle Association files to the dark web. Read more »

A beginner's guide to AI: Ethics

Welcome to Neural’s beginner’s guide to AI. This multi-part feature should provide you with a very basic understanding of what AI is, what it can do, and how it works. ... Read more »

Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are coming to your web browser

Collaborating with others using Adobe’s graphic design software will soon be even easier as the company has announced that two of the most popular products from Creative Cloud will soon ... Read more »

22 awesome gifts wine lovers actually want

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Finding the right gifts for wine lovers is no easy fête. ... Read more »

Maryland congressman deactivates Facebook account

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland congressman announced Wednesday that he has deactivated his official congressional and campaign Facebook and Instagram accounts until their parent company and Congress make substantial ... Read more »

Watch: When Google CEO Sundar Pichai forgot to unmute himself

Google parent Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai has shared a video where while talking he forgot to unmute himself. Pichai has shared the two-minute long video of the incident on Twitter. ... Read more »

Sony might release a terrible VR headset soon, but don't worry, it's not PSVR 2

This week’s VR headset updates keep coming with the latest being a leak suggesting Sony is working on a non-PSVR 2 virtual reality device. Earlier this week Pimax unveiled its ... Read more »

Call of Duty: Vanguard won't eat up as much hard drive space as previous games

Activision Blizzard Lawsuit Publisher Activision Blizzard, responsible for the game this article refers to, is currently embroiled in ongoing litigation in regards to claims reporting a workplace culture that allegedly ... Read more »

The new Nokia G300 elevates what an affordable phone can do

Getting the best value when buying a new phone can be tricky. You can always just buy the latest and greatest thing, but not everyone has $1,000 to drop on ... Read more »

Should you buy a new Kindle Paperwhite now or wait for the Black Friday deals?

Read more »

Apple's new SharePlay feature for FaceTime will soon support TikTok, NBA and Disney+

On Monday, Apple rolled out an update to iPhones so users could talk on FaceTime while watching their favorite shows and movies or listening to music. Soon, iPhone owners on ... Read more »

Amid a computer chip and car parts shortage, GM third-quarter profits plummet 40%

General Motors reported Wednesday that its third-quarter net income plummeted 40% as it struggled against production constraints and thin new car inventory. The auto industry has faced a global shortage ... Read more »

Early Black Friday deal drops the Surface Pro 7 to $599 - the lowest price ever

Early Black Friday deals are live at Best Buy, and we’ve just spotted a massive price cut on Microsoft’s versatile Surface Pro 7. Right now, you can get the Surface ... Read more »

Many businesses are still failing to secure their cloud data

Despite the unabated onslaught of cyber-attacks on cloud computing providers, a vast majority of businesses still fail to encrypt their sensitive data housed in public clouds. The 2021 Thales Global ... Read more »

West Ham vs Man City live stream: how to watch 2021 Carabao Cup online from anywhere

West Ham host Man City in a mouthwatering clash of the Premier League’s third- and fourth-placed teams. This is the first meeting of David Moyes’ impressive outfit and Pep Guardiola’s ... Read more »

Black Friday MacBook Air deals

If you’re looking for a MacBook Air Black Friday deal, then this year you could be in luck. The latest model, the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), is in our view ... Read more »

Lucid Air deliveries are just days away as the Tesla rival provides serious competition

The Lucid Air offers the longest range of any EV ever made, as well as extreme horsepower and acceleration. Most impressively, the automaker has shown it is capable of not ... Read more »

Leicester vs Brighton live stream: how to watch 2021 Carabao Cup online from anywhere

Leicester’s season has been a wild ride so far, a slow start giving way to utter chaos. The Foxes’ past four games have produced 20 goals, while Brighton’s outstanding early ... Read more »

These Resident Evil Village deals for PS5 and PC are scarily good

Black Friday deals may not officially kick off for some time yet, but that hasn’t stopped a range of retailers offering big discounts on survival horror Resident Evil Village – ... Read more »

How to use Microsoft Teams online

Microsoft Teams is among a number of video conferencing tools that have exploded in popularity over the last 18 months. The Covid-19 pandemic has seen schools, businesses, and families rely ... Read more »

Black Friday PS5 external hard drive deals 2021: what we expect

Black Friday PS5 external hard drive deals always present a fantastic opportunity to save on additional storage, and usually make up some of the best Black Friday PS5 deals you ... Read more »

'Absolutely gutted': Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tests positive for COVID-19

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has tested positive for coronavirus, missing the opportunity to challenge the government in-person on its budget. Read more »

How does Norton 360 for Gamers protect your device?

Norton 360 for Gamers is a version of the Norton 360 security suite which is specifically aimed at you guessed it – gamers! But if all you’re doing is playing ... Read more »

Black Friday Dyson V15 deals 2021: early sales and what to expect

Dyson’s V15 vacuums are, undoubtedly, some of the best money can buy. In fact, we awarded the Dyson V15 Detect Absolute the number one spot on our list of the ... Read more »

New Wheel of Time trailer shows what's at stake in Amazon Prime's next big hit

Amazon has released a new trailer for The Wheel of Time ahead of its November 19 arrival – and it looks certain to be the next big Amazon Prime Video ... Read more »

Xbox series X stock - live: Game restock is available in store – how to get a console

LIVE – Updated at 16:02 © The Independent Xbox – explainer indybest UPDATE: Game has Xbox series X stock at some of its UK stores, as a Fifa 22 bundle ... Read more »

Here are the EE Pocket-lint Awards nominees for Best Phone (sub £500) 2021 and how to vote

© Provided by Pocket-lint Here are the EE Pocket-lint Awards nominees for Best Phone sub £500 2019 and how to vote photo 2 (Pocket-lint) – The Shortlist for the EE ... Read more »

This limited-time printer ink deal is not to be missed

Consumers have been facing steeper and steeper printer ink prices for the last few years, which means finding good deals has become increasingly difficult. In honor of Holloween, however, 4inkjets ... Read more »

Best free web browser games: 10 games you have to play

Don’t expect the best browser games to just be fillers for when you don’t have anything else to play. Compared to some of the best free games and even a ... Read more »

Intel Alder Lake is here and it feels like Team Blue is back

Intel has announced its 12th-generation Alder Lake-S desktop platform, bringing six new desktop processors to the table. These processors bring a truly next-generation improvement to Intel for the first time ... Read more »

EU investigates Nvidia's purchase of chip designer Arm

FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 file photo, people gather in the Nvidia booth at the Mobile World Congress mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain. European Union ... Read more »

Our Yorkshire Farm's Amanda and Clive Owen admit 21-year marriage has 'hit rocky patch'

Clive and Amanda Owen, the stars of Our Yorkshire Farm on C5 (Renegade Pictures) Our Yorkshire Farm stars Amanda and Clive Owen have spoken out following reports that their marriage ... Read more »

Budget 2021: Beer and prosecco duty cuts - new alcohol taxes explained

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a raft of changes to alcohol duties that he promised will bring the cost of a pint in the pub down by 3p “permanently”. Read more »

What Sunak's budget means for household finances

For many the budget would feel like Sunak gave with one hand, and took away with the other. Photo: Getty UK's chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak insisted his statement ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic