Blog 23: October 2, 2020 at 02:50 pm by @otto.magazin.eng
💬 In front of us we have one of my favorite phones because of its uniqueness and simplicity The Microsoft Surface Duo.
Today we’re going to open up the Surface Duo and see how it works from the inside.
Let’s get started:
The hinge of the Microsoft Duo is pretty awesome, It’s simple, no moving parts, and it’s 360, degree functionality allows for more screen positions than any other folding phone out there at the moment.
To get access to the internals we’re going to have to remove the dual AMOLED displays,and this is where things start to get tricky.
Smartphone displays are fragile and not usually meant to come off, Yeah, with some heat we can soften the adhesive, but one wrong move can crack the top glass or start delaminating the display portion from the underside of the glass, which then kills the screen.
Microsoft has not made this Duo easy to repair. I can make the final slice down the spine side of the display.
And once the screen is totally loose, I’ll turn it on to inspect the damage.
And it looks like even though the glass is intact with no cracks, we did end up breaking the screen, I mostly mean me.
The dead area of pixels are delaminated and will never come back.
Now normally during these tear downs I like to have the pone survive and be fully functional when I reassemble them, but unfortunately not everyone is going to make it……but we’ll keep going for the sake of future historians.
Both of the screens are the exact same. Each has a 5.6 diagonal and are super thin thanks to being AMOLED, And I’m not going to lie this thing looks pretty great inside.
I’m not sure if Microsoft has sold enough of these Duos to warrant a Teardown Skin yet, but I’m a pretty big fan of the internals.
I’ll unclip the smaller of the two batteries, The larger battery does not have a visible disconnect. It might be underneath the smaller circuit board.
I’ll remove the six T4 screws holding that board down, then I can unclip the very interesting looking wire cable running through the hinge.
It’s just like a ribbon cable except for this time it’s made up entirely of little metal wires instead, which probably makes.
it way more durable than a standard ribbon since it does have to live a lifetime of always flexing 360 degrees, it’s kind of got to be strong.
We’ll get a closer look at these in just a second, There’s another one running up through the top hinge.
Once that latch is lifted up and disconnected, the smaller board can come away from the phone revealing both attachment points for those hinge wires and a white water damage indicator near the bottom.
The massive battery itself still does not have a Lego style plug, just a large ribbon with gold contact pads.
We haven’t seen this kind of connector-less battery connector before in a cell phone so that’s kind of interesting.
The battery itself is not easy to remove, Remember, bending the battery kills the battery since there are tons of thin layers inside of the pouch.
And when those layers get crushed together, the battery is never really normal again.
Underneath the battery though is 7 long adhesive strips, Imagine all the fun we could have had if Microsoft had just made these pullable like we saw inside of the iPhone…you know, repairable.
On the top side of the battery we get a little message : This component cannot be easily replaced by the user, And whose fault do you think that is, Microsoft ?
It probably took more time and effort to print the apology on the battery than it would have to just make the battery removable.
I’ll set down the 2707 milliamp hour battery and move over to it’s smaller 755 milliamp hour counterpart – which is also very securely taped into place.
This time around the battery tape is stuck to more graphite tape, but yeah, the repairability of this phone could definitely be improved for the next version.
Let’s continue making our way towards the hinge. There are 11 screws holding down the motherboard. And an additional 4 screws holding down the charging port. All of these are still the T4 screws.
I’ll remove the SIM card tray, the bottom microphone, and then I can work on the cool new wire cable ribbon that allows both halves of the phone to communicate with each other.
And finally, with everything disconnected, we can slowly peel the motherboard out from the frame.
Behind the motherboard is more graphite tape and even more copper foil, which helps the heat escape through the back glass panel.
The camera is still attached to the motherboard at this point, along with the earpiece. On some phones this earpiece would double as a stereo speaker, but that’s not the case with this Duo. I’ll show you the loudspeaker in just a second.
The tiny front facing camera is definitely a tiny front facing camera. All of its 11 megapixels get focused through this super small lens and it has a super small footprint without any optical image stabilization.
The camera is definitely a weak point on this phone, The yellow square in its satellite dish over here is the front flash. And unfortunately, down here at the bottom of the motherboard is the USB-C port, It’s permanently attached.
The Microsoft Surface Duo does have a series of magnets around the outside, probably to help keep the phone closed when it’s folded.
Now it’s time for the hinge, the last piece of hardware we want to analyze. The hinge is the thing that kept this whole phone from snapping during the bend test, and it’s the only majorly structural component inside of the Duo.
We’ll remove the 6 screws down at the bottom and another 6 screws up at the top. We can see that the cool looking wire cables are free floating inside of that hinge.
Nothing is able to pull apart yet though, which means there are probably a few more hidden screws underneath the white back glass panel, We can make short work of that with our heat gun and razor blade.
Microsoft has added a ton of adhesive back here to hold everything together, but with a bit of aggressive persuasion we can get that back panel off in one piece.
With the back panel gone we get our first look at the singular loudspeaker here on the left side as well as those tiny screws we were looking for, There are 7 of them running lengthwise down the edge of the hinge, These T2 screws help keep the strong hinge attached to the weaker body panel.
The plastic frame itself is also molded into the ends of the hinge kind of like hinge caps, which can pretty easily pop off so we can get a better look at how the hinge works, We’ve seen a lot of folding devices, like the Royal Flex Pi, the Z-Fold, the Z-Flip, and the iPad Pro.
But this Duo is most like the Motorola Razer, yet surprisingly, even more simple. The long cnc’d metal bar has a small channel on top for those cool wire connectors to connect both halves of the phone together.
And it’s definitely made from metal since it bends and holds its shape. The friction fit end caps are what allows the hinge to fold into its unlimited number of positions, while at the same time allowing space on the inside for those wires to flex with the screen and not get pinched.
There are also no moving parts or gears that can catch dust or rocks, you know, that junk up the mechanism. It’s a pretty simple and smart design.
The Duo gets duo thumbs up from me…even if I won’t actually end up using it as my personal device. I think Microsoft has proven that they are more than capable of making a folding phone.
And if the next version, the Duo 2, includes better cameras, I’ll be way more tempted into using it. Either way though, make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss any of my future teardowns.
And thanks a ton for reading guys.
I’ll see you soon.