Connect with us

Technology

The 6 Best Free VPN Providers – TechEye

Voice Of EU

Published

on


Free VPNs have a bit of a negative connotation, especially in comparison to paid platforms. Many free VPNs are plagued with constant advertisements, and many more aren’t very secure or privacy-focused since they collect and sell your data to third-party advertisers in order to make money.

However, not all free VPNs are complete wastes of time. In fact, some free VPN platforms are quite good, especially when you take their features into account and remember that they don’t cost anything to use.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best free VPNs for all users and see whether they’re worth the hassle of a download.

Want to jump straight to the answer? The best free VPN for most people is Hotspot Shield.

Why Choose a Free VPN?

The most obvious reason to target a free virtual private network instead of a paid VPN, like NordVPN, is the price difference. After all, if you could get free anonymity as you browse the Internet or access restricted content that your government doesn’t normally allow, all without spending a penny, wouldn’t you?

While this sounds like a great deal on the surface, there are some issues with free VPNs you should be aware of before downloading one.

For starters, remember that all VPN companies have to turn a profit in some way. If they offer their VPN services for free, that usually means that they are collecting something else from you – like your data. In fact, many of the best free VPNs will sell their users’ data to third parties in order to turn a profit.

This somewhat defeats the purpose of browsing anonymously and stands in stark contrast to many peoples’ reasons for turning to VPNs in the first place. Furthermore, many free VPNs will include data caps or otherwise limit the amount of stuff you can download or browse. This means that some free VPN services aren’t great for streaming video or torrenting: two popular activities that take up the majority of private downloading time for free VPN users.

Free VPNs also normally suffer when it comes to customer support or extra features. Many of these services are necessarily bare bones since their operators aren’t very profitable compared to their paid counterparts.

This doesn’t mean that free VPNs aren’t worth your time. It just helps to know what you’re getting into. Don’t download a free VPN service expecting the best of the best or unlimited bandwidth. Instead, use free VPNs as limited and temporary tools.

It’s often great to use a free VPN to see if it actually works for your needs before purchasing a paid tier of service. Or you use a free VPN for a very minor or brief foray into private browsing – for instance, maybe you really want to unblock an episode of a TV show that is geographically limited in your country, and don’t want to use the VPN beyond seeing that episode. Free VPNs are also useful for adding some protection while you browse on public wifi: a dangerous gambit at best.

Additionally, free VPNs can vary dramatically from the best to the worst. Keep reading if you want to see the top free VPNs available instead of scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel.


The 6 Best Free VPN Providers (2020)

1. Hotspot Shield Free VPN

Hotspot Shield Free VPN is a phenomenal example of a free VPN service. There’s a lot to like right out of the digital box, including a 500 MB daily data allowance. This isn’t enough to watch tons of YouTube or stream a lot of television, but it’s great for general browsing and downloading some pictures. Since the limit refreshes daily, you may never feel the real restrictions of this cap. This limit is also fairly generous compared to many of the other free VPNs on the market.

Hotspot Shield Free VPN also offers military-grade encryption for users’ security. What this actually means is kept somewhat secret, as the Hotspot Shield Free VPN site only offers generalities. Still, it does assure users that their data will be safe from government snooping or from malicious hackers or malware. It’s also one of the fastest VPNs you can get for free.

Most users will appreciate that Hotspot Shield Free VPN is very easy to use and features an intuitive interface. You can access the VPN features via mobile devices, like an iPhone or Android phone, or your Mac or Windows desktops, and either way, you’ll be able to start browsing anonymously or from different IP addresses quickly and smoothly.

Hotspot Shield Free only offers a single US-based VPN server for connecting to, however, which is very limited compared to the 70+ countries you can choose from with the paid version.

One other thing to note is that all Android users will have to put up with ads. Even with these minor downsides, Hotspot Shield Free VPN offers a lot to like and is one of the most generous free VPN services you can find.

Key Features:

  • 500 MB daily cap
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Anchors users to a single US-based location
  • Support for all major platforms/OS

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield Free VPN is a phenomenal example of a free VPN service.


2. TunnelBear

Many folks have heard of TunnelBear, and for good reason; it’s one of the most user-friendly free VPN services on the market. This is bolstered by its colorful and simplistic design, which can help set your mind at ease if you are just getting into using a VPN for the first time. TunnelBear unfortunately has a cap of 500 MB per month. This is a serious limitation and means you should only use the free version of TunnelBear for brief browsing activities or when you must be anonymous on short notice.

This also means TunnelBear is a poor choice for streaming and torrenting Netflix or other media, as you’ll blow through that monthly allowance pretty quickly. The good news is that TunnelBear only collects the bare minimum of data from its users, so you don’t have to worry too much about your data being exploited by third-party advertisers. You don’t even have to supply your first name when you sign up.

TunnelBear offers desktop and mobile clients for all users, and both run very well. They also offer a plethora of anchor locations, both domestically and internationally. Ultimately, we’d only recommend using TunnelBear if you only need to rely on a free VPN once in a while.

Key Features:

  • 500 MB monthly data cap
  • Has both mobile and desktop interfaces
  • Interface is intuitive and user-friendly
  • Doesn’t collect a ton of user data

TunnelBear

Many folks have heard of TunnelBear, and for good reason; it’s one of the most user-friendly free VPN services on the market.


3. ProtonVPN Free

ProtonVPN Free is most distinguished from other free VPN providers by a lack of data restrictions. That’s right – you can use this free VPN app as much as you want, making it the prime choice for streaming and torrenting to your heart’s content. Unlimited free data is incredibly rare for any free VPN provider to offer, so consider it if you want to use a VPN for the above activities more than anything else.

However, there are some restrictions. You can only use ProtonVPN Free on a single device, and there are only three anchor locations. Furthermore, all free users have lower data download priority compared to any of the paying subscribers, so you may see spikes and dips in your data download speeds.

But they also don’t log your online activity, so you won’t have too much data scooped for use by third-party advertising companies. You only need to supply your email address to sign up. We also like that there aren’t any incessant advertisements to sit through.

All in all, it’s a fantastic free VPN with advantages that help to offset many of the traditional downsides to using these affordable services. If you can stomach slow download speeds from time to time, ProtonVPN Free is a great choice.

Key Features:

  • No data cap
  • 3 anchor locations
  • Only use it on one device
  • Paid users get traffic priority

ProtonVPN Free

ProtonVPN Free is most distinguished from other free VPN providers by a lack of data restrictions.


4. Windscribe

Windscribe is one of the few free VPN services that are available for Linux, but it’s also noteworthy since it offers a relatively high data download limit of 10 GB per month. This is much higher than TunnelBear’s. To make things even better, Windscribe offers 10 anchor locations, including several in international locations like Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Hong Kong.

They’re most notable, however, for their excellent privacy policy. They don’t store any VPN connection logs, site visits, or IP address stamps. It does store your username and how much data you transfer, but even that stuff is erased after three minutes upon ending your session. There’s even an ad blocker and firewall built into the software.

Thus, you don’t have to worry about your data being surreptitiously gathered and used against you at any point. The downside is that traffic speeds are notoriously inconsistent. While this can be a decent pick for torrenting or streaming services, it’s far from the most reliable on the market. All in all, it’s a good free VPN service for those concerned about privacy more than anything else.

Key Features:

  • 10 GB data cap
  • Excellent online privacy policy
  • Works for Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android
  • Inconsistent download speeds

Windscribe

Windscribe is one of the few free VPN services that are available for Linux, but it’s also noteworthy since it offers a relatively high data download limit of 10 GB per month.


5. Speedify

Speedify, as befitting its name, is a pretty fast VPN for general browsing and small file downloads. You get a 2 GB per month data limit, which is low but not as restrictive as TunnelBear. It boosts regular browsing speed by using the best available Internet connections based on your anchor point. It also uses “turbocharging” technology to improve this even further, though the technical specifics are a bit hard to determine.

Regardless, the free version of this VPN offers high speeds due to some choice servers in their collection. You’re still limited by your data cap, of course. Interesting, Speedify isn’t a great choice if you want to stream – this is partially because of the data cap, but there’s something about its servers that makes it uniquely bad for transferring streaming data from server to server.

Speedify is also pretty solid when it comes to privacy, though Windscribe is a bit better on that front as well. Ultimately, Speedify is a great choice if you mostly want to use a VPN for private browsing and aren’t concerned with torrenting or streaming shows from other countries.

Key Features:

  • Fast browsing speeds
  • Good privacy settings
  • Bad for streaming
  • 2 GB per month limit

Speedify

Speedify, as befitting its name, is a pretty fast VPN for general browsing and small file downloads.


6. Hide.me

Hide.me, as the name suggests, is a free VPN largely concerned with offering its users fantastic privacy and totally anonymous browsing. You get 2 GB of data per month to use with the free plan, and there are other limitations like device limits (one maximum) and a low number of server locations (only five between the US and Canada). However, they never throttle your connection speed and, most importantly, Hide.me doesn’t store user logs or data, nor does it pass any of that onto third parties.

Even better, there aren’t any advertisements to suffer through at any point. Hide.me’s client, regardless of the operating system you use, is slick and smooth, and they offer 24/7 technical support for all their users, even free ones.

It’s best to think of Hide.me as the ideal choice if you don’t want your data to be sent to any advertising agency period. There are better free VPN options in terms of download limits and anchor server options, but few do privacy and anonymity better than Hide.me.

Key Features:

  • Very good privacy policy
  • No ads to sit through
  • 24/7 technical support
  • 2 GB of data per month

Hide.me

Hide.me, as the name suggests, is a free VPN largely concerned with offering its users fantastic privacy and totally anonymous browsing.


How to Choose the Best Free VPN for Your Privacy Needs

Finding a handful of great free VPN’s is one thing – determining the best free VPN for your unique privacy or downloading needs is another. Let’s focus on the aspects you should consider as you select your free VPN.

Why Do You Need a Free VPN?

The first thing to think about is why you want to use a free VPN in the first place. Generally speaking, people use VPNs for one of three reasons:

  • To browse the Internet semi-anonymously
  • To download and/or stream shows and other media they can’t access due to geographic restrictions for their home IP address
  • To enjoy better browsing security against hackers

More private internet access is becoming more popular, through unblocking streaming is also quite important for most users. Each of these reasons is perfectly valid, and neither is more important than another. However, they each require different things from a VPN provider.

For instance, some free VPNs prioritize anonymity and use special channels or servers that are excellent at allowing their users to browse anonymously. They’ll also prioritize things like data log deletion, or even refuse to gather data logs and other privacy information from their users. Instead, they may use advertisements or other methods of generating revenue. Hide.me does this very well.

Some VPNs are better for streaming and usually come without data caps. That’s because streaming and media downloads can quickly run up a data limit. You’ll want to prioritize VPNs like ProtonVPN if this is what you’re interested in.

Still more VPNs are excellent in terms of security and are good choices if you suspect that your identity is at risk or you don’t want to be hacked when visiting a sketchy website. Hotspot Shield VPN is a good example of one of these services.

In short, figure out why you want to use a VPN and you can find the best free VPN for that purpose from the list above.

Does the VPN Have a Paid Version?

It’s also smart to see whether a given free VPN has a paid version you can upgrade to in the future. While you may not want to pay money for extra features or better bandwidth limits right now, you might come into more money later and decide to go through with an upgrade.

It’s often easier to upgrade within the same VPN provider that it is to switch providers outright. Thus, check to see whether a free VPN only comes as a free version or if there’s a better premium service available you can take advantage of later. Some premium VPNs have a 30-day money-back guarantee – this is almost as good as free VPN if you remember your time limit to spare your credit card.

Performance and User-Friendliness

Naturally, the user interface and performance quality of a given free VPN can impact how well you enjoy using the software or platform. Some VPNs, like Hotspot Shield Free VPN, have particularly slick user interfaces that are easy for beginners to grasp and fully take advantage of. Hotspot also has excellent performance rankings across the board, so you shouldn’t experience too much lag or sputtering, even when watching your favorite media.

Performance is most important if you want to stream or download media frequently. Nothing ruins a good show like rendering or buffering every few seconds. Most of the VPN services that have high data download limits also have good performance specifically for this reason, while others, like Speedify, aren’t very good in terms of streaming performance and are better for general but anonymous browsing.

Available Servers

The available servers or anchor points that a given free VPN offers essentially determines which places you can disguise your IP address as coming from. More servers mean more opportunities to find smooth connections to the servers you are trying to reach, and a better overall traffic load.

For instance, if a free VPN only has a single server for its free users, you can expect lots of buffering or poor performance since all the free users will be clogging that server, trying to download stuff or browse the Internet.

Multiple available servers are also important if you want to download or torrent media that is outlawed in your home country. Services like TunnelBear are great for this, offering a plethora of foreign servers so there’s almost always a place available where you can access and download media without too much trouble.

If you’re just interested in regular anonymous browsing, server variety isn’t quite as important.

Browser Extensions

Some VPNs offer browser extensions, which allow you to combine the VPN’s services with some kinds of browsers. Browsers like Chrome, Explorer, and Edge are notorious for collecting user data, while others, like Firefox, don’t need a VPN as much thanks to their user-friendly data logging policies.

Privacy Policies

As mentioned earlier, many of the best free VPN services turn a profit by selling the browsing or log data of their users. If this is something you don’t want to happen to you, focus on a free VPN like Hide.me, which doesn’t log data from its users and doesn’t sell any data to third-party advertising or marketing companies.

This can be important if you’re committed to lowering your digital presence on the web, or if you just don’t like the idea of your activity being tracked by any organization, whether it’s government or private. On the flip side, if you only want to avoid being easily hacked or you just want to download media from another country, privacy may not be quite as important and you can focus on other issues.

Security

The last big thing to keep in mind is security. This most important if you want to use a free VPN to lower the likelihood of attracting a hacker or identity thief as you browse a sketchy website. Some services, like Hotspot Shield Free VPN, are particularly good on this point, while others don’t put as much of a priority on it.


Takeaway

Ultimately, Hotspot Shield Free VPN is the best of the bunch thanks to its excellent security, intuitive user interface, and relatively generous daily data limit of 500 MB per day.

However, readers might also appreciate Proton VPN Free, which offers unlimited data transfer all without costing a penny. Others might want Hide.me, which is the best of the best when it comes to total privacy and protecting its users’ personal data and personal information. There are plenty of other VPNs we haven’t even mentioned, including OpenVPN, ExpressVPN, SurfShark,

The great news is that you can try any and all of these services as much as you like since you don’t have to put any money down upfront. Give them a shot and let us know what you think!




Source link

Technology

California’s net neutrality law dodges Big Telecom bullet • The Register

Voice Of EU

Published

on

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court’s refusal to block California’s net neutrality law (SB 822), affirming that state laws can regulate internet connectivity where federal law has gone silent.

The decision is a blow to the large internet service providers that challenged California’s regulations, which prohibit network practices that discriminate against lawful applications and online activities. SB 822, for example, forbids “zero-rating” programs that exempt favored services from customer data allotments, paid prioritization, and blocking or degrading service.

In 2017, under the leadership of then-chairman Ajit Pai, the US Federal Communications Commission tossed out America’s net neutrality rules, to the delight of the internet service providers that had to comply. Then in 2018, the FCC issued an order that redefined broadband internet services, treating them as “information services” under Title I of the Communications Act instead of more regulated “telecommunications services” under Title II of the Communications Act.

California lawmaker Scott Wiener (D) crafted SB 822 to implement the nixed 2015 Open Internet Order on a state level, in an effort to fill the vacuum left by the FCC’s abdication. SB 822, the “California Internet Consumer Protection and Net Neutrality Act of 2018,” was signed into law in September 2018 and promptly challenged.

In October 2018, a group of cable and telecom trade associations sued California to prevent SB 822 from being enforced. In February, 2021, Judge John Mendez of the United States District Court for Eastern California declined to grant the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction to block the law. 

So the trade groups took their case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has now rejected their arguments. While federal laws can preempt state laws, the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband services has moved those services outside its authority and opened a gap that state regulators are now free to fill.

“We conclude the district court correctly denied the preliminary injunction,” the appellate ruling [PDF] says. “This is because only the invocation of federal regulatory authority can preempt state regulatory authority.

The FCC no longer has the authority to regulate in the same manner that it had when these services were classified as telecommunications services

“As the D.C. Circuit held in Mozilla, by classifying broadband internet services as information services, the FCC no longer has the authority to regulate in the same manner that it had when these services were classified as telecommunications services. The agency, therefore, cannot preempt state action, like SB 822, that protects net neutrality.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which supported California in an amicus brief, celebrated the decision in a statement emailed to The Register.

“EFF is pleased that the Ninth Circuit has refused to bar enforcement of California’s pioneering net neutrality rules, recognizing a very simple principle: the federal government can’t simultaneously refuse to protect net neutrality and prevent anyone else from filling the gap,” a spokesperson said.

“Californians can breathe a sigh of relief that their state will be able to do its part to ensure fair access to the internet for all, at a time when we most need it.”

There’s still the possibility that the plaintiffs – ACA Connects, CTIA, NCTA and USTelecom – could appeal to the US Supreme Court.

In an emailed statement, the organizations told us, “We’re disappointed and will review our options. Once again, a piecemeal approach to this issue is untenable and Congress should codify national rules for an open Internet once and for all.” ®

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

RCSI scientists find potential treatment for secondary breast cancer

Voice Of EU

Published

on

An existing drug called PARP inhibitor can be used to exploit a vulnerability in the way breast cancer cells repair their DNA, preventing spread to the brain.

For a long time, there have been limited treatment options for patients with breast cancer that has spread to the brain, sometimes leaving them with just months to live. But scientists at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) have found a potential treatment using existing drugs.

By tracking the development of tumours from diagnosis to their spread to the brain, a team of researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre found a previously unknown vulnerability in the way the tumours repair their DNA.

An existing kind of drug known as a PARP inhibitor, often used to treat heritable cancers, can prevent cancer cells from repairing their DNA because of this vulnerability, culminating in the cells dying and the patient being rid of the cancer.

Prof Leonie Young, principal investigator of the RCSI study, said that breast cancer research focused on expanding treatment options for patients whose disease has spread to the brain is urgently needed to save the lives of those living with the disease.

“Our study represents an important development in getting one step closer to a potential treatment for patients with this devastating complication of breast cancer,” she said of the study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Deaths caused by breast cancer are often a result of treatment relapses which lead to tumours spreading to other parts of the body, a condition known as secondary or metastatic breast cancer. This kind of cancer is particularly aggressive and lethal when it spreads to the brain.

The study was funded by Breast Cancer Ireland with support from Breast Cancer Now and Science Foundation Ireland.

It was carried out as an international collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and the University of Pittsburgh in the US. Apart from Prof Young, the other RCSI researchers were Dr Nicola Cosgrove, Dr Damir Varešlija and Prof Arnold Hill.

“By uncovering these new vulnerabilities in DNA pathways in brain metastasis, our research opens up the possibility of novel treatment strategies for patients who previously had limited targeted therapy options”, said Dr Varešlija.

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

Surface Duo 2 review: Microsoft’s dual-screen Android needs work | Microsoft

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Microsoft’s second attempt at its interesting dual-screen Android smartphone corrects some mistakes of the original, but falls short of a revolution due to a series of oddities created by its physical laptop-like form.

Looking more like a tiny convertible computer than a phone, the Surface Duo 2 starts at £1,349 ($1,499/A$2,319), a lot for a regular smartphone but slightly cheaper than folding-screen rivals.

It opens like a book, with each half just 5.5mm thick, and a hinge that allows it to fold all the way over.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review
There is no screen on the outside, but the time and some basic alerts for SMS and calls can be shown down the spine of the hinge. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Inside are a pair of 90Hz OLED screens each measuring 5.8in on the diagonal. They can be used on their own or combined as one display measuring 8.3in – a similar size to an iPad mini. Both screens are covered in traditional scratch-resistant smartphone glass and have large, old-fashioned bezels top and bottom.

Having two separate displays rather than one that folds in half creates a major drawback: a gap in the middle of the screen big enough that you can see through it, which is much harder to ignore than the crease in the middle of a flexible display as found on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review
The gap between the screens sits right in the middle of the combined display, which makes full-screen reading, scrolling and watching video awkward. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

You can use two different apps at the same time on the two screens. The theory is sound, but I found few pairings were useful beyond simple messaging apps and a browser. More useful was using one screen for a note-taking app and the other for a full keyboard like a mini laptop.

Some apps spanned across both displays, like Outlook, can put different information on each screen, such as your inbox on one side and an open message on the other. Some games, including Asphalt 9 and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass streaming service, put controls on one screen and the action on the other. But there are very few apps and games optimised for this setup.

microsoft surface duo 2 review
The two screens can be folded into various configurations, including just a single display, both combined into one large display, propped up like a tent or open like a mini laptop. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Specifications

  • Screens: two 5.8in AMOLED 90Hz displays

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

  • RAM: 8GB of RAM

  • Storage: 128, 256 or 512GB

  • Operating system: Android 11

  • Cameras: 12MP wide, 16MP ultra-wide, 12MP 2x telephoto; 12MP selfie

  • Connectivity: 5G, USB-C, wifi 6, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1 and location

  • Water resistance: IPX1 (dripping water)

  • Dimensions closed: 145.2 x 92.1 x 11.0mm

  • Dimensions open: 145.2 x 184.5 x 5.5mm

  • Weight: 284g

2021’s top Android chip

microsoft surface duo 2 review
It takes two hours 15 minutes to fully charge the Duo 2 hitting 50% in 45 minutes, using a 45W USB-C charger (not included), which is pretty slow compared to rivals. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Duo 2 has last year’s top Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip with 8GB of RAM, matching the performance of top-flight Android smartphones from 2021 and capable of running two apps running side-by-side without slowdown.

Battery life is more variable than a traditional phone. It lasts about 32 hours between charges, with both screens used for about four hours with a variety of messaging, browsing and work apps. It lasts about a third longer if you mostly use only one screen. That’s a considerably shorter battery life than a regular smartphone and behind the Z Fold 3.

Sustainability

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review
The camera sticks quite far out of the glass back stopping it from sitting flat on a desk. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Microsoft does not provide an expected lifespan for the Duo 2’s battery; those in similar devices typically maintain at least 80% of their original capacity for in excess of 500 full charge cycles. Microsoft charges an out-of-warranty service fee of £593.94 to repair devices and £568.44 to replace the battery. The previous generation Surface Duo scored only two out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scale.

The phone contains no recycled materials, but Microsoft operates recycling schemes for old devices, publishes a company-wide sustainability report and a breakdown of each product’s environmental impact.

Android 11

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review
The single screen mode is hard to use one-handed and most Android apps and websites are designed for longer screens, not short and fat ones, so you end up having to do a lot more scrolling than you would on a regular phone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Duo 2 runs Android 11 – not the latest Android 12 – and generally behaves like a standard Android smartphone or tablet with a few small additions that make it easier to use each screen separately. One of the best is the ability to drag the gesture bar at the bottom of an app to move it between screens or to drop it on to the gap between the screens to span it across both displays.

The software can be a bit unpredictable at times, such as opening the keyboard or text box of an app on another screen or hiding a second app from the screen when you try to type. But it is generally a fast and responsive experience given how unusual the device is.

The Duo 2 will receive three years of software updates from release, including monthly security patches, which is disappointingly at least a year short of what rivals, including Samsung and Apple, offer. Microsoft’s last planned update for the Duo 2 will be 21 October 2024.

Camera

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review
Because the camera is on the back of the device, it would be blocked if you fold one of the screens over, meaning you have to shoot photos with both screens open – which is unwieldy. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Duo 2 has a triple camera on the back and a 12-megapixel selfie camera above the right-hand screen.

The rear main 12MP camera and 2x telephoto cameras are good, capable of producing detailed shots in a range of lighting conditions. The 16MP ultra-wide camera is reasonable, but a bit soft on detail and struggles with challenging scenes. The camera app has most of the features you’d expect, such as portrait mode, night mode and slow-mo video, and can shoot regular video at up to 4K at 60 frames a second.

The 12MP selfie camera is capable of shooting detailed photos even in middling light, and has access to the dedicated night mode when it gets dark.

Overall, the camera system on the Duo 2 is solid, but it can’t hold a candle to the best in the business.

Observations

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review
The camera lump on the back stops the device folding fully flat, creating a wedge shape when using one screen only. The shiny power button is also a fingerprint scanner, which was fairly fast and reliable. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
  • The Duo 2 supports Microsoft’s Slim Pen stylus, which can be magnetically stored and charged on the back of the device when not in use.

  • The stereo speakers are decently loud but a bit tinny, fine for watching YouTube videos.

  • The width of the device makes it a challenge to fit into smaller pockets.

Price

The Surface Duo 2 costs £1,349 ($1,499/A$2,319) with 128GB, £1,429 ($1,599/A$2,469) with 256GB or £1,589 ($1,799/A$2,769) with 512GB of storage.

For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 costs £1,599 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs £949.

Verdict

The Surface Duo 2 is an improvement on its predecessor, but is still a very odd proposition that’s neither a good phone nor a good tablet.

The individual screens are short and stout, forcing lots of scrolling in apps when using it like a phone and making one-handed use very difficult. The gap at the hinge makes combining them into one big tablet screen awkward too.

Using two apps side-by-side works well, but few combinations proved useful or faster than just quick switching between two apps on one screen on a normal phone. There is more potential in apps like Outlook that provide a multi-pane view, but few apps or games are optimised for the dual-screen system.

Microsoft is only offering a disappointing three years of software and security updates from release for the Duo 2, too, losing it a star.

It is good to see Microsoft trying something different. But ultimately the Duo 2’s two screens are just not yet as good or useful as either a single phone screen or a bigger folding screen, making it an expensive halfway house.

Pros: two screens, two apps side-by-side, multiple modes, top performance, hardened glass screens, decent camera, head-turning design.

Cons: gap between screens, few optimised apps, average battery life, bulky camera lump, chunky in pocket, hard to use one-handed, no real water resistance, only three years of software updates from release.

Microsoft Surface Duo 2 review
The outside of the device is smooth glass front and back with quality-feeling plastic edges and a metal hinge. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Other reviews

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!