Dual-screen phones or phones with two displays have been around for many years, but in 2021, we have seen the concept elevate to a whole new level. Manufacturers are trying to reinvent productivity and creativity aspects of the smartphone experience, and it all keeps leading back to more screen real-estate and multiple displays.
In the past, phones like the Yota phone and Meizu Pro 7 have made innovative use of two screens but the dual-screen phones of 2021 don’t really treat the extra screen as secondary but a full-fledged companion screen fit for hardcore multitasking.
Dual-Screen vs Foldable phones
Dual Screen and Foldable technology are simultaneously gaining ground. The biggest draw of Foldables is obviously their cool form factor. To be able to fold your phone screen is bleeding-edge technology that people naturally love to flaunt.
There is another advantage – both the vertical and horizontal folding phones manage to accommodate large screens in a relatively compact design.
When we talk about dual-screen phones, though, we will be talking about phones that allow you to use both screens simultaneously. We have come to realize that such phones are so much better at dealing with hardcore productivity needs and are so much better when it comes to multitasking than bigger displays or bigger foldable displays.
The software and app support are not quite there yet, but as LG has shown, dual-screen phones need not be expensive and thus it would be easier to get more and more people to try these out which would ultimately provide an incentive for app developers to optimize their apps to leverage both displays.
Best Dual Screen Phones in 2021
Dual display phones are only beginning to be a thing, but the technology is here to say. Here are a few options that are currently available.
1. Microsoft Surface Duo
Microsoft Surface Duo is a first-generation product that comes with some glaring omissions and a high-end price – and yet makes a solid case for dual-display phones.
That’s because Microsoft has put in the effort to optimize all of its own office (and other) apps and social media apps like Instagram to take advantage of the extra display.
Surface Duo is a slim phone that’s powered by Snapdragon 855 and has a modest 3600mAh battery. It has just one mediocre camera, sub-par speakers, and is skipping current flagship trends like wireless charging, high display refresh rate, etc.
Microsoft Surface Duo Specifications
Display: 8.1-inch, AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core CPU | RAM: up to 6GB| Storage: up to 256GB | Software: Android 10 | Rear camera: Nil| Front camera: 11MP | Weight: 250g | Dimensions: 186.9 x 145.2 x 4.8 mm (unfolded) |Battery: 3577mAh
2. LG Velvet
LG Velvet (review) is a refinement of LG G8x ThinQ, at least with regards to dual-screen implementation. It’s powered by a dated 4G chipset and that’s something consumers might find a little difficult to look past in 2021. But if they can, the Velvet offers a premium experience at a mid-range price.
The idea once again is to use the two screens as two separate screens. This time the color temperature of the duo is well matched in the default color settings and you can add app pairs to quickly open two apps on two screens. This time, the dual-screen cover is being sold as an optional extra.
LG Velvet specs
Display: 6.8-inch, POLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core CPU | RAM: up to 6GB| Storage: up to 128GB | Software: Android 10 | Rear camera: 48MP + 8MP + 5MP| Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 180g | Dimensions:
167.10 x 74.00 x 7.85mm |Battery: 4300mAh
3. LG G8x ThinQ
LG G8x ThinQ embeds the extra display within a removable flip case with a remarkable 360-degree hinge. The cover display also has a ticker display on the outside that serves as an always-on display.
With this implementation, you get dual screens without having to compromise on flagship features and without inflating the cost. In India, the G8x ThinQ retails for around 50K and is often available for far lesser in recurring sales – which makes it a bargain.
LG G8x ThinQ Specs
Display: 6.4-inch, AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core CPU | RAM: up to 6GB| Storage: up to 128GB | Software: Android 10 | Rear camera: 12MP + 13MP| Front camera: 32MP | Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 159.3 x 75.8 x 8.4 mm |Battery: 4000mAh
4. LG Wing 5G
LG Wing is as bold and unconventional as it gets. The primary display slides off to reveal a smaller half-display underneath which LG puts to good use. Stacking one display over another, however, pushes the weight to 260 grams.
This one is equipped with Snapdragon 765G octa-core chipset paired with up to 8GB RAM. There are three cameras on the rear with a 64MP sensor in the lead and a pop-up front camera for selfies.
LG Wing 5G Specs
Display: 6.8-inch, AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G octa-core CPU | RAM: up to 8GB| Storage: up to 256GB | Software: Android 10 | Rear camera: 64mp+ 13MP + 12MP| Front camera: 32MP | Weight: 250g | Dimensions: 169.5 x 74.5 x 10.9 mm |Battery: 4000mAh
5. LG V60 ThinQ Dual
LG V60 dual further refines the G8x ThinQ design but it’s bigger and bulkier. That makes room for a bigger 5000mAh battery, more cameras, and better audio but the combined weight of the case and cover reaches 360 grams.
LG V60 is powered by Snapdragon 865 octa-core chipset and has a 64MP primary rear camera.
LG V60 Dual Specs
Display: 6.8-inch, AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 octa-core CPU | RAM: up to 6GB| Storage: up to 128GB | Software: Android 10 | Rear camera: 64MP + 13MP + 0.3MP| Front camera: 10MP | Weight: 213g | Dimensions:
169.3 x 77.6 x 8.9 mm |Battery: 5000mAh
A few notable mentions:
There are a few more dual-display phones that are no longer viable buying options but made innovative use of the dual-display concept:
- ZTE Axon M – This one brought dual displays separated by a slim hinge back in 2017.
- Yota phone – Three generations of Yota phone had a soft e-ink display on the back that was easier to read on.
- Vivo Nex Dual – Vivo Nex dual had a display on both front and back and you could flip over for multitasking.
Are Dual Display phones a passing fad?
These are still early days for foldable and dual display phones. Manufactures have made big investments in foldable technology which makes us believe that it is here to stay. On the other hand, the concept of dual-display phones might very well fall flat just as modular phones did. We will need to wait and watch for a couple more years to know if consumers really take to the form factor and if manufacturers are persistent enough to see this one through.
If you ask us, we’d say having an extra screen has its merits and once you are used to doing things the dual-screen way, it can get addictive. At the same time, lugging the extra heft around will only be truly meaningful when the majority app developers pitch in and innovate their apps for this form factor.