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 the 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 So Far
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. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung, right now, has the biggest share in the foldable smartphones market with multiple devices. One such smartphone by Samsung is the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It works on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor along with 12GB RAM and 256GB internal storage.
The smartphone has a 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED display complemented with a 120Hz refresh rate. In addition, it has a triple rear camera setup consisting of three 12MP sensors. It also has an under-display 4MP selfie shooter.
It has a dual display, one on the outer side and the other one is visible when you unfold the device. In the unfolded state, the display of the device measures around 7.6-inch. The best part about the smartphone is that both its panels have a 120Hz refresh rate.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 specifications
Display: 7.6-inch, dynamic AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: up to 256GB | Software: Android 11 | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 4MP | Weight: 271g | Dimensions: 158.2 x 67.1 x 14.4 mm | Battery: 4400mAh
2. Oppo Find N
Oppo joined the bandwagon of foldable smartphones with the launch of the Oppo Find N 5G. Similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, this one also has an outer display and the main display. The device works on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.
The smartphone has a triple rear camera setup consisting of a 50MP primary shooter, a 16MP secondary shooter, and a 13MP tertiary shooter. The 32MP front camera of the device takes care of video calls and selfies.
The out screen of the device is a 5.49-inch AMOLED display and the inner screen is a 7.1-inch LTPO AMOLED display. Both the screens support HDR0+ and they even offer 1000 nits of peak brightness.
The outer display has a refresh rate of 60Hz and the inner display has a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate. Though the outer display’s refresh rate is a bit disappointing as Oppo could have done better in terms of that too. Still, as an overall package, the device offers decent specifications and fast-paced performance.
Oppo Find N specifications
Display: 7.1-inch, LTPO AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: up to 512GB | Software: Android 11 | Rear camera: 50MP + 13MP + 16MP | Front camera: 32MP | Weight: 275g | Dimensions: 132 x 73 x 15.9 mm | Battery: 4500mAh
3. Microsoft Surface Duo 2
Surface Duo 2 is a second-generation dual-display phone from Microsoft that comes with some much-needed improvements – and presents 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. There are two 5.8-inch PixelSense displays that form into an 8.3-inch display when unfolded. When the phone is folded, the glance bar on the spine gives you a glimpse of phone notifications. With the glance bar, you can also check the battery level while charging without unfolding the phone.
Surface Duo 2 runs on Android 11 out of the box and is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC.
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Specifications
Display: 8.3-inch, FHD+ 90Hz AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 octa-core CPU | RAM: up to 8GB| Storage: up to 512GB | Software: Android 11 | Rear camera: 16MP+ 12MP+ 12MP | Front camera: 12MP | Weight: 284g | Dimensions: 184.5 x 145.2 x 5.5 mm (unfolded) | Battery: 4449mAh
4. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
Z Flip 3 5G gets the name for its flip n’ fold clamshell design. This is supported by an improved ‘hideaway’ hinge. The folding, unfolding, and seating of the device in its clamshell form on a table are easier thanks to lesser friction in the joint.
Samsung calls the display ‘Infinity Flex’ Dynamic AMOLED 2x which stretches 6.7-inches and is of 2640 x 1080 pixels resolution. When you scroll your finger over the middle of the screen, you’d feel the crease but it hides pretty well. And over long time usage, its presence might become second nature to you. There is also a small but useful 1.9-inch panel upfront. This offers a peek at notifications and can be used as a viewfinder for the camera, and easy access to widgets like music, weather, alarms, voice recorder, etc.
Other highlights include the Snapdragon 888 processor, up to 8GB RAM, 256GB internal storage, a 3300mAh battery, Android 11 based One UI, and 5G.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Specifications
Primary Display: 6.7 inches, 1080 x 2640 pixels, 120 Hz, AMOLED | Secondary Display: 1.9 inches, 260 x 512 pixels AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 octa-core CPU | RAM: up to 8GB| Storage: up to 256GB | Software: Android 11 | Rear camera: 12 MP + 12 MP Dual Rear | Front camera: 10MP | Weight: 183g | Dimensions: 166 x 72.2 x 6.9 mm | Battery: 3300mAh
5. 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
6. 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
7. 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
8. 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
9. Moto Razr 5G
Motorola has always tried its hand in different segments including the foldable or the dual screen segment too. The Moto Razr 5G by the company is proof of that. The smartphone runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage.
The smartphone has a 48MP primary sensor for clicking the best shots. On the front, it has a 20MP snapper for the sake of selfies and video calls. It draws power from a 2800mAh battery that also supports Turbo Power Charging.
Talking about the display, it has a clamshell design that makes the process of folding and unfolding the device quite simple. The refresh rate of the interior foldable display of the device is 60Hz which is equal to the standard refresh rate offered in budget phones.
So if you are someone who is looking for performance along with the premium feel, then you may ditch this Moto offering as it is not that good when it comes to performance.
Moto Razr specifications
Display: 6.2-inch, P-OLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G | RAM: up to 8GB | Storage: up to 256GB | Software: Android 10 | Rear camera: 48MP | Front camera: 20MP | Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 169.2 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm | Battery: 2800mAh
10. Vivo X Fold
Vivo X Fold marked the entry of the company into the foldable segment. Though the smartphone is not available in all the markets. Still, it seems like a piece of art like other Vivo Phones.
The device outclasses all others in the list in terms of performance with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor paired with 12GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. The handset is powered by a 4600mAh battery that supports fast charging.
In terms of optics, the device has a quad rear camera setup including a 50MP primary sensor, 48MP secondary sensor, 12MP tertiary sensor, and an 8MP sensor. On the front, it has a 16MP shooter to capture selfies and attend video calls.
As for the display, it has an 8.03-inch unfolded AMOLED display complemented with a 120HZ refresh rate. The folded display of the device measures around 6.53-inch and it also has an AMOLED panel and 120HZ refresh rate.
Vivo X fold specifications
Display: 8.03-inch, LTPO AMOLED | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: up to 512GB | Software: Android 12 | Rear camera: 50MP + 48MP + 12MP + 8MP | Front camera: 16MP | Weight: 311g | Dimensions: 162 x 144.9 x 6.3 mm | Battery: 4600mAh
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. Manufacturers 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.