Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2 is one of the most controversial devices out there. On the one hand, its dual-screen design has won laurels, and there’s a very small group of loyal enthusiasts who swear by its productivity tricks. But there’s a slew of practical flaws in the camera, battery life, and UI departments that have kept this phone-tablet hybrid from realizing its true potential.
Of course, a sky-high price would do him no favours. However, one enthusiast turned it into a portable slot with a few cool add-ons – and it honestly looks pretty incredible. On Reddit, a Surface Duo 2 owner (with the username u/Sarspazzard) showed off his Frankenstein version of Microsoft’s doomed phone after giving it a glorious handheld gaming makeover.
Attached to one half of the modified Surface Duo 2 are controller grips that hover over the left and right triggers on the screen. Between the rear handles is a small power supply that connects to a real fan sold by Black Shark, a Xiaomi-backed Chinese company that makes over-the-top gaming phones.
The fans are there to keep the device cool while gaming, but they didn’t offer much of a performance boost, according to our DIY champ. “I ran some Geekbench tests and only saw about a 10-15 point increase in single-core and multi-core with the cooler,” says the Surface Duo 2 owner.
The other half also has a dock that allows for passthrough charging. But more importantly, it allows for the addition of an external storage solution like a USB stick, which is key considering the 128GB of onboard storage in the device isn’t enough to store many game files. Also, the Surface Duo 2 doesn’t allow for storage expansion via a microSD card, so an external dock was the only option.
“These features are USEFUL to us. I’m talking about microSD support and 3.5mm headphones. There was absolutely no valid reason to remove them,” writes the modder in one of the comments. Valid point there! But given the odd placement of the USB-C port on the Surface Duo 2, a 180-degree USB-C male-to-female was required to connect all of those devices to the actual device.
Apparently the entire modification was made to play PC and console games with an emulation layer on top. Half of the Surface Duo 2’s screen is dedicated to the actual game graphics, while the other half has the onscreen buttons and a pair of physical trigger pads that float near the top two corners.
The mobile gaming segment is no stranger to such add-ons as they can be used with games such as Call of Duty: Mobile And PUBG: Mobile. The best thing about this gamified Surface Duo 2 is that it doesn’t require any special custom gear as most of it is easily available from outlets like Amazon.
The only concern is that the Surface Duo 2 launched for $1,500 and even after occasional price cuts it only dropped to around $1,000. That’s a hefty price tag and only worth it if you really want to boost its processing power and gaming potential, or just need a tech memorabilia.
There are of course pitfalls when running emulated game files. The Surface Duo 2 modder warns that unplugging often crashes the game. If you really want to enjoy mobile gaming on a handheld, the new Razer Edge or the Logitech G Cloud handheld are the best options out there. Otherwise, true handheld gaming nirvana can only be found in devices like the Steam Deck or the Nintendo Switch.