Where to sell your used and unwanted gadgets

Every year means new iterations of your favorite phones from the likes of Apple, Samsung and Google, so you might be tempted to upgrade to your handset. But with some new phones costing over $1,000, keeping up with the latest and greatest can really take a toll on your wallet. So why not offset the cost by putting your old device up for sale? If you’re wondering which trade-in service will yield you the biggest bang for your buck, and how easy it will be, we have answers to those questions (and more). We've rounded up some of the leading contenders for offloading your old electronics. It’s not just phones, either — perhaps you have an old laptop that isn't quite cutting it anymore, or maybe you've got some other stuff sitting in the closet collecting dust.

Trade-in sites


If you're looking for the littlest hassle and want your money as soon as possible, there are plenty of sites that will automate the trade-in process. You'll select your device from a list, get a quote within minutes and send the device back for cash in a matter of days.


Decluttr definitely lives up to its name. Not only can you sell phones from a number of manufacturers, including Apple, Samsung and Google, but the site also takes lots of physical media, including CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, video games and books. For devices, you'll be asked for a general assessment of its condition, and given a quote immediately. Once you complete your order the site will send you a free shipping label. Decluttr also will accept handsets as old as the iPhone 6S, though it'll offer you only $7 for a 16GB model in good condition.


uSell operates as a broker, searching other sites for their best offers on a given device and taking care of the rest. Like most buyback sites, it's big on iPhones, but you can still sell off other manufacturers' devices; it really depends on who's buying them at that point. The selection is a bit of a grab bag — newer phones like the Galaxy S21 aren't listed, though you can get a quote for the iPhone 11 ($210 for an unlocked, “flawless” 64GB model). Once you complete your order the site will send you a free shipping kit to send out your phone, and you can get paid for the item via PayPal, Venmo or an old fashioned check.


If you don't want to have to worry about packaging up your old device and mailing it off, or would like to receive your payout right away, there's always ecoATM. It's literally there in the name: an automated machine that you place your device into and it examines the handset and pays you on the spot. It accepts the biggest brands (i.e., Apple, Google and Samsung), along with devices from a wide variety of manufacturers, including LG, Motorola and ZTE. If the machine determines that your device isn't worth anything at all, you can still use ecoATM to responsibly recycle your old gadget. You'll find ecoATM kiosks in Walmart and Kroger locations, as well as malls and check cashing stores across the country.


While browsing Amazon listings, it’s likely you’ve come across products marked as “refurbished.” Well, if you’ve ever wondered where those come from, a lot of them likely hail from Amazon’s trade-in program. The company will put its own products, like Kindle readers and Fire tablets front and center, but you can also send in phones and gaming products in for an Amazon gift card as well. It’s not great if you want cash, but if you’re looking to upgrade an Amazon device this option is your best bet, as trading in an older one also nets you a 25 percent discount in addition to the store credit. You’ll need to print out a shipping label, or you can drop off your electronics at select Amazon Locker or Whole Foods locations.


This is a good option if you’re looking to upgrade to a newer Apple device. You can trade in iPhones, iPads, Macs and even Apple Watches. That’s notable as wearables are a category you don’t often see on trade-in sites. Apple will even take your old Android phone if you were thinking of making the switch. The trade-in values are on par with other sites, but you can get a smaller payout in the form of a gift card instead if you’d rather wait before making a new purchase, want to put it toward media purchases or even just use it in an Apple Store. Which, by the way, also accepts trade-ins in case you’re not comfortable shipping your old but still expensive device.


The nice thing about It’sWorthMore is that its on-site forms handle a larger variety of gadgets than other sites, incorporating companies such as Microsoft, AMD and even GoPro in addition to standards like Apple, Samsung and Google. You’ll answer a few standard questions about your device’s condition and whether you still have the original box — obviously, the more you’ve kept from the original packaging, the better. You’ll then get a ballpark estimate of its worth and a prepaid shipping label to print out. Once your device is received you’ll generally get the assessment and payment via check, PayPal, Venmo or Zelle within two to three business days.


The appeal of BuyBackWorld is that device assessment is a streamlined process: Instead of having to answer a barrage of detailed questions for your device you give it a general assessment and let the site handle the rest. Just like with It’sWorthMore, BuyBackWorld will provide a printable shipping label in your confirmation email but, if you don’t have a printer or boxes to pack your device up, you can always have the site send you a free shipping kit, which can handle everything the site takes except desktop computers.


If you’ve read through the other site descriptions, GadgetGone’s modus operandi should be familiar: To sell a product, you’ll have to answer a few questions about what type of device you have and what condition it’s in, after which the site will generate a prepaid shipping label. At least here you can find brands like OnePlus included among the options, and you can also sell MacBooks and Mac Minis here. You can get paid a number of ways, too, including PayPal, virtual VISA card, Amazon and Target gift cards or just good old fashioned bank transfer.

Store trade-ins

C1YC8B A GameStop video game store in the Herald Square shopping district in New York gamestop; videogames; shopping; electronic

Sometimes you need your money right now, or just don't want to trust your device to the vagaries of various shipping companies. There are a few nationwide retailers that accept trade-ins for cash or store credit. Additionally, wireless carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint will all give you credit toward a new phone.

Best Buy

Best Buy also offers trade-ins both by mail and in-store — with more than 1,000 locations, this might be extremely convenient for you. You fill out the form online and bring that to customer service. It's easy, but there's one big downside: You can get your payout only via a Best Buy gift card. This is great if you spend a lot of money with them anyway, but less good if you really need cash.


GameStop is infamous for buying games back at ridiculously low prices and flipping them at near retail, but don't let that stop you from making some easy cash when you need to quickly clear your closet of old electronics and games. And yes, I said cash: GameStop offers store credit, a Visa prepaid card or actual money if you want to take your bounty elsewhere. For example, you can trade in Animal Crossing for the Switch and get $22 in store credit or $18 cash, which isn't bad when new copies are going for $48 on Amazon. GameStop also accepts phones, tablets and Apple Watches, though the prices aren't going to match what you'd get from an online trade-in site.

Consumer to consumer

eBay Introduces Boxing Weekend On Dec. 26 and 27 At Eight Westfield Malls Across The Country, Making It Even Easier For Consumer

Sometimes you prefer to cut out the middleman and get a bit more personal — a transaction where you're selling your device directly to another person instead of letting a faceless site flip it for you as a "refurbished" unit. In those cases, you want a site that's more user-to-user, though a few will still automate certain bits to make your sale as smooth as possible.


Swappa is a marketplace site, which means sellers can set their own price. So if you're getting rid of a newer phone, this is probably the best way to go — the iPhone 13 fetches around $515, for example. That's a huge improvement over what you'd get selling through a site like Decluttr, which is offering only $422 for a 128GB unit.


When shopping on Amazon, you've probably been tempted by some of those marketplace deals in the past and, chances are, if you list an item on there, someone will give your old device a look. Since almost everyone on earth seems to have an Amazon account, your potential customer base is huge, and it costs only $0.99, plus a percentage based on category, to sell an item through the site. The downsides are that Amazon isn't really optimized for individual sales; you'll be competing with wholesale companies and even bots that will tweak the price of a product automatically in response to the competition.


eBay is sort of the Wild West of sales sites, but the biggest advantage is that you can sell anything there and hopefully find a buyer, regardless of how old a product is. Even so, the site has come a long way in the past decade or so, adding structured categories that can help lead customers to your product. For phones, you can search by network, color or storage capacity, and even filter for features like 4K video or fingerprint sensors.

In the end, it still works as it always did: You list a product and set an end date for the listing with a minimum price, or just set a "Buy It Now" price if you don't want to wait to see how an auction turns out. Chances are you already have an eBay account with a feedback score, so there's no extra setup required on your part. Your first 250 listings are free every month, and you'll pay up to 15 percent of the purchase price only if an item sells. The biggest downside is that you're competing with a lot more sellers, and chances are there's always someone willing to undercut you on price.

Cash-back comparison

Ultimately, the site you go with should be whatever's most useful and convenient, but if you just care about how much money you'll end up with, we've priced out a few recent flagship handsets just to give you an idea of what each site offers. We've also thrown in the Nintendo Switch, because it might be time to sell yours off and finally upgrade to an OLED model.

All phone prices are for the lowest storage capacity, usually 128GB. The prices are for the unlocked models when available, or the carrier where it's being traded. These prices were valid the day this post was written, but they fluctuate daily or, in the case of sites like Amazon and eBay, hourly.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Google Pixel 6

Nintendo Switch




































Best Buy






$291 cash / $364 credit

$131 cash / $164 credit


$80 cash / $100 credit































If you were looking to sell some games, we've also got a shorter list, because not every site accepts trade-ins. GameStop will offer you more money than what's listed below if you're a member of its Elite or Elite Pro programs.

Elden Ring (Xbox)

Horizon Forbidden West (PS5)

Pokémon Legends Arceus (Switch)






$11 cash / $14 credit

$13 cast / $16 credit

$14 cash / $17 credit









Once you've picked a site and listed your item, there are a few important things to remember before you ship off your device. The most important, when disposing of a phone or laptop or any other device containing personal data, is to do a full factory reset. That also means turning off "Find My iPhone" and the activation lock on iOS devices. See if you can unlock the phone, too; you'll actually get more money selling it carrier-free. And finally, make sure you've backed up any important data you may have, like contact info, game saves and, of course, photos. Cash is great, but it won't save your memories.

Images: Mike Blake / Reuters (ecoATM); Alamy (Gamestop); Getty Images for eBay (eBay)

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/where-to-sell-used-electronics.html?src=rss

Samsung Galaxy A54 5G and Galaxy A34 5G: A New Era of Awesome Experiences

Samsung has always been committed to providing top-quality devices to meet the needs of all its users. The company has once again lived up to its reputation with the release of the new Samsung Galaxy A54 5G and Galaxy A34 5G smartphones. These new additions to the Galaxy A series offer a unique and awesome experience that is sure to impress. The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G and Galaxy A34 5G come with a range of features that are designed to make your everyday life easier and more enjoyable. With their sleek and stylish design, these devices are sure to turn…

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‘Apple iPhone meets Samsung Galaxy S Series’ to derive the best of both worlds

While Apple and Samsung stand on opposite side of the ring, intending to outmaneuver the other with antics on the surface and inside their smartphones; a designer presents a peach of an idea that will make eyes roll at the audacity.

With the ahead of himself idea of “Apple iPhone meets Samsung Galaxy S series,” Michael Ma has left me confused – I don’t like it, and I cannot pass it either. This ‘combo is a dream design Michael has been wanting to see on a modern smartphone,’ but I’m not sure how many others want it. Like it or not, it is a fantastic iteration for many reasons and deserves a curious look.

Designer: Michael Ma

While an iPhone x Galaxy combo will not happen unless the two technology giants stop making smartphones one day and someone gathers the mettle to marry the facets of iPhone and Galaxy S. Until that happens; if you are someone like Michael, who finds himself carrying an iPhone and a Samsung device together, this is one idea that could save you the effort.

With its 6.1-inch Retina display, the device is idolized with an edge-to-edge screen. Along with trimming the bezel to negligible, the screen is devoid of the iPhone notch with an option of either a hole-punch or under-display camera with a TrueDepth sensor.

The polished aluminum design on the front, and the frame on the sides – with soft curves on the edges – are inspired by the iPhone. The camera array on the back is where the Samsung touch first appears. The Galaxy S series style triple camera module highlights the frosted cover glass back of the smartphone.

Things really become interesting at the bottom of the Apple iPhone meets Samsung Galaxy S series concept. Here the iPhone-style stereo speaker grills are symmetrically placed with a Type-C charging port in the middle. Irrespective of the fact that this design is not going to get approval in Seoul or Cupertino, it is a fan idea that deserves love!

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Galaxy S23 Series: Redefining the Smartphone Experience

Samsung Electronics has officially launched the highly anticipated Galaxy S23 series of smartphones, including the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23+, and Galaxy S23 Ultra. The announcement was made on February 17, 2023, and the smartphones are already available for purchase in select markets. The Galaxy S23 series is the latest addition to Samsung’s flagship smartphone lineup and is designed to provide users with an unparalleled smartphone experience. With cutting-edge technology, innovative new features, and powerful performance, the Galaxy S23 series aims to redefine what consumers can expect from a premium smartphone. One of the most exciting features of the Galaxy S23…

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Decorative Samsung TV Stand turns your television into plant-inspired ‘jungalow’ home decor

Having only recently gained popularity, the Jungalow design style involves allowing plants to take over the home decor in a way that gives it a wild, natural touch. The word Jungalow comes from combine Jungle with Bungalow, and focuses on comfort and coziness with a bold expression of color and an overt use of indoor plants. Designed to match the Jungalow style, this Samsung TV stand comes from the mind of Jonathan Assaraf, who entered the design into the Dezeen x Samsung QLED TV Stand Design Competition.

Assaraf’s stand looks nothing quite like any TV stand you’ve seen, in that it takes its plant-based inspiration extremely seriously. The stand looks like it’s made from curved pieces of bamboo shoot or wicker, although it’s actually molded steel. This different approach allows the stand to borrow the physical properties of steel (its strength) without necessarily opting for a design that feels commonplace. The Jungalow-inspired stand adds a natural touch to the otherwise man-made character of the television, and looks even more appealing from the back than it does from the front!

Designer: Jonathan Assaraf

Although made from metal, the stand can be finished in a variety of gloss, matte, or metallic shades to fit in with your home’s decor. It’s dynamic and eye-catching, but doesn’t serve many functions apart from elevating your TV off the ground (you can’t height or angle-adjust your TV either). To add extra functionality, however, Assaraf designed a clever horizontal rod that can then be used to suspend hanging planters, because if there’s ever a thing a Jungalow needs, it’s more plants!

The stand is just conceptual for now (as it was a design competition entry), although there’s nothing stopping Samsung from actually building something out for their latest QLED TVs. The company’s always looked to create waves with its television aesthetics – the Ambient Mode on the QLED TVs, and the Sero TV come to mind. Here’s to hoping that Jungalow TV stands end up becoming a reality in the future!

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Samsung’s Eco-Friends accessory line is made from post consumer material

With the number of gadgets and devices being released every year by various brands, the electronics industry is one of the most notorious pollutants. Over the past years, there are brands that have become more conscious about the way they produce their devices and making sure their whole supply chain is more friendly to the environment. Samsung is one such brand that has been trying to create eco-friendly products, from their devices to their accessories.

Designer: Samsung and Slash B Slash

Samsung has partnered with a South Korean accessory maker to create the Eco-Friends collection. This was produced through the Samsung Mobile Accessories Partnership Program. As its name says, the accessory line is more friendly to the environment than the usual plastic materials that other accessories in the market are made from. These items are for the protection of the new Samsung devices like the Galaxy S23 line, Galaxy Z Flip 4, Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, and the Galaxy Watch 5. The collection includes phone covers, watch straps, and earbud cases.

What makes these accessories more eco-friendly than others is that it’s made from 40% Post Consumer Material (PCM). These materials include recycled plastic and vegan leather. To make it more fun for users, the designs include popular characters and scenes from fan favorite pop culture properties like Star Wars, The Simpsons, Hello Kitty, Pokémon, and Spongebob. There will also be some designs by young artists in case you prefer something less pop culture.

This project is actually planned by the Samsung Electronics Future Generation Lab which is made up of employees in their 20s from various global offices. If you’re in Seoul, you can drop by the pop-up store featuring the Eco-Friends accessory line in Yeouido. Hopefully, these accessories will eventually become available in Samsung global stores. Samsung is also working on making their smartphones and other gadgets more eco-friendly by using some recycled materials.

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Samsung XR wearable could become an industry response to Apple’s MR headset

Samsung just announced quite a number of new devices, including its usual Galaxy S flagship smartphone trio. While this is normal fare for Samsung this time of the year, it made a few choice statements that suddenly got heads turning and, to some extent, scratching. Samsung practically revealed that it is working on an “extended reality” or XR wearable device, pretty much a headset, something that it hasn’t done in half a decade. While it was mostly an announcement of intent rather than a teaser of an actual product, it name-dropped a few big names in the tech industry as its partners in this endeavor. While the fact that Samsung is again making a headset isn’t really a world-shattering revelation, the timing of all these hints seems to be a little bit too convenient not to put it in light of Apple’s own upcoming mixed reality device.

Designer: Samsung (via The Washington Post)

Samsung is really no stranger to such headsets and is probably too familiar with their problems as well. It started out with the smartphone-powered GearVR, which it worked on together with pre-Facebook Oculus back in 2015. And then there was the HMD Odyssey which was one of the few Windows Mixed Reality headsets that launched and sputtered out. In both cases, the tech giant has taken a step back along with the rest of its peers, making this announcement all the more intriguing and suspicious.

These days, there are very few notable players in the VR and AR space, with Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and HTC Vive still competing for top slots. Microsoft has pretty much forgotten about its HoloLens, and Google is being typically Google-ish about its remaining ARCore platform. Surprisingly, these are the very same companies that Samsung will be working with for its XR wearable, bringing the who’s who of Big Tech together with a single mission.

Details about the device itself are scant, but Samsung did let it out that it will be powered by a Qualcomm chipset and run an unannounced version of Android made specifically for headsets. More important than the hardware, though, Samsung’s name-dropping is meant to suggest that it is establishing a more stable ecosystem before it actually launches the product. The reason why many attempts at this niche market failed was that they were too focused on the product without an ecosystem giving it a reason to exist in the first place.

Apple isn’t going to have that problem when it launches its own MR device this spring, given how all its products pretty much live within Apple’s universe. Its rivals, however, don’t have something like it and will have to join forces to deliver something worthwhile. Of course, these companies, Apple included, still need to make a convincing argument about why you would want to wear a screen on your face. And as these same companies experienced, that’s not a particularly easy proposition to sell.

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Samsung Galaxy S23 design has a more interesting sustainability story to tell

Samsung has finally taken the veil off its early 2023 flagship, and, to no one’s surprise, it is exactly as the leaks claimed it to be. If you are feeling a bit of deja vu, that’s because Samsung has adopted most of the same design elements from last year’s models to the Galaxy S23 trio this year. Of course, there are some changes, like the removal of the somewhat awkward “Contour Cut” camera bump for separate raised lenses per camera, somewhat unifying the design language of the three while still maintaining the distinct identity of the Ultra model. While the familiar design goes well for brand recognition, some might find it boring compared to the bold and sometimes gimmicky appearances of other phones. Inside that simple and subdued appearance, however, lies something more important, one that could have a significant impact on the future of Samsung’s phones and that of the planet as well.

Designer: Samsung

Although they might not be the biggest offenders, the sheer volume of smartphones being produced each quarter, not just each year, has an undeniable effect on the environment, most if not all of them negative. The resources used and wasted in manufacturing phones, not to mention the amount of plastics used in components, all contribute to the degrading state of the planet. Smartphones are also thrown out way before they need to be, sometimes just because they’re no longer supported by the company, and their improper disposal also slowly poisons both land and sea.

Fortunately, smartphone manufacturers, especially big ones like Samsung and Apple, have started to take notice and take action. Some might question the actual effectiveness of removing the charger from the box, but the positive actions thankfully don’t stop there. Samsung, for its part, has been proudly shouting about its growing sustainability efforts, and the Galaxy S23 series is supposedly taking the next step to a slightly greener smartphone.

The new Samsung phones have more parts that use recycled materials now, 12 both internal and external components to be precise. These include the use of recycled post-consumer plastic from PET bottles and discarded fishing nets, as well as pre-consumer recycled aluminum and glass. Quite interesting is the revelation that the protective glass used for the phones, the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, contains 22% pre-consumer recycled glass.

There’s still a tremendous amount of non-sustainable materials used in smartphones, and the processes used to manufacture them and their components continue to hurt the environment. A small win is still a win, though, so Samsung definitely deserves a pat on the back. Even more so because, contrary to common capitalist business logic, Samsung promises around four to five years of support for its phones, ensuring that they will remain usable and keep them away from landfills for even longer periods of time.

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Samsung foldable concept could be the solution to the foldable phone design problem

Foldable phones might seem like eccentric luxuries, but they do also try to solve a problem, that of the paradox of display size. Consumers want larger screens that allow them to enjoy their content more comfortably but do not want actually large devices that make it inconvenient to carry them around. Foldable phones try to offer the best of both worlds of a handy smartphone and a large tablet, but current technologies have too many compromises to make that happen, not to mention price tags that prevent these devices from becoming mainstream at all. While creases are starting to disappear slowly, durability is still a major concern. More importantly, current designs require a second “outer” display to make the phone usable even when folded shut. Samsung is now showing off a new foldable display and hinge that can bend both ways, potentially putting an end to all the foldable design debates.

Designer: Samsung (via The Verge)

Although Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold might seem to be the standard design for foldables these days, it wasn’t the only one in the beginning. The Royole FlexPai and the Huawei Mate X (as well as the new Huawei Mate Xs 2), both of which launched before the first-gen Galaxy Fold, had an “outie” design where the screen folded outward and backward. This created a device that only had a single screen, reducing the components and complexity required by an “innie” design like the Galaxy Z Fold. At that time, however, the fragile nature of flexible screens and early hinge technologies made that design less than appealing.

The likes of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, OPPO Find N2, and other “innie” foldables protected that expensive display panel but at the cost of needing an external screen if you wanted to use the device as a regular phone when closed. Otherwise, you’d be left with something like the Microsoft Surface Duo that had to be folded backward to make use of even a single screen. The ideal for a foldable phone would be folding both inward and outward, and that is what Samsung’s “Flex In & Out” display is trying to propose.

At first glance, the prototype looks like an ordinary Galaxy Z Fold phone with its flexible panel folding inward. However, it can actually bend past 180 degrees all the way to 360 degrees, which means it can completely fold back in the opposite direction. This really combines the best of both worlds of innie and outie designs, removing the need for a second external screen and potentially reducing the build cost of the entire device.

Samsung showed off a similar technology last year in the form of the “Flex S” display, though that seemed to only fold in one or the other direction rather than both. It is unknown when this display will be ready for production and mass consumption, presuming it’s even durable enough to withstand not only multiple folding but also hard objects inside pockets or bags. It might still take a year or so for this device to actually become available for purchase, so Samsung fans will have to settle for a more traditional Galaxy Z Fold 5 with a hopefully improved “waterdrop” hinge.

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5 Reasons the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Design Failed

They may be technological marvels, but foldable and rollable screens remain just that in consumers’ eyes. Foldable phones have been on the market for almost five years now, but they’re still considered to be expensive eccentricities and luxuries that only a few can really afford. Even if they were more affordable, most people would probably still not be able to justify such a purchase, especially considering some concerns regarding durability. The Microsoft Surface Duo and its successor tried to offer a less risky yet still expensive interpretation of the foldable design, offering two distinct screens rather than folding a single one. At first, it seemed that it would actually be a new mobile device category to stand beside typical foldables, but the rumor now is that Microsoft seems to have thrown in the towel. Although it did have its fair share of fans, the Surface Duo 2 just didn’t seem to click with the masses, even less than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, and these are five reasons why.

Designer: Microsoft

Identity Crisis

To some extent, the Microsoft Surface Duo is in a class of its own. You can’t really call it a smartphone, even though it does make calls since it’s rather awkward to actually use it as a phone unless you’re always wearing earbuds. You can’t even fold the Surface Duo 2 back completely now that it has a camera bump. You can easily call it a tablet, either, even though content can span both screens to form one single display that has a very noticeable cut in the middle. Even Microsoft itself avoids calling the Surface Duo by either name, preferring to just refer to it as a “dual-screen mobile device.”

The Surface Duo’s unconventional design does warrant a different classification, though it’s not exactly original in the basic concept. LG tried to take a stab at a dual-screen phone with a case that you can attach and remove as needed. The experience, of course, was very different, more similar to how you’d connect a second monitor to a computer. The Surface Duo had that capability built-in, saving users from having to juggle accessories. It didn’t, however, solve the fundamental problem of exhibiting an identity that people can understand and relate to, which would have gone a long way in making the device more appealing beyond mere curiosity.

The device’s ambiguity meant that it was actually difficult, if not awkward, to use it like you would a familiar mobile device. It’s too wide to use as a phone when folded, and it’s unusable as a “full” tablet when spread out. Admittedly, it’s unfair to judge the Surface Duo by these standards because it’s neither a phone nor a tablet but a completely different device. Unfortunately, people will approach it from either direction because they’re more familiar with smartphones and tablets and might not be able to adequately wrap their heads around a new creature such as this, especially when they might not even understand what it is for. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s target audience makes it clear that it’s not for everyone in the first place.

Niche Business

The Surface Duo 2 can do almost anything a smartphone or tablet can do, especially if you use only a single screen. Those won’t take full advantage of the device’s capabilities, though, and you’ll have to make use of both screens at the same time. And therein lies the biggest question of the Surface Duo’s design purpose. While most people will probably want a bigger screen, how many will actually need two somewhat small screens instead? Why, those who use two apps at the same time, of course!

The School of Jobs and the smartphones that followed have conditioned our minds to use one app at a time, deftly switching back and forth between apps and screens as needed. This is admittedly very limiting, especially if you’re used to the multi-window world of desktops and laptops. There might be some who wish they could do things at the same time or see two apps simultaneously, and it’s exactly for that use case that the Surface Duo was designed. To be more specific, the dual-screen device is made for highly productive people who find themselves always switching between two or three apps.

The subset of mobile users that regularly do this, however, might be very small. Microsoft is clearly focusing its marketing on business users who’d have different documents or apps running at the same time to compare or even share data. There is also the case of some more social users who might be chatting away while watching a video together or browsing the Web. These are definitely legitimate use cases, but not common enough to make the idea of the Surface Duo to be so popular that it would drive sales. Because while the device does enable using two apps side-by-side, the unfortunate truth is that these apps and the Android platform, in general, were designed for single-screen use and remain stubbornly so.

Growing Software Pains

Whether it’s iOS or Android or anything in between, mobile operating systems have been designed from the start with a single screen in mind. And while Android did actually have the foundations for multi-window support, few outside of the likes of Samsung ever took advantage of that and evolved it. Now iOS, particularly iPadOS, has left Android in its dust, and devices like the Surface Duo or even the Galaxy Z Fold are having trouble shoehorning a different paradigm into the platform.

The first release of the modified Android system for the Surface Duo was pretty much disastrous, with plenty of instabilities and bugs marring the otherwise beautiful first-gen device. To its credit, Microsoft has been addressing those issues slowly but surely, yet the fact remains that Android apps always behave as if they’re the only show on stage. It doesn’t help that that stage doesn’t seem to push those actors to play well with others, even when all the facilities are there. It will take a Google foldable device for Android to really adopt all these features it already has, but that’s a story for another day.

To be fair, even Samsung’s foldables have this kind of problem, only that the phone maker giant has been working on its solution for years. Those flaws are more pronounced on a younger device like the Surface Duo. Despite being primarily a software company, Microsoft still has trouble adapting Android to its needs. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly have a track record in that aspect, either.

Software is Hard

Just because Microsoft is adept at making software doesn’t mean it’s an expert at everything. Some might even refute how good it is at software development in the first place due to innumerable issues with Windows and Office. That’s even truer with platforms that aren’t its own, particularly Android, which it has been using ever since it ditched the idea of any form of Windows on mobile. It hasn’t had much success then, and it doesn’t seem to be having better luck now.

To be fair, Microsoft has shown better performance with the Surface Duo 2, at least as far as pushing fixes is concerned. Unfortunately, even those fixes leave some things to be desired, and the software still shows some of the problems exhibited in the first Surface Duo. Given the fast pace of Android updates, Microsoft is clearly lagging behind on that front as well. Confidence in Microsoft’s ability to fix those software issues isn’t exactly that high, and the latest rumors only serve to validate those doubts.

Microsoft switching to a single foldable screen for the Surface Duo 3 doesn’t make all those problems go away. It could, however, alleviate or even fix some of the problems, particularly when it comes to having to support two screens, something that Android at its core still doesn’t do well in the first place. Unfortunately, it does pretty much throw away all the rhetoric around the first Surface Duo devices, validating once again that Samsung’s design might have been right all along.

An Answer in Search of a Problem

The biggest problem with the Surface Duo design is that there was probably no problem, to begin with. While some will say that this applies to foldable devices as well, it’s even more poignant with a dual-screen mobile device. The Surface Duo 2 is slick, beautiful, and innovative. Unfortunately, it is also incomprehensible for the majority of consumers, even those that can actually afford one. Microsoft tried to offer a device that seemed less fragile than a Galaxy Z Fold but unfortunately slapped a price that is just as inaccessible anyway.

Microsoft did have a clear audience in mind, but it might have overestimated its own clout in that industry. It might have envisioned a large army of mobile users who depend exclusively on Microsoft apps and services, but that ship has long sailed. Without support for other “normal” apps, the overall experience was clunky, awkward, and sometimes even unusable. The Surface Duo 2 definitely has fans that are now disillusioned at the path that Microsoft is rumored to take, but those fans won’t be able to help turn the device into a profit.

While the Surface Duo 2 is admittedly an interesting innovation, at the end of the day, it’s still a product that has to bring Microsoft money. By turning away from the dual-screen design, the company is effectively admitting that it failed to accomplish that. The “innie” foldable screen first used by Samsung is by no means perfect, but it’s also more usable for both regular and power users. It remains to be seen how much of the Surface Duo user experience will remain in such a different device and whether or not it will even be worth investing in a Microsoft mobile device that could suffer the same fate as other Microsoft mobile devices.

The post 5 Reasons the Microsoft Surface Duo 2 Design Failed first appeared on Yanko Design.