The Windows Phone has always struggled to gain traction in a market dominated by Android and Apple. Similar to Blackberry OS, Microsoft’s devices just couldn’t compete with the huge market domination of the two main operating systems. Largely due to a lack of support from popular apps, the attractiveness of a phone from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) just wasn’t strong enough to convert a significant portion of smartphone users. Back in July of this year, Microsoft stopped producing Windows Phone and just a couple months later said that Windows 10 Mobile is “no longer a priority” for the company. Recently filed patents seem to suggest that a Microsoft foldable phone is in the works, however. Perhaps Microsoft hasn’t completely shuttered their mobile ambitions after all.
Windows Foldable Phone
Back in 2016, Satya Nadella hinted that an “ultimate mobile device” project from Microsoft was in the works, code-named Andromeda. With the company recently announcing a halt in phone production, the future of the project was called into question. A patent for a Microsoft foldable phone makes us think that Andromeda may still be in the works after all.
This most recent patent comes alongside a number of similar filings, all of which concern a dual-screen Microsoft foldable phone or tablet. The company explained that with the recent trend of bezels becoming smaller and smaller, there’s limited opportunity for further increasing screen size. Making phones bigger is not an option, as many handsets are already very large. The best way, according to the company, is a Microsoft foldable phone with dual displays.
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“Along with these enhanced capabilities has come a demand for larger displays to provide a richer user experience. Mobile phone displays have increased in size to the point where they can now consume almost the entire viewing surface of a phone. To increase the size of displays any further would require an increase in the size of the phones themselves. This is not desirable, as users want their mobile phone to fit comfortably in their hand or in a shirt or pants pocket.”
Design and Features
The Microsoft foldable phone will ship with a “self-regulating hinge” that lets the two screens combine seamlessly to form one large display. This hinge allows the device to play double duty as a tablet of sorts, offering a unique option that we haven’t seen much thus far.
“With a dual-display device, the mobile phone or tablet can include an open, expanded position where both displays are flush so that the user feels like there is a single integrated display. In a closed, condensed position, both displays are face-to-face so as to protect the displays. In a fully-open position, the dual displays can sit back-to-back so the user needs to flip the device to view the opposing display.”
It’s important to keep in mind that a patent filing is far from a guarantee that we’ll see this new tech soon — if at all. It’s clear that Microsoft hasn’t completely given up on the idea of a mobile device. It remains to be seen whether a Microsoft foldable phone can perform well enough to make these efforts worth it.