Technology

Surface Phone May Be A Foldable Device With Self-Regulating Hinge

Microsoft has long been rumored to work on a Surface Phone, but so far, we have no official words on it. Now, it appears, the Surface Phone may not be a regular smartphone, rather it could be a foldable notepad-like device based on the company’s Courier concept, Microsoft’s canceled project from 2010.

Surface Phone
Image Source: patentscope.wipo.int (screenshot)

Microsoft Surface Phone or a 2-in-1 device

A new Microsoft patent emerged this week (first spotted by The Verge), showing another impressive idea that the company has in mind for its mobile-type device. This new patent details a mobile device with a self-regulating hinge, reminding us of the Microsoft Courier design, which the Surface Phone has long been rumored to copy.

Microsoft’s patent, for a “self-regulating hinge,” describes a “pair of self-regulating hinge assemblies rotatably securing hinge ends of the first and second portions around a first hinge axis associated with the first portion and a second hinge axis associated with the second hinge axis so that an extent of rotation around the first hinge axis corresponds to an extent of rotation around the second hinge axis.”

Though the language is pretty technical, the drawings accompanying the patent makes it somewhat easier to understand. The device in the patent has a hinge that integrates two different screens to appear as one. Further, the patent also shows a small mobile-type device being used with a keyboard, something like a mini-laptop. Possibly, it could be a 2-in-1 device, which will be more than just a smartphone. Microsoft has possibly used a special hinge to address the bezel problem of having two screens as the patent designs show two edge-to-edge displays with no significant gap.

This new patent is in line with the previous reports, which claimed a Courier-like foldable device with two displays, and a stylus. However, this new patent filing nowhere shows a stylus with the device. In October, Windows Central revealed that the company is prototyping a foldable hardware, which focuses on a Pen and digital inking along with having telephony capabilities. Previously, Windows Central also reported that Microsoft is developing a dedicated notebook app for the rumored device.

Could run on Andromeda OS

The latest patent gives no information on the software side. However, Windows Central notes that the foldable devices would run on a version of Windows 10 – code-named Andromeda OS. The Andromeda platform would be the first to come with Microsoft’s upcoming adaptable Windows Shell – referred to as CShell. The CShell adjusts the Windows 10 experiences on the fly, thus allowing the best Windows experience irrespective of how the user folds the device, according to Windows Central.

This patent was published on Friday, but was filed in October. As of now, it is not known if the project is dead or still alive. So, a Microsoft Surface Phone will continue to be a rumor, at least for the time being. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see who will be the first to come up with a foldable device – Microsoft or Samsung.

The Korean firm is also expected to come up with a foldable smartphone, a completely new form factor, for its Galaxy X at some point next year. The form factor of the current smartphones comes with a limitation – i.e., the display can’t be extended without increasing the size of the phone. However, a foldable handset has the capability to put tablets in our pockets.