Microsoft has lodged a patent which details how the tech giant might make a future Surface Phone able to unfold into a Surface tablet.
Yes, it’s a patent, and patents are like all those wild concept cars, yachts and floating islands that always pop up, but are never actually built.
But sometimes, patents get real. Microsoft’s own Surface Studio, revealed in October last year, was on display as far back as February as a project called “Mobile Computing Device”:
So we’ll go there anyway, because while Microsoft has gone quiet on the fate of its Windows Phones, it hasn’t come out and said the line is dead either.
Last year, CEO Satya Nadella said the company was “three years” away from bringing a phone to market that could double as a PC.
It bought Xamarin, a startup that makes it easier to bring apps for iPhone and Android to other platforms, including Windows 10.
And in December, Microsoft demonstrated a full-blown version of Windows 10 Enterprise edition on a Qualcomm ARM chip, the chips that power smartphones and tablets.
It’s all coming together. Now for the pics. They’re listed under Patent #: US009541962 as MOBILE COMPUTING DEVICE HAVING A FLEXIBLE HINGE STRUCTURE.
Here’s that hinge:
The phone can fold out flat:
Could even have three screens:
Here’s a nifty way to fold the phone for two to watch at once:
And there’s even resolution details, including for an 8.3″ phone:
Again, this is just one of thousands of patents Microsoft will lodge this year. But foldable phones will be on the market this year, from Samsung and LG, for starters.
And the patent itself was lodged by Kabir Siddiqui. The Verge notes Siddiqui also successfully patented Microsoft’s Surface kickstand and Surface camera angle.
It’s a unique design. And while he was in Australia last year, Nadella told the AFR that:
“We will continue to be in the phone market, not as defined by today’s market leaders, but by what it is that we can uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device.”