Microsoft is yet to make a significant dent in the mobile industry. Over the past few years, the Redmond-based tech giant has tried a lot of concepts for its Windows-based smartphones, but it has largely failed in its efforts. With its latest attempt at breaching the mobile market, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL being largely unsuccessful, rumors are high that Microsoft might be betting its cards on the Surface Phone, a long-rumored device that is expected to be released sometime later this year.
Despite the device not being confirmed by the tech giant as of date, rumors about the Surface Phone are nonetheless abounding. According to speculations, the upcoming device would be a unique, powerhouse handset capable of putting a dent in the user base of industry titans such as Apple and Samsung. Considering that previous Surface devices such as the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Studio have done the same thing for their respective categories, the rumors surrounding Microsoft’s cryptic mobile device appear to be sound.
Microsoft itself has stoked the rumors surrounding the Surface Phone. In an interview with the Australia Financial Review, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated that the company is hard at work in the development of a game-changing device, according to a TrustedReviews report. A device which, if successful, could usher in a new generation of mobile machines in the years to come.
— Будь мобильным! (@yamobi) March 13, 2017
“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.”
The phrase “ultimate mobile device” has resonated among fans of the Redmond-based tech giant, with many stating that the Microsoft CEO might very well be referring to the Surface Phone. With regards to how the Surface Phone could stay true to its “ultimate mobile device” moniker, however, a number of patents that have recently emerged might provide a clue regarding Microsoft’s upcoming strategy in the mobile market.
A Windows Central report has recently described a new concept for a mobile device that would enable it to fold right down the middle. When folded in, the device appears to be designed as a smartphone. When folded out, however, device could be used as a tablet computer. Similar patents have been granted to Microsoft in the past, but this new batch features what appears to be a more refined version of the foldable mobile device concept.
For one, the new patent describes a device that does not rely on hinges to fold in or out. Instead, it depicted a smartphone designed with a tiered display, where the segmented panels feature a curved design towards its edges, right beneath another display. This would give the device a clean, continuous display regardless of whether the smartphone is folded in or out.
— Karel Pelckmans ☁️ (@KarelPelck) March 26, 2017
“In display devices such as tiled displays or hinged screens, where multiple display panels may be included and separated by one another via the support structure, the visibility of the support structure may hinder a user’s perception of displayed objects.”
“In order to reduce and/or obscure the visibility of a support structure for a display panel, the present disclosure provides example display devices including curved or otherwise bent regions for directing light to a user’s eye when the user’s gaze is directed to a support structure at an edge of the display panel. In this way, when a user is viewing a region occupied by the support panel, the user may instead see light from the display panel showing the displayed objects.”
While the patent itself describes a very compelling device that could very well change the smartphone industry, it would be wise to take this information with a grain of salt. Tech firms such as Microsoft file numerous patents for devices and ideas annually, but very few of these concepts actually make it to production. Nevertheless, the frequency and consistency of patents describing a foldable mobile device seem to be giving a clue about something very pertinent to the tech giant’s strategy in the smartphone industry. If Microsoft pulls off a transformable smartphone concept seamlessly, it would no doubt change the mobile market.
[Featured Image by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]