The Surface phone might have escaped the eye of the rumor mill for a significant part of the past year but as 2018 begins, more and more signs are emerging that Microsoft is now finally putting some real effort into making its comeback mobile device a reality. Just recently, new patents emerged showing what appears to be the Surface Phone’s possible camera unit. Needless to say, Microsoft’s proposed imaging configurations are rather impressive.
Recently discovered by MS Power User, the new patents for the still-unannounced device show a variety of mechanisms that would enable the Surface Phone to feature a powerful camera despite its thin frame. According to the Microsoft-themed website, speculations are high that each half of the Surface Phone would only be 6mm thick, substantially limiting the options for Microsoft to install a capable camera on the hybrid handset.
According to the recently discovered patents, however, it seems like Microsoft has found not just one but three possible solutions to its camera phone problems. As shown in the patents, one of the systems that Microsoft seems to be exploring is called a Split-Camera Autoalignment, which would require the Redmond-based tech giant to split the Surface Phone’s camera module in two, with one side housing half the components and another side housing the other.
This system would utilize micromechanics, the same imaging technology utilized in optical image stabilization (OIS) systems, to align the modules when the Surface Phone is folded. While interesting, however, this system is quite complicated and would likely present Microsoft with some possible issues with production.
This seems to be one of the reasons why Microsoft also proposed a Floating Camera Module for the Surface Phone. This system is not as complicated as the Split-Camera Autoalignment model since the entire imaging module is just on one side of the folding device. The patent for the Surface Phone’s Floating Camera features a system that would allow users to push the module forward and backward. Interestingly, such a system would allow the Surface Phone to lie fully flat on a table, unlike other devices like the iPhone X.
An even simpler patent was filed by Microsoft for the Surface Phone’s camera. Dubbed as the Retractable Camera Cap, this model only requires the tech firm to build a protruding camera on one side of the device and a corresponding pit on the other half. This would allow the Surface Phone to house the entire imaging unit safely with fewer moving parts, which would likely increase the durability of the handset.
Despite the torrent of new information, Microsoft has been unnaturally tight-lipped about any details concerning the Surface Phone. Rumors are high, however, that the industry-disrupting device might finally see the light of day this 2018.