Microsoft has long been rumored to be working on a new superphone called the Surface Phone. However, the chances of seeing such a device took a hit when the company said Windows 10 Mobile will not get any new hardware. Finally, Microsoft has offered a ray of hope that a Surface Phone could eventually arrive.
I have previously argued that the Surface Phone must be a concept idea and not a physical device. Personally, I have been writing about the handset since 2015. If Microsoft was to launch it in 2018, it would not be the same device as the 2015 rumor. So, my theory has always been the Surface Phone is merely an umbrella name for what will be Microsoft's game-changing smartphone.
Let's be clear, game changing is definitely something the company is aiming for. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has previously said the company will kick start the next generation of mobile devices with a product that does not look like a phone. HoloLens chief Alex Kipman took the hints a step further by adding mixed reality is the future of mobile.
However, when the company announced no new features or hardware will come to Windows 10 Mobile, the Surface Phone seemed to die. That is not necessarily the case. Anant Maheshwari, President of Microsoft India has offered some hope of a new device. Speaking to Digit.ini, he said the following:
“I would say in the form-factors we are currently really focused on, clearly the Surface line of products which has Surface Hub, the Surface Studio, the Surface Book and the Surface Pros, we have a lot of capabilities across those devices, and we are continuing the focus on those form-factors. As far as mobiles are concerned, we are working with all the major OEMs and OS players to create new applications and experiences. We want people to be able to access all Microsoft apps and services on the mobile form factor also.”
So, he says Microsoft wants all its apps and services on mobile. Sure, the company is a massive developer on iOS and Android, but it is likely only a proprietary system would include all its services. Maheshwari also did not outright deny the potential of a Surface Phone coming.
As mentioned, Microsoft has often discussed about the next generation of mobile devices. It is clear the company has given up on trying to muscle in on the smartphone market. Equally, competing with iOS and Android has not worked out.
So, it seems logical to presume the company would look to a mixed reality-based mobile platform. To power such an ecosystem, Microsoft would need a new device. There are enough patents to suggest Microsoft is heavily interested in a folding device. Such a product would serve as a mini-computer and would appeal to businesses.
Solving a Folding Phone Problem
Enterprise has often been an area Microsoft has looked to in hopes of salvaging its mobile business. I'll let you debate whether the world actually needs a foldable phone, but a newly discovered patent suggests Microsoft has solved a major problem presented by a folding device.
This is not bending screen tech, which theoretically could be rolled. Microsoft is working on a proper folding device, one which would need hinges to open and close. The problem is, how do you implement hinges on a small device and make it look cool? Well, you don't is the answer, not if it is a traditional hinge system.
Microsoft's patent explores using a special torque or friction high tension wire to act as the hinge. It would hold the two halves of the device together and could allow multi-angle rotation.