Smartphones with folding screens are still a relatively new thing but the nascent market is growing, led by Samsung (Galaxy Fold and Z Flip) and Motorola (Razr). Microsoft has taken a different approach to dual screen smartphones with its Surface Duo, which is an Android device that has two separate screens in a book-like body.

While we await the launch of the Surface Duo later this year, it seems Microsoft is willing to its aspirations in folding tech a step further. A newly discovered patent shows the company is working on a smartphone with a folding screen.

It has been well documented that Microsoft has been developing folding display technology. While it did not make it to the Surface Duo, it could be something Microsoft is looking to for the future.

The patent titled  “FOLDABLE DISPLAY DEVICE WITH INTERACTABLE USER INTERFACE SURFACE ON THE EXTERNAL SHELL” was filed with the European Patent Office in 2018 and was published in December 2019.

Surf

Patent

Microsoft describes a method for placing a third panel display on the back of a folding smartphone to allow interaction without having to open the device. This is how Samsung has approached its own folding smartphones.

Here’s how Microsoft describes the technology:

“Aspects of the present disclosure provide a foldable display device that includes a user interface surface located on an exterior cover section of the foldable display device that allows a user to interact with the user interface surface while the foldable display device is in a closed state.

Interaction on the user interface surface during the closed state of the foldable display device may allow the user to select content to be shown on at least one display screen of the foldable display device on the interior section during a subsequent open state of the foldable display device.

Additionally, the user interface surface may be configured to allow an object produced (e.g., drawn or written) on the user interface surface to be stored for display on at least one of the first display screen, the second display screen, or the user interface surface.”