A recent patent filing by Microsoft has unveiled the tech giant's exploration into 360-degree folding screen designs. This patent, initially discovered by Patently Apple, provides insights into how a 360-degree folding screen and its hinge might function in tandem. The design allows the screen to fold completely, transitioning from a fully closed to a fully opened state.
Despite rumors that Microsoft is ditching the Surface Duo in favor of a single display smartphone, this patent shows different. It at least highlights that Microsoft is still refining dual/folding screen technology. While patents are never a sure thing, this could mean the company still has plans for a Surface Duo 3.
This isn't Microsoft's first foray into the realm of foldable displays. A 2022 patent detailed methods to reverse a foldable display without leaving a gap, indicating the company's sustained interest in this technology.
However, it's worth noting that while these designs are being patented, it doesn't necessarily guarantee their transition from the lab to the market due to potential manufacturing challenges and cost considerations.
In 2022, LG showcased a prototype of an 8.03-inch foldable OLED display capable of folding at any angle between 0 and 360 degrees. This prototype, boasting a resolution of 2480 x 2200 and a brightness peaking at 600 nits, bears similarities in screen size to Microsoft's Surface Duo. This has led to speculations that Microsoft might be considering this technology for future devices.
Future of Surface Duo
As I previously reported in January, Microsoft's next folding “Surface Duo” smartphone might abandon the dual-screen design in favor of a single folding screen with a 180-degree hinge. However, the timeline for this device's release remains uncertain due to various factors, including potential durability issues and cost concerns.
Surface Duo is a smartphone with two screens that runs on Android and folds like a book. It is a creative, elegant, and intriguing device. But it also falls short of its obvious potential. The software is glitchy and the two screens are not well supported. The Duo is a disappointment.
The critics were not impressed, with most admiring the hardware and regretting the overall experience. Microsoft made the device better for the Surface Duo 2, but there were still major problems. The company has given up on launching the Surface Duo 3 this year and will release a single-screen device with a folding display. It is not clear if this will be a flip-style foldable or (more likely) a book style folding phone like the Galaxy Z Fold.