Microsoft Surface Phone – News, Specs, Features, Release Date
Surface Phone is the name of a unconfirmed high-end Windows Phone from Microsoft. Although the company has not officially used the product name Surface Phone itself, there is a constant flow of rumors and also some hints that Microsoft actually plans to release a Surface Phone at some point in 2017.
On this page we sum-up everything, and provide updates as soon as important information comes out. At the end we list the latest Surface Phone news in chronological order.
And here is our short summary of rumored Surface Phone specs, what we know about a possible Surface Phone release date and some of the rumored Surface Phone features.
Surface Phone Brand vs. Lumia Brand
Microsoft has not officially confirmed it might build a Surface Phone, but the company registered the domain surfacephone.com early 2016, redirecting to the general Surface pages on the Microsoft store.
Since Microsoft acquired Nokia, the company had been relying on the Lumia series brand which once was synonym for rock-solid devices with great specs. (Like the last Nokia flagship phablet, the Lumia 1520). During 2016 the Lumia brand has seen a steady decline, mainly caused by the delayed OS upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile and a meltdown of overall market share for Windows Phones. Microsoft´s own half-hearted flagship upgrade with the Lumia 950 / Lumia 950 XL failed to stimulate the platform.
Since the arrival of the HP Elite x3, the company uses this 3rd party device to highlight the high-end capabilities of Windows 10 Mobile such as Continuum. Many in the industry believe, that Microsoft might abandon the Lumia brand in favor of its prestigious Surface brand, if it decides to refresh it´s high-end mobile lineup. The company has also done a heavy restructuring of its mobile division, laying off most of the former Nokia employees it took over with the acquisition.
The Surface Phone Rationale
In spite of a plummeting market share, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella neglected fears from shareholders during the annual meeting that the company would step away from mobile. Nadella said they wouldn´t step “away or back from our focus on our mobile devices” but “focus that effort on places where [they] have differentiation.”
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, the CEO later stated that they would “continue to be in the phone market not as defined by today’s market leaders, but by what it is that [they could] uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device.”
According to Nadella Microsoft “stopped doing things that were me-too and started doing things, even if they are today very sub-scale, to be very focused on a specific set of customers who need a specific set of capabilities that are differentiated”. Those statements in combination with rumors and some possibly related smartphone patents are the biggest indicators that Microsoft might indeed be working on a Surface Phone.
Surface Phone Specs and Models
Nothing solid can be said about possible Surface Phone specs and we won´t reproduce the many questionable “reports” and rumors floating around the internet. More reliable sources such as Daniel Rubino say they heard of plans for three different possible Surface Phone models, designed for Consumer, Business and Prosumer/Enthusiasts.
This would be in line with earlier statements from Satya Nadella who said already 2015, that Microsoft was planning to narrow its focus to three consumer segments:
“We’ll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they’ll love.”
Logically, all of those models would have different specs. A Prosumer / Flagship Surface Phone surely would provide the top notch hardware currently available, such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU, a bigger than 5.5 inch display with resolution beyond 1440 x 2560 pixels (such as the HP Elite x3), massive RAM and a high-end camera as we know it from previous Lumia flagships.
Surface Phone Release Date
The rumored Surface Phone release dates are constantly being updated once they have been proven wrong. But the new device would definitely run with the latest version of Windows 10 Mobile – Redstone 2 aka the Windows 10 Creators Update.
As PC World points out this translates into March/April 2017 or even later. If Microsoft choses a Surface Phone launch along the second promised Windows 10 Update for 2017 (Redstone 3), this would postpone the launch to October or early November. Microsoft has definitely some pressure to revive its mobile business, which would favor a spring release along the Mobile World Congress 2017. But as rumors about some trial testing suggest, we will have to wait until fall.
Surface Phone Manufacturer
According to a report from DigiTimes, Pegatron will control the manufacturing of the Surface Phone, in addition to the Surface Pro and Surface Book product lines. Microsoft expanded its strategic agreement with Pegatron last year, and the hardware maker has also been rumored to build the coming Surface Pro 5.
Surface Phone Features
With the device being bound to the Windows 10 Mobile platform, we can expect a maybe further improved Continuum capacity. But there are several other rumors and theories about more advanced Surface Phone features.
Based on two Microsoft patent applications, some guess the Surface Phone might become a foldable phone-to-tablet device, with a flexible hinge structure and get a multi-device display feature which connects different devices in a shared display mode.
Daniel Rubino from Windows Central imagines a possible split with budget/light versions of the Surface Phone running on Windows 10 Mobile and a pro device that takes benefit of a ARM based full Windows 10 operating system that unleashes full PC power when connected to a big screen via a dock. This would go far beyond classic Continuum mode and align well with Microsoft´s UWP app approach.
Although this all sounds somehow crazy it might well true: We know already that Microsoft is working on a shared adaptive shell with the aim to unify all device categories over the next few Windows 10 updates. And Microsoft has already showed off a fully functional ARM version of Windows 10 running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU. According to reports, Microsoft will release it in the fall of 2017 with Redstone 3.