The mythical device- no seriously, talking about Surface phone is the tech equivalent of talking about unicorns- both of them technically never existed; however the only difference between the two is that one of them is a horse with a horn on its forehead, and the other, well, possibly in the near future, might actually come into the realm of reality (of course, aside from the other one being a horse with a horn on its head). Microsoft however, has never publicly announced its intention to release a device called “Surface Phone”.
The rumors of this device have been here a long long time, and just as faith begins to fade, Microsoft comes back in and fuels the flame; this started back late last year when Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella said, “We will continue to be in the phone market not as defined by today’s market leaders, but by what it is that we can uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device”- sound like the surface phone? A couple of months later, 2017 May, after the release of the very impressive Microsoft Surface Laptop, the CEO again came out revealing more plans on the mythical device, saying “We make phones today, we have OEMs like HP making phones and others and we picked a very specific area to focus on which is management, security, and this one particular feature that we have called Continuum, which is a phone that can even be a desktop,” the Microsoft CEO said. “And at this point, we’re making sure that all of our software is available on iOS and Android and it’s first class, and we’re looking for what’s the next change in form and function. What we’ve done with Surface is a good example.” meaning the tech giant have no intention whatsoever of leaving the mobile business, and that surface pro is a good template to what they want to achieve.
There’s quite alot that needs to be understood when it comes to the surface phone- first off, its not really a smartphone- the surface phone (if that’s the name Microsoft even chooses) wont compete with the flagships around, or even the next generation flagship iPhones or Galaxies, HTC, OnePlus, Huawei P series, Pixels or any other smartphone in the market, now or even in future – no! What Microsoft seeks to achieve with the mythical device is what Apple did a decade ago with its first iphone- creating an entirely new category that would disrupt the entire market and the tech world as we know it.
What Microsoft want to do is to build a device that blurs the lines between PC and smartphone- it would be the first phablet sized smartphone-form factor device that would run a fully fledged desktop experience- it would be the device that runs legacy applications tailor made for the PC and UWP (universal windows platform) apps that are available on the windows store. The device will further blur the lines between desktop and mobile, and will be remembered as a major milestone in the ambitious attempt to converge the desktop and smartphone experiences that are now so far away from each other.
The device will probably sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset based on the Windows on ARM based processors from the Microsoft-Qualcomm partnership. It could very well be the cellular PC that Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf spoke about during his company’s recent earnings back in April. This perspective, of the Cellular PC that’s planned for a Q4 2017 release might be the Surface Phone, in principle, even though it may not be called Surface Phone.
With the Cellular PC, you’ll be able to run UWP apps and Win32 apps, giving you the reach that no mobile operating system can. Hopefully, it will spur more developers into creating UWP versions of their apps, putting an even greater distance between the Cellular PC and devices running mobile operating systems like iOS, Android, Tizen and so on.
Rumor has it the Surface Phone will come in three variants: a consumer edition, a business edition, and an enthusiast edition. Each variant caters to a specific type of consumer. The first variant will reportedly come with a flagship price. The business edition, on the other hand, will be a replacement for BlackBerry, reports say. And the last variant will be for power users or consumers who rely heavily on their handheld devices. With 4GB, 6 GB and 8GB RAM respectively. A Microsoft patent application leaked in January and March revealed a dual screen phone which should be fairly familiar; The concept offers different functions on the different screens which are also detachable as need be, in the example in the patent the secondary screen for example acts as a remote for the larger handset when cradled. Patent filing from Microsoft speaks of multi-device paring and combined displays used for mobile devices. Different methods for initiating a shared-display mode for more than two devices are mentioned, as well as different multi-screen gestures.
As for the release date, Microsoft has been tight lipped on details of the entire device, however, speculations point towards a fall release this year, or an early release in 2018.