Lumia 1020 camera side
Image Courtesy: Windows Central

Microsoft has always been at the forefront of technology. The company has created many categories of devices in the past but the Surface brand of devices are by far the most innovative and better-looking devices. The original Surface hybrid tablet was launched in October 2012. From then onwards we saw many devices with the Surface branding like the Surface Pro, Surface Hub, Surface Book, Surface Studio and the Surface Laptop. These devices were either creating a whole new category or reinventing an old category for other manufacturers to get inspired and come with similar products.

We can say that the smartphone category is one which hasn’t been touched by the Surface brand. We have been hearing a lot of rumours about a foldable Andromeda (popularly known as Surface Phone) device. But Microsoft isn’t the only company that has thought about or is working on a foldable device. Rumours of companies working on foldable smartphones have been circulating since December 2016. Companies like Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft has filed patents for several designs of foldable smartphones. Of these, Samsung has the largest number of patents. We have also been hearing rumours of a foldable Samsung Galaxy X device.

Microsoft has already confirmed the death of its smartphone operating system, though it may be difficult for die-hard fans to accept and they still believe that Microsoft will come up with a Surface-branded smartphone, the Surface Phone. The fans themselves cannot be blamed because Microsoft has Surface devices in every category except that of a smartphone.

Back in May of 2017, the U.S. Patent Office has published a Microsoft patent application for a foldable smartphone. From the patent, it is clear that Microsoft has done a lot of work on the foldable smartphone concept.

Microsoft recently won a patent application for a Dual Display or foldable smartphone. One interesting design choice in this new patent is the camera setup. To make a foldable smartphone, Microsoft would have to make the individual left and right sides as thin as possible. This would make it difficult to place the Camera module as the module itself is not thin enough. Microsoft has said in the patent that the camera module would indeed protrude from the body of the device.

Microsoft Dual display patent
Image Courtesy: Patently Mobile

“In the embodiment of FIG. 1A illustrated above, the retaining member #18 includes a hinge as noted in purple. Hinged transitioning between folded and unfolded states of the handheld device is further illustrated in the perspective drawings of FIGS. 1B, 1C, and 1D. FIG. 1B shows the handheld device in the unfolded state. FIG. 1D below shows the handheld device in the folded state, where the housings #14a and #14b may lay flat against one another as regions of the camera #12 that extend outside of housing #14a (e.g., past the inner surface of the housing) press retractable cap 16 inward into the recess. FIG. 1C shows the handheld device in a partially folded state.”

Microsoft's foldable display patent
Image Courtesy: Patently Mobile

So, the camera is placed on the face side of the device. In order to prevent any protrusions from interfering with the device in the folded form Microsoft is using a Male-Female arrangement where the camera protrusion on the left display would fit easily in the cavity on the right display.

Microsoft also explains that there would be a fingerprint sensor located on the backside of the camera. In addition to this Microsoft says that this dual display smartphone will support a keyboard, mouse and even a game controller. The camera will have head tracking, gesture recognition, a depth camera for machine vision, motion detection and also night vision.

This makes sense as to why Microsoft decided to place the camera on the face side. The device is more or less like a Surface Journal where the two displays on the left and right look like the left and right pages of a book. This is in accordance with a recent code from a new Whiteboard app that Microsoft may be working on for this device.

Microsoft’s Surface devices have never been market leaders but these devices do not go after the trend. They are made to create new trends. Microsoft can be credited for not copying other manufacturers and coming up with entirely new devices. This device is expected to be like a mini pocket PC which also has the ability to play Xbox games.

If this Surface Andromeda device turns out to be beautiful and smart enough as expected then, it would definitely give iPhones and Androids a run for their money.

  • Bespin

    Surface is all about new form factors and hinges ..makes complete sense

  • Ben Ohio

    BTW Surface was announced on June 2012, not July
    and it was launched in October of the same year, not July!

  • Kevin Waldroup

    Andromeda is the os. it look like surface journal have good Camera

  • WPJ

    I’d probably just make it pop out on the other side when folded. Either it protrudes on one side or the other.
    Still, pushing on a camera module may not be a good idea because it will make the glass dirty in an instant.

  • Every week same bshts… This Andromeda Surface Phone has been cancelled. I was Told by insider sources.

    • Mayank Parmar

      Surface Phone, yes, but not Andromeda.

      • Andromeda dual-screen device is cancelled too. The tech & software found unperspective and cancelled. Microsoft going fully to apps and cloud

        • Mayank Parmar

          I’m not aware of any such development, but just out of sheer curiosity when did you hear that?

          If you are confident, maybe you can publish a story on Windows Phone Arena ;)

          • I want to double check info first.

        • WPJ

          Makes sense, actually.

  • Rupert Holmes

    All I want is a faster Nokia 1020. The 1020 “can” still take a more usable photo than the newer phones. Planned to get Huawei 20, but not really available in the States.