A foldable Surface Phone
Image Courtesy: Phone Designer

Microsoft has never confirmed the Andromeda or the mythical Surface Phone, but this hasn’t stopped the fans from dreaming about the ultimate mobile device with Windows 10 operating system. While the initial reports claimed that Microsoft could unveil the Surface Phone in 2016, the company cancelled the mobile project to work on a dual-screen foldable Windows 10 device, and now it’s believed that Microsoft could take the wraps off foldable Andromeda mobile device later this year.

Microsoft is not the only tech giant interested in foldable phones. The rivals including Samsung, LG and ZTE are also testing new foldable mobile devices.

Last year, ZTE launched Axon M with dual screens which can be opened up to create a tablet-form factor, and it features a hinge to enable foldability. Microsoft wouldn’t be the first company to advance this kind of design as Samsung is also exploring similar ideas and the concept relies on two screens that connect with hinges.

Foldability is a significant jump in innovation and design for smartphones but with something new, there’s always trade-offs

Needless to say, the foldable phones are the future but there are a ton of technical and practical hurdles. Any new technology or innovation that makes sense is exciting but such features would come at the cost of having heavier and thicker devices, and Microsoft is trying to deal with these issues.

A foldable device with Windows makes sense and it could do a lot more than a foldable Android phone due to the modularity of Windows Core OS.

The cons and technical issues

Samsung foldable phone
Image Courtesy: AndroidPolice.com

First and foremost, the foldable phones in folded form will be thick unless each side is extremely thin including the battery which is not yet possible. It’ll also be heavier than usual. The placement of camera lenses might be challenging but Microsoft has already figured out a solution to deal with this type of design problem. The foldable phones could never be as affordable as the smartphones due to the fact that more custom parts or high-end parts are required to build a foldable phone.

Microsoft could lead the smartphone revolution with Surface Andromeda

The hinge on the rumoured Surface Andromeda is the design’s secret weapon as it enables multiple form-factors and that’s a helluva lot more compact than carrying around a large tablet. Such a device with Windows Core OS can be used to operate on a single screen, both screens and different apps on both screens because the operating system is modular and independent of the hardware.

A full-screen mode could introduce new ways to watch videos and the rumoured tent mode would be useful as well.

Pen

While Apple’s Steve Jobs famously disliked the idea of using styluses with smartphones, Pen (stylus) was another innovation of sorts. One of the recent leaks suggests that the Andromeda will support Microsoft’s Surface Pen. Needless to say, a foldable device with Windows 10 and Pen support is more innovative than a simple smartphone with a pen.

Lumia 950 vision
Image Courtesy: WindowsCentral.com

With the last two versions of Windows 10 released in 2017, Microsoft has focused on creativity. When it comes to creativity, the experience of drawing with a Surface Pen is far superior to that of scrawling with a finger. The Andromeda is said to be a productivity powerhouse, and the Pen can exert much more control over fingers.

The apps like Adobe Photoshop which has many small elements and lets you draw with a variety of brush types and apply a host of effects will be benefited the most on such a device.

Hinge

Surface Phone folding hinge
Image Courtesy: Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Microsoft has already figured out the best hinge technology that would not only enable foldability but also better control on camera lenses. Microsoft has also addressed the orientations issues of such a device in one of the latest patents and the company is also testing gestures that would help users operate the interface easily.

Interesting camera technology

Microsoft has also patented an interesting camera tech for the Andromeda where camera module is placed on the left side of the screen and it would poke out from the surface of the device. The company is also using a Male-Female arrangement where the camera would fit in the cavity on the right display when the hardware is folded.

By the looks of things, both hardware and software of Microsoft’s Surface Andromeda would be far superior to that of Android phones from Samsung, Huawei, LG or ZTE.

  • Ben Ohio

    Its not a phone. Stop calling that

    • Kevin Waldroup

      yes it is Tablet Phone

    • vladvlad

      it’s not a phone, it’s the greatest thing man has ever contemplated…

  • YeahRrright

    Whatever, MSFT can’t make a touch keyboard work for 2 feature updates, so even if they create the greatest hardware, due to abysmal state of Windows 10 it will flop.

  • YeahRrright

    2 feature updates are FCU and April… Cause for FCU they rewrote the keyboard in XAML and it was disastrous, in April it got better in visuals, but worse in functionality… And undocking the keyboard doesn’t solve my issues.

    • M Rankin

      I see thanks for clearing that up.
      not blocking were you are typing
      seems pretty responsive me
      interesting what was lost in functionality

      • YeahRrright

        it covers the input fields in Edge without scrolling the page up. Hold shift + arrows don’t select text. Shape writing works sporadically, usually doesnt. Sometimes the keyboard stops working all together, displaying only the top border line and having either transparent or black area where the keys should have been…

  • WPJ

    To produce such a device and get the software ready they need to have a visionary man behind the project. They don’t have such a person so even though it might be ok conceptually in real world it won’t be backed up by feedback from the userbase. So eventually they’ll get too conceptual with it and too out of touch with the real world and real world uses. That is, if it ever gets released at all.

  • Gregory C Newman

    There is an Android dual screen smart phone on the market for sale now and Samsung and LG
    intend to have one for sale at least by 2019. They have plenty of android to use on these
    devices. Microsoft’s store has improved but is still missing some sought after Apps. For the
    Andromeda class devices to succeed I think they must have a built in 4G cell phone & be
    able to run win32 PC Programs in ‘Continuum mode” as well as the Microsoft store apps,
    that way they will be very useful to those folks who buy a 2 screen Andromeda device.
    Microsoft must produce very clever and good advertisements to get PEOPLE to notice and
    buy the Andromeda mobile devices I do not think Windows Smart Phones got the right
    advertisement strategy for them when they were available for sale