Microsoft Surface: A foldable smartphone amid talk of Samsung and LG being ahead of curve?

A patent reveals that Microsoft is envisioning a smartphone that opens up to form a tablet-like larger display


As we know Samsung and LG are expected to launch their foldable devices soon -- in Q3 and Q4 this year respectively -- and Nokia is on the verge of getting their flexible device soon. So how can Microsoft be so silent? As a matter of fact, it isn't.

The company's upcoming smartphone Microsoft Surface is now speculated to come with a foldable display innovation as a patent granted to Microsoft reveals that it's envisioning a smartphone that opens up to form a tablet-like larger display. The patent was first spotted by MSPowerUser.

The patent was applied back in October 2016 and has now been granted by US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). The plan in the patent describes the device as a "mobile computing device having a flexible hinge structure", which means it's essentially a foldable phone-to-tablet mobile device. The device can be folded into the size of a smartphone screen enabling the users to make calls, text or browse and then the user can open the device to use it as a tablet for reading or editing purpose. The device can also be kept in tent mode for watching movies.

The patent explains: "In this way, the housings of the mobile computing device may support a variety of different usage scenarios through arrangement of the housings in relation to each other, e.g., by folding. For example, a "tablet" configuration may be supported in which each of the housings is "laid flat" such that an entirety of the display device is viewable by a user. In a "phone" configuration, one of the housings may be stacked behind another one of the housings such that the mobile computing device may be easily grasped using a single hand yet still provide a portion of the display device that is viewable by a user. In a "closed" configuration, the display device may be positioned internally in the stacked configuration and thus may be used to protect the display device when not in use. A variety of other configurations are also described, such as a "mini-tablet" configuration, as well as biasing mechanisms that may be employed to bias the mobile computing device to remain in a desired configuration, further discussion of which may be found in relation to the following sections".

The Surface series is known for its 2-in-1 category products, and the company would look to trickle down that strategy into its smartphones as well. A Microsoft executive last year said that the Surface Phone saying that it will be a high-end version catering to the enterprise market and will be 'category innovating'. It is likely to come in three variants based on processor, storage, and other features.

This article was first published on January 18, 2017