Microsoft has been awarded a patent for a mobile device. The patent, first filed in October 2014 and only recently made public, details a 2-in-1 foldable device along with a flexible hinge which can act both as a smartphone and a tablet, similar to what we’ve seen in patents for the Samsung Galaxy X smartphone and conceptual devices from Apple. The hinge enables the device to be folded into different form-factors based on the need of the owner.
There is also the opportunity to place it in a tent-mode much like Lenovo’s range of Yoga hybrids which can be propped up to make it easier to watch media.
Microsoft has taken a universal approach to the Windows 10, in that the OS is designed to work across multiple devices, so a Surface Phone that could transform into another mobile product would make a lot of sense in terms of demonstrating Windows 10s capabilities.
While Microsoft patents thousands of inventions that never make it into final products, the context of this particular application is the key. The inventor is listed as Kabir Siddiqui, who has successfully patented Microsoft’s Surface kickstand and Surface camera angle previously. Persistent rumors have suggested that the Microsoft is looking to bring a Surface Phone to the market this year, but software maker has consistently avoided traditional form factors for its Surface devices. This latest patent could show how Microsoft is looking at a potential return to phones, enabling the owner to transform a device into something greater than just a smartphone.
Microsoft’s Surface Studio device leaked out months in advance thanks to patent filings that revealed the exact design of the company’s 2-in-1 PC. It is unlikely that this is the final design of a rumored Surface Phone, but this type of the concept device could provide some clues to how Microsoft is looking at smartphones and mobile devices after its retreat from the mobile market last year.