New Microsoft Patent Shows Dual-Screen Device with 360-Degree Rotation Support
In recent years, Microsoft’s efforts in mobile haven’t been a resounding success. The company banked most of its hope on Windows Phone, and purchased Nokia’s Devices and Services division in 2014 to compete with Android and iOS. However, Windows Phone and its successor, Windows 10 Mobile, failed to gain traction, and Microsoft discontinued the Lumia smartphone lineup in 2016 as a result.
Since then, rumors persist that Microsoft hasn’t completely closed the chapter on its mobile efforts, despite ending support for Windows Mobile and Windows Phone. Specifically, the company’s reportedly working on a new ARM-powered Surface device, code-named “Andromeda”, that’s highly portable.
Recently, Microsoft posted a job posting that hinted at its plans. And this week, Windows Latest discovered a Microsoft patent that shows a mobile device with a foldable display.
The patent, titled “Hinge with Free-stop function”, shows a hinged device that rotates 360-degrees around its axis. It folds in three positions — an open, expanded position, a closed position, and a fully-open position — designed for different use cases, such as a “tablet mode”:
“With a dual-display device, the mobile phone or tablet can include an open, expanded position where both displays are flush so that the user feels like there is a single integrated display. In a closed, condensed position, both displays are face-to-face so as to protect the displays. In a fully-open position, the dual displays can sit back-to-back so the user needs to flip the device to view the opposing display.”
We’ve seen dual-screen devices before (most notably the ZTE Axon M, which was released in November), but Microsoft’s patent points out that most folding-phone hinges “do not open and close smoothly” and lack the ability to lock in place at any angle.
So what would be the difference between Microsoft’s patented device and the ZTE Axon M? Unlike ZTE’s device, Microsoft’s proposed design creates a seamless display when laid flat. The Axon M, on the other hand, has a noticeable gap between its two screens.
While Microsoft doesn’t constitute a product announcement, it lines up with rumors about Andromeda. Andromeda’s said to be able to convert from a tablet form factor to a laptop, and is rumored to support Microsoft’s capacitive Surface Pen for note-taking capabilities.
Still, while the rumors seem plausible, it’s important to keep in mind that patents don’t necessarily end up in finished devices. It’s best to take it with a grain of salt.