Microsoft Working On a Foldable Smartphone, Suggests Patent Application

Microsoft’s latest patent application suggests that the company could be developing a technology for a foldable smartphone that will be quite different from its Surface Duo lineup. The company could try its hand at a ‘true foldable’ design where a single foldable panel is used instead of two separate displays connected by a hinge. The patent mentions a spine cover plate for the central hinge, which appears similar to Samsung’s flex hinge used in the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

The patent application was published at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on February 29 and was titled “Foldable Computing Device Spine Cover Plate”. Although the publishing date is recent, the document shows that the application was filed on December 14, 2022. Since the patent is about the hinge mechanism, not much is detailed about other aspects of the possible foldable smartphone.

It details a spine cover plate that will be placed on a vertical hinge axis and will support the first and second display-supporting frames. Further, the patent mentions a “flexible display substrate”. These descriptions along with numerous figures showing a single foldable display hint that this design is likely for a foldable smartphone. The application also delves into how the hinge mechanism will work. It explained that the central plate will have movable hinges that attach to the frame. The hinges will also contain multiple springs in opposing directions which will both hold the display frames in position and allow for smooth opening and closing of the device.

While other aspects are not mentioned, it seems closer to the foldable smartphone from Samsung, Google, and OnePlus than its Surface Duo 2 that launched in 2022. This could mean that Microsoft might be planning to replace the Surface Duo form factor. This new patent application also corroborates a Windows Central report from last year, that mentioned that the tech giant had scrapped its plans to launch a Surface Duo 3.

Still, many questions remain about the potential foldable smartphone by Microsoft. It will be interesting to see whether it will have a secondary display on the front or will continue the book-style design and whether the wider form factor will be ditched for a leaner body. It should be noted that this is only a patent, and most times, they do not see a public launch.

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