The last time Microsoft tried releasing a phone, it didn’t go so well. Even so, rumors have been circulating for months about the possibility of a new phone from the company, the Surface Phone, which could actually be awesome.
Thursday, the World Intellectual Property Organization granted Microsoft a mysterious patent. The patent, filed in June, contains sketches and descriptions of what such a phone might look like.
The patent is for a “self-regulating hinge,” a hinge that could grant additional flexibility to a dual-screened device, similar to Lenovo Yoga, but with screens on both parts.
The hinge would allow the two screens, when lined up, to make up a single display with no bezel in between. It could also allow a device to fold backwards and forwards into multiple positions: sometimes a laptop, sometimes a tablet, sometimes a tent.
While the patent doesn’t say this hinge is intended for a phone rather than a tablet or laptop, the text mentions that the hinge can be made very compactly, allowing devices to fit in a user’s pocket.
Back to reality: This phone might not actually be a thing. There’s little evidence that anything called a Surface Phone actually exists, and Microsoft has certainly never indicated it’s making one.
But even if such a phone is released, it might face some stiff competition, even after the novelty is filled. Samsung recently submitted sketches of a foldable smartphone (the rumored Galaxy X) to the Korean Intellectual Property Office that would, if produced, probably blow dual-display competitors like ZTE’s Axon M out of the water. Samsung’s smartphone doesn’t appear to fold both ways, which might give it an advantage over a Surface Phone where pragmatics are concerned.
So keep an eye out for this sick-looking phone, but don’t hold your breath yet.