Microsoft continues to develop dual-screen smartphones in 2021 and next year, but the company seems to be hoping to lure users with three-screen phones in the near future.
A patent filed on June 23, 2020, made public last week and recently discovered by Patently Apple, shows what the Surface Duo could look like if it had a second hinge to accommodate a third screen.
While the patent might have seemed laughable at a time when foldable phones had yet to take their place in the consumer psyche, Microsoft’s patent could actually help make its foldable phone vision a reality before anyone else.
The patent itself details hinge degrees, parallel axes, elongated magnets, magnetic shielding, Hall effect sensors, and more, along with pictures. From the looks of it, Microsoft wants to add a 2/3 size display that can be used as a multipurpose screen.
The screen has been mentioned as acting as a keyboard, trackpad or game controller in different usage situations, however, its most useful feature may just be an outward-facing screen, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s new hotspot.
While Microsoft’s Surface Duo phone naturally compets with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, which does offer an external display for easier instant access to content, the lack of an external display on the Duo has caused some controversy when viewing notifications, IGeekphone has learned.
The new patent, if properly enforced, could help put the Surface Duo on a par with phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, or even leapfrog it.
Because the three screens fold into each other, with the top screen acting as a more traditional single display, those who occasionally or often want a larger tablet-style screen will have the greatest flexibility of any foldable product on the market today.
Microsoft has proven that it can make sturdy hinges, and while the patented hinges are one-way, unlike the Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2’s two-way hinges, it’s a safe bet that they’ll stay in place like the Surface Duo’s hinges.
Microsoft’s patent has been visualized by the prop team for HBO’s Westworld, and Microsoft’s version will look a lot like it, minus its aspect ratio.
While exciting, there are still some issues to consider, such as battery, weight, cooling, memory management, how a Microsoft launcher or android in general will present a three-screen experience, and so on.
However, in the form of its interpretation, the new patent will help Microsoft overcome some of its perceived shortcomings with the Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2.
Microsoft is backing its choice of dual-screen folding plus single-screen to better mimic the dual-display experience that many people have in their personal computing Settings at work or home. The question now is how many people will take advantage of the three-screen setup to create a better experience on mobile.