Microsoft patent application suggests a true foldable phone is coming with a thin form factor, more

Sure, Surface Duo fans got upset at Microsoft once it became obvious that a Surface Duo 3 was not coming to the marketplace. Yes, the Surface Duo had its fans even though it wasn’t a true foldable phone and was simply two panels connected in the middle with a hinge. So while there is no crease in the middle of the larger display, when the Surface Duo is open, there is a hinge that you really have to ignore to create the illusion that you’re using a larger tablet-sized display.

The second (and last) Surface Duo features a pair of 5.8-inch displays that can be used as an external cover screen on the front or on the back of the phone. When the device is fully open, users have a tablet-sized 8.3-inch canvas to work with. Let’s give the Surface Duo a moment of silence. That’s enough. Now, what is next from Microsoft in the way of a smartphone? A patent application filed by Microsoft might shine some light on the form factor that the company is considering for its next connected phone.

A patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at the end of last month titled “Foldable computing device spine cover plate” shows a Galaxy Z Fold type device that opens around the vertical axis. A new mechanism called the spine cover plate covers the hinge and the area where the screen folds in order to protect it. Microsoft says that the spine cover plate can be used to cover gaps preventing dust and water from getting into the device.

Microsoft is looking for the spine cover plate to kill two birds with one stone. The phone will be more durable and thus less prone to sustaining damage from an accidental hit. And it also will make it harder for a crease to be visible. By pulling itself closer to the hinge mechanism when the device is closed, the spine cover plate makes the phone thinner and easier to hold.

In the patent application, Microsoft writes, “By retracting the spine cover plate toward the central spine as the first display-supporting frame and the second display-supporting frame are rotated into a face-to-face orientation, the width of the folded computing device is reduced, thereby enabling easier and more comfortable handling of the device, such as with one hand.”

The Surface Duo had its supporters even though it truly was a niche product. When Surface chief Panos Panay left Microsoft last September, it might have changed Microsoft’s future plans for another Surface phone. Still, this patent application has been published and we will see whether it leads to a real foldable phone from Microsoft.

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