Microsoft has revolutionized laptop designs with the Surface and Surface Book, so why not smartphones? A new report adds more weight to the rumor that the Windows maker is looking into bendable, portable handheld displays that could power the long-anticipated Surface Phone.
A 2015 patent (published Mar. 23) doesn't explicitly name the device as a smartphone, instead showing a technology that could take the form of a "hinged display device" (think futuristic flip-phone). In one illustration, it appears in the size of an opened book; in the second, it's folded at an angle, almost like a laptop.
The device would use a "support structure" to contain the displays, and the patent often mentions it as a hinge. In one instance, it notes that the "hinge may allow for the display panels to be moved (e.g., rotated, angled, folded and/or otherwise displaced) relative to one another," meaning the phone could work similarly to Microsoft's Surface tablet/laptop hybrids.
If the panels are folded flat against each other "with an angle of approximately 0 degrees between" them, it could provide a double-sided display.
This is the second published Microsoft patent for a mobile device with a flexible hinge, as the company applied for another patent in October 2014.
Of course, we must note that patents are not always a sign that a product is in development. They can often be applied for as a measure of defense, when a company is looking to lock competitors out from an idea.