Engadget reports that Microsoft has patented a modular Windows Phone that features a swappable gamepad with four buttons and an analog stick, an extra battery, a full-blown QWERTY keyboard and a secondary touchscreen for scrolling through assigned apps. These will supposedly snap into the phone's slide-out bay but may also work outside the chassis via a Bluetooth connection.
Called Mobile Communication Device Having Multiple, Interchangeable Second Devices, the patent was filed on March 17, 2010 and is described as follows:
A mobile communication device comprises a first device with a first display and multiple second devices. The second devices are releasably attachable to the first device and are interchangeable with each other. The mobile device can operate as a mobile cell phone with one or more second devices operable as a mobile phone hand set. The second devices can comprise one or more game controllers, batteries, physical keyboards and/or mobile phone handsets with a display. In a detached configuration, the first device is separated from the second devices and can wirelessly communicate with one or more of the detached second devices. In a three device configuration, the first device can send commands, control signals or content to one or more external devices in addition to the second devices.
The design is interesting to say the least, but we question about pricing and the device's overall weight. Will all the components come packed with the smartphone, or will just one (like the keyboard) be included in the package and the others available as separate purchases? Is Microsoft looking to take on Sony Ericsson's Xperia PLAY?
If anything, the patent leads to a lot of speculation.