Surface Phone Could Be Ultimate Galaxy Note Replacement

Now that the Galaxy Note line looks like it's been put out to pasture, there's room for someone else to swoop in and carry the pen phone mantel. And who better to do that than the company that makes the Surface?

According to a new design patent filing reported on by Patently Apple, Microsoft is likely working on a Surface Phone, and one of the images shows a slot for a stylus on top.

Credit: Patently Apple

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

Microsoft has made a big deal about inking features in Windows 10, and Windows Central says they're the best thing about the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. These features include a Sticky Pad, Sketchpad and Screen Sketch. They all live within Windows Ink Workspace.

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With Sticky Pad, for example, you can quickly jot down a reminder with the Surface pen (or another 2-in-1 with a pen). Sketchpad is great for jotting or sketching out ideas on the fly; and Screen Sketch makes it easy to annotate and share screenshots.

The patent doesn't reveal how the pen will work, but it's safe to assume that any Universal Windows 10 app that supports pen input will work with a Surface Phone.

Patently Apple also notes that the phone doesn't seem to have a headphone jack. Instead, it appears that Microsoft will opt for a "single port that will double as a headphone jack." Our guess is that this will be USB-C. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus ditched the headphone jack in favor of the Lightning connector, and rumor has it that the Galaxy S8 will also make due with just a USB-C port.

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In a November interview, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hinted that Microsoft was at work on the "ultimate mobile device," according to the Australian Financial Review. At the time, he said "We will continue to be in the phone market not as defined by today's market leaders, but by what it is that we can uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device."

Given the emphasis on Continuum, or the ability to use your phone as a PC when connected to a desktop or laptop dock as with devices like the HP Elite X3, it's certainly possible that Microsoft will release a Surface phone that's caters to mobile professionals.

The Note 7 was for power users, and there's some features we already miss, such as the ability to take notes with the screen off and translating text. We're less broken up about losing the ability to create GIFs with a pen, as fun as that was initially.

Clearly, Microsoft has a chance to fill a void in the market, but it remains to be seen whether consumers — or even just mobile pros — are willing to jump to Windows 10 Mobile.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

  • Bruce_Almighty
    Wow, a Windows phone -- Why didn't Microsoft think about this before? LOL Microsoft has failed so many times at mobile yet they have the hubris to try one more time. When you have as much cash as they do, what's one more failed device?
  • John_558
    I work in enterprise mobility and look forward to the Surface Phone. Most enterprise business utilizes Microsoft Windows on their IT assets. The Microsoft Surface Phone will allow tight integration with existing Windows infrastructure.

    The Surface Phone could solve a major problem in the enterprise workspace. For organizations using Android they have to deal with a fragmented OS as well as security and privacy issues. On the other side those organizations using iOS are trapped in an expensive walled garden.

    The Surface Phone has the potential to be the perfect 3rd alternative. With new enterprise features rolling out to Windows 10 in early 2017 I expect a large push to migrate from Windows 7 next year. This would be an ideal time to roll out the Surface Phone and cement the position of Windows 10 in the enterprise.

    With a solid focus on the enterprise and prosumer market the Surface Phone can succeed. The renewed spirit of innovation under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella has the potential to reshape the current model of enterprise mobility.
  • Cimmerian101
    Pen slot looks like a headphone jack to me.
  • Benjamin_59
    the author of this article is misinformed. Samsung has never announced that they are scrubbing the whole Note line. It has already been established by leaks from Samsung that a new Note model will be released. There was nothing wrong with the Note 7 phone itself, it was just the battery.
  • Alan_93
    Since when has it been announced that the note line is rediscontinued? As I understand it a note 8 is still planned and on schedule for the near future.

    I don't think there are many that are interested in a windows phone, I think there would be more interest in blackberry to be honest.
  • Himanshu_24
    I am with @Cimmerian101 here that the rumoured stylus slot may well be a headphone jack, unless Patently apple has some data along with the pics to suggest otherwise.
    However, I do believe that surface phone (though I am sure it won't be called a 'phone') will have stylus support. After all what MS is after is not actually upgrading phone to do computing, but to squeeze its surface line into a 6" or less form factor that will have the option of calling. They are working backwards with this device and hence ditched the phone division which was about upgrading the phone.
    Curiously the article missed upon the recent announcement that windows 10 will soon run on ARM. That was a very big hint about features of this upcoming device. It may still not sell a whole lot, but it is expected to turn Microsoft around in the mobile space.