Microsoft patents a foldable phone; could this be the ultimate mobile device?

A patent has emerged from the depths of Microsoft’s research program; it describes a device that’s held together with hinges, allowing it to switch forms between a phone and a tablet. If this patent ever becomes a product, it would be the first of its kind.

The patent is for a “mobile computing device [with] a flexible hinge structure,” you can check out the complete patent over here.

The patent describes three unique “usage scenarios,” each as an entirely different form.

Tablet: The tablet configuration requires that “each of the housings are ‘laid flat’ such that an entirety of the display device is viewable,” which makes the most sense. The other forms are where it becomes interesting.

Phone: The phone configuration is where the fun begins; the patent describes “one of the housings may be stacked behind another one of the housings such that the mobile computing device may be easily grasped using a single hand yet still provide a portion of the display device that is viewable.”

Closed: There’s a third configuration as well – one that resembles the clamshell phones of the old. In the closed configuration, the “display device may be positioned internally in the stacked configuration and thus may be used to protect the display device when not in use.”

This is an interesting idea, but one that might not work in the practical world; hinges are, in the end, fragile.

Ultimate Mobile Device

Satya Nadella said last year that Microsoft would “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.”

Of course, there is no guarantee that this patent would lead to an actual product – far from it – but it does show us one of the possibilities.

The device – if practical – could also, in fact, be powered by Windows 10, rather than Windows 10 Mobile. The mobile operating system has been a colossal failure despite its innovations; any more time and money invested in it would simply not be worth the returns.

Windows 10, on the other hand, is a complete OS. Once the ability to run an x86 app on the ARM chip becomes stable enough; this hypothetical device could indeed be the ultimate mobile device.

The coming year is going to be an interesting one; we have but one question: Microsoft, Quo Vadis?

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