Microsoft’s Surface Duo folding smartphone attempts haven’t quite landed. But the company is already looking ahead to the next major advancement, which could be as simple as adding another screen.
Patently discovered a patent According to Apple, Microsoft is considering developing a smartphone with three displays and two hinges. It’d resemble a trifold wallet or a triptych for the history buffs out there.
The idea is similar to the current Surface Duo, but with a third panel connected to one of the screens via a second hinge. Because the three panels stack on top of each other, you get even more screen real estate when the device is fully unfolded. But the phone isn’t any larger than current foldable models.
But we’re betting it’d be thick and heavy—too chunky to carry in your hand or keep in your pocket. So, ideally, by the time this gadget is released—which won’t be anytime soon. If at all—Microsoft will have found a method to shave down each tier of this smartphone cake. Remember that, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, Microsoft’s Surface Duo unfolds. It shuts through a central hinge rather than a folding display.
Aside from the impracticality of this monstrosity, I’m cheering for Microsoft’s tri-headed beast to make it to market if only for the pure silliness of it all. Who wouldn’t want to play with a phone that can turn into a 10-inch (or bigger) tablet with the flick of a wrist? Sure, fussing with two hinges may seem overly complicated. Dual-screen phones are already too onerous for some, but I’m here for the mayhem.
Furthermore, one of the current Surface Duo’s drawbacks is the lack of an external screen. Microsoft introduced a Glance Bar to the Surface Duo 2 to allow users to rapidly read alerts. But you still have to open the phone with two hands before you can use it. This invention might address this restriction by including a third screen that faces outward. It allows you to use the Surface Trio (?) as a regular smartphone. You don’t need three screens to overload you with information.
Microsoft does not appear to be the only business exploring a phone with three displays. According to LetsGoDigital, Samsung submitted a patent with the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) in mid-June for a comparable gadget with three displays that can fold into a Z form. In a short video uploaded to YouTube earlier this year, Samsung teased what this fictitious product may look like.
TCL’s trifold design was “awkward and quite hefty,”. The phone’s potential to unfold into a huge tablet was “really amazing.”
While we usually advise against getting too enthusiastic about patent concepts, enough of the main firms are experimenting with three-screen phones to imply one may make its way to market. Whether it is a great idea or not.