New Microsoft documents conjure up Surface Duo’s ambitious future

Foldable screen devices are becoming more common in portfolios; whether as devices looking to achieve commercial success or to showcase a manufacturer’s individual innovation. Microsoft’s Surface Duo family continues to excel in this Android space.

The Surface Duo’s interface echoes the refined approaches in Windows 11, but Microsoft isn’t above using the Surface Duo as its own storefront. The latest Microsoft documents show that Redmond’s R&D teams are hard at work looking for new solutions to debut on the platform.

The details come in a recently published patent titled “Foldable Display Device,” which describes a new hinge that allows a Surface Duo clamshell device to be opened 360 degrees while using a single flexible screen on either side. The latest Windows has more:

“In the patent application, Microsoft talks about a collapsible device that folds 360 degrees into a collapsible part. It uses a back cover and a glass cover layer covering the entire screen, and a light-emitting layer is added between the back cover and the cover glass layer to ensure a natural experience.”

It’s worth noting that this concept moves away from the dual-screen approach taken by the Surface Duo and Duo 2, which use two physically separate screens, for a single foldable display. The former certainly made sense when the Surface Duo was being designed before its 2019 media reveal, folding screens were very much on the expensive and flimsy part of the spreadsheet.

Time and technology have changed since then. With more manufacturers building foldable devices and more knowledge about foldable materials, it makes sense that Microsoft is investigating all options for a future Surface Duo.

Of course, we’re looking at a patent here, with no guarantee that this will be seen in a commercial release. What this tells us is that Microsoft’s continued focus on Duo isn’t limited to ongoing software development, but also new hardware.

Is the Surface Duo 3 on the way? This is a little more difficult to answer. You can read the cadence of hardware sales showing a year or two between models… the first Surface Duo was announced in October 2019 ahead of a September 2020 launch, while the Surface Duo 2 followed a year later with a launch in September 2020. October 2021.

Personally, I think we’re looking at a two-year cadence, which would put the Surface Duo 3 at the start of Q4 2023. Until then, the Duo community is looking forward to regular software updates from Microsoft, especially as the Duo and Duo 2 are now matching each other in terms of software compatibility.

The next big moment for the Surface Duo family will likely be the release of Android 12L and its increased support for tablets and dual-screen devices. This could elevate the Duo and Duo 2 with more software compatibility, new features, and a streamlined user interface.

Now read my review of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio transformer…

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