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Microsoft's latest patent application hints at a foldable phone that could turn into a tablet

New patent filing by Microsoft suggests that the company may be working on a foldable smartphone that converts into a tablet.

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Rumors about Microsoft‘s Surface Phone have refused to die despite no signs of the company launching the device anytime sooner. While Microsoft hasn’t evidently launched a smartphone for a while and is highly unlikely to launch one in the near future, a new patent filing hints at the company’s ambitious plans to develop a foldable phone. According to the patent application, the smartphone has a flexible hinge and display that would transform a phone into a tablet.

Spotted by MSPoweruser, the patent filing reveals that Microsoft is exploring options to make such a futuristic phone a reality. The accompanying pictures in the patent hint at a large device that can fold over and transform into a tablet or even in a tent mode just like Lenovo’s range of Yoga tablets. Additionally, with the transforming screens from a smartphone to a tablet, there appears to be modes for two or three screens to extend flat out to make the device bigger and more of a tablet.

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“Techniques involving a mobile computing device having a flexible hinge structure are described. In one or more implementations, a mobile computing device includes a plurality of housings, a display device that is flexible, and a flexible hinge structure. The flexible hinge structure secures the plurality of housings to each other, permits the plurality of housings to rotate about an axis in relation to each other, and supports a continuous viewing area of the display device that extends across the plurality of housings and the flexible hinge structure,” the patent filing reads. ALSO READ: LG Display partners Apple, Google and Microsoft to build foldable display panels

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The application was first filed on October 16, 2014, and has been put up under the inventor name of Kabir Siddiqui. The application number of the patent is US14515766 and the legal status of the application still shows pending.

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Microsoft isn’t alone in efforts to develop a foldable smarphone. While there have been prototype foldable displays in the past, Samsung has been aggressively rumored to launch its foldable smartphones this year. A lot of details about its foldable Galaxy X1 and Galaxy X1 Plus smartphones have emerged online. According to a recent leak, the smartphones will bend from the middle with the displays folding outward, thereby having a display on the front and back as well. It can also be unfolded and hence, turns into a 7-inch tablet, something similar to what Microsoft is intending to patent. ALSO READ: Apple patents foldable iPhone

Last year Lenovo showed off a concept smartphone that could turn into a tablet. Recently, even Nokia was reported to have been contemplating on a foldable device. The company, which is currently preparing a comeback with a handful of Android-powered smartphones, filed a patent named “Foldable device”. And that patent has been granted by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to the company. Looking at the image accompanied in the patent, the device’s display bends in the middle and folds into an even smaller device.

BONUS VIDEO: Lenovo Yoga Book Review

  • Published Date: January 17, 2017 2:55 PM IST