Microsoft's dual screen smartphone effort may have hit a wall in 2021 but it seems the company may be looking to entice audiences with a triple screen phone in the near future.
Barring the countless memes and gifs that play on the "more" ideology, it does appear that Microsoft is thinking more and not less when it comes to a potential new smartphone.
A patent filed June 23, 2020, made public last week, and spotted by publication Patently Apple yesterday, showcases the concept of what a Surface Duo would like if it had a third fold housing a third screen.
The patent may arguably feel ludicrous at point in time when foldable phones have yet to take a foothold in consumer mindshare, but Microsoft's patent may actually help its vision of foldables become a reality much sooner than others.
The patent itself goes into detail about hinge degrees, parallel axis, elongated magnets, magnetic shielding, Hall effect sensors and more with accompanying imagery and from the looks of it, Microsoft is looking to tack on an additional 2/3 size display that can act as multi-functional screen.
There are mentions of the screen acting as keypad, trackpad, or game controller in different use cases, however, its most useful function may simply be an outward facing screen akin to the Samsung Galaxy Fold or the new hotness of the Oppo Find N.
Microsoft's Duo phone is naturally pitted against the Samsung Fold which does offer an external display for easier access to content on the fly and the lack of one on the Duo has caused a conniption amongst many reviewers who are attempting to easily crown a winner of the category.
With this new patent, if properly executed, could help put the Duo on par with phone such as the Fold or Find N, if not leap frog them.
As the three screens collapse onto each other with the top screen acting as a more traditional single display canvas, people who want a larger tablet-like screen occasionally or often will have the most flexibility of any current foldable on the market.
Microsoft has proven that it can make a sturdy hinge and while the hinges on this patent are unidirectional, unlike the bidirectional ones of the Duo and Duo 2, it's safe to assume they will hold in place just as well as the Duo's.
Microsoft's patent has been visualized by props teams on the HBO show Westworld and excluding the aspect ratio, Microsoft's version would work a lot like it.
While exciting, there are still a few logistical questions that remain, such as battery, weight, cooling, memory management, how Microsoft's launcher or Android in general would render a triple screen experience, and more.
However, in its interpreted form, the new patent would help Microsoft overcome some of its perceived shortcomings with the Duo and Duo, while introducing, perhaps, a few more and put into question the company's vision for mobile productivity.
Microsoft espoused on its choice of dual screen foldable versus a single screen to better mimic the dual monitor experience many people experience with personal computing setups at work or home. Now the question is, how many people utilize a triple screen setup and does it warrant another niche experience in mobile?