Surface Trio: Microsoft patents a potentially improved new version of its current foldable smartphone
Microsoft touts its Surface Duo series as a line of particularly versatile Android devices, as it consists of 2 displays connected by a hinge to comprise 1 large smartphone/tablet. Nevertheless, this premise has met with enthusiasm that could be described as muted at best on the market thus far.
However, the OEM still clearly feels that the genre has potential, as it has patented a new version with 3 screens rather than 2. This new IP, approved by the US Patents and Trademarking Office (USPTO) on December 23, 2021, depicts what could be a new and improved version of the general Surface Duo concept.
Two thirds of the device as described closely resembles an extant Duo or Duo 2 unit - except that one screen has hinges on both sides for the extra 3rd display portion. This one attaches to the "middle" screen on the opposite side to the other outer panel, making it face outward when the device is completely folded.
Therefore, it may be capable of acting like a phone even in this mode, whereas this is not possible with the current Surface Duo design. Microsoft refers to the new form-factor as "a multi-panel display device", suggesting that it is still to be composed of discrete rigid touchscreens rather than an all-in-one flexible alternative.
Nevertheless, it is clear from the patent's text that it will should have a UI capable of seamless switching between "phone" and "tablet" modes as it is opened and closed again. There is no word on when this potential mobile-device upgrade will hit the market.