Devices with a folding screen are becoming more prevalent in portfolios; be it as devices looking to find commercial success or to showcase a manufacturer’s individual innovation. Microsoft’s Surface Duo family continues to stand out in this Android space.
The Surface Duo UI echoes the approaches refined in Windows 11, but Microsoft isn’t above using the Surface Duo as its own showcase. The latest documents from Microsoft 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 like clamshell device to be opened through 360 degrees while using a single flexible display running over both sides. Windows Latest has more:
“In the patent application, Microsoft talks about a foldable device that folds through 360 degrees at a folding portion. It uses a rear cover and a cover glass layer covering the entire display and a light-emitting layer is added between the rear cover and the cover glass layer to ensure a natural experience.”
Of note here is this concept moves away from the dual-screen approach taken by the Surface Duo and Duo 2, which use two physically separate displays, to a single foldable screen. The former certainly made sense when the Surface Duo was being designed ahead of its reveal to the media in 2019, folding displays were very much in the expensive and fragile part of the spreadsheet.
Time and technology has moved on since then. With more manufacturers building foldable devices, and more knowledge around foldable materials, it makes sense that Microsoft would be investigating all the options for a future Surface Duo.
Of course, we’re looking at a patent here, with no guarantee that this will be seen on a commercial release. What it does tell us is Microsoft’s continued focus on the Duo is not limited to continued software development, but also on new hardware.
Is the Surface Duo 3 on the way? That’s a bit more difficult to answer. You could read the cadence of hardware sales as showing either one year or two years between models… the first Surface Duo was announced in October 2019 ahead of a September 2020 launch, while the Surface Duo 2 followed one year later with an October 2021 release.
I personally think that we’re looking at a two-year cadence, which would put the Surface Duo 3 into early Q4 2023. Until then, the Duo community is watching for 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 is likely to be the release of Android 12L and its increased support for both tablets and dual-screened devices. That could lift up the Duo and Duo 2 with more software compatibility, new features, and a streamlined user interface.