Microsoft seems to be working on a triple-display smartphone, as seen on the patent the company filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on June 23, 2021 and published by USPTO on December 23 this year.
The patent documents, discovered by Patently Apple, show what looks like a Surface Duo with a third display supported by a second hinge connected to one of the screens. Microsoft referred to it as a “Multi-Panel Display Device,” while reports dub it Surface Trio.
As Windows Central notes, the permit tackles many technicalities but presented an image (below), which clearly illustrates the Surface Trio being collapsible and easily folded into a Z shape and unfolded to become a single-display form factor.
When folded, Display No. 3 sits on top of the other displays, serving as the device’s external screen. Shutting Hinge #2 will meanwhile give users a dual-screen experience similar to the Surface Duo.
It also bears noticing that Hinge #1 appears to be broader than the other hinges to provide ample support for Display #1 which, in turn, is bigger and thicker than the other displays.
Just like most foldable smartphones, this may be because Display #1 is designed to house the main components of the phone, including the SoC, logic board, and battery. From the looks of it, this device will be heavier and bulkier than Surface Duo.
Microsoft isn’t the first company to make an attempt at triple-screen smartphones. Gizmodo previously reported about TCL’s trifold concept, which the company unveiled in 2019. It has two different hinges, called Dragon Hinge and Butterfly Hinge, that enable the device to fold in opposite directions.
Meanwhile, Samsung has filed several patents for a trifold smartphone in 2020 and, according to LetsGoDigital, filed another patent to the World Intellectual Property Organization for a display that bends in a “Z” format in June. It also unveiled a 7.2-inch multiple-fold OLED in iMiD 2021 held on August 25 to 27 this year.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has not announced if it is indeed working on a triple-screen device as of this time.