While the Duo and Neo feature split displays, Microsoft at least played with the idea of folding displays.
What you need to know
- A newly published patent by Microsoft shows a design for a device with a folding display.
- Similar patents have appeared from companies such as Dell.
- Several devices with foldable displays will be available in 2020.
2019 was the year that companies dabbled with foldable devices. Samsung released the Galaxy Fold, and Huawei countered with the Mate X. 2020 appears to be the year that the foldable market could take off. Lenovo will release the first ever foldable PC, and Microsoft will release the Windows 10X operating system that's designed to take advantage of dual-screen and folding displays. While Microsoft opted to go with split-screened devices in the Surface Neo and Surface Duo, it at least dabbled in the idea of foldables according to the recently published patent.
The patent describes a hinged device with a flexible display. The designs appear somewhat similar to the Surface Duo, but instead of having two separate displays, the designs show a single flexible display. The patent's abstract reads, "One example relates to a device that has a hinged first and second portions and a flexible display positioned over the first and second portions."
Microsoft likely decided to go with a dual-screen design in its first generation of folding devices for several reasons. Flexible displays are expensive and not as durable as fixed screens. Additionally, Microsoft can emphasize the importance of optimizing apps for two screens if the screens are clearly split.
As with all patents, these designs may never be used by Microsoft to make a device. They do show, however, that Microsoft at least looked into the idea of a device with a foldable display and gives a glimpse of what that device could look like.