This week was all about Samsung's Foldable Z Flip Phone and Microsoft's Foldable Devices set to Launch in Q4
Earlier this week Samsung introduced their new Flip Z smartphone that represented a second generation foldable form factor as noted below. Samsung obviously thinks that woman will be drawn to this form factor that opens and closes like a compact powder case. The image below confirms their marketing team is aiming for the woman's market.
Yet the foldable that many in the industry are more excited about is Microsoft's coming Surface Duo smartphone and especially their Surface Neo foldable tablet that's presented in the video below.
Earlier this week Microsoft held an event titled Microsoft 365 Developer Day: Dual-screen experiences which was designed to show their developers a vision for dual display devices. Earlier this month, Microsoft made a dramatic move putting Windows development under the control of their Surface device team led by Panos Panay.
Clearly the new direction Windows is going will require a closer connection between hardware and software as they begin a new war with Apple's devices this fall. ZDNet reported on this development and posted the memo from Panos Panay to his team.
While all of this was unfolding, the U.S. Patent Office published another Surface Neo patent application describing the hinges and the new wireless keyboard device that will play a key role in diversifying the folding tablet to being a mini notebook.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 1A presented below is their coming folding tablet branded "Surface Neo." The figure illustrates input device #102 that is manifest as a keyboard device.
An interesting twist was found in the patent filing when Microsoft noted that "in other implementations, the input device #102 could be manifest as a trackpad or game controller, among others."
With Microsoft's Project xCloud being aimed at 5G devices, offering a gaming attachment/accessory could be a huge plus for Surface Neo this or next fall.
The input device #102 includes alignment assemblies #140 and #142. We've circled them in red above so that you could easily find these assemblies in both open mode and when the keyboard is flipped over unto one Surface Neo's displays.
Microsoft series of patent figures below show a side view of Surface Neo with the wireless keyboard on the outside of the bottom Neo Display. FIG. 2B illustrates the wireless keyboard sitting on top of one of Neo's displays; and FIG. 2C illustrates closing the top Neo display over like a notebook with the keyboard resting between both displays while the use is in transit.
Another example can include any of the above and/or below examples where the alignment assembly of the wireless detachable input device comprises magnets.
Microsoft filed for this patent in Q3 2018 and the U.S. Patent Office published it yesterday.
Below is the Surface Neo foldable tablet shown to have its wireless keyboard sitting on top of one of the Neo's displays as illustrated in patent FIG. 2B shown above.
Below is a close-up of the Surface Neo foldable wireless keyboard sitting at the bottom of the tablet display leaving room at the top of the keyboard that acts like a giant MacBook Pro Touch Bar.
In the image below, the wireless keyboard is sitting at the top of the Surface Neo display that automatically opens a large virtual trackpad
This isn't just a Microsoft thing in a vacuum. It's a Wintel project involving Intel's latest developments and Wintel partners like HP, Dell and others joining in with foldables of their own. In fact we reported on Dell's coming foldables back in early January at CES that you could check out here or watch the video below. So Wintel's big blitz coming this fall could be a sizable one.
It's clear that Windows fans around the world may finally have something to really get excited about. Considering that Windows fans were let down for a decade while the iPhone and iPad revolution ran over Microsoft, it looks like this could be the year Microsoft delivers something fresh to kick off this new decade
I have to admit that I'll be wanting to get my hands on both the Surface Neo and Surface Duo when they hit the stores, especially the Surface Neo to see if it'll have an edge over Apple's next-gen iPad Pro.
In the bigger picture, I'm actually hoping that foldable Surface devices land a home run and shake up the mobile industry that's been stuck in upgrade hell for far too long.