Microsoft’s Andromeda May Be a Modular Mobile Device

Posted on February 23, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Hardware, Microsoft Surface with 24 Comments

We have been covering Microsoft’s foldable phone project extensively ever since we first revealed details on the device back in October of last year. The project, codenamed Andromeda, is more than just about the hardware — it includes a new Windows design made entirely for the new category of foldable Windows 10 devices.

Unlike past Surface devices, Microsoft has been publishing a lot of patents of the new foldable device, mostly to do with the hinge design, giving us an idea of what the device will be all about. This week, two more patents of the device have been published and it makes things a lot more interesting.

The first patent (via STP), outlining a modular hinge, takes the idea of the Andromeda foldable device to a whole new level. The patent details a modular hinge design that allows two portions of a foldable device to be attached together through the modular hinge, allowing users to use it either as a foldable device or potentially use both the different parts separately. The attachment of both the different parts will likely work similar to how Surface Type Covers attach to the tablet, as the patent mentions a hinge pin that allows users to attach both the portions together.

Microsoft also published a new patent describing (via WalkingCat) a “magnetic block locking” mechanism for a foldable device that allows for a magnetic lock of both portions of a foldable device. The idea behind it is pretty straightforward, but reading the patent will give you an idea of how complex the mechanism actually is. In other words, magnets aren’t easy to work with, especially when a device includes 360-degree rotation capabilities.

Microsoft’s modular hinge patent seems quite promising, though we aren’t too sure if the design is meant for the company’s Andromeda hardware. Microsoft has published multiple different hinge designs for a foldable device recently, so we aren’t entirely sure what the final version of the device will end up looking like. Either way, we are still months away from the launch of Andromeda and more details of the project could emerge before that. The company is expected to launch the device sometime later this year or early next year, though I believe Redmond still has a lot of work to get done with the software.

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Microsoft’s Andromeda May Be a Modular Mobile Device”

  1. woelfel

    This is not even surprising (the detachable part) as this is EXACTLY what they showed on the Futures video.

  2. SocialDanny123

    Now this makes a perfect evolution of Mobile devices. I'm surprised that Microsoft managed to get such a crucial patent. But for the device announcement. I expect it to be announced before Build 2018, then at the event they will discuss the software and developer side of things, and by late 2018 - early 2019 I expect it to be released, 2019 release with Win32 Virtualization support.

    Another thing is that Microsoft is allowing OEMs to use their patents in their devices as long as they use Windows 10 on them. Similar to Surface and WMR Microsoft is doing the R&D and designing for OEMs.

  3. mmuntean

    :))) another junk DOA project from Microcrap...rejoice fanboys.

  4. Slvrgun

    Sounds okay I guess. I’m more interested in what OS it will run. If it’s Windows Phone 10 it will fail

  5. derekaw

    It sounds like a mess and people don’t want little Windows devices, they never did, not enough to make a business out of anyway.

  6. Tony Barrett

    What's this 'thing' going to end up looking like? A flashy Nintendo DS?

  7. Maktaba

    All of this wouldn’t have been necessary if MS had continued supporting Windows 10 Mobile. UWP would have succeeded and adopting Google’s PWA wouldn’t have been needed.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Maktaba:

      UWP was not guaranteed. Windows phones weren’t attracting buyers, and PC and Xbox users weren’t showing much interest in UWP, so developers weren’t interested. How would UWP have succeeded? Failed less spectacularly would have been best possible case.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to Maktaba:

      WM10 was dead before it even launched. Globally, other than a few small markets, WM was already on a steep decline. WM10 wasn't going to save it, but MS had to try I guess, especially after shelling out billions for Nokia. UWP makes more sense on mobile for sure, but there's still no guarantee it would have been a 'success'. Now MS just have the Apple/Google scraps to play with, and I just can't see whatever 'Andromeda' turns out to be making any difference. Windows will continue its decline until it becomes irrelevant, but it will take years.

  8. midpacific

    Now this actually makes some sense. A phone sized device for the 80% of time when you are doing quick communications and an extra slab you can clip on to make it bigger when doing somewhat serious document editing etc. Sure you have to carry the extra screen, but not in your pocket. It can be in the bag with everything else you are already carrying. And with 2 day battery life, never have to carry extra batteries and chargers. What a light load! Makes more sense than surface to me.

  9. Pulagatha

    They really need to release a single screen device.

  10. glenn8878

    A technology that doesn’t have a problem to solve, a market to fill, or an OS that’s properly designed. This is Microsoft Windows.

  11. Jules Wombat

    No consumer will buy a mobile device with a hinge down the middle of its display. That is just the stupid thing Microsoft believes in. Samsung flexible foldable flexible displays will be what consumers will want and choose to buy.

    • MutualCore

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      Panos Panay believes in 'category busters' even if it only sells 100 units and is cancelled in a year. He will be PUMPED for it and you better also be PUMPED. DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS!

    • mmuntean

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      downvoted by guinea pig fanboys. :)))

    • jrickel96

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      Not sure. Samsung has enough problems maintaining phone volumes. Most Samsung buyers will stick with the J7 class phones they buy (S8 sold less than all the lower end phones Samsung makes).

      Android functionality and inking will make a Samsung device a hard sell.

      However, that foldable Samsung device could run Windows as well. Samsung, Lenovo, Dell, HP, and more will be able to make Andromeda devices that use their own innovations. We also may see some phone OEMs that get in on that too, trying to broaden things.

      Microsoft is less about making a mass market impact with their product than creating a halo product. Notice all the 2-in-1 devices we now see that come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I expect that with Andromeda as well. A Surface device will be part of that, but not likely the whole story.

      And the rumor is these things will have camera with depth sensors that will allow image capture and model creation on the fly.

    • Chris Payne

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      I wouldn't count on that. We haven't really had any options to choose from, and if the software experience is compelling enough, consumers will buy anything. I think the key thing here is going to be: Can Microsoft solve their innumerous mobile software problems.

  12. 2ilent8cho

    If it cannot run the Apps people want it will be DOA. Surely even Microsoft advocates would be cautious to buy given how many times Microsoft pull the plug on things, do they want to get dumped again?

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