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- Microsoft is reportedly working on a tablet with a foldable screen that would make it small enough to fit into a pocket. While not being a phone replacement, the device will apparently have built-in phone capabilities. It may be part of Microsoft’s Surface brand, and release as early as next year.
Microsoft is reportedly working on a foldable tablet device that could replace your smartphone. And no, it probably won’t be called “Surface Phone.”
A new report from Windows Central mentions that digging into internal projects at Microsoft led to multiple references of “Andromeda,” which sources claim to be a hardware prototype of some sort.
The device should be “a [pocketable] foldable tablet that runs Windows 10 built with Windows Core OS, along with CShell to take advantage of its foldable display,” according to Windows Central.
As per the display, it’s unclear whether the actual panel is flexible or if two separate screens are somehow closely put together with some sort of hinge mechanism to hide and expand the available real estate, but when folded it should be pocketable.
Microsoft’s Surface devices have almost always been marketed as machines capable of doing more than one thing, trying to break conventional form factors like “laptop” or “tablet” as fixated types of device (like the original Surface Pro, which was billed as a “tablet that can replace your laptop”).
Andromeda, too, would be a new, category-defining 2-in-1 device: A tablet that can also be a phone. Windows Central specifies that Microsoft would probably not bill Andromeda as a straight phone replacement (avoiding competition with Android and the iPhone), but build it with phone capabilities so that it can, technically, work as a phone.
The highlight of the device, other than its mutable form, is tipped to be pen and ink support: It would make sense, as Microsoft already offers a platform with Windows Ink and has experience in building styluses for Windows 10 with the various iterations of its Surface Pen.
There is also a special, dedicated notebook app apparently in the works, which would tie in with OneNote and become one of the main features of Andromeda.
The handset would run on ARM chips, not Intel processors, meaning that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon systems-on-a-chip (SoC) would be the likeliest candidates for one Andromeda’s main components. Qualcomm’s SoCs already power the vast majority of smartphone and mobile devices on the market.
This would make Universal Windows Apps (like Microsoft’s Edge browser, or its Photos app) the focus of Andromeda’s software, further strengthening the idea that this is an ultra-portable piece of hardware first and foremost (support for Win32 applications is uncertain at this point).
Andromeda’s closest sibling would either be the just-announced ZTE Axon M or Microsoft’s own unborn “Courier,” an almost decade-old project that aimed to give birth to a two-screen tablet, sort of like a digital book.
But this device, too, may never see the light of day; if it does, there may be a chance that Microsoft has it ready for next year (which would suggest a rather advanced state of development at this point), which rumor has it it is indeed the company’s targeted time frame.