Microsoft hasn’t revealed any solid plans for a smaller-than-tablet mobile device for a long time. Over the years, we’ve seen the so-called “Surface Phone” pop into the rumors, but given that Windows 10 for mobile appears to be ditched, it probably won’t be a viable product anytime soon.

We have also seen rumors of a new product that is less of a phone and more of a portable, foldable PC, currently called “Andromeda”. Here’s everything we know about Microsoft’s next big hardware product, whether it ships as Andromeda, another name – or maybe not at all.

Release date and price

It is not known how much Andromeda will cost or when it will be released. It was hoped that it could launch alongside the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, but Microsoft launched the Surface Go in that time frame instead. Since then, Microsoft Surface chief Panos Panay has added that “we cannot create new categories in the world and not be a place where customers need it.”

Another report said the project has been suspended indefinitely. The setback appears to stem from Microsoft’s recent decision to overhaul its internal teams to better focus on artificial intelligence and cloud computing. The renewed Windows team will build services and experiences based on these two aspects.

Given the new direction, executives reportedly decided to withdraw the Andromeda project due to planning and quality. The device did not have an actual target audience, nor an ecosystem of supporting applications. Based on Andromeda’s design, app developers should retool their current apps or build new ones from scratch to support Andromeda’s unique dual-screen design and related functionality.

According to insiders, executives would like to completely overhaul the software and hardware. In Andromeda’s current state, that just doesn’t create a compelling solution that will disrupt the mobile market as originally intended, nor justify paying a higher price for a niche product. That said, the software components and services used by Andromeda might not be included in the next feature version of Windows 10 in Redstone 6 released in 2019.

The last mention of Andromeda we heard was during an official Microsoft developer presentation where the project was mentioned by name on a slide. It might not be a lot, but it’s at least a hint that the device is still in active development and is slated for release at some point.

Prototypes hint at design

Before Microsoft put the project on hold, the latest information on Microsoft’s secret Andromeda device came from anonymous sources who claimed the latest prototype could transform into five separate form factors using a 360 degree hinge: Closed, Flat, Convex, Conclave, and Full.

For Closed, the two screens would simply face each other to repeat / close the device like a book. Concave would be similar to Laptop Mode seen with 2-in-1 devices, while Convex would emulate Tent Mode. Flat mode would create a tablet-style device while full mode would see the backs of the two screens come together with the touchscreens facing outward.

It is in this full mode that the reported telephony features would come into play. But Andromeda was never really designed to be a smartphone at its core. Instead, it would serve as a hybrid set to revolutionize the mobile market, much like Apple did with the original iPhone.

Before the prototype appeared, reports from curious souls at E3 2018 claimed that Andromeda was indeed a handheld device with what appeared to be a versatile nature, somewhere between a phone and a computer. Additionally, reports indicated that the plan was to release Andromeda in 2018, confirming hopes that have existed since the Andromeda rumors first surfaced.

The end of 2018 release window made sense from a competitive standpoint. Prototypes and reports from Computex and other events have revealed that other IT companies are preparing their own two-screen clamshell devices. Our best look at what the Andromeda device might look like came from Intel, which introduced the prototype “Tiger Rapids”, a dual-screen Windows 10 PC with a 7.9-inch LCD screen on one side and one E-Ink panel on the other. . This prototype alone has given Microsoft a good reason to put Andromeda off the shelves as quickly as possible to become the prime mover – or at least, not left behind.

Hidden beneath the surface

Anonymous sources say Microsoft is currently testing Qualcomm’s unannounced Snapdragon 1000 all-in-one chip – which is based on ARM’s Cortex-A76 processor core architecture – on a variety of devices ranging from PCs to PCs. desktop to his secret device Andromeda. The Snapdragon 1000 is said to have up to 35% better performance and up to 40% better power efficiency than Qualcomm’s current one. Snapdragon 845 chip.

The upcoming Snapdragon 1000 will support 16GB of system memory and 128GB of storage while consuming just 12 watts of power, which is lower than the Intel Core i5-8250U and Core i7-8550U processors. This chip is a likely candidate for Microsoft’s Andromeda device, given that Qualcomm’s newly launched Snapdragon 850 chip is designed to deliver increased performance to a second generation “always-on” Windows 10 PC.

What we know about the “Andromeda” design

We first saw Andromeda mentioned in Windows Insider Windows 10 release, build 17025. As WalkingCat posted on Twitter:

17025 Xaml stack is experiencing a "ComposableShell.Composers.Andromeda.exe" thing

– Walking cat (@ h0x0d) October 27, 2017

Basically, that means there was some really interesting code under the title Andromeda, which seemed to be specifically designed for a mobile platform that Microsoft had yet to release. Speculation abounded and it seemed clear that some sort of small Surface device was on the way.

We didn’t know much more, other than that it wasn’t due to be announced until 2018 at the earliest. But then a patent filing for Andromeda was dropped, and now we know a lot more. Check out the interesting illustrations below, found in the patent.

Microsoft Andromeda

As you can see, Andromeda looks like a flip phone that opens to a mini keypad. Something even bigger than the Galaxy Note, but significantly smaller than the average tablet – so it might technically not be a phone at all.

You may remember, in the 2000s there was a brief era of mini keyboard smartphones, and even Microsoft’s (since abandoned) Courier project seemed interested in the idea.

From what we can see of Andromeda, however, it would take place in a larger touchscreen than any previous phone. It also doesn’t have any physical buttons, as the keyboard section is marked “display” in the illustration and appears to be used as the keyboard below.

Microsoft Andromeda

Another interesting point is the complete illustration dedicated to showing how the Andromeda could be tilted as a stand to display basic time and date information. This seems to indicate that the phone can also be used as an alarm clock (and how many of us do it with our phones anyway) and as a desktop notification system.

The Andromeda news also discredits past rumors, such as the one that said the Surface Phone has a 5.5-inch screen (Andromeda’s screen appears to be much larger).

A more recent patent from October 11, 2018 also revealed that Microsoft may be considering a single foldable display for Andromeda and not a 360-degree hinge. Rather than using two separate screens, this design allows for the unfolding and folding of a panel, with little damage. While these patents aren’t always true, it could mean that Andromeda may not have the ability to flex screens so that they’re facing outward. It’s quite strange, considering that Microsoft is working on a “Core OS” which is supposed to be more modular and fine-tuned for Andromeda.

Panos Panay in charge of the new mobile device

A report from Windows Central suggests that an earlier phone project was canceled by Microsoft and replaced with an all-new phone design that will be built by the Surface team, led by Microsoft’s hardware manager, Panos Panay.

The phone was previously called “Panos Phone” and is being called “new and disruptive” by internal email. Panay is in charge of the team that designed the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, which means we could see a smartphone with a similar design.

Microsoft also bought surfacephone.com

If you’re looking for a clue that Microsoft may introduce a Surface Phone in the future, look no further than the discovery of a Reddit user in late January 2016. It looks like Microsoft owns surfacephone.com, and the company has even gone. as far as redirecting it to the main Surface website.

microsoft-windows-mobile-surface-phone-1

It’s also important to point out that surfacephone.com was registered in May 2007, so it’s not as if Microsoft recently bought it to prepare for the launch of a new Surface Phone.

Additionally, Microsoft’s Surface page can be found at microsoft.com, as in https://www.microsoft.com/surface. Microsoft doesn’t even use surface.com for its current line of Surface devices, so why would the company use surfacephone.com for a Surface Phone if it came out?

Businesses usually buy domain names like this to avoid confusion or scam issues if there is any chance that they could launch a product under that name in the future.

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