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Folding ‘Andromeda’ device could be Microsoft’s iPhone moment

Leaks might suggest that Microsoft’s long-rumored Andromeda device could be announced later this year, but we still don’t know very much about it. We’ve seen patents in the past that suggest it will be a hinged dual-screen device, but a patent filing made public today illustrates not only how it could look, but also how it could work — and how it could fit into your life.

Microsoft Andromeda
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Most of the time, patent filings include tons of diagrams and drawings that tend to obfuscate more than they illustrate, but in this case, Microsoft has given us a clear look at how the device functions and how big it will be. As you can see here, the Andromeda device is clearly not a full-size laptop or even tablet-sized device, but rather something you can slip into your pocket.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

With two displays, it’s something of a spiritual successor to the canceled Microsoft Courier device. But it has more in common with modern smartphones than Courier-era tablets. This way, Microsoft is positioning itself to compete with the Apple iPhone and Google Pixel more than the iPad or PixelBook.

Microsoft Andromeda
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When the device is folded open flat, it appears to be about the size of a small tablet, slightly larger than the most recent Samsung Galaxy Note, but still smaller than the 10.5-inch iPad. That could mean it would be a great device for reading books, comics, and full-size webpages, but also give you more keyboard real estate than you would get on a normal smartphone.

Microsoft Andromeda
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In this image, we can see that it appears to have some laptop 2-in-1 DNA in its design. Not only would you use this device in handheld mode, or laid flat, but also folded in a sort of ‘display mode’ for something like an alarm clock — or maybe even some Windows and Xbox exclusive games? If the device has Bluetooth, which it most certainly would, it could connect wirelessly to Xbox One controllers and might end up providing a bit of competition to the Nintendo Switch as a handheld gaming device.

More than anything else, this patent filing illustrates that we don’t really have a category that comfortably applies to the Andromeda device — and that is likely part of Microsoft’s plan. When this device hits the market, there won’t be anything else like it, and that gives Microsoft a significant advantage over its competitors. Just like the iPhone did for Apple when it first came out.

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Jayce Wagner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
A staff writer for the Computing section, Jayce covers a little bit of everything -- hardware, gaming, and occasionally VR.
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