News, price, release date, specs and other rumors

A Microsoft patent published in late 2021 details what appears to be a Surface Duo lookalike with an additional screen. Very little is known about this product at the moment, but rumors call it the Surface Trio, or Surface Tri-Fold. Whatever name is used is intriguing, so let’s look at what the patent describes to get a better idea of ​​what it could be.

Will there be a Microsoft Surface Trio?

We are not sure! The details available at this point come from a patent, and history tells us that many companies file patents that describe technologies and products that we never see on store shelves.

Patently Apple took notice of the patent shortly after it was posted on the US Patent & Trademark Office website in December 2021 (it was filed in June 2020). We know it’s from Microsoft because the applicant mentioned in this document is Microsoft Technology Licensing, a subsidiary of Microsoft that handles the company’s patents.

Unfortunately, documents like this don’t provide any information about the release date or the team working on the project, so it’s not yet known if the product exists or when it might launch.

Estimated release date

We think the Surface Tri-Fold, if it’s real, will arrive at the end of the year – maybe at a Surface event – but we don’t know if it will be this year or in 2023, or even later. For reference, the first Surface Duo was officially launched in September 2020, and its successor was available in October 2021. With the little information we have at the moment, the Surface Duo 3 might appear first before this phone… we we just don’t know much yet.

Price rumors for the Surface Tri-Fold

A three-screen setup will undoubtedly drive up the price compared to a dual-screen device. The extent of this increase is not yet known.

The Surface Duo 2 is $999, and it would be good value for a three-screen phone if it performs as advertised. However, this price was set 6 months after the launch of the device – the Duo 2 was initially offered at a rather high price of $1,499.

We suspect the same price of $1,499 will be used for this device, if not a slightly higher price.

Pre-order information

We’ll provide a link here when pre-orders for the Surface Trio open. The Duo 2 was in the pre-order phase for nearly a month before its release, so we might see the same with this foldable phone.

Microsoft Surface Trio Features and Specs

It’s still very early, so we don’t know everything about the features of this device yet. It will most likely run the Android operating system like the Surface Duo, but other than that, the patent titled “Multi-Panel Display Device” simply describes a portable device with three screens separated by hinges.

In short, as the image below illustrates, this three-screen display could be very similar to the Surface Duo, but ultimately with one screen still available on the outside when the rest is folded down. Of course, when unfolded you also have 50 per cent more screen than what the Duo offers.

The patent does not indicate the size of the screens or the overall dimensions of the device, but we can guess anyway. If we’re using the Duo 2 specs as a benchmark, and assuming the Surface Trio’s individual screens and bezels stay the same size as the Duo (which isn’t confirmed; we’re just speculating), the total display area when unfolded could be more than 11 inches.

Microsoft patent 20210397281.

1402, 1404 and 1408 are the three screens described in the patent. The first two fold over each other on the 1406 hinge, and the 1408 folds over the back of the 1404 on the 1410 hinge. This means you can use the phone in three different ways:

Mode écran unique : Réduisez les deux charnières pour ne pas voir le premier ou le deuxième écran, mais gardez le contrôle total de l'appareil avec le troisième écran, comme vous le feriez avec un smartphone traditionnel.
Mode double écran : Ouvrez-le comme vous le feriez avec le Surface Duo, en gardant le 1408 (l'écran supplémentaire) replié derrière le deuxième écran, de sorte que seuls le premier et le deuxième écrans soient visibles.
Mode tablette : Déployez les trois écrans pour passer en mode tablette, en tirant pleinement parti du nouveau design.

For now, without any leaks from Microsoft, we’ll assume the hardware will be somewhat similar to the Duo 2: a USB-C port, 5G support, fingerprint reader in the button power supply, a triple-lens camera setup, up to 512GB or 1TB of storage, and 8-12GB of RAM. The biggest change will probably be a bigger battery to support the extra screen.

Without the phone in our hands, it’s not entirely clear how a three-screen device would perform. Would it be bulky in your pocket? Do the hinges close seamlessly or are there any weird gaps that break the illusion of one big screen? Can you really lay it flat on a table when only two screens are open?

Despite some people’s opinion that foldable phones are a dumb idea, the reality is that Microsoft is not on its first attempt and other major phone companies are also interested in it – the rumors about the Google Pixel Fold and the foldable iPhone prove it.

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