Microsoft wants to embed secondary screens into smartphone flip covers

Microsoft wants to embed secondary screens into smartphone flip covers
If you like the idea of having an extra screen for your smartphone, Microsoft may soon release a product that you'll probably find interesting. According to WM Power User, Microsoft's research division (known simply as Microsoft Research) is currently working on flip covers that include always-on, low-power displays.

As you can see in the image below, these low-power screens (presumably using e-ink technology) should be just as large as the screens of the smartphones that they're accompanying. The screens might be useful in various scenarios: they could act as full QWERTY keyboards, display detailed notifications, help with composing emails (by showing a full calendar, for example), and so on.

Russian company YotaPhone already has smartphones with secondary e-ink displays (the latest being the YotaPhone 2), though its approach is different: the secondary screen is part of the phone itself, being embedded on the back.

Reportedly, Microsoft Research is "in deep talks" with the Lumia division to see if it can turn these flip covers with embedded displays into real products. Unfortunately, there's no way of telling when, or if that's actually going to happen. Until we hear more about this, let us know if you like Microsoft's idea, will you?

source: WM Power User



1. bigsal42

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 01, 2014

I like this idea. More functionality with an incremental add on. I would definitely buy one

2. vijay.alapati

Posts: 181; Member since: Jan 08, 2015

will wait for a chines clone on android :)

3. Micah007

Posts: 266; Member since: Oct 09, 2014

Can somebody say Surface Phone????

10. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Surface phone!

13. AnTuTu

Posts: 1620; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

lol :p

4. BradyCrack

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

I'm waiting for a smart flip phone.

19. 497362

Posts: 60; Member since: Aug 27, 2015

Already made by samsung for east asian market

6. xq10xa

Posts: 810; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

Would be a great idea. Just not a WP.

7. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Hohoho, slowly evolving into my dream Surface Phone...wonder if the cover would have some rigid mechanism for holding the phone. That'll be just outright awesome and practical. Go Panos, Go Panos. Make this Surface Phone a reality and it'll be my first Windows Phone:

9. jedpatrickdatu

Posts: 169; Member since: Jan 24, 2013

This info shouldn't have leaked out. Now Apple or some Asian Android manufacturer will copy it ahead of Microsoft and then claim it as their own and call it "their innovation."

14. trnz007

Posts: 48; Member since: Feb 12, 2014

i agree

11. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Surface phone!

12. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

That's just plain awesome. I am now really hope it becomes a reality. It's just like a 3DS, where the second screen adds tons of functionality.

15. ananthu07 unregistered

I like the idea but is the keyboard on the cover all that useful? Because you need to place it on a table or something and in that case I would use a bigger keyboard on a laptop or a PC. While holding it in your hand that is pretty dumb imo.

16. aashis.sapkota

Posts: 85; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

It can get quite useful, if implemented well. But, you know what, it will be copied and marketed by somebody else, before microsoft does it. Well, Microsoft is too lazy, you know.

17. rishav20193

Posts: 242; Member since: Jul 18, 2015

i dont think it will come with surface phone this year (finges crossed though), this secondary display is only in initial & planning stages....while i think the surface phone has already made some progress. may be this secondary display will come with 2017 windows flagships from MS.....but i dont think it'll come this year

18. OdysseasP

Posts: 67; Member since: Aug 08, 2014

Microsoft should be concerned addressing other issues, mainly creating a smartphone which would be able to take the fight to the best Android has to offer and be able to win most battles if not the war. Releasing a pair of smartphones (Microsoft Lumia 950 & 950XL) which are supposed to be flagships but are made entirely out of plastic while they use some of the worst SoCs ever made without at the same time having a stand out feature, such as a camera module as in the Nokia Lumia 1020, is only damaging the image of Microsoft and broadens the gap with both Android and iOS. In addition, releasing a much needed and long overdue OS update (Windows 10 Mobile) which can't even sort out the basics (battery life) is just unacceptable for a company with the size and resources of Microsoft. Flip covers which will double as secondary screens are a good idea if they are properly materialised, but they need a smartphone into which they will attach, and if Microsoft continues to produce smartphones which are unable to take on the best the opposition has to offer, then simply Microsoft won't have a smartphone to put their smart flip covers on. By the way I have a Nokia Lumia 1020, which now is more than two years old, and I am still waiting for Microsoft to release a proper replacement. In an industry in which the average product life cycle is approximately 12 months (and in some cases 6 months - Sony & Samsung), this is just unacceptable, especially considering the SoC, screen and camera advances in the meantime. In addition, I am not planning to update to Windows 10 Mobile before the first major OS update is released. Finally, just consider everything I said above from an Android or iOS user perspective.

20. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

The 1020 was a very niche device, I to own a 1020, along side plenty more. The 950 camera is just as good if not better than any other flagship, it is is the 1020, so is the 1520 so it all their previous models save a select few. My 930 was dropped now it needs repair to fix a bent metal body that has made the backcover no longer snap right and the screen lift. 1520? bent frame.

22. OdysseasP

Posts: 67; Member since: Aug 08, 2014

I agree with you that both the Nokia Lumia 1020 (Windows Phone 8.1) & Nokia 808 PureView (Symbian) were niche devices, but that doesn't play down the fact that all of them had a distinct advantage in the camera department in comparison to the competition when they were released into the market. In comparison, apart from the quality of the photos which the camera of the Microsoft Lumia 950 & 950XL can capture, they both lack the wow factor, either that is a huge sensor in size (1/1.5'' or even 1/1.2'') or a very high resolution (41MP) or a combination of both. In addition, when Sony offers a 20MP sensor in its flagship smartphones for the last 2 years, when Microsoft is offering the same resolution sensor in their just released flagship smartphones looks bad for their image as a premium smartphone manufacturer. Although image quality is not only about sensor resolution, the relatively recent HTC One M7 with its 4MP UltraPixel technology demonstrated that it is definitely one of the most important, since a minimum resolution of about 5-8MP has to be met, in order for the picture quality to be satisfactory under most lighting conditions, before other parameters such as sensor size, optics etc. start to play an increasing role in image quality. As far as the plastic construction of all modern Nokia and Microsoft smartphones is concerned, it all has to do with which devices they have to compete. It is entirely different to have to compete against a plastic Apple iPhone and a plastic Samsung Galaxy S/S2/S3/S4/S5 which are some of the most popular flagship smartphones in recent times but it is entirely different to have to compete in a market in which most flagship smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 5/5s/6/6s (aluminum), the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (front & back tough glass panels with aluminum frame), the Sony Xperia Z2/Z3/Z3+/Z5 (front & back tough glass panels with aluminum frame), the HTC One M7/M8/M9 (unibody aluminum construction) and the LG G4 (leather back) are all made with premium materials. In the case of the Nokia Lumia 930, if the metal frame of the handset needs to be repaired after a fall, I believe that the poly-carbonate plastic which is common in most recent Nokia and Microsoft smartphones wouldn't have survived the fall either. Not all drops are the same. It really depends on how the phone will land, the type of the surface and the height from which the phone will fall. In any case, what I wanted to emphasize with my initial post, is that when a manufacturer such as Microsoft has such a low OS global market share (1.5%) with its operating system which continually further shrinks, then releasing products which can barely survive the comparison with the best the competition has to offer simply is not enough. They must be better by a huge margin in every respect, in order for consumers to be willing to sacrifice their current app investment in either Android or iOS and move to another OS which by the way severely lacks in app selection.

21. Fellwalker

Posts: 538; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

Excellent news. Now if it works with a surface pen, on both screens...

23. JumpinJackROMFlash

Posts: 464; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

Friggin' awesome idea. All of the concepts above I see as being very useful. Having an e-ink shopping list in the store always on or your travel itinerary. Would be cool to have tabs to switch between as well. Now for an amazing android version! Samsung, are you listening?

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