Microsoft has never quite managed to deliver on the smartphone front. The company has tried, for years and in vain, to tap into this segment and launch some heavyweight rival of the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy series. But for a variety of reasons, MS’ smartphone strategy hasn’t proved to be a winner.
However, attempts are now on to make Windows smartphones respectable again, with Microsoft hard at work—according to the IT grapevine—on “Project Andromeda”, a smartphone with a foldable screen.
Not much is known about the device yet, as the developers are trying their best to keep it on the hush. It was only through the numerous patents filed by Microsoft that reports about Project Andromeda went public. According to the American tech magazine, The Verge, Project Andromeda began around two years ago, and Microsoft is planning to start making the foldable smartphone, in collaboration with its original equipment manufacturers, later this year.
Andromeda will likely be a pocketable Surface device, equipped with a wraparound display that opens like a book. “Microsoft describes its Andromeda project as something the company has quietly incubated internally, and that will create a ‘new and disruptive’ device category to influence the overall surface roadmap and blur the lines between what’s considered PC and mobile,” reports The Verge.
Microsoft is experimenting with this device in different ways to enhance its capabilities and make it stand out among other major smartphones. “The device can fold over like a book and a pen can be used to capture digital ink. Prototype devices include styluses and notepad-like apps to capture notes. Microsoft is also experimenting with ARM processors inside prototype Andromeda devices, but it’s not clear if the company will proceed with Intel or Qualcomm for a final device,” the report in The Verge said.
It’s safe to assume that Microsoft’s Andromeda will be laced with unique hardware and cutting-edge software, good enough to make it the talk of the town. Clearly, this is something very new design-wise, and has potential to capture the market, as Apple’s new launches are known to do.
While there are no official images or sketches of the device in the public domain as yet, there are reports that Microsoft’s foldable phone will be identical to the images shared by some Twitter users. The photos show a device with a foldable screen.
Microsoft is not going it alone with Project Andromeda. It seems like the South Korean tech giant LG is playing a big part in the development of this device by engineering its most important component: the display. In a recent tweet, the chief product officer at Microsoft, Panos Panay, posted an image of what looks like MS’ new foldable phone, and thanked LG Display for their assistance on this project.
But for Microsoft, the bad news is that there are other contenders in this race now. Rumour has it that Samsung has also begun work on a similar device, and is rushing to get it off the drawing board and onto the assembly lines. At the moment, there’s no telling who will be the first to launch their product. More importantly, it’s anyone’s guess how the devices will be received by consumers. Do we really need a smartphone that can bend and fold over? Will it be too fragile to be carried around. Will it be too expensive? These are some of the questions surrounding Microsoft’s Andromeda and its under-development rivals. And we’ll get all our answers by the time Launch Day arrives.