Microsoft hasn’t achieved any major success when it comes to making smartphones. It has always struggled to make a dent in the mobile phone market: despite its Nokia acquisition, the Windows Phone was doomed by the smartphone revolution. But Microsoft wants to give another shot at the mobile market with its ambitious ‘Andromeda’ project, which has been in the making for years. Although details are limited, many believe the device could be a Surface Phone, or a foldable PC. Certainly, there’s a lot we still don’t know about this secretive product, and we expect more information should land in the coming months. Here are five things we know so far about Microsoft’s Andromeda project.
Microsoft Andromeda: A pocket-sized, dual-screen device
Andromeda is rumoured to be a foldable form factor that transforms the device into a smartphone and a computer device. Apparently, it will have a special hinge design that accommodates two large smartphone displays. The Verge reports that the device, code-named Andromeda, will “blur the lines between mobile and stationary computing”. From what the publication knows about the device, it believes the current engineering models of the device are very close to renders created by the Austria-based designer David Breyer:
— David Breyer (@D_Breyer) December 18, 2017
Based on several patents filed by Microsoft, Andromeda appears to have a clamshell design, sticking with the dual-screen approach. Since Andromeda doesn’t appear like a standard smartphone, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft will add phone capabilities to the device. And yes, it will heavily focus on pen support, something the iPhone X lacks.
Microsoft Andromeda: Surface chief Panos Panay overseeing the project
Whether it will be a smartphone or a PC, Andromeda will be launched on the market as a Surface-branded device. Evidently, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President Panos Panay has been given the responsibility to oversee the Andromeda project. Panos recently sent out a tweet thanking the folks over at LG Display with the photo of two wooden frames connected by the hinge frame mechanism. This shows that Panos is deeply involved in the Andromeda project – and Microsoft is serious about the new type of device it is currently developing.
Microsoft Andromeda: Surfacephone.com domain hints at a phone
Microsoft owns the domain name surfacephone.com, which is an indication that the company wants to build a Surface Phone in the near future. Back in 2016, Microsoft had snapped up the domain name, and it has been claimed ever since that a Surface Phone is in development. While owning the domain name cannot prove the possibility that a Surface Phone exists, the rumours from the past few years do not deny these claims either.
Microsoft Andromeda: A next-generation Surface device to run Andromeda OS
The long-rumoured Surface-branded device will run Andromeda OS, which is said to be an upcoming version of Windows 10, that will be a modular operating system. This will allow Microsoft to customise the OS based on the device that runs this OS. Twitter user WalkingCat recently spotted a reference to “Factory OS Andromeda device” within the Windows 10 code. The code suggests that the company could be testing the final hardware. According to the code spotted by WalkingCat, Andromeda will support both ARM and x86 Hardware.
ImagingEditions.xml : “Andromeda OS” / “Factory OS Andromeda Device” pic.twitter.com/SHmk1bmiY5
— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) May 23, 2018
It is worth noting here that ARM hardware usually powers mobile devices, while x86 is more suited for computing devices. German blog WinFuture claims that Microsoft is currently testing Qualcomm’s yet-to-release Snapdragon 1000 chipset internally, further hinting that Surface Phone could be powered by an ARM hardware.
Microsoft Andromeda: Will it launch in 2018?
Microsoft’s Andromeda dual-screen device could launch later this year, most likely this fall. The tech news site Thurrott, who accessed leaked internal documents earlier this month, claimed that Andromeda is ‘scheduled’ to launch in 2018. This might not be a confirmed deal, though, as the Andromeda project is still in development, and Microsoft has a tendency to cancel projects at the last moment. Andromeda was reportedly a brainchild of Terry Myerson, who was in charge of Windows and devices before leaving the company earlier this year.