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Surface Duo 3 could ditch dual-screen design for a single foldable display

Surface Duo 2
(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft could be working on a Surface Duo 3 that consists of a single foldable screen, if a new patent turns out to be realized down the line.

As you’re doubtless aware, the current Surface Duo 2 (pictured above) uses a pair of screens (5.6-inch AMOLED displays) which fold, but the patent is for technology that would allow for a single screen that folds in the middle (around a 360-degree hinge).

The patent (opens in new tab), spotted by well-known Microsoft leaker WalkingCat, describes a glass screen which folds, and a backplate which does the same courtesy of a “plurality of backplate slots that each extend from an upper surface of the backplate through a lower surface of the backplate to facilitate bending.”

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Microsoft observes that some solutions for a folding screen – like an “ultra-thin glass layer with a plastic film” – are prone to manifesting physical flaws like creases or wrinkles along the fold of the display (and that they are more susceptible to cracking, too).

The idea is that the aforementioned backplate slots avoid such problems around mechanical creasing of the fold area, and could ensure a seamless foldable device that should end up a good deal thinner than the current Surface Duo 2.


Analysis: Surface Duo 3 – or indeed ’Surface Mono’ – won’t be here anytime soon

As ever with patents, don’t get too excited by their appearance – just because a technology is being explored, and is filed as a patent, doesn’t mean it’ll ever be used. Even if Microsoft does use this kind of implementation for a foldable screen, it may not be incorporated with the Surface Duo 3, either – that just seems the most likely candidate at this point in time.

If we run with the theory that the Duo 3 could employ this kind of tech – which would technically make it the Surface Mono, kind of, as one commenter on Twitter pointed out – that would help make the device potentially thinner, and there’d be no slight gap between the two displays either. On top of that, this take on the Android phone should be more robust than other single-screen foldables, and as observed less prone to a disaster like a crack snaking across the display at the point of the fold.

As Windows Central (opens in new tab), which spotted the above tweet, points out, LG has recently revealed a new OLED screen capable of folding through 360-degrees which could fit the bill for what Microsoft would require for its purported device here.

Whatever the future holds, the grapevine contends that there isn’t a Surface Duo 3 planned for this year, as Microsoft is busy working on refining the software side of things, and any next-gen device won’t be around until 2023 (at the earliest).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).