• A rumored image of the much-anticipated Microsoft Surface Phone, which is codenamed as Project Juggernaut Alpha.

A rumored image of the much-anticipated Microsoft Surface Phone, which is codenamed as Project Juggernaut Alpha. (Photo : YouTube / PhoneDesigner)

Will the Surface Phone magically transform into a tablet such as the Surface Pro? That appears to be a plan in serious consideration as an awarded patent to Microsoft indicated that the tech giant is developing a foldable device - that functions as a smartphone when folded and a slate when gloriously folded out.

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The USPTO Patent No. 9541962, according to Windows Central, describes "a mobile computing device having a flexible hinge structure." The patent hinted of the vision by Microsoft to produce "dual and triple-hinged devices that support multiple configurations." (Full text and images can be viewed here and here)

Sure, the patent in question is not a solid assurance of how the Surface Phone will turn out when released but as the report noted, it provides a glimpse on the amount of research poured in by Microsoft on what CEO Satya Nadella imagined as the "ultimate mobile device." And users getting both the Surface Phone and possibly a version of the Surface Pro tablet in one package certainly counts as an ultimate offering that Nadella has in mind.

The patent makes sense for Microsoft as the company has been on a mission to deliver a game-changer of a device or a tech instrument that deviates from what already were seen with Apple, Samsung and Google. "This latest patent could show how Microsoft is looking at a potential return to phones, allowing the owner to transform a device into something greater than just a smartphone," according to The Verge.

And true to the concept of an ultimate mobile device, the same patent presented the possibility of a smartphone with flexible display and nifty hinge technology. The latter two elements will make it possible for users to enjoy a smartphone with multiple screens (up to three displays when the device is on a tent-like configuration as shown in the patent) and a fully-functional tablet should they choose to fold out the device.

It's hard to tell if the Surface Phone will be actually rendered as described by the same patent but as The Verge duly noted, how the AIO Surface Studio will look and function was previewed in leaked patent filings. So however remote, the possibility is there that Microsoft is cooking up a new smartphone that is the game-changer that Nadella has recently teased about.

Rumors have it that the Surface Phone release date will happen after the Windows 10 Redstone 3 Update rollout in July or August 2017. However, there were reports that suggested an early 2018 launch is more likely for the Microsoft flagship smartphone.