MICROSOFT DOESN'T HAVE the best track record when it comes to mobile. Earlier this year the firm wrote off its Nokia acquisition, and the last we heard, Windows Phone now holds a mere 0.6 per cent of the global smartphone market.
While it's struggling to flog its smartphones, Microsoft has at least had some success with its Surface line of tablets, so it's perhaps no surprise that speculation points to the firm dumping its Lumia branding altogether and launching a Surface-branded line of handsets.
19/10/16: Rumours are circulating that we might see the Surface Phone at Microsoft's 26 October event. While it's likely much of the run-time will be given over to the announcement of the Surface All-In-One desktop PC, we also expect Microsoft to talk of its continued vision for Windows 10. It's likely that part of those plans will involve the perfected version of Continuum mode, and in-turn Surface Phone.
26/09/16: Microsoft has filed a patent for "fingerprint detection with transparent cover". Sources claim Microsoft has developed a fingerprint scanner that's integrated into a transparent sheet, thereby avoiding the bulk usually associated with a sensor module.
Here's everything else we've learnt so far about Microsoft's so-called Surface smartphone.
Early reports suggested that Microsoft's next smartphone will break cover before the year is out, while some rumours point to a launch in 2017.
There are arguments for both. An end of year release would capture the holiday market and serve as a counterpoint to big hardware releases from the likes of Apple and Samsung. However, waiting until next year would allow Microsoft to tie the handset into the rumoured Surface Pro 5 and Surface Book 2 launch.
If the 2016 launch is chosen, we'd expect Microsoft to hold a hardware event in October to announce the release.
Microsoft's last attempt at grabbing even a sliver of the smartphone market was the Lumia 950 XL, released in October 2015.
It cost £549.99 at launch but has since been reduced to £336.99. If Microsoft wants to even stand a chance, the upcoming Surface Phone(s) need to be priced competitively.
We've heard that prices might start at $699 for the lesser model, reaching as much as a whopping $1,099 for the top-spec version.
Microsoft's Surface Phone reportedly will follow the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones with a high-end aluminium and magnesium unibody, the same combination favoured by Lenovo for the Ideapad 710S.
The image above is from prolific tipster 'Nokiabar', who has a reliable record when it comes to leaks. He has previously spilled the beans on the Lumia 650 and the cancelled Lumia 850.
Rumour specifications for the Surface Phone are impressive, to say the least, so we'll advise taking them with a pinch of salt. Microsoft will reportedly offer three Surface Phone variants, the lesser of which will come with 3GB or 4GB of RAM paired with 128GB storage.
The other two models will scale up to 6GB/256GB and 8GB/512GB. MicroSD expansion might also bolster the already generous storage options.
The OnePlus 3 made headlines with a colossal 6GB of RAM, and if we were the betting sort we'd wager that some of next year's high-end phones might match this. So it's plausible that Microsoft could follow suit, but an 8GB phone currently feels a long way from reality.
Microsoft could use the yet-unannounced Qualcomm Snapdragon 830 to power the smartphones, although other rumours point to an Intel chip, despite the firm having recently thrown in the towel on its Atom mobile processors. Whichever option Microsoft chooses, we should expect liquid-cooling technology and a super-sized 5.7in panel with an impressive 2K resolution.
It is said that the Surface Phone will support the Continuum feature used in Microsoft's Lumia 950 and 950 XL smartphones. Continuum turns the phone into a big-screen projector, allowing it to connect to an external display such as a TV or monitor.
The new phones are expected to have USB Type-C ports, a fingerprint scanner and Microsoft's Surface Pen peripheral. The top-end model might incorporate a 20MP Carl Zeiss sensor in the rear camera. µ
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