No, Microsoft is probably not working on a Surface Trio


28, 2021

A very recent patent dating to June 2020 has been causing a hubbub recently with the suggestion that Microsoft may be working on a three-pane Surface smartphone.

The articles however ignore the actual point of the patent application – a better method to manufacture the display driver connectors for dual-display devices, with the suggestion that the left and right panels be produced together and that they should be mirror images of each other, via the use of “palindromic I/O pads.”

The triple-pane device is only mentioned in passing, with the inventor writing:

FIG. 14 shows a multi-panel display device 1400 including three display panels. A first display panel 1402 is connected to a second display panel 1404 via a first hinge 1406. The second display panel 1404 is connected to a third display panel 1408 via a second hinge 1410. The first display panel 1402 and the third display panel 1408 each includes a set of I/O pads including a subset of palindromic I/O pads, such that the first and third display panels 1402, 1408 are mirror image layouts of each other. The second display panel 1404 may be differently configured than the first and third display panels 1402, 1408. The first and third display panels 1402, 1408 may pivot in any suitable pivot range relative to the second display panel 1404, via the first and second hinges 1406, 1410. As one example, the first and third display panels 1402, 1408 may pivot such that the multi-panel display device 1400 lies flat with the first and third display panels positioned adjacent the second display panel 1404. As another example, the first and third display panels 1402, 1408 may pivot, such that the three display panels are stacked on top of each other in order to reduce an overall form factor of the multi-panel display device 1400.

The patent notes that the 1st and 3rd leaf of the tablet could still be produced via the palindromic process, where the middle leaf would have to be specially produced.

The inventor notes that the mirror process may be more convenient and cheaper to produce, saying:

By arranging the I/O pad layout of the display panel 200 according to a palindromic sequence, the display panel design may be used for both left and right side display panels of a multi-panel display device, while positioning I/O pads for both display panels on the same side of the multi-panel display device. Such a device layout allows for convenient device assembly and component flexibility without increasing cost or vendor effort of having to separately design different left and right display panels.

The patent does not dwell much on the triple-pane Surface, and I think there is little sign that we should either.

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