Microsoft is reportedly working on three new smartphones to be launched in 2017 under its Surface brand, the same one associated with its convertible tablet/laptop hybrid. There have been rumours of a Surface branded phone pretty much since rumours of the original tablet first emerged ahead of its launch (pre-2012), however, and to date nothing has materialised, so colour us a little cautious at this point.
Back in 2013, Microsoft rubbished the idea of a Surface Phone. Back then, though, the company was still very much committed to Windows Phone. Times have now changed, so has Microsoft’s view of making its own, iPhone-style Surface phone? Possibly.
Here’s our report from back in 2013:
Speaking at AllThingsD’s mobile conference, Myerson fielded questions about Microsoft’s plans to launch a Surface Phone. Typically, the VP didn’t add anything juicy, remarking that Nokia and HTC were selling the Windows Phone concept just fine by themselves.
Asked about what it’d take to get Microsoft to launch its own smartphone, Myerson said: ‘It would have to be something where Nokia or HTC or other primary partners were not providing the consumer experience we think was possible on our platform.’
Interestingly, BGR says Microsoft has already developed and tested the Surface Phone, implying it’s only a matter of time before Microsoft launches the device.
“Microsoft is quietly working on an own-brand smartphone that will compete directly with high-end devices like Apple’s iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3,’ claims the report. ‘Our source declined to provide any details beyond the fact that the handset is in the late stages of development and will launch in the coming months.”
The word comes via Windows Central, which claims that one model will be aimed at regular consumers, another at ‘Prosumers’, and the third will be squarely aimed at the business and enterprise sector. While it’s vague and open at this point, it’s thought that one or more of these phones will support the Microsoft Pen stylus accessory marketed with the Surface tablet series. It’s also thought the shift to the Surface brand may be an attempt to associate Windows-based phones with the rather more successful Surface tablet brand, and at the same time shake off the old Lumia brand still associated with Nokia.
The longer term 2017 target, it’s thought, may be to allow Microsoft time to further develop the Windows 10 mobile experience. At present there are zero details on specs or features and it seems quite plausible that the phones are in the very earliest stages of concept development, so there really is everything to play for and not much is off the table.
We’ll be sure to keep you posted if and when more details emerge, assuming this doesn’t turn out to be a load of bunk, of course.