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Is Microsoft Planning To Take On iPhone 5 & iPad 2 With Single Hybrid Device?

Microsoft has filed an application with the US Patent Office which shows a familiar smartphone tablet hybrid concept; the handset that can be hidden out of sight in a slide out tablet which acts like a docking station.

The company explains the crux of the patent by pointing out that "Mobile phone displays have increased in size to the point where they can now consume almost the entire viewing surface of a phone. To increase the size of displays any further would require an increase in the size of the phones themselves".

The design reminds us of the Asus Padfone, which was shown at Computex back in May. The main difference being that the Asus smartphone would lodge itself at the back of its tablet host. (ed: that is a very similar device that actually predates Microsoft's application by a few days).

The application (opens in new tab), filed back in June but which only emerged over the last few days, points out that the dual display mobile hybrid "comprises a first device with a first display and a second device with a second display".

Both will be able to communicate wirelessly and the "detachable second device allows a user to utilize the full capabilities of the mobile phone without having to remove the second device away from the user's ear, thus preserving the privacy of a phone call".

Oddly, the application mentions that both devices will have separate wireless modems rather than one, hinting at a scenario where the smartphone and the tablet are used separately, unlike the Padfone.

Other interesting details that have emerged include the fact that the docking device is expected to have an accelerometer that will detect the motion of the handset, a common charging connector, a proprietary geolocation solution that allows the mobile device to show the location of calling parties and the ability to make calls from either device.

The detachable smartphone tablet hybrid concept from Microsoft is intriguing for many reasons. Firstly they can be used independently from each other and are not as intertwined as say, the Motorola Atrix and its docking station.

Then there's the fact that Microsoft has never come forward until now with a tablet implementation of Windows Phone 7 or Mango. All its competitors - bar Symbian - are using or are planning to use one operating system for all their mobile uses (Android, iOS, QNX and WebOS). Does that mean that Mango will one day support tablets?

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.