Microsoft has released plenty of smartphones under its own brand since acquiring Nokia’s phone business in 2014. Up until now most of those phones have been devices designed by the team that used to be part of Nokia. But there have been rumors that the team responsible for Microsoft’s Surface tablets and Surface Book are working on a phone.
While the company hasn’t made any official announcements about the so-called “Surface Phone” yet, a recent profile of the Surface team and its leader Panos Panay mentioned a phone prototype that was under development.
Now Windows Central reports that Microsoft may be scrapping plans to launch an Intel-powered smartphone in May to make way for a new phone from the Surface team which will reportedly launch in the second half of 2016.
You should probably take the report with a grain of salt: Microsoft still hasn’t confirmed the details. Windows Central’s sources might have inaccurate information. And even if the information is currently accurate, there’s plenty of time for Microsoft to change its plans: the earliest Windows Central expects to see a Surface Phone would be August, 2016. It’s possible it could also launch later in the year… if it launches at all.
So what can we expect from a Surface Phone? It’s kind of tough to know for certain at this point. Microsoft is rumored to be working with Intel on the project, which means the phone could have an x86 processor, which would make it the first smartphone running a modern version of Windows to have an Intel x86 chip.
That could open the door to running legacy Win32 apps as well as Universal Windows apps… and that could make Continuum for phone a whole lot more useful. Dock your phone to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard and not only will you be able to run a handful of Universal apps such as Outlook, Word, and Excel, but you may be able to run any Windows app.
Or may the phone will have an ARM-based chip, but use some sort of emulation technology to support Win32 apps.
A phone from the Surface team might also look very different from Microsoft’s Lumia phones. Most of Microsoft’s existing phones have bright polycarbonate bodies, while the Surface line tend to have metal cases.