Windows may be the dominant operating system for notebook and desktop computers, but Microsoft’s Windows software for phones has an ever-dwindling market share. While the company continues to offer updates to Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft hasn’t launched any new smartphone hardware since the fall of 2015.
At the time, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL were intriguing devices though. They were some of the first smartphones to ship with USB Type-C ports. And they were the first to support Microsoft’s Continuum for phone feature that allows you to add a keyboard, mouse, and external display and run Windows Store apps on a big screen as if you were using a desktop.
Apparently that wasn’t really enough to capture the public’s imagination though, because the phones haven’t really made a dent in the Android/iOS dominance of the smartphone space. But it looks like Microsoft had some bigger plans for the Lumia 950 and 950 XL… including Surface Pen support.
Windows Central dug up some promotional material for an early Lumia 950 concept.
The specs for the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL are prety much what we got with the finished phones, including 5.2 inch and 5.7 inch displays, 20MP rear cameras, and Snapdragon 808/810 processors.
But there are at least two features Microsoft envisioned that didn’t make the final cut: pen support and smart cases.
A promotional video shows a pen being used to draw on the screen, as well as a few software features that were not available when the phone actually shipped. And there’s also a picture showing smart covers which would allow you to view things like contact info for incoming phone calls through a cut-out window even when the screen is covered.
It’s unclear if any of these features would have been enough to attract Android users or keep Windows users from jumping ship. But I’m sure some fans of digital pens would have appreciated having another alternative to Samsung’s Galaxy Note line of devices.
Rumor has it that Microsoft may still launch a Surface Phone one day, possibly with support for running full-fledged Windows 10 apps (now that a version of Windows 10 for ARM is on the way). But for now that’s still just a rumor.