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The mobile phone world is a competitive struggle, even for the tech giants. The Google Pixel is still struggling for market acceptance even with positive reviews from critics, and Microsoft has seemingly dialed back on its attempt to make a competitive phone that differentiates itself. However, Tech XPlore recently spotted a patent for a hinge that might show Microsoft isn’t done in the phone world yet.

The “hinge with free-stop function” patent slims the Surface-style hinge down to something that can work at a smaller scale, without protruding hinges. It also needs to feel like it isn’t going to fall apart if the user folds it too much, a problem the patent calls “excess slack.”

The patent includes the following explanation: "With a dual-display device, the mobile phone or tablet can include an open, expanded position where both displays are flush so that the user feels like there is a single integrated display. In a closed, condensed position, both displays are face-to-face so as to protect the displays. In a fully-open position, the dual displays can sit back-to-back so the user needs to flip the device to view the opposing display.”

That certainly sounds like a flip phone, albeit with 360 degree rotation. They would need to differentiate more than this to get back into the mix, but one design factor with which that might be possible is the dual screens. The two screens could be used for two different activities, then folded to create one larger screen.

Rumors of a new Windows phone have been flying under the name Andromeda. In February 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said “We don't want to be driven by just envy of what others have, the question is, what can we bring? That's where I look at any device form factor or any technology, even AI. We will continue to be in the phone market not as defined by today's market leaders, but by what it is that we can uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device."

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