Microsoft could be working on a Surface Phone, but loyal fans will have to wait a long while before the concept materializes into an actual device.
Windows Central cites sources who claim Microsoft has scrapped plans for an all-metal Windows 10 Mobile phone powered by Intel and believed to be launched sometime between May and June next year. Instead, Microsoft has reportedly shifted gears and Satya Nadella has moved the responsibility of developing a Windows 10 Mobile flagship from the Nokia team to the Surface division headed by Panos Panay.
The Surface Phone, also known as the Panos Phone according to sources, is said to be undergoing prototype testing right inside the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. This comes after an earlier report by Wired’s David Pierce, who visited Microsoft’s Building 87, where he mentioned a new phone prototype being developed, although Pierce did not mention which prototype it was.
No word has been made on what features we can expect from the upcoming device, although earlier rumors pointed to an Intel chip and high-end productivity features such as Continuum and USB Type-C.
Indeed, Windows Central reports that Intel is deeply involved in the development of the device. The speculation is the Surface Phone could possibly be powered by one of Intel’s x86 chipsets instead of the usual Snapdragon from Qualcomm. If true, this would make the Surface Phone a true PC in your pocket designed for productivity workers who need their computers at hand all the time.
Fans have been clamoring for a Surface Phone for a long time now, but it was only in January this year that Microsoft was able to make a profit on its Surface line, even after the 2013 write-down from the mess that was the Surface RT. The Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4 are also enjoying rave reviews from most users.
But even though the time is right for Microsoft to unveil a new Surface device, the company is not expected to unveil a Surface Phone at least until the second half of next year. Sources claim different schedules, but all of them agree Microsoft is not rushing to get the device out. At least one source claims the Surface Phone could come out in August, just in time for the release of Windows 10 Redstone, a major update to the operating system. Another source says the phone is not expected until October, which is in line with Microsoft’s fall release of its Surface devices.
At this point, however, Microsoft has made no actual mentions of a Surface Phone, but corporate vice president Joe Belfiore has previously hinted at a premium phone that will serve the same purpose as the rest of the devices in the Surface line.