Microsoft is reportedly planning to launch the Surface Phone, the first smartphone to be billed under the Surface brand name. Judging from the lineup of business tablets in the Surface series, the Surface Phone is expected to take on the challenge to be the ultimate productivity smartphone for businesses.
The existence of the Surface Phone was first revealed by Nokia Power User back in August, citing sources who claim the new handset will launch sometime between May and June 2016. The Surface Phone is expected to have an Intel Atom X3 LTE (Sofia) chip inside, which wouldn't be a surprise since the processor already has support for Windows 10 Mobile.
The rumored device will sport the same slim, metallic design of the new Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, but will not have premium, cutting-edge specs usually available for a consumer flagship. Instead, it will purportedly focus on productivity and security features, adding support for an iris scanner, USB Type-C and Win32 apps, which makes sense, as Microsoft's core business hinges on its suite of productivity apps.
The Surface Phone is also expected to have "enhanced Continuum" and a landscape mode that can reportedly turn the 5- to 5.2-inch smartphone into a mini PC. Support for business-centric accessories, including the Surface Pen, will also be included, according to NPU.
Meanwhile, as the rumored Surface Phone is in the works, Microsoft's 2016 Lumia flagships have already begun being tested on Qualcomm's upcoming 64-bit Snapdragon 820, says NPU. The processor is expected to launch in most flagship smartphones for 2016, including the pair of Lumia handsets that will replace the Lumia 950 and 950 XL.
The Snapdragon 820 is built on 14 nm technology and features four Kyro cores produced by Qualcomm and an Adreno 530 graphics card that is expected to be 40 percent faster than the GPU on the Snapdragon 810. To eliminate overheating issues, Microsoft is expected to incorporate the same cooling system it uses for the Lumia 950 XL.
The Surface Phone and the pair of Lumia flagships will reportedly be unveiled at two separate events in 2016, with the Surface Phone expected to make its official appearance within the first half of the year. The Lumia flagships, on the other hand, are slated for a Q3 reveal, a time frame which some suspect might be too late for Microsoft's ailing smartphone business, although it is in line with the company's product cycle.