Windows smartphones sat in a comfortable spot in the market, serving as the perfect alternative for Android and iOS devices. It's not as formidable as the two powerhouses, but it wasn't exactly that far behind them. That is, until Microsoft's latest flagship failed to deliver.

Only 4.5 million Lumia units were sold in the recent fourth quarter, according to the company's earnings report. In contrast to last year's figures in the same quarter, it plunged from 10.5 million, going down by a whopping 57 percent.

It could be argued that the Lumia 950 and 950 XL were the last hope to revive Microsoft's smartphone sector, but they came with a disappointing Windows 10 Mobile OS and a couple of inconvenient issues such as the Wi-Fi connectivity problem. Of course, the other older Lumia siblings aren't out of the mix, but without an eye-catching model among them, they didn't really do much to help the company.

Could this be the end of the Windows Phone? It could be, but to be exact, it could just be the end of the Lumia line, as hints of a Surface Phone have been cropping up in the wake of Microsoft's declining phone sales. In other words, there's a pretty good chance the company isn't going to give up without a fight on getting a slice of the massive pie that is the smartphone market.

Lumia X

Microsoft China may have accidentally unveiled the Surface Phone with the moniker Lumia Phone X. The Chinese branch published a video that showcased how Continuum works, but the interesting details lie in the description.

"Note: This feature requires a compatible mobile device is intended for use, for example Lumia 950 / XL, Lumia Phone X and Acer Jade Primo," writes Gadgetz Arena, which got the original description before it was revised.

To put two and two together, an unannounced smartphone that's already compatible with Continuum suggests that a prototype of the Surface Phone could have already materialized. Of course, it could simply be an honest typographical error, but the speculation is just more interesting to believe in.

Interestingly, the Surface Phone was initially believed to sport the nickname Panos Phone, which is obviously named after Surface VP Panos Panay.

Lumia 650

If the dying sales of Lumia devices aren't convincing enough, a report claims that Microsoft will reveal its first and last Lumia-branded smartphone of 2016 in early February called the Lumia 650. If this holds true, the company could be getting things in gear for the Surface Phone.

For those who are curious about the hardware specifications of the Lumia 650, it's expected to have a 5-inch display with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 and 1 GB worth of RAM under its hood. To keep things short, it's a midrange smartphone.

The possibility of the Surface Phone seeing the light of day escalated when a Reddit user found out that Microsoft owns, where accessing the website redirects visitors to the official Surface home page.

A quick check on WHOIS indicates that the domain was registered back on May 30, 2007, which could mean two things: Microsoft has been planning the Surface Phone way before anyone thought about it, or the company is merely reserving the name in case it decides to proceed with plans while preventing any other user from owning it at the same time.

Bottom Line

Is the Windows Phone dead or not? Yes and no. The current handsets out in the market are probably about to quietly fade into the smartphone afterlife, but a successor – the much-rumored Surface Phone, to be clear – could be on the horizon, which can then rise to the occasion to save Microsoft's handset sales from certain doom. On top of that, other smartphone makers still install Windows 10 Mobile on their devices such as the Acer Liquid Jade Primo, which means that Microsoft is not alone.

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