The Surface Phone is the stuff of smartphone legend, with rumors of the device dating back to 2012.
Since then it has popped in and out of the limelight, but in recent weeks and months there have been more rumors than we’ve heard in a long time, suggesting it might both be real, and coming soon.
We still don’t know a huge amount about the Surface Phone, but we’ve collected all the up to date leaks and rumors below, along with our thoughts on what it needs if it's going to help Windows 10 Mobile break out from iOS and Android’s shadow.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Microsoft's next flagship smartphone
- When is it out? Maybe late 2017
- What will it cost? It's sure to have a flagship price
Microsoft Surface Phone release date
- A 2017 launch
The Surface Phone has been rumored for literally years and we’re still not completely certain it even exists, but lately the number of rumors has grown, suggesting that if it does exist it could be coming soon.
But maybe not that soon, as according to the Commercial Times, Microsoft is working with Pegatron to begin trial production of the phone, with an announcement set for sometime in 2017. But they add that the Surface Phone will hit stores in either 2017 or early 2018, suggesting that even if it does arrive in 2017, it won’t do so until the tail end of the year.
TechRadar’s take: Surface Phone rumors are still fairly thin on the ground and we’ve been hearing about it for years, so we’d be surprised if it actually arrives before late 2017.
Microsoft Surface Phone screen
- A 5.5-inch QHD screen
- ClearBlack AMOLED technology
That same dated rumor suggests it will have a ClearBlack AMOLED display. ClearBlack is a technology which reduces reflections, and has been used on some Lumia phones, while AMOLED is most famously used by Samsung, but has also appeared on Windows handsets such as the Microsoft Lumia 950, and typically delivers vivid colors with great contrast.
TechRadar’s take: Given that both AMOLED and ClearBlack have a history of use on Windows handsets their inclusion here wouldn’t be surprising, while many flagships have 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 displays, so that too is believable.
Microsoft Surface Phone design
- A metal unibody
Don’t expect the colorful plastic that Lumia handsets are known for, as the only remotely recent Surface Phone design rumors suggest it could have an aluminum-magnesium unibody – so metal in other words.
TechRadar’s take: It’s too soon to have much confidence in design rumors, but it would make sense for Microsoft to launch a premium-looking handset, distinct from the Lumia line, so a metal unibody is very possible.
Microsoft Surface Phone camera and battery
- A 21MP camera
- Very fast and wireless charging
Early camera rumors suggest a 21MP snapper on the back and an 8MP one on the front, but this leak is now quite dated (having emerged in late 2015), so if it was ever true it may not be any more.
We don’t know what the battery will be, but it’s rumored that the Surface Phone will use a Snapdragon 835 chipset, which supports Quick Charge 4.0 for supposedly 20% faster charging than the current Quick Charge 3.0 system on many flagship phones. Wireless charging has also been rumored.
TechRadar’s take: We’d expect a high-spec and high-quality camera on the Surface Phone, but don’t count on a 21MP one given the age of that rumor.
Microsoft Surface Phone OS and power
- A Snapdragon 835 and 6GB of RAM
- Up to 128GB of storage
- Serious productivity skills
The Surface Phone is bound to run Windows 10 Mobile, given that it’s a Microsoft device, and it’s expected to run full desktop apps through Continuum – a feature that lets you connect phones to a display and use them like a computer.
In fact, we’ve heard that Microsoft wants the Surface Phone to be a real alternative to a computer, and for it to be both the best phone in the world for productivity, and also the most secure phone.
There could also be three different versions of the handset – a consumer model, a business model and a pro version.
As for the specs, there’s talk of 6GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 835 chipset, which is likely to be the main flagship chip of 2017. Though earlier rumors pointed to Intel chips, which could give it more in common with a PC. We’ve also heard that it could come in 64GB and 128GB sizes.
TechRadar’s take: The Surface Phone is sure to have flagship specs, which, if it launches in 2017, likely would mean a Snapdragon 835 chip and 6GB of RAM. Though if multiple models launch some will presumably have different specs.
Microsoft Surface Phone other features
- A keyboard and stylus
- A fingerprint scanner in the screen
The Surface Phone could have a lot going for it beyond raw power. For one thing it may support accessories, like a keyboard and a stylus, which would certainly help with productivity.
Microsoft may also build a fingerprint scanner into the screen. That’s something we could also see on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 if rumors are to be believed, but in Microsoft’s case the company has patented exactly that idea.
If the Surface Phone does put a fingerprint scanner in the screen it could potentially have a smaller, slimmer body.
TechRadar’s take: It would make sense for the Surface Phone to support accessories, given Microsoft’s rumored productivity push, but we wouldn’t count on seeing a fingerprint scanner in the screen, as patents often don’t turn into products.