What just happened? It seems Samsung isn’t the only company considering a triple-screen folding device. A new patent from Microsoft shows what could be a future version of the Surface Duo featuring three displays. A Surface Trio, perhaps?

Patently Apple spotted a new Microsoft patent titled “Multi-Panel Device,” which the U.S. Patent Office posted on December 23. The two-hinge handset opens and closes in a Z shape, with one of the screens doubling as the external display when the phone is shut.

We could be looking at a future version of Microsoft’s Surface Duo, which some have already named the Surface Trio.

Both Microsoft’s original Surface Duo and Surface Duo 2 have failed to capture mobile lovers’ imaginations despite foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 becoming popular. But adding more screen real estate and an external display could make the handset more appealing. The Duo can be folded in the opposite direction, though that leaves both screens exposed, and while the Surface Duo 2 has a Glance Bar for notifications, it’s not an ideal solution.

News of the patent comes soon after another Samsung patent showing a very similar triple-screen phone was spotted, though Samsung uses a single piece of glass rather than three individual panels. The Korean firm's device also folds in a Z shape, with most of the components packed into the left and right sections; an internal design that Microsoft’s version will likely use.

Foldable phones had a rocky start in 2019. The original Galaxy Fold saw its launch delayed by months after early review units started breaking within days, and Huawei postponed its Mate X release to avoid similar problems. Now, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 are receiving plenty of praise from reviewers and users alike. Could the next phase see an extra screen added, bringing us ever closer to a Westworld-style future?