Phones have on-screen keyboards. Laptops have clamshell designs.
The next-generation enterprise mobile device will have both.
A dual-screen clamshell mobile device makes sense. Smartphone makers want to maximize screen real estate. This form factor doubles it to the size of a small tablet.
Tablet makers want portability. The dual-screen clamshell mobile enables a tablet to be folded in half and put into a pocket.
Above all, dual-screen clamshell mobiles are super flexible. They could potentially be used in eight different “modes”:
- Phone mode. With the clamshell closed, hold it to your ear and talk on the phone.
- Laptop mode. Open the clamshell part way. The bottom is an on-screen keyboard, and the top is a screen for apps and icons.
- Book mode. The clamshell is opened as in laptop mode, partway, but by holding the screens vertically, it becomes a book with the two screens akin to the two pages of a book.
- Two-screen, single-user mode. The clamshell is opened either partway or all the way flat, and each screen runs a different app. The top screen, for example, could be show video call or presentation and the bottom screen could hold a document for taking notes.
- Tablet mode. With the clamshell opened up flat, both screens become one screen that’s double the size and used like any tablet.
- Single-user tent mode. The clamshell opens beyond flat, hyperextending the hinge and allowing the screens to face outward at an angle. This enables the device to be self-propped up on a table. When only one screen is on, it becomes like an ordinary smartphone that’s placed at a convenient angle by some third-party accessory (but without the accessory). It could be used with an external keyboard, or just for viewing. This mode is ideal as a bedside alarm clock.
- Dual-user tent mode. The device is opened as in single-user tent mode, but both screens are on and showing two versions of the same thing. This mode enables a business presentation at a table, where the presenter and the presentee see the same slides, screens or videos on each side of the device.
- Smartphone mode. With the clamshell opened all the way so that the outside surfaces of the phone are touching on the inside and the screens are on the outside, with one screen on and the other one off, the phone can be used the way we all use our regular smartphones today.
The dual-screen clamshell idea isn’t new.