WSJ now reporting on a Microsoft branded Windows Phone

(Concept Surface phone by YrOnimuS)

Back in October, China Times reported that Microsoft was working on a self-branded Windows Phone for release sometime in 2013. Shortly after, tech site BGR also reported that they had heard similar information. Likewise, we went on record with our own source stating that indeed, Microsoft has a device in the works.

Now, the venerable Wall Street Journal is going on record with a source of their own stating that Microsoft “…is working with component suppliers in Asia to test its own smartphone design” although they are unsure if they are going to go into production with it. The device is reportedly between 4 and 5 inches, which as far as phones go is quite vague. No other details were provided and of course, Microsoft had no comment.

Rum: 9

Previously, we speculated that Microsoft was exploring a range of options, possibly as a failsafe should the first line of Windows Phone 8 devices fail to gain significant market share. We’re still sticking to that notion, as we can’t imagine Microsoft is completely ready to jump in the smartphone game. Even if they did so, we would see this much like the Surface: direct sell to customers through their physical Stores and online, but no carrier deals.

Clearly Microsoft is getting into the PC hardware game—not just peripherals—so the notion that they would make their own “Surface phone” is hardly far fetched. What form it takes and how it is marketed will be the real interesting part. But what do you think? Should Microsoft risk alienating their OEM partners and make their own device? Sound off in comments.

Source: WSJ


Reader comments

WSJ now reporting on a Microsoft branded Windows Phone


I knew this was coming. When Microsoft say they're all in, I have no doubt in my mind what they mean. Looking forward to that Surface Phone to complement my Surface RT.

Bring it.  CES 2013 is an ideal time for rollout.  Nokia, HTC and Sammy are already turning things into a goat rodeo.  It would be a 920 / Surface throwdown - unless VZW really coughs up the 922.
It's time for the CUSTOMER to be the big winner for a change.  This manufacturer / carrier nonsense is getting stupid and does not compliment the WP8 platform whatsoever.

Too bad that Microsoft had NO IDEA the momentum the Surface Tablet would / did create for Windows 8.  The media is all over Surface and Windows 8.  Some outlets are somewhat tech savy and some just don't get it.  Regardless, Microsoft has them looking and talking - even if the talking is out of their backsides!
I was hoping that 11/29 was going to be an announcement for both WP8 and Surface Phone.  This WSJ news release is nothing more than BS - an attempt to scale back rumors and anticipation for the Surface Phone.  In short, this is a poor effort by Microsoft to try to give Nokia, Sammy and HTC a chance to move some product before they step in to get WP8 back on track.  The Surface Phone can't come too soon.

I figured that If I got a new WP8 subsidised on contract, I could probably sell it later if Surface phone rumours become more solidified and hopefully make back at least the subsidised price I paid (ideally I'd make a profit on it). Then I could put that money toward the Surface phone. That's my plan.

I couldn't have said it better myself. That's exactly what I plan on doing. I'd tell that to anyone that wants a WP8 device. Don't wait, jump in. There will always be something "coming soon" that will be better than what's out. People who want a GSIII should've gotten it when it came out (assuming they could) instead of thinking if they wait another year, they can get a GSIV. Get a good device now, you can always sell it later and use that money towards the purchase of the new, and you might be able to get it cheaper from someone that has it to sell on Craigslist or Ebay.

Yup, I was thinking just the same. Besides, it's hard to hold out when you have magnificent hardware like the HTC 8X and the Lumia 920 on launch window.

Shame on you for not including the Ativ S...Frankly im falling  ore and more for that device. !!

Personally, I might mention the ATIV S if Samsung was a little more vocal about their product. I know the Galaxy SIII is their favorite child, but come on, if they are in the game then they need to act like it.

Wow good thinking Agen-P! Besides, if ever the Surface Phone comes out, it'll probably be in June 2013 - that's a long wait for me!

I am with Daniel in thinking that this is a failsafe just in case the current phones fail to impress which from the current look of things is not the case and as such I won't hold my breath on a surface phone.

If you think about it, the surface tablet was required given that most OEMs did not warm up to the idea of windows on a tablet in the past. However with windows phone, the have a sure partner in Nokia and as I said, the surface phone is probably just insurance in the event that the current phones tank or (God forbid) Nokia goes under.

Well the L920 is great the 8x is good the ATIVs is not going state side. If I was MS I would be making one selling it in my stores with it being able to run on all the major carriers No exclusives.

Yeah, couldn't agree more. After falling in love with the Surface design, I am more than interested to see what Microsoft can put out. Fingers crossed we won't have to wait too long.

I'm waiting... no microSD in the flagship devices (920 or 8X) was a deal-breaker for me. I'd like to consider the ATIV, but the screen is massive and the design is boring :P

I'm with you, I don't think the current crop of WP8 phones are all that awesome, ATIV is interesting but not available here. Some combo of the 820 and 920 might be more interesting.

The question is does Nokia still get all the exclusive apps and quality put into the Lumia phones or does that trickle down to the Surface phones? If the answer is Yes, then that hurts HTC & Samsung as collaborating partners.

So that's my question how does that work. Microsoft makes the platform/OS for Nokia to use, Nokia uses it and brings the app and makes them exclusive yet if Microsoft was to make their own phone they can't get access to apps made for their own platform? Puts them in the same light like I said as HTC & Samsung yet they're the owner.

Not all Nokia exclusive apps are made by Nokia.  Don't they have Draw Something and Angry Birds Roost?  And then there's Risk and Connect 4 made by EA for Nokia only... at least for a certain amount of months.

Right. There are:

- Nokia-made exclusive apps for Nokia phones
- 3rd party apps that are exclusive to Nokia phones for a limited time period, then they go the rest of the OEM phones
- Nokia-made apps for all OEM phones (e.g. Nokia Drive, City Lens)

Yeah, but what we need to remember is that, "Less players the game means less competition" or we really only want companies that are serious about WP making the devices, no matter how good they look. Nokia is a good example of a serious player. I still would like to see "Good" commercials prior to release End with coming (date here). By doing this, they could garnet more interest, so when it is released, people are already holding out for it. I don't understand the logic of waiting to.do everything basically after release. I for one have been posting videos about the 920 & 8S\X to all of my Facebook friends from my W8 Pro computer. Average consumers don't visit tech site like us, therefore, they will most likely have already gone out and purchase a new phone. This is why we as WP supporters should be posting images, comparison videos, rumores devices,etc to our Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn,.or any other social site. Why do.you think Apple leaked its device info? And don't say it was an accident, because it wasn't; they had to counteract the 920 to prevent potential user migration I'd they thought the 920 was better. Real techies will leave, but average consumers probably won't unless we've capture their mindshare by releasing.

Apart from WP fans why would this appeal to consumers if the likes of the 920, 8X and Ativ don't? Unless they have some killer tech I don't see how it would do better if the others fail.

+1. it needs USPs and i dont know how MS is going to do that. The htc 8x is pretty much THE windows phone experience. While lumia 920 is kinda the windows phone on steroids. Where and how would this new phone fit in? i hope its not by removing features other phones have. Imagine: exlucive to surface phone, notification center! 

Same reason the Surface appeals to consumers. It gas great design, great OS, and Microsoft's brand has more recognition than the other wp8 manufacturers. The surface is beginning to repair the reputation of sub par hardware manufacturers have created around MS OS's. MS did the right thing of setting the bar as far as hardware goes.

This. Lots of nice hardware for different use cases and people. The advantage of not having one-size-fits-all...

I'd expect - if MS does that, they will time it right for next hardware refresh (which will happen next year anyway). You know, 4C processors, improved graphics chip, more storage, more than 8MP camera... and premium design/looks. While WP8, arguably, does not need more horse power (than current crop) for huge majority of users, performance looks good in PR campaigns and sells well. I also makes great substitute for not having anything new to offer in terms of usability - look at iDevices, great example. But then, WP8.1 (or 8.5?) might be ready by then, and that is another thing Surface phone can be first with. MS can always introduce artificial time gap between release of first WP8.x phone, made by MS, and availability of OS update for others. And then, like others mentioned - it can be contract-free, like Google does with their Nexus line. Yes, there are things to differentiate Surface phone from other WP's. Though I'm personally pretty much set on Lumia 920, I'd be happy to see development in that direction.

I am in complete agreement on this one...not for nothing, I REALLY like when they make hardware! I have a couple of their mice and keyboards , plus just LOOK at that Xbox! =D

I would actually prefer to see them release something if and when the other phones sell phenomenally...that way there really is little risk in selling them and its just one more awesome device we get to drool over! =P

Honestly, I'm down with MS and Nokia joining forces to create one company or become a division of MS like Skype to produce phones according to MS specifications. If HTC and Samsung don't market and really push WP this time around, I say they should be ousted like LG period. F*** and its Nexus phone, the design that was leaked, looks sh*tty.

I was just in tmo 2day, and they had no idea when the 8x was coming. I thought the 14th. But the rep never heard of the phone. Only the 810. Which he didn't know the model #. I thought carriers were getting trained? Oh well! Schooled him. I need something good for tmo. Been with my hd7 for almost 3 yrs. And the WiFi bug is killing me. Have to charge my phone almost 3 times a day! Bring my shit, now please!

Three years with your HD7? ;) Replacement batteries for the HD7 can be had for $5-10 on Amazon. I am also tired of the WiFi bug. If only I wouldn't have used tethering that one day...

Honestly, I think Microsoft is doing this (making their own hardware) to raise more awareness and hype around Windows 8 and WP8.  Just like with the Surface, Microsoft wasn't aiming to sell tons of them, the point of Surface was to raise awareness and hype around Windows RT/8 tablets.  Likewise would be the case if Microsoft makes a Surface Phone.  It will be to raise more awareness and hype around WP8 (which we all know is a little lackluster).  So really, Nokia nor any of the other OEM should be threatened by this.  The Surface Phones will likely only be sold at Microsoft stores, and therefore, won't sell tons.  All in all, I think Microsoft is very smart to be making their own hardware.

While I agree with this, one thing I want to point out is that I'm sure someone will come by saying something along the lines of "but Nokia has been advertising WP a lot". That's only partially true. What Nokia has really been promoting is Lumia. WP just happens to tag along for the ride, but it doesn't get the main recognition. If Microsoft pushes out a Surface phone, then WP itself will be the star of the advertising.

That's exactly why I'm not purchasing the 920 like i initially wanted to, because unlike the whiners in here, I can stick with mango or 7.8 a bit longer as my phone does everything I need it to.

I wouldn't stay on 7.8 just because of the "potential" of a Microsoft phone that, if it comes out, will probably be at the end of 2013. But hey, if you don't mind staying on 7.8, more power to you.

They will probably annouce the Surface phone when they annouce new Windows Phone 8 features. I assume that is around MWC additions like notification center etc.

Woww this is amazing, I'm getting a Lumia 920 asap but it will be nice to see what Microsoft has prepared for us if this news is true

Well I got a surface today and if ms can build a 4.8+ screen size phone with the same quality build I'd be in no questions asked.

I think if they decide to produce the device it will be because they feel the OEMs have failed to produce a compelling enough device or failed to market it to a wide enough audience. Imo in this situation they would go all out with full carrier availability and a huge advertising campaign. They will get those phones into the hands of as many people as they can even if they have to give them away. This is their plan Z.
They would try and make the device appeal to the masses - as thin as the galaxy S 3 with a similar screen size, minimal bezel (the 8x would be a very sleek device if it werent for that bezel), and a good battery.

I really want a Surface phone! With a 4.4" screen just to be different..... And if it had a VapourMg body i would buy it in a heartbeat

If it's as cool of a design as the surface I think they should go for it and use the same design team because I think if they make a phone they should start with being innovative make a phone thats the phone of the future they don't need anything for "right now" HTC Nokia Samsung has that covered if a mini keyboard/phone cover snaps on it I'll be hype lol

Until I see some real commercials on for WP8, I'm going to say they don't have it covered, they have descent designs, but by no means have they done enough advertising wise to put WP out to the mainstreamers, therefore MS has no choice but to do it themselves by setting the example like with surface!!

Microsoft has had numerous technology iniatives in the past that have never seen the light of day. They become test beds for new tech and other innovations.  Until they announce that a phone is real, people are reading far too much into this.  As far as postponing a purchase for a rumor,  how well do all those Courier dual screen tablets work for people?

Not well at all, that's why MS killed it at the expense of losing a damn good employee Charlie Kindle; because product is good, no matter what the employee thinks. Charlie was so upset the MS killed his baby that he resigned. Do you honestly think the courier would have sold millions of units?? If your answer is no, Then MS made the right decision.

Rumour or not, I can't afford buying one of the current WP8s right now so I might as well wait for Microsoft's new baby. :)

i think they are going to stay away from 4.x inch screen  leaving it for OEM' s and introduce something unique with 5 inch screen in that way they are going to compete with android more

Go big or go home, that's the risk MS is taking, is it going to piss of some OEM's? of course. But hey, this is their backup plan right ? So if the OEM's cant get it right then yes they should by all means do what needs to get done to to get those market shares. An awesome product needs awesome marketing. get it done OEM's.

We dont want another Zune HD. Microsoft should not worry about hardware and leave it to the specialists and instead start building the ecosystem by helping developers or do something to get some quality apps. Alternatively, they can buy a manufacturer.

I doubt Microsoft would build their own phone. If they did make a Surface phone, I think it would be more akin to the Nexus line of products. HTC or Nokia would build the Surface phone but MS would control it heavily. 

What was wrong with the Zune HD? From all indications, it is a great device that was never marketed properly leaving it to fend for itself basically; otherwise many say it wa actually better than the iPod. Now make like a sheep and get the flick outta here

I was going to start hunting around for a sim free Lumia 920 today but it seems it is only available at Phones4U and might or might not be sim free. Another option for me is to wait for 7.8 (my Titan continually drops calls so I need another phone), or at least a complete list of features and buy one of the older Lumias, especially if the Surface phone rumours turn out to be true.

I believe that if Microsoft eventually brings out their own "Surface" Windows Phone, it is going to take a while. They must give Nokia and other OEMs the time get their phones out for quite some time. So people who are on the fence on deciding to wait for it or buy a Lumia 920 now... I'd say get your 920 now, enjoy it, hug it, caress it. I know I will. What breaks my heart though, the Netherlands is unfortunately not one of the first 15 countries for the 920 release. I'll have to wait until end of this month. But the waiting hurts! It hurts like hell. You guys know if there are Lumia 920 support groups where I can talk about my wait-pain?
- "Hi, my name is Pr0phecy."
- "Hiiiiii Pr0phecy"

Its not bothering me to wait for a potential surface phone because I'm an L900 user and my contract is not up anyway; I might as well ride it out in anticipation of a surface phone. My L900.is working fine anyway =D

I don't see how MS could better Nokia. HTC and Samasung maybe. But I guess Nokia's exclusivity gives them reason to release one unlocked and compatable with all carriers if HTC and Samsung fail. They don't necessarily need to compete with all their oems at this stage. 

Have you seen the surface?? Enough said. However, I do believe Nokia is the only one who can compete with MS as the is a concept device on YouTube that looks like an L800 but with a brushed nickle body; it could be the surface. As stated above, I think Nokia should become a division of MS like Skype and they should design phones there. If a manufacturer doesn't market, put forth great designs, and contribute to ecosystem growth, then they should be out. The three step approach, like the three screen approach MS is taking with win 8 & WP8 should be followed, if not, they should be out. What is a good phone without marketing? What is an ecosystem without apps? So, if you're not in on all three fronts like MS/Nokia, then you don't deserve to put the WP OS on your device

I first did not believe that MS would actually come out with their own MS-branded phone. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. I think the phone will eventually come out to future-proof MS in mobile. Although unlikely, but if the first generation WP8 handsets don't sell, the "Surface Phone" will be released soon. On the other hand if they sell well, the Surface Phone will come out later, but it will eventually come out. This is now what I believe.

tough choice to make. 
Got a Lumia 900 around launch for free, but I am due for an upgrade right now. 
To get the Lumia 920 or to wait to see what Microsoft brings, that is the question?

Ya.  I originally had a Focus, but when Microsoft was having the smoked by windows phone promotion, I went in with my old iphone and got smoked. 
they ran out of titan IIs so they gave me a Lumia 900. 

i would like to see the suface phone be the next gen high end wp8 phone or i am getting the ativ s. i have verizon can't upgrade my trophy til end of jan.

This has only been a matter of time. Microsoft know the importance of Windows 8 and the technological climate we live in, in regards to the competition. 'Surface' is Microsoft's catalyst to help the entire platform succeed.

I doubt that Microsoft making its own phone would alienate OEM partners. For one, it would be direct sales at full price most likely. No subsidized costs unless they did something like they are doing with the Xbox where you are paying a monthly fee over 2 years.

My wish list wp8 device
4.8 inch gorilla glass edge to edge screen,until Nokia makes this I ain't jumping ship since the 920 is so similar to my l900,slap on the 7.8 on this bad boy..but surface phone with my wish list features?? But Im gonna miss my Nokia apps!!smh...

the way Nokia has bungled their launch of the Win 8 Lumia's, can anyone blame them if they do?

Fair point, but MS probably had this in the pipeline before knowing that Nokia would have a crappy WP8 launch.

IMHO, no phone out there will have the high quality look and feel of the iPhone. Now if MS is to make their own phone, it better have high quality standards as the surface.

You really sound dumb! You don't think MS could produce a beautifully designed device?? Go back to you iSite

While I appreciate your opinion, I couldn't disagree more. My opinion is, while you iPhone is good, its not all the great in terms of look and feel. There are many others that feel and look better. Again, these are all opinions, which is good that we all have choices. Please realize this is a WP site, and your iPhone adoration isn't going to be greeted well. You will be more appreciated on your iPhone sites.

As it's a Hobbit year:

3 for the Korean Lords under the sky
7 for the Taiwan kings in their ROC home
9 for the Finnish men, doomed to die
1 for the Software Lord on his tiled throne

In the land of Redmond, where the Surface lies
One phone to rule them all, one phone to find them
One phone to unite them all and with the OS bind them
In the land of Redmond, where the Surface lies.

Ok, I know I won't get a laureateship out of it, but there you go.

Nokia.. Fail.
Ah but that's the thing. The nine mortal men take the Rings and live on, when they should have died. Nokia takes WP... And lives on too.

So yeah, I'll go ahead with my 920 purchase and when the Surface phone (or whatever) is released I'll just do an early upgrade if it's absolutely smokin'.  That way my wife can get my 920. :P

Well. I was planning on getting an 8x or 920 right away, bit I just bought a surface. I think I'll wait until after Christmas and the Surface doesn't feel as new. Then I'll get a new toy. If the Surface phone is out then, I'll definitely give it a look

So the best option I can see for MS to take is making the surface phone a 4" high end phone. Other OEMs are making the 4" as the low end model and apple is the only one with a high end 4" offering. 4", 720p display, 32GBs base model for the same price as the iphone 16GB. give it the same vaporMg as the tablet, the same 22 degree angle on the edges, maybe even a kickstand. With SD card and HDMI port. It's going to be hard to out do the 920 in sheer specs, but making a 4" high end phone won't be stepping all over the carriers feet per say, since they are not catering to that market.

Would love a Surface phone if it had a guarantee that carriers could not block updates...I would like updates to come straight from the MS servers when they pull the switch. 
I like what Google is trying to do with the Nex 4...off contract $349. I can do without the LTE experience but do like it
Of course modern HW specs is a must:

  • HD screen
  • SD Card support
  • dual-core processor
  • 1GB of ram
  • 2200mh+ battery
  • 4.3-4.7 screen size

And most importantly it has to have the a above great design/look. It must have the lust factor and has the appearance of a finely engineered device.

I had to go back to non LTE for a while, and it killed me. I personally can't live without LTE, especially when in NYC for work.

The device is between 4 and 5 inches so you're telling me the phone you're reporting exixsts is in fact a phone sized phone. Thanks for clearing that up WSJ

A Surface phone may make Microsoft’s life easier in terms of marketing Windows Phone, i.e. doesn’t have to worry about biasing an OEM.

While I would welcome the phone, I certainly wouldn't wait to upgrade in hopes that some secret hardware project will, perhaps, see the light of day. I don't doubt they are developing, but no one can guarantee it will ever be for sale. Tired of waiting around for rumors. By the way ATT/NOKIA, get your heads our of your asses and give us something already please.

MS should make a really thin phone. Many complain about WP's bulk so it'd be nice to see an iPhone 5 type device. Maybe revive the Zune HD design; its seriously slim.

I WAS going to get the HTC Windows Phone 8X on T-Mobile to replace my Dell Venue Pro, but I think I'll wait a little longer for a Microsoft branded Windows Phone

Absolutely.  ATT is killing the platform (seemingly intentionally) by getting every descent phone as an exclusive.  Nokia is not helping by making the best Windows Phone 8 device, the Lumia 920, an exlusive to a single carrier in almost every country worldwide.  The 8X while nice, is more of a midrange device that does not stack up well against the competition.  With Nokia going exclusive, Microsoft was forced to endorse the 8X because it is not exclusive.  Samsung, well who knows what they are doing, but it seems they are hedging their bets in case the platform does take off, but they certainly do not seem that interested.  So, that leaves Microsoft to make sure their platform succeeds with ATT trying to kill it and Nokia trying to kill their own company.

I would welcome a Surface phone! They need to capitalize on the Surface brand and put out their own hardware. I don’t expect the hardware will be quite as good as what Nokia can make but it would be nice to see what they can do.
I would like to see them sold unlocked and unsubsidized exclusively through the Microsoft Store and online. Leave everyone else to deal with the mobile operators. Perhaps they can release updates without having to go through the mobile operators if sold this way.

How cool would it be if they had a Touch Cover like cover for the phone version as well!!!
Have it add just a keyboard and double as a cover would be amazing!

Hopefully this turns out better than the Surface... Considering that hasn't had a very good response I can't imagine there will be as much of a hype now for the phone which is a shame.

whoa what? surface not having hype? From what I have heard it has lots, in fact the most hype microsoft has had in awhile.

As a current Arrive owner not planning on jumping for the 920, 8X, ATIV... I'm hoping that Microsoft releases a phone that matches the Surface in Ingenuity. Arrive folks are such for one reason... The awesome physical keyboard. Us business owners rely on it for our typically verbose correspondence and it's just simply the fastest way to enter long sections of text. So, here's hoping the Surface Phone has an ultra-thin physical keyboard AND that it has a snap-out kick stand as well. I use my arrive in "Keyboard-out" mode all the time even when not using the keyboard... Simply for the great viewing angle when the screen pops out and tilts 30-degrees. If Sprint would have marketed that feature alone on TV, many more would have the Arrive right now. Sprint was way too focused on their shiny new iPhone and their Droid army, though.

Let's just say this. If Surface Phone launches on Verizon (and I think it will) and has anything to address us folks who love physical keyboards... This Arrive owner will be breaking the Sprint contract and heading back to Verizon. ;-)

Yhey are not going to alienate any OEM if they run it like the surface and just sell it from MS directly. They will just bring a lot of attention to WP 8 - Win Win

A surface phone with an ultra thin physical  keyboard....for us people who need to type a lot of text would be great. If they sell it directly it wont alienate their OEM as such. Nokia can continue to innovate and with surface MS can go the nexus way... 

SOunds like I am going to get a Window Phone 8 device off contract ! I want a surface phone now ! (on Verizon too)

If Microsoft is doing a tablet, why not a phone too? People count MS out when it comes to hardware design, but look at what they did with the Surface, the XBox, and even the Zune (all of them). If they're going to get into the phone game, now is the time. 

I do not see why the big story on Microsoft's Surface Phone.  I think it ment for the partners take away so of the design and technology of it and incorporate it into their own device is my understanding from Ballmer!  So Nokia can pretty much copy Microsoft and clone it if they want!

We are firing TMo in a few weeks and defecting to AT&T. My wife is trading in her HD7/Mango for a highly coveted iPhone 5. I really want an upgrade from Mango, and hope 7.8 is coming sooner than later. I plan to take a wait and see attitude about the Surface phone before I get 920/8X. I expect the next big push to be for the Surface Pro (on my wish list), and then the Surface Phone. I am not waiting that long though, maybe through January.