ZTE has just launched its new smartphone Axon M in the US with an interesting foldable design stealing Surface Phone’s thunder. The phone comes with two 5.2-inch, 1080p displays hinged together. It offers “true” multitasking with different apps active on the two displays at once.

There is an extended display mode for games and watching videos where both displays are used as one or you can use mirror mode for the same video on both displays separately. Sounds interesting??

Microsoft is working on the mythical Surface Phone or Surface Mobile device(s) with a tipped release targeted at 2018. Many patents, rumors, and leaks have almost established one more feature of this upcoming Surface Phone. We are talking about the speculated design of Surface Phone which is supposed to carve a niche for itself with a new form factor just how Surface devices created the 2-in-1 form factor.

 Surface Phone is long rumored to feature a foldable design and we have seen these designs leaking in many patents. Check some of the images of these patented designs by Microsoft.

So, the obvious question to be asked now is whether Microsoft has already lost its first-mover advantage to ZTE, as ZTE and not Microsoft has commercialized this new form-factor. In fact, if ZTE Axon M becomes a popular phone, the novelty of this form-factor will be already worn off when Surface Phone will be finally launched in 2018.

In case ZTE Axon M doesn’t become popular, people will still remember its failure and it may become extra tough for Surface Phone to make a mark for itself. In any scenario, Microsoft won’t be able to claim that it created a new mobile “form-factor”, a claim it has long adorned in case of Surface 2-in-1 form factor.

The only way Surface Phone can still succeed is if Microsoft can do an Apple. Perhaps, by bringing loads of powerful features like Full Windows capability in extended mode and maybe support for Win32 apps and then using its marketing muscle. But Microsoft has not been up to mark when it comes to its Mobile hardware strategy.

The Surface Phone is supposed to bring one more refresh of Microsoft’s Mobile ambitions and thus will be powered by a new Windows 10 for Mobile OS codenamed “Andromeda”. You can read more about Andromeda here.

We earlier reported about Surface Mobile Devices “Surface Peking & Surface Slavonia” leak in an official video description in China. So, maybe we will have two slightly different designs for both Surface Peking & Surface Slavonia. Read our full Surface Mobile Phone coverage here.