German blog WinFuture reports that Dell has been working on an ARM-powered Windows 10 device codenamed Januss since at least last summer, and possibly before. The site claims that Januss is part of a second wave of ARM Windows 10 devices coming later this year based on Qualcomm's as-yet-unannounced Snapdragon 850 SoC, and goes on to say that it will be a dual-screen handheld device of some sort with an LTE modem.
There's a lot to unwrap here. Dell was purportedly working on a Windows 10 mobile device in the past called Stack. In concept, Stack was a phablet that you would set into a dock to turn it into a desktop or laptop machine, similar to Asus' Transformer Book V or Fujitsu's Lifebook2013 concepts. However, Stack was supposedly based on Intel hardware, and nothing was said about it having two screens.
Artist render of Microsoft “Andromeda” concept. Image: David Breyer on Twitter
The dual-screen idea is interesting, and it goes along with the name Januss rather well. History buffs will no doubt be aware that Janus was the two-faced god of transitions in Roman myth. Microsoft filed patents late last year on a unique hinge design for a folding dual-screen device not unlike a Nintendo DSi. Designer David Breyer created a few concept renders (including the above) to represent what such a device might look like.
While the renders are exciting, they don't necessarily have anything to do with Dell's Januss project. The WinFuture blog itself expresses mild frustration with its own lack of details, but does note that its informants claim that Januss will have “several cameras” as well as “an accelerometer or gyroscope.” The presence of those sensors could indicate that the device is indeed a phone or tablet.
Lending some credibility to WinFuture's sources, Twitter user KLyon77 discovered a demo app on the website of Amsterdam-based prototyping firm Handmade. The app is clearly a demo for Dell for something called Januss. Despite Twitter's best efforts, nobody's been able to get the demo to do much beyond the opening screen that simply displays a grey box on a cornflower background with the Dell logo. We'd link to the demo, but it's since been removed from Handmade's site.
People have been hoping for a Surface phone for a long time. Way back in 2015, folks were talking about how the device would launch the following year, and it wasn't until late last year that the rumored device was supposedly canceled. Now, we've got Windows 10 on ARM devices. The existence of those machines has left some folks scratching their heads, but maybe the real purpose of Windows 10 on ARM is to finally bring full Windows 10 to phones.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said last year that the company would be making more phones, but that “they will not look like phones that are there today.” Looking at the information on Januss, perhaps Dell is collaborating with Microsoft on such a product. Alternatively, perhaps Dell has beat Redmond to the punch. Only time will tell. If WinFuture's predictions are correct, we may see such a device as soon as the second half of this year.