Dell Stack is What Many Thought Was the Microsoft Surface Phone

Last week, news broke that someone might have leaked the absent Microsoft Surface Phone with incredible detail (you know, in the pictures). It was assumed that this must be the project featured in those images, however a couple of days later, word came in that it was some type of smartphone/tablet hybrid from Dell. This report was pretty sketchy at the time, but it’s now been further explained by the good folks at VentureBeat who share much deeper information about a product internally called Dell Stack.

First off, this device was meant to be a 6.4-inch phablet-type device that weighed in at under 9 millimeters thin. It was said to have cellular and telephony capabilities, while tablet-specific features like full Windows 10 (the OS said to have been loaded on this guy) would also be supported. The reason behind this type of versatility was to create a 3-in-1 device that could be used as a smartphone, tablet, and laptop/PC using the hardware on hand and Microsoft’s Continuum software, just like how HP’s Elite x3 works. In other words, rather having to copy files to the cloud and various different devices, you’d have just one device to do all your work off of as it doubled as your PC, tablet, and laptop on-the-go using supported hardware and software.

Packing a CPU from Intel’s Kaby Lake Y-series, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB of expandable storage via microSD card, Dell Stack is said to have been capable of performing all the tasks you needed to complete during your work day. Heck, even x86 apps would work on this guy thanks to the processor being x86-based. And reportedly, chipset configurations from Intel’s m3, m5 vPro, or m7 vPro families would’ve been offered. Nice touch, Dell.

Finally, while a second generation of the Dell Stack was already on the drawing board while in development of this device back in 2014 with a 6-inch display and full telephony capabilities, the original model had eventually morphed into a 7-inch mini-tablet-type device will all the features mentioned here likely except for the cell phone qualities like calls and texts. This was reportedly done since “in deference to the reality that, since it could not really be considered pocketable as a 6.4-inch mini-tab, it might as well be expanded a bit to improve its thermal properties.” In other words, Dell thought it was just too big for a phone and instead went for a full-fledged tablet with PC and laptop capabilities.

So by now, you’re probably wondering why I keep referring to the Dell Stack like it’s part of tech history. Well, according to VentureBeat, initial availability of this device wasn’t expected to occur until at least spring of 2017, roughly three years after the development of this product. Dell didn’t see this as a foreseeable patch, so it’s likely that the company just put this project either on the back burner or just began focusing more on other matters. Another cause may be due to Intel discontinuing it’s Atom lineup of low-power processors Stack would’ve used at some point to keep power consumption to a minimal level, but neither of these guesses are even assumed let alone confirmed.

All in all, back in 2014, it looks like Dell was developing what many today call the HP Elite x3. Dell’s take would’ve featured much of the same stuff HP’s 3-in-1 smartphone does, however the former’s would’ve been much more capable thanks to the Kaby Lake processors, x86 app support, and full Windows 10. Whatever the cause of Stack’s absence on the market today, there’s plenty of possibility that something like this was ahead of its time at the point, but we’ll likely never know for sure. You know, as long as Dell doesn’t release the device some time in the future which, by the way, could happen.