Flagship phone designs haven't changed all that much in the last two to three years — the Galaxy S21 looks very similar to its predecessor — so if you're looking for a phone that stands out, you'll need to pick up a foldable. Samsung, Huawei, and Motorola have pioneered this category, and we're at a point where the best foldable phones are no longer a tech demo but just as usable as traditional phones for day-to-day use.
More and more brands are set to make their foray into the foldable category as the segment matures, and an interesting entrant is slated to be Google. The latest leaks point to the search giant introducing a foldable option in the Pixel series sometime as early as this year. Here's what you need to know about Google's upcoming foldable phone.
Google Pixel Fold Release date
Right now, the most credible information regarding a Google foldable comes from noted leaker Jon Prosser, who revealed that the Pixel Fold is a real product, and that it is set to launch sometime at the end of 2021 or early 2022:
That news was corroborated by display analyst Ross Young, who also suggested a Q4 2021 launch for the Pixel Fold. The timing makes sense because Google traditionally unveils its flagship devices at an event in October. The Pixel 5 was introduced on September 30 and went on sale a few weeks later, and we could see a Pixel Fold make its debut at this year's event.
The Android 12 beta also reinforced the existence of a Pixel Fold, giving us the model number of the device: GPQ72. There's not much else that we know about the Pixel Fold at this moment, but if history is any indication, we should be hearing more in the coming weeks and months.
Google Pixel Fold Pricing
Samsung released the Galaxy Z Fold 2 for $1,999, but the manufacturer has a generous trade-in that provides up to $750 off when upgrading to the foldable, making it that much more enticing. Of course, Google's trade-in policies for its Pixels haven't been anywhere as good, but the shift to mid-range hardware with 2020 Pixels means we could see a similar strategy for the Pixel Fold.
Google has never believed in offering the best hardware specs, instead relying on software optimization to deliver a great user experience. That may extend to the Pixel Fold as well, and in doing so make the foldable phone that much more affordable when compared to its rivals.
Google Pixel Fold Availability
Samsung has a global presence and sells its phones in over a hundred countries, but Google has taken a more measured strategy. The Pixel 5 is available in just nine markets — Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and United States — with Google content to sell the phone in select countries.
It's unlikely that the Pixel Fold will be sold outside of these markets, and Google may even choose to limit initial availability for its first foldable phone. For instance, the Google Pixel 5a will be sold in just the U.S. and Japan, and it is feasible the Pixel Fold will be limited to these markets as well.
Google Pixel Fold Design
There have been rumblings of a Pixel foldable phone for a few months now, with Korean news outlet The Elec writing back in February that Google is sourcing flexible OLED panels from Samsung for its upcoming foldable phone:
Google, meanwhile, has requested Samsung Display develop a foldable OLED panel around 7.6-inch in size.
Like Samsung's own Galaxy Z Fold 2, the screen on the upcoming Pixel Fold is said to be an in-folding design that closes inward. The 7.6-inch screen size is identical to what Samsung used on the Z Fold 2, so it is possible that Google may be using the same panel for the Pixel Fold. We also heard that the Pixel Fold will likely use the same ultra-thin glass that differentiates the Galaxy Z Fold 2 from other foldables.
If Google does choose to go with an in-folding design, the Pixel Fold may look a lot like the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Google patented a foldable design (via Patently Apple) back in 2018 that shows off a clever three-screen design with a hinge and a smaller rectangular display that slides out to increase the footprint of the device. It is entirely possible that the patent won't translate to a real-world device (most never do), but it is an intriguing design nonetheless.
Google Pixel Fold Specs
Google switched up its strategy with its 2020 flagships, opting to use Qualcomm's mid-range Snapdragon 765G chipset in lieu of the flagship Snapdragon 865 to lower the costs. The move worked particularly well for devices like the Pixel 4a 5G and even the Pixel 5, which undercut Samsung by a significant margin.
We may see a similar move for the Pixel Fold. The key highlight of any Pixel phone is the camera, and it will be interesting to see if Google changes its formula for the Pixel Fold. Google relies primarily on software to deliver outstanding photos — Pixel phones have used the same hardware sensor for the last three years — but we're set for a change this year. Pixel 6 leaks have hinted at additional cameras with higher-resolution sensors, and it is likely the new tech could make its way to the Pixel Fold as well.
Google Pixel Fold Software
If cameras are the main differentiator for Pixels, the software is a close second. Google made a few additions to Android over the course of the last year to better facilitate foldable screens, and it will be interesting to see what new features it brings to the table with the Pixel Fold. We haven't seen much on this front in Android 12 just yet, but that may change with forthcoming builds.
With the foldable slated for a launch before the end of the year, we should be hearing a lot more about the Pixel Fold in the coming months.
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