Foldable devices started to hit their stride in 2020, with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, Huawei Mate Xs and Moto Razr 5G all showing great promise for things to come.
Now, rumours are appearing that suggest Google could be preparing its own entry into this emerging market, with a Google Pixel Foldable. We round up all the news and speculation about this potentially exciting new device.
When will the Google Pixel Foldable be released?
There’s no solid information about any release date as yet, as Google hasn’t even confirmed that a foldable device will be launched. But in 2020 9to5Google reported that it had seen leaked internal documents from Google that suggested a foldable device would appear in the fourth quarter of 2021.
This new phone has the codename ‘Passport’ and if it appears in October then this would match with the usual flagship launch window that we’ve seen with both Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 in the past couple of years, suggesting it would join the Pixel 6 for the official public launch of Android 12.
Industry insider Ross Young has predicted that the foldable will launch in the second half of 2021, while the mostly reliable leaker Jon Prosser has also weighed in on Twitter, confirming that he thinks the Pixel Fold is real, and claiming it will launch “late this year / early next year.”
With that in mind, it was no surprise that the Pixel Fold was a no-show at Google’s I/O developer conference in May, but that doesn’t rule out a launch later this year.
How much will the Google Pixel Foldable cost?
In truth, we have absolutely no idea on this front. There’s no past record to go on and pricing is still somewhat nebulous for this class of device. One thing that’s pretty certain though is that it won’t be cheap.
Whereas the Pixel range does offer good value for money, all of the foldable devices that have been released so far have cost well over £1000/$1000. To see what we mean, here are a few prices for foldables that have launched in the US and UK so far:
Motorola Razr Flip 5G – £1399/US$1399
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G – £1399/$1399
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 – £1799/$1999
Huawei Mate Xs – £2299 (not available in the US)
With this in mind, any device Google launches in 2021 is likely to start at over a grand, so you might want to start making use of that old piggy bank in preparation.
What features will be in the Google Pixel Foldable?
Obviously, the main addition to the Pixel feature set will be a folding screen of some kind. Whether that’s the side-by-side approach adopted by the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and Huawei Mate X2 or the vertical orientation used by the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola Razr 5G remains to be seen. There’s also the possibility that Google opts for the more conventional two-panel design that Microsoft debuted with its Surface Duo or a scrollable display as found on the sadly cancelled LG Rollable.
Getting the display right will be crucial, as we’ve already seen how hard it is to avoid creasing in the display where it folds or the panels just outright failing as with the original Samsung Galaxy Fold.
One early leak suggests that Google will stick closely to the path followed by Samsung’s Fold series – so closely, in fact, that it’s going to buy a Samsung screen. The Elec reports that Samsung is selling folding displays to Google – along with Xiaomi and Oppo – for 2021 devices. Google has reportedly purchased a foldable 7.6in OLED – the same size as that used in the Fold 2, and expected to appear in the Galaxy Fold 3.
There are also a couple of different paths that Google could take in regard to the rest of the specs in its debut foldable. Samsung and Huawei’s models have all been filled to the brim with cutting-edge processors and other components, which probably did nothing to help with the exorbitant prices. Motorola opted to launch the initial (2019) Razr with a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, much to some people’s chagrin, and moved it up to a Snapdragon 765G for the Razr 5G.
If Google wants to keep anywhere near the mid-tier pricing that the Pixel range offers, then we may see the latter approach in the Pixel foldable. But remember, we’re talking mid-range pricing for foldables, not normal handsets, so it will in all likelihood still remain an expensive device.
There’s no clear data on what we can truly expect with the Pixel foldable at the moment, but we’ll be updating this article as new information becomes available, so be sure to check back regularly.
If you can’t wait to get the latest smartphone technology in your hands, check out our guide to the best phones coming in 2021, or our round-ups of the latest news and rumours for the Pixel 5a and Pixel 6, also both expected to launch this year.