(Pocket-lint) - There's been a spike in discussion about the possibility of a folding Pixel from Google.
With folding phones seen as the next big thing, it's no surprise that brands are interested in where the technology can take us, with a race to crack this (currently) novel section of the market.
Here's everything you need to know about the folding Pixel.
What will it be called?
So far there have been no suggestions of a name for any folding Google device. There have been plenty of rumours and some confirmed details surrounding the Pixel 6 - which would be expected on an incremental timeline of devices - and a larger, Pixel 6 Pro, though neither of these are expected to be the foldable.
Currently, there's no knowing what it might be called. Google Pixel Fold has a nice ring to it, but Google Pixel 6 Fold has the awkwardness that you'd expect from big brand product naming.
Folding Pixel release date
- Q4 2021 suggested
- Could be 2022
There have been a number of rumours suggesting that Google will be looking to launch a folding device towards the end of 2021.
In December 2020, Ross Young of DSCC - who has a pretty good reputation reporting in forthcoming display moves - suggested we'd see something from Google in the second half of 2021.
Further back, in August 2020, 9to5Google reported on an internal document leak aligning a device codenamed Passport, which was highlighted as a foldable, with a Q4 2021 launch.
In June 2021, it was then claimed production for the display was due to begin in October and would be supplied fully assembled for Google to launch a phone by the end of the year.
Google normally announces devices at a Made by Google hardware event. This is often in late September or early October, although 2020 threw a curveball and disrupted normal patterns somewhat.
Currently everything is pointing a Google launching a folding device towards the end of 2021, though there has been some talk of it being delayed to 2022 with a mention in 2021.
- No rumours as yet
Nothing has been said about what design this device might take. There's been no leaks, no rumours and no suggestions.
We don't know if it's a clamshell or book style folding device, although the rumoured size of the display suggests it will be book style, similar to the Galaxy Z Fold models.
Certainly, software changes in Android provide greater support for folding phones and larger devices, so something that folds out to be pretty large would seem logical.
- 7.6-inch AMOLED
- Samsung Dispaly supplied
- 120Hz, LTPO
For any folding phone, the display is obviously the centrepiece. This is where we have a little more information, with a 7.6-inch size reported.
It's thought that Samsung Display will be supplying this flexible AMOLED panel, and at that size - it's the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 - we think it would be a book style folder, rather than a flip phone. It's believed to be in-folding, i.e., so the folded display is on the inside of the device.
It's also been said that the display will be an LTPO display and it will offer a 120Hz refresh rate, which is also the same as what is said thought to be on the successor to the Z Fold 2 in the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Beyond that, we don't know a lot. There's been no mention of resolution, external display, or anything else.
- Flagship hardware?
- Google Tensor chip
Again there have been no leaks on potential hardware to power the forthcoming device. Google's launch window later in the year often means that the company arrives on hardware about six months later than the rest of the industry.
Of course, Google has confirmed its in-house Tensor chip that will run the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro so it's likely the folding Pixel would also run on this chip. You can read more about the chip in our explainer feature.
The company has a long-standing relationship with Qualcomm too though, so there is of course the potential that it could opt for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or 888 Plus, or opt for one of the 700 series chipsets and target the mid-range.
So far though, all folding phones have come with a premium - and as Motorola discovered with the original Razr, launching without top class hardware against a high price will immediately draw criticism.
- Triple rear like Pixel 6 Pro (?)
- 8MP front (?)
Say Pixel and people immediately think about the camera. While the Pixel phones have given us excellent cameras, most of the hard work is driven by AI - it's computational photography that comes through, rather than the hardware.
With that in mind, we wouldn't be surprised to see Google continue with the same camera hardware that was in the Pixel 5. There have been no leaks relating to the camera so far, but a simple approach with a main and ultra-wide camera on the rear would be totally in character for Google.
That said, it could also go down the route of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The Pixel 6 is said to be coming with a dual camera with a 50-megapixel main camera and 12-megapixel ultra wide camera, while the Pixel 6 Pro is said to be coming with a triple rear camera offering the same as the Pixel 6 but with the addition of a telephoto lens.
Folding Pixel rumours and leaks: What's the story so far?
Here's everything that's happened so far in the story of the a future folding Pixel from Google.
19 August 2021: The foldable Pixel is probably going to be delayed after all
A new report indicates that Google will most likely be pushing the release date of its folding Pixel until sometime in 2022.
The leaker does state that this doesn't rule out the possibility of Google at least previewing the phone during the official Pixel 6 series reveal in October, however.
13 August 2021: Google looks to surprise with foldable Pixel phone launching this year
Perhaps the most damning evidence to corroborate the existence of the Pixel Fold comes from directly within Android 12, as references within the code seem to mention a device with a codename dubbed "Passport", something many in the Google community believe to be a moniker for a foldable Pixel.
19 July 2021: Major leak claims Samsung 120Hz LTPO display will drive most 2021 foldable phones
Ross Young, AKA @DSCCRoss, claimed that the foldable from Google would feature a LTPO 120Hz refresh rate display from Samsung Display.
Today's leak - All 2021 foldables using panels from Samsung Display will be 120Hz and LTPO. This of course covers the 6.70" Z Flip 3, 7.55" Z Fold 3 as well as the 7.57" foldable from Google, 7.11" from Oppo, 8.2" from Vivo and 8.1" from Xiaomi.— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) July 19, 2021
9 June 2021: Google Pixel foldable to use Samsung display tech and start production in October
Samsung Display is reportedly working with Google to supply its ultra-thin glass (UTG) and flexible OLED panel for a forthcoming foldable Pixel phone.
It is said that the parts will enter production in October 2021, and be supplied to Google fully constructed for a possible phone launch by the end of the year.
25 February 2021: Twitter leaker claims Pixel fold is real
Jon Prosser has added his ¢2, claiming the folding Pixel is real.
the google pixel "fold" is a real thing— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) February 25, 2021
23 February 2021: Google could launch a folding Pixel in 2021
Sources talking to The Elec in Korea claim that Samsung Display will be supplying Google with a 7.6-inch folding panel for a future product
10 December 2020: Twitter source reveals H2 2021 folding phone from Google
Ross Young from DSCC mentioned a folding phone from Google due in the second half of 2021.
Second half of 2021 is going to be really exciting for foldable smartphones. At least 3 models from Samsung, 4 models from Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi and 1 model from Google...BTW, no Z Fold Lite - Z Flip Lite. Specs for all are in our latest Foldable Report.— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) December 10, 2020
5 August 2020: Leaked Android documents suggest foldable Pixel
Documents unearthed by 9to5Google reveal a device called Passport, said to be a foldable, set to launch in Q4 2021.
7 May 2019: Google is working on a folding Pixel
Mario Queiroz, former VP of product management at Google, commented to CNET that Google was "prototyping the technology" when talking about folding phones.
Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 26 February 2021.