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Google’s foldable Pixel phone was just confirmed by a top leaker

Published Feb 26th, 2021 6:02PM EST
Google Pixel Fold
Image: Samsung

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  • A report from a few days ago said that Google will use foldable OLED panels from Samsung Display for a “Pixel Fold” phone that will be released sometime this year. 
  • Other insiders have reinforced the claim that the Pixel Fold is real, and that it’s coming this year.
  • Google is just one of several Android vendors expected to launch foldable phones this year.

A report about Samsung Display providing foldable OLED panels to various smartphone vendors casually mentioned Google a few days ago. Sources from Korea detailed the various foldable handsets in the works at Oppo and Xiaomi, revealing that these two Chinese smartphone vendors are working on new form factors that resemble Samsung’s foldable phones. The report didn’t say which design the foldable Pixel might employ, but it did reveal that the handset will have a 7.6-inch inward-folding panel from Samsung. All these devices are expected to launch sometime this year.

Google has already been working on adapting the Android experience for foldable devices, so making its own “Pixel Fold” handset makes plenty of sense. The best way to demo new features intended for foldable phones is by using its own hardware. And it looks like the Pixel Fold, or whatever Google ends up calling the handset, is real.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that Oppo, Xiaomi, and other Chinese Android vendors might be launching foldable handsets this year. Samsung and Huawei were among the first phone makers to release foldable phones, but several others have teased prototypes since then. Motorola launched its own foldable last year, reviving the Razr brand as a clamshell smartphone with a flexible display.

As we explained before, Google might not necessarily be in a position to make a top-tier foldable phone. These devices are expensive, which means only a fraction of buyers who want flagship handsets will pay top dollar. They’re also more fragile than traditional phones, yet Google hasn’t even really excelled at making traditional phones that are free of hardware issues.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip clamshell foldable phone. Image source: Samsung

Still, the prospect of a Pixel Fold is exciting. The phone will offer us more insight into Google’s thinking for foldable experiences. That will be especially true if the Google handset unfolds into a tablet-sized device, like the Galaxy Z Fold 2. That’s because Google’s Android OS updates have been neglecting the tablet experience for several years. Not to mention that Google is also developing Fuchsia, a universal OS that should adapt to any screen form factor. Foldables will be included on that list of devices that will run Fuchsia. And what better way to test software principles than by making an Android foldable phone of your own?

Google’s own Chrome OS website teases support for foldable devices too, even though there’s no foldable laptop or phone that runs Chrome OS.

Google Chrome OS
Screenshot from Google’s website teasing multi-device app support. Image source: Google via Chrome Unboxed

Well-known leaker Jon Prosser said on Twitter that “the Google Pixel ‘Fold’ is “a real thing,” without elaborating. Prosser might be known for his iPhone and Apple scoops, but he has also leaked accurate info about Pixel phones as well in recent years.

A display specialist named Ross Young responded to his tweet with more info. He apparently mentioned unreleased 2021 foldable devices in mid-December, including Google’s phone. Young has leaked accurate information about unreleased smartphones before.

“[The] second half of 2021 is going to be really exciting for foldable smartphones,” Young said. “At least 3 models from Samsung, 4 models from Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi and 1 model from Google.”

Google released the first Android 12 beta for developers a few days ago. The new OS includes a few interesting new features that will be natively supported in Android 12, including face unlock, in-display fingerprint sensor, and one-handed operation. Android often includes clues about features headed to new Pixel hardware, but we already explained that having both 3D face unlock and an in-display fingerprint sensor in the Pixel 6 wouldn’t make much sense. But those features might make sense in a larger device like a Pixel Fold since Google would not have to worry about design compromises or cost. 

One-handed operation could also be useful on a larger device, especially if the Pixel Fold looks like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2. Not to mention that a Pixel Fold with that design would cater to Pixel fans who miss the Pixel XL.

This is all just speculation, but it sure looks like plenty of people already have inside information about the foldable Pixel phone. If the product is real, it’s only a matter of time until more details leak. After all, Google has never been good at keeping secrets when it comes to Pixel phones.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.