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Google’s foldable Pixel phone might be on track to launch this year

Published Sep 17th, 2021 5:37PM EDT
Foldable Pixel
Image: Samsung

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Google has been running a huge anti-iPhone 13 campaign this week, just as Apple prepares for what will surely be monster iPhone 13 sales this year. And Google has the best weapon to go after the new iPhone in the form of the unreleased Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro duo. Google has displayed the phones at its New York retail store while surprising some people with Google-branded potato chips. The Pixel 6 series will feature a Google-made Tensor SoC that’s already puzzling experts. That said, the Pixel 6 phones aren’t even the most exciting Pixel handsets launching this year. The foldable Pixel checks that box, and the Pixel Fold might still be on track for release this year.

All the leaks suggest Pixel Fold is real

The first-gen foldable Pixel appeared in a garden variety of rumors this year, so it must be real. That’s because Google’s Pixels phones aren’t well-kept secrets. They always leak well ahead of the launch events, and sometimes the leaks are pretty embarrassing. Google might have unveiled the Pixel 6 line in early August to respond to the increasing number of leaks. Or it did it so that it would have something to counter the iPhone 13 with.

The Pixel Fold appeared in reports that indicated Samsung would supply many of the phone’s key components. We explained why that’s so exciting already: basically, Samsung has done a great job with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 (seen above). Some of the same high-end components will go into the Pixel Fold.

We also saw traces of the foldable Pixel phone in Google’s Android 12 beta code. Then some insiders track specific smartphone components. Like the Samsung-made 120Hz LTPO OLED panels that Apple uses for the iPhone 13 series. The same screen tech will find its way to other highly anticipated phones, like the Pixel Fold.

Foldable Pixel on track for a 2021 launch?

Some of these insiders who kept mentioning the Pixel Fold this year come from the Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) group. These are display experts who often report on the latest developments in the business.

David Naranjo took to Twitter to list all the smartphones that will feature high-end OLED panels that Samsung Display manufactures. These are the LTPO OLED panels with variable refresh rates that can go up to 120Hz that I mentioned above. The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will be the first iPhones to feature 120Hz ProMotion screens.

Naranjo’s list also includes the Pixel 6 Pro and the foldable Pixel. According to him, both Pixel handsets might be on track to launch in the fourth quarter of 2021. That’s always been the expected release date window for the Pixel 6 series, but also the foldable Pixels.

Also on the list are other foldable phones from Chinese smartphone vendors Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi. Previous reports that claimed Samsung would supply foldable OLED panels for the Pixel Fold also mentioned some of these companies.

As always, with leaks, they don’t always pan out. The Apple Watch 7 of Apple’s iPhone 13 event is the best proof of that. Naranjo’s DSCC might have offered reliable information in the past, but even the analyst refers to the unreleased phones as “rumored.”

Also, we do have some reports that say the Pixel Fold might see delays. Google might introduce the foldable Pixel during the Pixel 6 event. But the Fold might not be available to purchase as early as the regular Pixels.

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.