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Pixel 9 Pro Fold name change indicates a big twist for Google’s foldables

Published Apr 16th, 2024 6:50AM EDT
Google Pixel Fold Main
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Fans of foldable devices are probably waiting for Google to release the Pixel Fold 2 this summer. The device has appeared in various leaks, indicating that Google is serious about foldable devices. The Pixel Fold, pictured above, wasn’t just an experiment.

Also, the Pixel Fold 2 would compete with the best Galaxy Z Fold 6 version that Samsung will release in early July.

At least, that’s what we were expecting before a huge development dropped in mid-April. Google reportedly chose a different name for the Pixel Fold 2. The upcoming foldable will supposedly be called Pixel 9 Pro Fold. The name has huge implications for the handset.

If the name is accurate, we’re looking at a true flagship device that will be included in Google’s yearly flagship series—that flagship series launches in the fall, usually at some point in October. Therefore, the Pixel 9 Pro Fold should not hit stores this summer.

Google’s name change for the Pixel Fold successor comes from Android Authority. The blog learned from a Google insider that Google will add the new Fold to the Pixel 9 line.

As a reminder, we learned recently that Google would expand the Pixel 9 to three devices, not including the Fold 2. These are the Pixel 9, Pixel 9 Pro, and Pixel 9 Pro XL. The Pixel 9 Pro Fold would join the lineup as the fourth Pixel 9 model.

Adding the Pixel Fold 2 to the Pixel 9 series and changing the name makes perfect sense. Google will be able to offer different Pixel flagships at various price points. But, more importantly, the next Pixel Fold will get the flagship status it deserves.

The first-gen Pixel Fold was a flagship phone, sure. But it rocked the hardware of the Pixels of the past. Google used the Pixel 7’s chip to power the Pixel Fold. The foldable launched during the summer of 2023, a few months after its Google I/O announcement. But the Pixel 8 came soon after that, with better specs than the foldable.

Google Pixel Fold Front
Google Pixel Fold folded on a table. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

The problem is that the Pixel Fold costs $1,799 before any discounts. That’s a hefty price tag, and buyers should expect only the best possible hardware. If Google were to launch the Pixel Fold 2 this summer, rocking Pixel 8 chips, we’d have the same discussion. That chip choice is all the more important in the dawning era of AI and on-device artificial intelligence.

Google adding the new Pixel Fold model to the Pixel 9 series sends another important message. The Pixel Fold models aren’t an experiment. Google is doubling down on foldables, implying we’ll have a new model each year. That’s what everyone in the industry is doing.

The name change is also somewhat unique. That is, Google is placing the Fold line in the main Pixel flagship series. Other vendors have come out with product specific names for their own foldables rather than merging them with existing flagships.

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip series of phones have clear identities. They shouldn’t be confused with the Galaxy S models that Samsung launched.

This is just a rumor, but an indirect confirmation might drop soon. Google will host this year’s I/O event next month, where it should unveil the Pixel 8a. Failure to announce the Pixel Fold 2 or mention it by name would indicate the next-gen foldable is indeed part of the Pixel 9 series. As a result, the foldable will get an October release date.

A bolder move is also possible. Google can just announce the names of the four Pixel 9 variants expected to drop this fall. Google has teased its Pixel phones before to get ahead of rumors. There’s no reason to do it again this year, especially considering the other potential developments in the foldable landscape.

For the first time, Samsung will reportedly unveil an affordable Galaxy Z Fold version this year. The device could hit stores in September, around the time Apple launches the iPhone 16 models. But before Google’s Pixel 9 Pro Fold would hit stores.

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.