One of the most exciting Pixel rumors of the year said that Google was on the verge of launching its own foldable handset. The so-called Pixel Fold would feature a design similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 handset, complete with a few essential parts coming directly from Samsung. Leaks said the foldable would be introduced alongside the Pixel 6, but then the tune changed. Google had postponed the release, the rumors claimed. At best, we’d get a nod about foldables during the Pixel 6. Reports that followed indicated that the foldable Pixel will not launch until 2022. And a new report delivers further bad news. In a best-case scenario, the Google Pixel Fold will get a second half of 2022 release window.
The early Pixel rumors
Pixel Fold rumors painted an exciting picture about the handset earlier this year. The handset would feature the same OLED screen Samsung uses for the Fold 3 foldable and the same Ultra Thing Glass (UTG) panel that sits on top of the screen. They implied the Pixel Fold would have increased durability, matching the Fold 3. And the new Samsung foldable turned out to be even more durable than its predecessors.
Moreover, Google has been working on optimizing Android for foldables. Android 12L is the update that will supposedly adapt the OS to better fit devices with larger displays, like foldable handsets. This was another indication that Google was working on a Pixel Fold device.
More recently, we learned that the Pixel Fold would not deliver a flagship camera experience like the Pixel 6 series. Instead, Google would equip Pixel 5 camera hardware in the new foldable.
Pixel Fold might be canceled
A report from Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) delivers a new update on Google’s Pixel Fold plans. The DSCC experts have provided accurate information about displays that unreleased smartphones would employ. They mentioned the Pixel Fold a few times earlier this year in their lists of upcoming foldable devices.
The group says their supply chain sources report that Google decided not to bring the Pixel Fold to market. Google doesn’t plan to unveil it in 2021, or the first six months of next year:
Our sources indicated that Google believed the product wouldn’t be as competitive as it needed to be. They likely figured that competing against Samsung in the US and Europe in a small niche market facing higher costs than their primary competitor, would stack the odds against this project.
The report notes that the Pixel Fold should have featured a 120Hz LTPO panel with a variable refresh. The screen would have matched the size of Fold 3. But Google’s phone wouldn’t have featured an under-display camera like Samsung’s handset.
Google hasn’t announced the Pixel Fold publicly. So technically, the Pixel Fold can’t be canceled. But if the DSCC report is accurate, it’s probably safe to say that the current Pixel Fold version might not hit stores. Google will undoubtedly continue to develop its foldable handset internally. The hardware and design might have to change along the way. That’s the only way for Google to ensure the Pixel Fold can compete.
Whatever first-gen Pixel Fold version Google ends up releasing, the handset will have to match rivals. It’ll have to feature newer processors, better cameras, and deliver similar high-end designs. Put differently, this Pixel Fold cancelation is practically a release delay that Google needs to overhaul the foldable handset. But we’re only speculating on the DSCC report.
Other foldables are in the works
The DSCC experts expect Chinese smartphone makers, including Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and Huawei, to launch foldable handsets that will compete against Samsung’s models. But it’s unclear when these devices will launch. The ongoing chip shortage might further delay new foldable handsets.
Moreover, Samsung should release new foldable handsets in the second half of 2022. The company made it clear recently that foldables play a significant role in its mobile strategy going forward. And Samsung said it wants to continue to be at the forefront of foldable phone development.