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Why the Pixel Fold is so exciting, even if it’s Google’s first foldable

Published Jul 20th, 2021 11:21PM EDT
Google Pixel Fold
Image: Waqar Khan

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We’ve had three years of foldable handsets, and there’s still plenty of work to be done. Foldable screens might indeed be the future, but the technology isn’t quite there. Samsung had to endure a humiliating Galaxy Fold launch in 2019. But those issues taught the Korean giant to come up with even better solutions for next-gen devices. Google is about to enter the market with its own Pixel Fold later this year. But the company might not suffer the same first-gen issues as Samsung and others did in the past. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Pixel Fold might be one of the most exciting foldable phones made to date. And we’ll have to thank Samsung for some of its best specs.

Pixel rumors are almost always accurate, so the Pixel Fold is probably in the making. Reports say Google will launch the Pixel Fold this year, but they’re not quite as frequent as Pixel 6 leaks. A couple of insiders familiar with the Samsung hardware for the new foldable devices came out with recent predictions about the imminent Galaxy Fold 3. They also mentioned display specs for 2021 foldable handsets. And it all reads like fantastic news for the Pixel Fold.

Samsung supplying Google

A few weeks ago, rumors from Korea said that Samsung is looking to sell key foldable tech to other handset vendors. Parts like the foldable OLED screen and the foldable Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) panels will be available to others. Those reports included the foldable Google phone in the list.

Well-known leaker Ice Universe tweeted on Monday that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 will have the “strongest folding screen technology,” mentioning Samsung’s UTG 2.0 and UPC technology. UTG 2.0 refers to the second-gen foldable glass panel that Samsung made for the new handsets. UTG 2.0 is supposed to be more durable than its predecessor, and it might be a key component for bringing S Pen support to Fold 3. UPC refers to the Under Panel Camera tech that Samsung announced for laptops and mobile devices.

It’s unclear whether the Google Pixel Fold will feature a UPC screen, but it’s the next-gen UTG that’s exciting. The glass tech should improve the phone’s durability.

The Pixel Fold display specs

Separately, display expert Ross Young came out with a different prediction. It’s also great news for this year’s foldable phones, Google Pixel Fold included.

Young said that all 2021 foldables are using panels from Samsung Display. The OLED screens will support 120Hz refresh rates and LTPO. The latter is a display technology that allows the operating system to dynamically adjust the refresh rate based on the content on the screen. LTPO displays can improve battery life on phones with 120Hz displays.

Young notes that Google’s foldable device is getting the new Samsung displays. The Pixel Fold will reportedly feature a 7.57-inch screen if Young’s display specs information is accurate.

The analyst also disclosed the foldable screen sizes for other unreleased devices. Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi will also release foldable screens featuring Samsung Display technology this year.

Given the expected specs and build quality parity between all these foldable devices, the Pixel Fold is the more exciting phone. That’s because it’s the phone that will deliver Google’s software vision for foldable experiences. It’ll run a clean version of Android that will always be the first to see updates. And it’ll come with Google’s camera tech on board.

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.