Foldable devices are now increasingly part of the mobile lexicon, seeing the likes of the Galaxy Fold series, the Huawei Mate Xs, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, and the Motorola Razr 2020, all paving the way ahead for new foldable models.
Rumors are ramping up around a possible Google entry into the foldable arena: that being the Google Pixel Fold, which could see the search giant leave its own unique imprint on this ingenious form factor.
Apple has been dabbling with the technology, too: the Cupertino-giant is rumored to be releasing its own foldable or flippable variant of its Apple iPhone following the successful release of the Apple iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The Google Pixel range of handsets, featuring the likes of the Google Pixel 4 and the Google Pixel 5, would form an interesting basis for a foldable design, especially considering Google's reach in the mobile sector.
Here, we round up all the news, rumors, and speculation about this potentially enthralling device that could soon be landing on our shelves.
- These are the best foldable phones on the market right now
- Our picks for the best Android phones currently available
Google Pixel Fold: Launch Date
Industry info concerning a release date is still fairly scarce, as Google hasn’t yet made anything official. Despite the lack of information, it’s predicted to launch in the second half of this year; again, this is still unverified owing to the uncertainty surrounding the Google Pixel 6 release.
Trusted Twitter tipster Jon Prosser (opens in new tab) has weighed in to offer an affirmative nod to the actual existence of a Google Pixel Fold model; moreover, Ross Young (opens in new tab) co-signed Prosser’s opinion through a December tweet (opens in new tab), which added more fuel to release date speculation, pinning it somewhere in the latter part of 2021.
In 2020, reports surfaced around various Android documents that had leaked from the Google HQ: documents that allegedly pointed to a Google Pixel Fold model landing sometime in Q4 of 2021 (via 9to5Google (opens in new tab)).
Google Pixel Fold: Price
Although the relatively minuscule amount of existing info on the Google Pixel Fold points to a late 2021 launch, there’s even less certainty on pricing. One thing that does seem likely to us pundits, though, is the premium price tag.
To understand this better, it’s worth looking at rivals’ foldable models. And, let’s be absolutely clear, these devices don’t come cheap. Many of them are vying to be one of the best phones on the market, although a higher price tag doesn't equate to better performance.
In terms of pricing, the Motorola Razr Flip 5G landed at US$1399 / £1399 / AU$2,585; the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G launched at $1,449 / £1399 / AU$2,599, now heavily discounted thanks to a permanent price cut; otherwise, you've got the Huawei Mate Xs, which launched at $2746 / £2299 / AU$4205.
Flip phones are slightly more affordable than fold models, but it isn't saying much considering the vast sums people spend on their foldable siblings.
With this said, Google has the capacity to - and frequently does - undercut its competitors. An optimistic forecast could mean that we see something closer to the $1000/£720/AU$1290 mark, even though that’s hardly chump change!
Google Pixel Fold: Design
Clearly, the Google Pixel Fold’s design will be its prime exhibit: be that the side-to-side approach adopted by the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which recently acquired a nifty multitasking upgrade to better juggle daily operations, or a more vertically oriented model like the Motorola Razr 2020, perhaps even taking notes from the Galaxy Z Flip.
Several patents have appeared online, adding speculation as to what design the Google Pixel Fold could adopt. Among the various examples listed in the patent suite (opens in new tab), one shows a hinge-based device, opening to reveal a bigger screen, before closing again to make it more compact.
This would boost the screen’s real estate, effectively bringing a slide-in display into the design mix. Another shows a three-pronged folding style, enabling the device to fold in three different places. That may just be one fold too many we think.
There’s also room for Google to play things more safely; it could choose a steady two-panel design that is far less innovative but ensures reliable functionality, avoiding the same fate as the initial Samsung Galaxy Fold.
In this vein, Google could look to Microsoft's first Android phone, the phone-cum-tablet that is the Microsoft Surface Duo; then again, it could buck the trend, and look to a scrollable display design akin to the upcoming LG rollable, which took aim at the Samsung Galaxy S21 at this year’s CES.
Google Pixel Fold: Specs and Features
Google has an abundance of options when it comes to the Google Pixel Fold's remaining spec sheet. Part of us here at T3 would love to see Google put the pedal to the proverbial metal, hit full throttle, and include Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor, which would be the last nail in the coffin to any hopes of a more palatable price tag.
Another crucial consideration is the wider supply havoc that is plaguing the tech sector in 2021, leading to sweeping shortages for manufacturers and other consumers in dire need of Qualcomm's chipsets. The less said about the next-gen consoles the better, with the PS5 and Xbox Series X the major casualties of global silicon shortages.
Motorola chose a different (perhaps more preferable) strategy, launching the Motorola Razr 2020 model with a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 710, and then upgrading this to the Snapdragon 765G for the Motorola Razr 5G.
The Google Pixel 5 already uses the Snapdragon 765G processor, which is a highly capable handset when paired with its 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage, comfortably cruising through daily tasks.
A Google Pixel Fold, though, is probably leveling more expensive terrain; it’ll easily achieve these higher tier prices by including Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 – it’s used in the Samsung Galaxy S21, including the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, and is the definition of a flagship processor with the astronomical price tag to boot.
As said, if Google uses the Snapdragon 888, the price will inevitably travel upwards and the resulting phone will veer far from the mid-tier pricing that the existing Google Pixel range offers.
Might there be another option? Well, there’s a strong case to be had for Google choosing the Snapdragon 870 5G, which presents a devilishly capable substitute, is less costly than the Snapdragon 888, but no less a chip that delivers those exquisite premium performance benchmarks.
All said, there’s still no direct line of sight to the Google Pixel Fold, but it’s certainly not far away. The available info circulating the web paints a picture of a foldable device, headed by the hulking beast that is Google, both rudderless and unsure as to where it fits amid a busy foldable market.
This is especially difficult because mid-range foldables are, unto themselves, inherently expensive devices that far eclipse the normal price tiers of your averagely mid-range, non-foldable handsets.
In the meantime, if you need a mobile fix of something a bit more budget-friendly, then please check out our best cheap phones guide, which is easier on the purse strings than phones in the foldable category. We'll be updating our Google Pixel Fold guide as and when new information lands. Stay tuned.