For a brief moment in time, the rumour mill had us holding out hope that Google had a foldable Pixel on the horizon. But all that blind faith was for naught, as the never-announced Google Pixel Fold is reportedly not happening.
Ross Young, who has sources inside the supply chain via his work at Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), suggests that whatever Pixel foldable Google was planning to manufacture has been cancelled. Young tweeted that multiple sources confirmed the company is not bringing the Pixel Fold to market in 2021 or the first half of 2022.
It’s possible Google is ceasing production until it can make a product that competes with Samsung at the same price point. It’s also possible that the pricing of components for the Pixel Fold would have been too much to consider the risk of launching into such a nascent product category.
“Our sources indicated that Google believed the product wouldn’t be as competitive as it needed to be,” Young wrote. “They likely figured that competing against Samsung in the U.S. and Europe in a small niche market facing higher costs than their primary competitor, would stack the odds against this project.”
The Pixel Fold was expected to have similar specs as the Galaxy Z Fold 3, including a similar internal folding display with a 120Hz refresh rate. But it could have fallen short in other ways. The Pixel Fold was rumoured to include the same image sensors as the old Pixel 5, which would have undoubtedly impacted the Fold’s performance in the saturated smartphone market. The novelty of a folding smartphone fades away when the camera isn’t as good as what your friend is using.
On the plus side, this might mean that Google has more time to work out Android 12L. This version will help Android function better on large-screen devices, though it will also benefit foldables. There are also other rumours that Google was working on a second foldable device along with the Pixel Fold. The references were spotted in code under the name Jumbojack by blogs like 9to5Google.
One particular feature pointed out during that discovery was a “posture” API, which refers to code that can indicate the physical state the device is in, like whether it’s half-opened or closed. It’s a feature that would greatly benefit a Pixel foldable, and Android foldables overall.
Maybe we’ll never know whether Google planned to release a foldable phone. At least Samsung continues to carry the torch for anyone willing to shell out a lot of money to be on the cutting edge.