(Pocket-lint) – There’s been a spike in discussion about the possibility of a folding Pixel from Google.

With folding phones seen as the next big thing, it’s no surprise that brands are interested in where the technology can take us, with a race to crack this (currently) novel section of the market.

Here’s everything you need to know about the folding Pixel.

What will it be called?

So far there have been no suggestions of a name for any folding Google device. There have been suggestions of the Pixel 6 – which would be expected on an incremental timeline of devices – and there’s been some suggestions of a Pixel 6 XL, following the expansion of Android software aimed at larger phones. 

Currently, there’s no knowing what it might be called. Google Pixel Fold has a nice ring to it, but Google Pixel 6 Fold has the awkwardness that you’d expect from big brand product naming.

Folding Pixel release date

There have been a number of rumours suggesting that Google will be looking to launch a folding device towards the end of 2021.

In December 2020, Ross Young of DSCC – who has a pretty good reputation reporting in forthcoming display moves – suggested we’d see something from Google in the second half of 2021.

Further back, in August 2020, 9to5Google reported on an internal document leak aligning a device codenamed Passport, which was highlights as a foldable, with a Q4 2021 launch.

Google normally announces devices at a Made by Google hardware event. This is often in late September or early October, although 2020 threw a curveball and disrupted normal patterns somewhat.

Currently everything is pointing a Google launching a folding device towards the end of 2021.

Design

Nothing has been said about what design this device might take. There’s been no leaks, no rumours and no suggestions.

We don’t know if it’s a clamshell or book style folding device, although the rumoured size of the display suggests it will be book style, similar to the Galaxy Z Fold models.

Certainly, software changes in Android provide greater support for folding phones and larger devices, so something that folds out to be pretty large would seem logical.

Display

  • 7.6-inch AMOLED
  • Samsung Dispaly supplied

For any folding phone, the display is obviously the centrepiece. This is where we have a little more information, with a 7.6-inch size reported.

It’s thought that Samsung Display will be supplying this flexible AMOLED panel, and at that size – it’s the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 – we think it would be a book style folder, rather than a flip phone. It’s believed to be in-folding, i.e., so the folded display is on the inside of the device.

Beyond that, we don’t know a lot. There’s been no mention of resolution, external display, refresh rate or anything else, just the size and the supplier so far.

Hardware

Again there have been no leaks on potential hardware to power the forthcoming device. Google’s launch window later in the year often means that the company arrives on hardware about 6 months later than the rest of the industry.

In 2020, Google decided to hit the mid range with affordable Pixel 4a and Pixel 5 devices. That begs the question of whether Google would target affordability with its folding phone – perhaps with Snapdragon 870 – or if it will go for the premium market with the Snapdragon 888.

So far, all folding phones have come with a premium – and as Motorola discovered with the original Razr, launching without top class hardware against a high price will immediately draw criticism.

Cameras

  • 12.2MP main (?)
  • 16MP ultra-wide (?)
  • 8MP front (?)

Say Pixel and people immediately think about the camera. While the Pixel phones have given us excellent cameras, most of the hard work is driven by AI – it’s computational photography that comes through, rather than the hardware.

With that in mind, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Google continue with the same camera hardware that was in the Pixel 5. There have been no leaks relating to the camera so far, but a simple approach with a main and ultra-wide camera on the rear would be totally in character for Google.

A timeline of folding Pixel rumours and leaks

Here’s everything that’s happened so far in the story of the a future folding Pixel from Google.

25 February 2021: Twitter leaker claims Pixel fold is real

Jon Prosser has added his ¢2, claiming the folding Pixel is real.

23 February 2021: Google could launch a folding Pixel in 2021

Sources talking to The Elec in Korea claim that Samsung Display will be supplying Google with a 7.6-inch folding panel for a future product

10 December 2020: Twitter source reveals H2 2021 folding phone from Google

Ross Young from DSCC mentioned a folding phone from Google due in the second half of 2021.

5 August 2020: Leaked Android documents suggest foldable Pixel

Documents unearthed by 9to5Google reveal a device called Passport, said to be a foldable, set to launch in Q4 2021.

7 May 2019: Google is working on a folding Pixel

Mario Queiroz, former VP of product management at Google, commented to CNET that Google was “prototyping the technology” when talking about folding phones.

Writing by Chris Hall.





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