Multiple reports and leaks claim Google is working on a foldable Pixel phone. But is a release actually likely in 2021? Let’s investigate…
The Current Foldable Pixel Rumors…
According to multiple leaks online, Google is prepping a foldable Pixel phone for release during the fourth quarter of 2021.
Codenamed “Passport”, this foldable Pixel phone is now believed to be in active testing inside Google’s skunkworks.
Additional reports claim Google is now also procuring foldable displays from Samsung ahead of the foldable Pixel phone’s launch and release date later this year.
Foldable Pixel Phone Release Date Speculation
- The Elec – The oft-reliable tech blog broke the news that Google was buying foldable displays from Samsung. It believes the foldable Pixel phone will launch between October and December.
- Jon Prosser – The occasionally-right leaker believes the foldable Pixel phone is happening and that it could either launch in Q4 or early Q1 2022.
As it stands right now, Q4 or early-Q1 seems to be the consensus. In addition to this, the foldable Pixel phone will not replace the Pixel 6 – it will be a separate device in its own right.
Analysis – Will We See A Foldable Pixel in 2021?
Google is almost certainly working on a foldable Pixel phone. But that doesn’t mean we’ll see it launched in 2021 – or ever for that matter.
Google’s R&D budget is enormous; it’s likely experimenting with all kinds of things that will never see the light of day.
Over the years there have been plenty of secret, code-named phones outed that never saw the light of day.
Just because Google is experimenting with foldable phones does not mean we’ll see one released. There are just so many variables to consider, for one, and then Google would have to nail the design as well.
The other big question relates to demand: is there even enough demand for this kind of phone from Google? Samsung isn’t exactly shifting millions of units of its foldable devices.
This is likely why we haven’t seen a foldable device from Apple; the demand and desire for foldable phones are just too low, too niche.
I just cannot see Google “doing better” than Samsung on its first swing at the ball. That’s too big an ask – even for a company with the resources and expertise of Google.
The only possible way Google could do something disruptive with its foldable Pixel phone is to make it way cheaper than all the other current options. But how likely is that?
The phone would be a brand new concept. Brand new concepts require tens of millions of dollars of R&D investment. Google likes making money, so it isn’t going to take a loss on the phone in order to gain marketshare.
Whatever happens, if the foldable Pixel phone does launch it will almost certainly cost around the same as all current foldable Android phones which is to say it will be very expensive, too expensive for 99.9% of users.
The Google Pixel “Passport” – What’s In A Name?
Let’s pretend Google is making a foldable phone and that it will get a release date inside Q4 2021. What will that phone be like? According to reports, the foldable Pixel phone is codenamed Passport.
A passport is a fairly unique shape, so there’s no doubt about the reasoning behind the name: the foldable Pixel will look like a passport.
Google is said to be closely following the design of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold devices. Google will use Samsung OLED for the display, apparently, so I’d imagine the foldable Pixel will look more or less the same as Samsung’s current Galaxy Fold phones.
There has also been talk of an under-the-screen camera on the front, although that has also been rumored for the Pixel 6 too. Aside from this, not much else is known about the phone.
How Much Will The Foldable Pixel Phone Cost?
All current foldable Android phones are just too expensive; this is why no one is buying them. If Google wanted to shake the market up, the easiest way to do this would be to release a sub-$800 foldable Pixel phone.
It could do this by using cheaper components and existent camera tech, the one from the Pixel 5, for instance. If Google did indeed focus on value for money over specs with its foldable Pixel phone, this would do wonders for its adoption.
It’d be like the Pixel 3a all over again, only this time with a foldable phone.
How likely is this to happen, though? On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely likely, I’d say around 1.5.
Foldable phones are expensive to make and, therefore, are expensive to own. Once the production costs come down, things will change. But we’re a ways off from this at the moment.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.