Google is apparently preparing for the release of its first foldable Pixel phone, the Google Pixel Fold. Here’s why I think it’ll be the best foldable on the market…
Foldable phones, thanks to Samsung, have been around for a few years now. As a novelty, I guess they’re pretty interesting. The form factor of phones has remained pretty much constant since the early-2000s. But there is one massive problem with Samsung’s foldable phones.
The first is the price; its Galaxy Z Fold phones and the Galaxy Z Flip are just too expensive. Even for early adopters. I mean, how many people have you seen using one? To date, I haven’t seen a single foldable phone in the wild – only online and in reviews on YouTube.
As of 2022 – so, three years into Samsung’s foldable campaign – foldable phones are still very, very niche. Could this change in 2022? I’d argue no, but there is hope for this new type of phone? I believe there is but it won’t happen until they cost less and actually work as well as traditional smartphones.
Could Google FINALLY Popularise The Foldable Phone?
One of the main issues with Samsung’s foldable phones – from its first to its most current – is the software. Certain apps do not like being run on their folded-out display and there are plenty of concessions with the hardware and specs, most notably the camera tech used on them.
Mostly, though, it is the software. Because there are so few foldable phones on the market, developers just aren’t optimizing for their different-sized displays. Sure, some applications work just fine. But not all of them. And that’s not a good place to find yourself when you’ve just dropped the best part of $2000 on a phone that folds.
This is where Google comes in. Google owns Android. It has complete control over the platform. For this reason, in order for foldable phones to have any real success, we need Google to create a “specific” version of Android just for foldable phones. And Google has just done that with Android 12L – a separate version of Android designed for tablets and foldable devices.
Here’s what Google had to say about Android 12L and how it is different from Android 12:
In 12L, we’ve refined the UI to make Android more beautiful and easier to use on screens larger than 600sp—across notifications, quick settings, lockscreen, overview, home screen, and more.
We’ve made multitasking more powerful and intuitive. 12L includes a new taskbar on large screens that lets users drag and drop an app into split-screen mode and instantly switch apps on the fly. Make sure your apps are ready for split-screen mode!Google’s Developer Blog
Android 12L & The Pixel Fold
Android 12L is currently in beta right now (its second). Internally, Google has clearly been using the Pixel Fold to test this software. We know this because a foldable Pixel device – most likely the Pixel Fold – is referenced inside the Android 12L beta.
The Pixel Fold depicted inside the Android 12L beta is more like OPPO’s Find N phone than any of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold devices. The Pixel Fold has a squarer aspect ratio which, according to those that have reviewed the OPPO Find N, makes it far easier to use and live with than Samsung’s chosen aspect ratio on its Galaxy Z Fold devices.
If we look at how Google treats its standard Pixel phones, they get specific, exclusive software features and use Google’s vanilla – Material You UX – across the board. And it is here that I think Google has an ace up its sleeve for its Pixel Fold. Think about it: if Google does release the Pixel Fold, it’ll run Android 12L in its purest form, likely with a bunch of exclusive “Pixel” features that aren’t available in the version of Android 12L its hardware partners get.
On top of this, because Google owns the Google Play Store, it can use this leverage to ensure that all the biggest apps are updated to support Android 12L. It is this power and influence that, providing Google doesn’t make a complete hash of the hardware, could make the Google Pixel Fold one of the best foldable phones we’ve seen to date.
All the pieces are coming together now. Google is gearing up to release Android 12L in 2022. We have seen legit leaks of the Google Pixel Fold. And Google has the power to dictate that all major applications are updated to support Android 12L. Taken from this perspective, it is now clear that we’re nearly at the end of Google’s roadmap for bringing its first foldable phone to market. Google has fixed the software, now it just needs to ensure it nails the hardware and, most importantly, the price.
Although anyone hoping for a “cheap” foldable phone from Google is almost certainly going to end up disappointed. The Google Pixel Fold will cost more than $1000 when it launches. It’ll be closer to the Galaxy Z Fold in price than the Pixel 6 Pro. But, hey, at least it’ll have functional software and applications! And even if Google’s is a dud, like the Microsoft Surface, there is at least now hope for a foldable iPhone too.
And check out Will Apple Make A Flip Phone? And be sure to check out Pixel 6a Camera Specs: What You Get…
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.