Google could really launch a foldable Pixel this year, report suggests

The foldable smartphone market is still growing. Google's ready for a piece of the action.

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Foldable phones are probably the most popular innovation on the market right now, with entries from big companies like Samsung and Huawei paving the way for others to join in on the trend. Google, for example, is thinking of releasing its own foldable Pixel this year, according to a new report from The Elec (h/t MacRumours).

The report details a line of foldable OLED panels that Samsung is supposedly developing for use by other brands like Oppo, Xiaomi, and, yes, Google. The tech giant has reportedly requested that Samsung develop for it a foldable OLED panel about 7.6 inches in size.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumblings of a Pixel foldable, either. An internal Google document leaked last summer with hints at a foldable Pixel with the code name “Passport,” and Google itself said back in 2019 that it was already developing such a device. At that point, Google downplayed its foldable plans, telling the public it didn’t see a “clear use case” for the device just yet.

Google’s line of Pixel phones is well-respected and has garnered something of a cult following since its launch in 2013. If the brand does ever release a foldable smartphone, there’s a solid chance it’ll be a quick hit on the market.

Not much to go off — This week’s report from The Elec is quite thin, as far as leaked information goes. It doesn’t add much to the ongoing conversation around Google’s product development, other than alleging Samsung could be producing the foldable glass for the phone.

But there is already a discussion about Pixel releasing a foldable smartphone, and in that context this report seems to lend some credence to the idea that the device is something we’ll see sooner rather than later.

Are foldables here to stay? — The foldable boom of the last few years has been met with a combination of delight, awe, and despair. Early folding screens had enormous hardware issues like the Galaxy Fold’s penchant for breaking at random or the updated Razr’s creaking screen.

Those early design flaws have mostly been overcome, at this point, but folding phones are still very expensive and largely don’t utilize their hinged screens in many ways. Rather than letting these limitations get them down, though, companies like Samsung have used their limited foldable success as fuel for developing less-expensive — and more creative — foldables for their future phone lineups.

Tepid response aside, there’s now a very real market for foldables. And if Google’s thinking of getting a piece of that market, it had better do so quickly, before Samsung runs off with all the riches.