The anticipated Pixel Fold smartphone may not hit the market, according to a new report, at least not anytime soon. The reason, the sources claim, revolve around a variety of factors that may make a foldable Pixel model less than successful in the current market, including competition with Samsung and higher costs.
Plans on hold?
The report comes from DSCC, a company that describes itself as having “close relationships with the display supply chain.” In its leak, DSCC alleges that Google has dropped its Pixel Fold plans and won’t release its anticipated foldable model this year or in early 2022. Whether the company plans to bring a foldable to the market in the more distant future is anyone’s guess.
The claim is based on “supply chain sources,” DSCC says, noting the alleged decision applies to this year and at least the first half of next year. Google, as expected, has not commented on the leak. However, the report claims to have more details about the driving factors behind the company’s alleged change.
Google, the sources claim, was concerned its Pixel Fold wouldn’t be competitive enough to justify a launch. The company would have to compete with Samsung, which has launched two different foldables, the Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip. The report alleges that higher costs were a factor in Google’s reported decision to, at best, pause its Pixel Fold plans.
Pixel Fold leaks
A Google patent fueled interest in a potential foldable from the company, one that — at least based on the patent images — would resemble the Galaxy Z Fold device. Unlike the Galaxy Z Flip, which resembles a traditional flip phone, the Z Fold has a typical smartphone form factor when closed, but can be opened to produce a more tablet-like form factor.
A number of rumors about the Pixel Fold have surfaced, including a claim that it would feature a UTG display with up to a 120Hz refresh rate. More recent rumors have cast some doubts on whether the Pixel Fold would be able to compete with the latest Galaxy Z Fold, however, including a claim that Google’s foldable would pack the same primary camera found in the older Pixel 5.
Though Google has leaned heavily into software as a core part of its Pixel mobile photography experience, consumers may be reluctant to buy an expensive, niche device that doesn’t at least meet the same level offered by the already-available Pixel 6 model. The leaked camera specs proved controversial, with some consumers speculating that Google’s software would make up for the lackluster camera hardware.
Though the DSCC report doesn’t specify the Pixel Fold’s alleged camera hardware as a reason for the alleged change in plans, it may play a role in Google’s reported concerns that its Pixel Fold wouldn’t be suitably competitive.
Though Google has remained quiet about its foldable plans, the latest rumors have put the anticipated Pixel Fold launch — should one happen — in early 2022. That date speculation is largely due to Android 12L, a version of the mobile operating system made for larger displays. Android 12L will bring changes that optimize Android for foldable displays, including a taskbar at the bottom of the device and two columns for opening apps and menus on each side of the unfolded device.
Foldables remain a niche device at this time, though the market is expected to see notable growth over the next few years. Several major companies have introduced folding smartphones, including Motorola, Xiaomi, and Samsung. These devices offer a number of benefits, including more screen real estate than an ordinary smartphone while retaining a compact form factor.
The big downside for consumers, however, is the high costs associated with these devices at this time. Some consumers likewise remain skeptical about the long-term durability of folding phones, but a bigger sticking point for many is the high cost associated with replacing these folding displays. Without a warranty, for example, it costs $479 USD to replace the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s inner screen.
As for Google, it’s likely the company will eventually release its own foldable device, one that may be shipped under the Pixel Fold name. However, Pixel fans may need to remain patient longer than anticipated, a wait that — at least based on this report — may be worth it in the end.