The Google Pixel Fold — Google's long-rumored foldable phone — may not see the light of day after all, based on a report claiming that Google has cancelled the project.
The report comes from Display Supply Chain Consultants (opens in new tab), a usually reliable source when it comes to claims about phone displays. The firm says that its supply chain sources are claiming that Google has dropped its Pixel Fold plans.
"Google has decided not to bring the Pixel Fold to market," writes DSCC CEO Ross Young. "Not in 2021 and reportedly not in the first half of 2022."
Previous reports about the Pixel Fold had suggested Google was pretty far along on its foldable device — so much so that some Google watchers were expecting the company to unveil the Fold alongside the Pixel 6 phones last month. That didn't happen, obviously, so the timetable had been pushed to early 2022 for the launch of a device that looked ready to challenge the best foldable phones.
That could be why Google got cold feet about the Pixel Fold, according to the DSCC report. With the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 racking up better-than-expected sales since launching this summer, Google reportedly concluded that it faced too much of an uphill climb. Foldable phones remain a niche product, and Google already faces challenges getting its more conventional Pixel phones noticed in a a smartphone market dominated by Apple and Samsung.
Not much has been known about the Google Pixel Fold, with most rumors drawing upon patents Google has received for foldable devices. Like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Pixel Fold was expected to open up to reveal a large interior screen — reportedly 7.6 inches based on the most popular rumor. The Pixel Fold's display was expected to have an adaptive refresh rate, with Samsung supplying its rival with the layer of ultra thin glass needed to improve durability.
That all appears to be on hold now, and that's a shame. As good as Samsung's recent foldables have been, it would be nice to see more phone makers come out with foldable devices of their own to make that market segment more competitive. LG, which had been doing a lot of work with dual-screen devices and phones with rollable displays, exited the phone business earlier this year. The Microsoft Surface Duo 2, a dual-screen device, has certainly improved upon its predecessor, but it's falling short as an alternative to foldables.
The timing of this report is especially odd, given that it comes just a couple weeks after Google announced Android 12L. This variation on Android 12 is aimed at big-screen devices including foldables, and it's supposed to take better advantage of the ample screen real estate foldables offer over conventional smartphones. Android 12L is still on track to be released early next year, but it sounds as if it won't make an appearance on the Pixel Fold.
While the DSCC reports makes it sound like the Pixel Fold is gone for good, it's possible Google could revive the project later on. We hope that's the case, as we sure would like to see what a Google-built foldable phone running Android 12L could offer over other devices.