Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority
No one can predict the future, but it seems a foregone conclusion that Google will release a foldable Pixel. The company’s plans have been leaked several times, and we’ve even seen some plausible renderings of the Pixel Fold, codenamed Felix. Still, nothing is set in stone — although the rumor mill is certain about the existence of the Pixel Fold, it could be canceled or significantly delayed before its supposed launch this year. We don’t have to hope for Android benders.
If Google is going to release a foldable Pixel, now is the time. Not only is the market ready for it, but the stars are aligned to give the Pixel Fold the best possible chance of success — as long as Google doesn’t blow the chance.
One of its strengths is that Android can adapt to different devices and create formulas, but smartphones have almost all become boringly flat in the past few years. The trend towards foldable phones is a bright spot of innovation in a world darkened by frequent smartphone updates. Currently fleeing the foldable market, Samsung believes these devices will become the default for many phone buyers in the next few years.
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
Foldables can change the way we interact with mobile technology, bringing true multitasking and notebooking to your pocket. And Google should be in front of this trend. Moreover, it should be invested. Here, I hope Google takes a lesson from how it mishandled (or rather, mishandled) Android on tablets and watches. It got off to a strong start with the Xoom partnership and a handful of Nexus tablets, and Google decided it was done with large-form Android and dropped the ball on optimizing the UI and apps for tablets. Abysmal software support for Android tablets is one of the reasons the iPad has run away in that market.
Google should protect foldable software, not ignore it like tablets and wearables.
It made similar mistakes with smartwatches, and Android Wear had an 18-month head start before the Apple Watch. If Google had led the way with hardware, perhaps things would have been different.
Their development is shaping up to be a similar inflection point, and so far Google is doing the right things. It released a mid-cycle update of the operating system (Android 12L) with big screen optimizations and worked with Samsung to improve Android’s multitasking features. Now it’s time for the next step. Google dictates the direction of Android development, and its rapid Pixel updates are the perfect vehicle to refine the foldable experience and convince consumers that flat phones are a thing of the past.
Building on the success of Pixel
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
I would go so far as to say that it is the right time to release Google Fold. For the first time ever, Google has had two undeniably successful smartphone handsets in a row. The Pixel 6 was widely praised for its design, camera and software, and the Pixel 7 has been improved upon without making any new boneheaded mistakes. Without these successes, I doubt anyone will trust Google to get a new form factor right, but the last two Pixel phones give me hope.
The Pixel Fold is entering the market with certain advantages since its launch this year. Samsung has been selling the Z Fold series for years, and it’s the clear leader in foldables — if anyone’s going to spend nearly $2,000 on a phone, it’s probably the Z Fold. However, Samsung has been slow to improve its hardware. Each Z Fold update adds a few features, steps up to the latest Qualcomm chip, and maintains a sky-high price.
Google could build on two successful Pixel launches to take on Samsung’s stalled flagships.
While the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a lot going for it on the hardware side, it’s also starting to feel a little cramped. All Z Fold phones have essentially the same shape, with a wider hinge and a small radius bend in the screen that creates a deep crease. Samsung is vulnerable here. There are foldables from Oppo and Huawei in other markets that are more nimble and easier to hold, and the leaks we’ve seen about the Pixel Fold seem to be similarly patched. The Google Fold certainly has a shot at turning some heads.
The launch and support is unmissable.
YouTube / Front Page Tech
A good time and a refreshing look will not be enough. Although we believe that the success of Google’s newly acquired hardware extends to the initial fold, there are many ways that the portfolio could be expanded. The first hurdle is the price — rumors point to a hefty $1,800 price tag for the Pixel Fold, which is about the same as the Z Fold 4. Samsung subsidizes generous trade-in values in the US. Even older phones are worth a few hundred to Samsung, and your last-gen device may have lost a little of its value in Samsung’s eyes. You can also trade in up to three devices when you buy flexible. This can bring the sky-high price down to a few hundred dollars, and unlike Apple, Samsung will give you a trade-in up front. Google’s trade-in deals are the most disappointing yet — $175 for the Pixel 6 Pro? Really Google? With the Pixel Fold, Google needs to stop lowering its marketing values if it wants people to buy something this expensive.
At nearly two grand, Google can soften the blow with trade-ins, but much attention will be focused on comparing Pixel Fold and Z Fold hardware. While Samsung has been slow to develop the Z Fold’s design, the phone is surprisingly sturdy and reliable. I’ve used all the folds for a long time, and the first two variants had some minor hardware issues that required warranty service, but the last two are perfectly reliable. They are water resistant which is amazing for a flip phone.
Wraps have been around for a while, but make no mistake – these are still luxury products. They deserve at least passable support, if not luxury.
Google should be able to match Samsung on the reliability front. Otherwise, why spend the same money? Everyone follows stories of damaged or easily damaged Pixel Folds, and the bad press only gets stronger if Google doesn’t do it right on the support side. Dealing with any OEM’s warranty support is an exercise in frustration, but Google has a particularly bad reputation here. Not something you can afford with an $1,800 smartphone. Wraps have been around for a while, but make no mistake, these are still luxury products. They deserve at least passable support, if not luxury.
No matter what kind of flex you buy, it’s hard to find good accessories. Even Samsung, which often boasts expensive cases, has struggled to come up with alternatives to its flagships. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to carry the S Pen, and even the “slim” Z Fold 4 case makes that phone look more like a brick. Google doesn’t exactly have a good track record with devices, with tired recycled plastic, frayed fabric and wireless charging more than a year after release. People spending $1,800 on a phone probably want a case, and Google should certainly be ready to provide one or two. will it be It’s hard to say. But Google could take a page from Samsung’s book and give Pixel Fold buyers some store credit to grab a few coveted accessories.
Google is shaping the future of Android, and foldables could be the future.
There’s another possibility: Google doesn’t learn anything from tablets. Maybe Google will release the Pixel Fold, pat itself on the back at the press conference, and forget to introduce it. Without big sales numbers, Google will lose interest and eventually decide it doesn’t want to make another move. But there’s no point in making an $1,800 smartphone if no one buys it. If Google wants to be part of the fold going forward, success in the market is more important than unit profit.
Google is shaping the future of Android, and foldables could be the future. If Google drops the ball, Apple could swoop in and steal the show down the line.