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Google Pixel Fold might steal the show from the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

Google is launching the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro this fall, but the company might have kept its strongest card close to its chest. The so-called Pixel Fold, reported to be the company’s first foldable, is said to be heading to market before the end of the year — around Q4 2021, or October to December. These reports stem from often reliable sources including display analysts, Evan Blass, otherwise known as @evleaks on Twitter, and code found in Google’s upcoming Android 12.1.

Heard from someone I trust that the foldable Pixel — codename: Passport, retail branding: unknown — will indeed launch before the end of the year. Apparently they've been working on this device for over two years, and if the P6 is any indication, it'll be worth a look.

— E (@evleaks) September 20, 2021

Unlike the Pixel 5a and Pixel 6 which leaked multiple times before they were officially announced, little is known about the Pixel Fold. The chance is high that it will share the same Tensor chip as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, offering performance that could match or even exceed the Snapdragon 888 if Google plays its cards right.

The display is expected to be ultra-thin glass, and be made with an LTPO OLED panel, just like the Flip 3 and Fold 3 that launched earlier this year. It’s also said to retain the same style of design as the Z Fold series, with an internal screen and an external one. Nothing has been said about cameras, but Google has done good work on all its phones to date, so it wouldn’t be beyond the pale to expect excellent camera performance as usual.

With the announcement of iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max having a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz marks 20 models that are current and rumored that use LTPO OLED panels from SDC.

— David Naranjo (@DSCCDave) September 16, 2021

As for the software, while Google has done some work optimizing Android for foldables, it’s going to do a bit more of that with Android 12.1, according to reports from 9to5Google and XDA Developers. Google is reportedly testing another foldable device with this release, though it is not clear whether it plans to launch one or both devices.  There is speculation from 9to5 that one device may be a foldable that’s designed like Samsung’s Z Flip-series, while the other device would be more akin to a Fold. However, this is all speculation and should be treated as such.

While Google has never dominated the hardware market in the same way it has done for software, the company has never been shy to buck the trend and do something that could be seen as risky. We’ve seen this with Google’s original Pixel laptops, its approach to Pixel phones, and other weird one-off devices like the Pixel Slate. With foldables slipping into the mainstream consciousness, Google has already telegraphed its intention to get into the market. It’s possible that Google might be launching the Pixel Fold as its “one more thing” when it eventually launches the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.

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Michael Allison
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