It seems like Google was hibernating all through last year and the company finally woke up in May with their IO conference (which they canceled in 2020). As we gear up for Techtober (an informal term MKBHD uses to describe the September-October-November months that see all the major smartphone releases), rumors are suggesting that the Pixel 6 may be accompanied by the announcement of something MUCH more interesting… a foldable Pixel phone.
Developers who scanned through the Android 12 Beta were surprised to find model numbers for the Pixel 6 family, including foldable codenamed ‘Passport’. Suggesting that it would be a passport-shaped device that would open and close like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, with a similar dual-screen layout. The rumors prompted Tech YouTuber Waqar Khan to create renders of the purported device, which comes with a Pixel 5-inspired camera module, an outer screen with a hole-punch camera, and a large folding screen on the inside with yet another hole-punch camera.
The existence of a Pixel Fold was first touted by Ross Young, a digital analyst, who took to Twitter to mention that Google could launch the folding phone as early as 2021, or in the beginning of 2022. Young also said that the company was toying with the idea of a rollable smartphone, but the mention of “Project Passport” in Google’s own Android Beta seemed to confirm that they were working on developing a stock Android OS just for a foldable Pixel.
2021 is definitely an interesting year for Google, as they’re also developing their own silicon to rival Apple. Titled ‘Whitechapel’, Google’s silicon chip will make it to its smartphones, hopefully giving it a performance upgrade that should push it miles ahead of its competition. The Whitechapel chip could potentially even make the foldable Pixel an incredibly powerful and efficient device.
Waqar Khan’s renders give us a clue of what a folding Pixel would look/feel like. Schematically, it’s no different from Samsung’s first folding phone; although with significant developments made in the world of flexible OLED displays, maybe the ‘Pixel Fold’ could avoid the pitfalls of the Galaxy Fold that came 2 years before it. The renders show a clean matte body (like last year’s Pixel device) along with the presence of a fingerprint reader on the back. That particular detail could be a creative call on Khan’s part, given that in-screen fingerprint readers seem to be quite the norm with Android phones over the past year.
The confirmed Pixel 6 is set to debut at Google’s ‘Made By Google’ hardware event, which usually happens around October. It’s unclear if the event will be an in-person or a virtual one, and we can only hope that the company also teases (if not releases) the folding Pixel along with its expected lineup which includes a flagship phone, smart-speaker, and possibly Google’s first-ever smartwatch, which comes 2 years after the company announced it was acquiring Fitbit for $2.1 billion.
Designer/Visualizer: Waqar Khan