Google Is Making a Folding Phone
It may feel like Twitter is slowly imploding, but the platform is still a good place to go for breaking news. Case in point: On Thursday, Google teased its latest hardware device in a tweet. It’s a folding Pixel phone.
The phone is called the Pixel Fold, and that’s pretty much all we know about it for sure. The company says it will reveal more details on the device during the keynote address of Google IO, its annual developer conference, which takes place in Mountain View, California, on Wednesday, May 10.
There are a few things we can discern about the Pixel Fold just from the photo and short video that Google released. The same images appear on the Google Store on a page that presumably will become the product page where the phone can be purchased when it goes on sale.
It folds book-style, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, not clamshell-style like the Z Flip or Motorola’s Razr redux. Also, strikingly, the Pixel Fold appears to have a full-size screen on the front. Many folding phones that collapse like a book use a smaller screen on the front, but the Pixel Fold goes big, with an edge-to-edge screen like the ones found on regular, nonfolding smartphones.
The Pixel Fold’s interior screen doesn’t appear to go edge-to-edge, but instead is nestled within a slim black bezel. On that folding screen, we can see some Android widgets and user interface elements that look as though they’ve been optimized for the larger folding screen. No doubt, when the Pixel Fold is revealed, the adaptive Android elements will be a big part of the demonstration.
There are some chrome accents on the edges that are reminiscent of the Pro-level Pixel models and some recent flagship-level Samsung Galaxy devices. There’s also a chrome finish applied to the camera bump on the back of the phone. (Chrome accents on a phone always remind me of the Ford Crown Victoria, and I wish companies would stop doing this, because who wants to be reminded of a Crown Vic eight dozen times a day? But I digress.) These accents signal that the Pixel Fold will be a premium device.
They also signal a very high price. Google has said nothing about the price—or anything else really, other than showing the images and re-upping the date of the IO keynote—but we can assume this foldy will come with a price tag considerably higher than the non-folding Pixels.
Google’s news about a premium, folding smartphone comes at a time when smartphone sales are in a deep slump. Also, consumers have not responded to folding devices as enthusiastically as the smartphone makers experimenting with the form factor have hoped they would. Maybe the arrival of a folding phone made by the same company that makes the software running on it—the “whole stack” approach—will be the nudge that gets this still awkward hardware design out of its niche and into the mainstream.