Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was one of the first folding mobiles on the market. Now it seems that Google is also working on the technology.
Google recently released a new low-cost variant in the Pixel series, but now 9to5Google.com reports leaked documents that show that Android creators have just as exciting issues on the horizon. The document is about upcoming Android versions, and has references to Google Passport, which should be referred to as a foldable phone, as well as several other existing and supposedly upcoming phones from the company.
There have been rumors about foldable phones from Google for a while, but so far we have not heard anything special from the company about any such investment other than that they work with prototypes of the technology.
Beyond the code name of the phone, and this apparent confirmation that it’s on its way, very little is known about what the foldable Pixel might be.
There are already rumors that Apple is working with foldable phones, and similarly, Microsoft also has its Surface Duo with Android on its way to the market – although strictly speaking it is a kind of phone / tablet hybrid with two screens, instead of the foldable ones The OLED screens that characterize other similar products.
As of today, the two most current manufacturers of folding phones are Samsung and Huawei. A small bunch of other manufacturers have also made mobiles that you can unfold. Chinese Royole was first out with its Flexpai, which was perhaps first and foremost a way to showcase the company’s screen technology. Motorola also made the list last year, with its resurgence of the Razr name.
In addition, there have been rumors about a number of other manufacturers, and some have shown phones we have so far not seen the sniff of – for example Xiaomi, with its different twist on foldable phones.
Android is already adapted to the fold
This is typical when players such as Google and Apple report that a techno trend is achieving «full strength». They are often relatively late in catching up with trends, but when they do, it often means both innovations and a maturation and standardization of technology.
Google introduced support for foldable solutions in Android last year, and with that they made it easier for mobile manufacturers to create variants of this type. This may be especially true for producers who do not have the strongest economy.
Samsung is currently the strongest
Although there are several foldable phones on the market today, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip is probably the most relevant of the phones. It came towards the end of winter this year, and was the first foldable mobile phone with a glass screen – albeit a controversial variant, with plastic over the glass itself.
Nevertheless, in tests, against phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate Xs, it has proven to be the one that perhaps benefits most from this type of solution. Unlike the other two mentioned phones, the Galaxy Z Flip is not a huge phone that can be unfolded to become a tablet. Instead, it is an extremely compact case, which can be folded out to become a full-size phone.
Z Flip is significantly thicker than other phones, but when folded it is a square with modest lengths on the sides and rounded corners. It thus fits perfectly in your pocket, compared to large phones with 6-7-inch screens.
Whether Google chooses a variant based on large phones such as Flexpai, Galaxy Fold or Mate x, or whether they go for a more compact variant a la Z Flip will show.
It’s part of the story that Samsung this week just showed off the sequel to last year’s Galaxy Fold. This year it has a much larger screen on the outside, so that it is easier to use when folded. In addition, the series has received a careful name change, and the mobile we are waiting for there is now called Galaxy Z Fold 2.
So far, folding mobile phones have not been a huge success. But that is probably due to two things. The prices have been insane for several of the models, and in addition, the form factor has not been close to «ready-cooked» so far. Soft, vulnerable screens in combination with complex hinges and an OLED technology that can only be bent under certain conditions have given rise to a certain amount of skepticism.
But with breakthroughs such as folding glass, and giants such as Samsung, Google and Apple on the team, it may be that this and next year provide a boost for the form factor.