Google Pixel Foldable – Q4 2021 I Samsung Galaxy Z Fold FE – 2022

Foldable devices started to hit their stride in the last year or two, with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, Huawei Mate Xs and Moto Razr 5G all showing great promise for things to come. Now, rumours are appearing that suggest Google could be preparing its own entry into this emerging market, with the Google Pixel Fold tipped to arrive soon – and even the first rumours of a second Pixel foldable. We round up all the news and speculation about these potentially exciting new devices.

When will the Google Pixel Fold be released?

There’s no solid information about any release date as yet, as Google hasn’t even confirmed that a foldable device will be launched. But in 2020 9to5Google reported that it had seen leaked internal documents from Google that suggested a foldable device would appear in the fourth quarter of 2021, a prediction since repeated by the likes of Ross Young, Jon Prosser, and Korean site The Elec.

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We thought it might appear at the October event where we saw the launch of the Pixel 6 series, but unfortunately there was no sign of the Fold – or the also-rumoured Pixel Watch. That raises questions about whether it will appear this year at all, since Google doesn’t normally run any other year-end launch events.

Instead, it now looks likely that the phone will launch in spring 2022. That’s because Google has officially announced the timetable for Android 12L, an upcoming version update that will improve support for large screen devices like tablets – and foldables. There are beta releases scheduled until February 2022, with a final release likely in March – Google says it’s coming “early next year.”

It would certainly make sense for Google to release its own hardware to coincide with the Android 12L launch, especially since it says the software is launching “in time for the next wave of Android 12 tablets and foldables.” More to the point, it would be incredibly unusual for the company to release the Pixel Fold before the Android version that supports it. A spring release could also point to an unveiling at Google’s I/O developer conference, which usually happens in May.

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What will the Pixel foldable be called?

To be blunt, we have no idea – though most people online have started calling it the Pixel Fold. The only thing we know from Google is the phone’s internal codename: Passport. This has been spotted in various bits of Android code, including the first public beta of Android 12, as spotted by 9to5Google. ‘Passport’ appeared along with a model number – GPQ72 – believed to be tied to the phone’s Japanese variant. It’s worth noting that this still isn’t conclusive proof that the Pixel Fold will ever launch.

The same list also contained a model number for ‘Needlefish’, a Pixel codename from 2019 that was believed to be tied to a 5G Pixel 4 model that never materialised. Since Needlefish never launched, the Passport model number appearing here doesn’t prove anything – but it does add to the evidence that Google is at least working on a foldable phone.

What about the second Pixel Fold?

Before we get too far, it’s worth addressing the rumours of a second Pixel Foldable. First reported by 9to5Google, this phone is known only by its codename ‘Jumbojack’, which appeared in code related to Android 12.1, now known as Android 12L – the mid-cycle software refresh designed to include more substantial foldable phone support into Android 12.

The phone seems to include two displays, one of which becomes unavailable when the device is folded shut (which makes sense). We don’t actually know if it’s a real device intended for public release, or simply hardware used by Google for testing Android 12.1, though references to it as a ‘Pixel’ device in the code suggest the former.

As for the name, 9to5Google points out that it’s likely a reference to a cheeseburger from chain Jack in the Box. The site even suggests this may be a nod to the ‘hamburger’ folding format of phones like the Z Flip 3, rather than the ‘hot dog’ style of the Z Fold 3, though that might be a little more of a stretch.

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