Google may have shied away from a Pixel Watch, but a Pixel Fold still very much seems to be on the way — following a leak last August that revealed the company was planning to release its first folding Pixel phone in late 2021, Korean industry site TheElec is now reporting that Samsung will begin production of folding OLED panels this October for Google, Vivo and Xiaomi’s upcoming folding phones, all of which will reportedly be revealed late this year.
Google hasn’t exactly kept its folding phone ambitions a secret; in 2019, it published patent applications for its own folding screens and admitted it had been prototyping them for quite some time, telling CNET that it didn’t have “a clear use case yet.” But now, it appears Google has a foldable, codename “Passport,” that could be nearly ready to announce. 9to5Google even spotted a new reference to it last month in Android 12’s code, alongside other codenames believed to be the upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 5a 5G. TheElec says it’ll have a single 7.6-inch panel that folds inward, while Vivo’s upcoming phone will have a 8-inch main screen and a 6.5-inch outer display. It didn’t mention the size of the new Xiaomi phone’s screen.
It’s not clear whether a Pixel Fold would actually come with a display designed by Google itself, though it’s possible; Samsung acts as a contract manufacturer for many other companies, producing some of Apple’s homegrown processors as one example. Either way, one portion of the screen’s sandwich may still largely belong to Samsung itself: ETNews reports that Samsung will supply its proprietary ultra-thin cover glass (which is technically made by German manufacturer Schott) to other smartphone manufacturers, and Google is expected to use it.
Xiaomi already announced a folding phone earlier this year, the Mi Mix Fold, but it sounds like it’ll have a second one. TheElec also reports Oppo will be delaying a new foldable phone to 2022, with a 7.1-inch main screen and a smaller outer one between 1.5 and 2 inches diagonally.