Just a few days ahead of its product launch, Google unveiled an early look at its first foldable smartphone.
In a video posted to Twitter and YouTube, the company teased a Pixel phone with a vertical hinge that can be opened to reveal a tablet-like display.
The company will host its annual developer conference at its Mountain View, California, headquarters next week, where it’s rumored to also introduce a Pixel 7a budget phone, its latest Android operating system and advancements to its AI-powered Bard chatbot.
Although the company didn’t reveal specs for the Pixel Fold, it’s become increasingly common for companies to show off products leading up to their own events in an effort to drum up excitement and set expectations at a time when it’s difficult to surprise onlookers with something unexpected.
Despite great interest in foldable phones — and a resurgence in 90s-style flip phones among celebrities and TikTok influencers — the foldable market is relatively small; with Samsung dominating the category, followed by others including Motorola/Lenovo, Oppo, and Huawei. According to ABI Research, foldable and flexible displays made up about 0.7% of the smartphone market in 2021, and in 2022 expected to fall just shy of 2%.
High price points have limited consumer adoption, too. The Pixel Fold is rumored to start at $1,700.
It’s not surprising Google is dipping its toes into the world of foldables but it’s possible it waited to launch its own version until the technology became more advanced. Early versions of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, for example, had issues with the screen and most apps were not well optimized for the design.
“Google has been working on bringing better user experiences to foldable devices from a software perspective, so when coupled with improvements on the hardware side the market conditions are at a state now where it makes sense for a Pixel Fold,” said Michael Inouye, an analyst at ABI Research.