Google may release a foldable Pixel by late 2021

Android builds for Pixel 5a and at least two other first-party devices might also be on their way

A recently leaked internal Google document suggests that the company has marked the fourth quarter of next year for the release of a foldable Google Pixel phone, according to 9to5Google reports. The device, codenamed “Passport,” is said to be explicitly referred to as being “foldable,” and is included alongside a list of all Pixel devices going back to 2017’s Pixel 2.

As well as the foldable Pixel, the document also mentions a “lower end mid-year device” called the Pixel 5A with a “Q2 2021” release date, and two other devices codenamed “Raven” and “Oriole” for “Q4 2021.” 9to5Google speculates these could be Pixel 6 models. Finally there’s the Pixel 4A 5G and Pixel 5, which Google pre-announced alongside the Pixel 4A earlier this week.

Officially these devices are due to launch in the fall, but the document suggests they could arrive in October, consistent with a separate report from 9to5Google.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Google is working on a foldable Pixel device. In 2019 the company confirmed that it was prototyping the technology ahead of its annual I/O developer conference. However, at the time Google Pixel’s development lead Mario Queiroz tempered expectations by saying that the company had been working on the tech for “a long time,” and added that he didn’t think there was “a clear use case” for foldable devices yet. According to this document, however, it seems Google has plans to move beyond prototyping and use the delicate technology in a consumer device.

As 9to5Google notes, the leaked document is mainly concerned with developing Android for these different devices, and doesn’t reflect the hardware team’s final plans. With a year and a half to go until release, the schedule is also almost certainly subject to change. However, even if the release date shifts, it still suggests that Google plans to actually release a foldable device of its own.

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