Popularizing the idea of foldable smartphones requires a wide variety of manufacturers to take notice of this niche, and surprisingly, Google could be one of them. Rumors suggest that a tentative Pixel Fold could come sooner than expected, at least based on some connection to the upcoming Pixel 6.
Google is not one to rush into new challenges instantly, so the idea that it is going to create a foldable phone is pretty unusual. The suggestion that it could come out within the next 12 months is even more unusual. However, it could be just that, judging by a small clue found in the latest Android 12 beta code.
The source code refers to devices codenamed Oriole, Raven and Passport. The Passport has long been associated with Google's first foldable device, which everyone is calling the Pixel Fold for now. Oriole and Raven, on the other hand, are supposedly the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
However, a more revealing detail is Samsung's 5G modem, designated as "g5123b". This is the same modem that will be used for the Pixel 6 series, suggesting that the Pixel Fold will be part of the same generation of Google devices that will run on the company's own chip, Tensor. If that's the case, chances are even higher that the foldable phone will be released with the next iteration of the Pixel in 2022.
Unfortunately, not much is currently known about the Pixel Fold. Sources claim that it will use Samsung's Ultra-Thin Glass (UTG) technology, but that component will be common to almost all future foldable phones. Google itself is clearly preparing Android for use on foldable devices, so a hardware implementation of a foldable phone from the OS' authors is of genuine interest.