Surprise: Now Google Has A Folding Phone Too

Image: Getty Images

A new patent from Google points to an alternative to the single fold smartphones we saw launched by Samsung and Huawei a few weeks ago during Mobile World Congress. The new design features two folds that allow the phone to have a typical smartphone size when closed but a larger, perhaps almost 9-inch display, when folly opened.

With Samsung and Huawei trading barbs about whether an inner fold or an outdone air best, Google asks the question - "What can't we have both?"

Google's Pixel handsets haven't exactly been the most innovative hardware on the market but they are extremely competent devices that show off Android's capabilities. So, while the tri-fold idea is interesting, it could be a way to encourage other phone makers to think more creatively about the designs for their hardware.

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Google and Samsung worked closely to create the Galaxy Fold but Google is obviously thinking further afield. While Samsung leads the Android smartphone market, and global smartphone market, it only represents about a third of the Android market. So there's lots of room for other makers to innovate with their own designs.

Samsung is likely to have supplied Google with folding displays, just as they have to Apple which is stuck playing catchup, again, in the design of new smartphone form factors. Apple totally missed the boat on larger displays, edge-to-edge screens and now, it seems, foldable displays. And while Apple is reportedly working on a folding iPhone, the challenges of getting a tight fold so the device is completely closed might be slowing the process with Apple's pursuit of clean lines perhaps slowing things down.

Last week, developers got their hands on the next version of Android. Android Q has specific support for foldable displays.

As well as Google, Patently Mobile reports that ZTE and LG have been granted their own patents for folding smartphones.

Image: USPTO via Patently Mobile

Putting all that together, it seems to that the next iteration of the Pixel will add a folding variant. With Samsung and Huawei kicking the folding display revolution off (the efforts of Chinese maker Royole with the FlexPai was first to market but in a very limited way), Android Q and this patent by Google show that folding smartphones are definitely going to hit the market in a big way.

The question remains, will they burn bright and fade away quickly, like last decade's netbooks, or all they become an enduring feature on the mobile landscape?


Comments

    One would never buy a phone that stores all our sellable personal information) from Google after the multi-billion dollar fine they recieved a while back via the European Courts!!
    ONE WOULD BE CRAZY TO DO SO!

      Google/Android exists to harvest your data, and sell it.

      Unfortunately too many consumers just dont care. They see a cheap, or free, product, and thats all that matters.

    So you want free services, without advertising, data mining, to use a search engine, maps, photos, free operating system, use incognito mode, free google news, YouTube. But not like TV, to have advertising, where’s the feedback, how do they tailor the advertising, so I get adds, that are relevant to me, not adds about sports, soap operas. How are they to tell me, about series that I actually like, anonymity is fine, privacy, but they give us free software, unlike Microsoft, free services.

    Not all of us can pay for TV, news, software, you pay for it if you like, I’ll let them have some information, pay for your cloud storage, data centres, server farms, anti virus, if you want.

      While I largely agree just to clarify one point; Android is NOT free. The manufacturers just include the licence cost in their devices pricing.

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