Google Pixel may have a flip display screen to deliver the battle to the Samsung Galaxy Fold

When it comes to folding smartphones, there really is only one name in town: Samsung. The South Korean company was the first mainstream manufacturer to introduce a mobile phone with a flexible screen, the Galaxy Fold. The following year, the company continued to dominate the well-received Fold 2 and the Galaxy Z Flip. Despite a short-lived challenge from Huawei with its Mate X and some efforts from Motorola, there wasn’t much competition for Samsung.

However, that could change. In view of the rumors that Apple could plan an iPhone with a foldable touchscreen, Google is apparently also looking into the possibility of a future entry in its popular Pixel smartphone series.

Microsoft-owned blog WindowsUnited has discovered a number of patents filed by Google that describe a range of technologies required to create a foldable smartphone. Interestingly, Google seems to be looking into two competing solutions for the all-important hinge design.

The Mountain View-based company appears to be investigating both an inward and outward-facing hinge. These different designs would open the smartphone like a novel or turn itself over – like a reporter’s notebook. Samsung went for the former while the Huawei Mate X used the latter. And based on what we’ve seen in the market so far, it seems Google would be well advised to go with the book-like design.

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This approach has the advantage that the softer, more fragile, flexible touchscreen is protected by folding it up. However, in order for smartphone users to be able to answer calls, quickly check instructions in Google Maps or other frequently used tasks without having to open the main display every time, another touchscreen must usually be attached to the outside of the case.

The patents for these contrasting hinge designs were filed in July 2020 and published publicly a few days ago. The coronavirus crisis disrupted Google’s launch plans for smartphones last year and postponed the launch of the cheaper Pixel 4a from the planned announcement during the Google IO developer conference to autumn. It remains to be seen whether the early development of a foldable pixel smartphone, which this patent application suggests, took place at the same time.

Google usually unveils its flagship Pixel hardware during a showcase in October. Only time will tell if we’ll see a new foldable phone from the U.S. search firm during this year’s event. However, Google has worked hard to optimize its Android operating system for the latest hardware innovations, including folding designs from Samsung, Motorola, and dual-screen phones like Microsoft’s Surface Duo, which is also supported by Android.

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