Google to launch its first foldable phone, the ‘Pixel Fold,’ in June

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Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google
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Google will launch its first foldable smartphone sometime in June, challenging Samsung’s market-leading foldable phone business, according to internal communications viewed by CNBC. It plans to announce the device at its annual developer conference, Google I/O, on May 10.

The Pixel Fold, known internally by the codename “Felix,” will have the “most durable hinge on a foldable” phone, according to the documents. It will cost upward of $1,700 and compete with Samsung’s $1,799 Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Google plans to market the Pixel Fold as water-resistant and pocket-sized, with an outside screen that measures 5.8 inches across, according to the documents. Photos viewed by CNBC show that the phone will open like a book to reveal a small tablet-sized 7.6-inch screen, the same size as the display on Samsung’s competitor. It weighs 10oz, slightly heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, but it has a larger battery that Google says will last for 24 hours, or up to 72 hours in a low power mode.

The Pixel Fold is powered by Google’s Tensor G2 chip, according to the documents. That’s the same processor that launched in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones last year.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment.

While hardware is a small fraction of Google’s revenue, the Pixel Fold is the most expensive phone in the company’s Google Pixel family. Google has been working on the software, including Android and its app store Google Play, for third-party devices made by companies like Samsung, the current folding phone market leader.

The Pixel Fold will give Google a chance to show what a fully Google-made foldable phone experience is like. Other Pixels, for example, have exclusive features that aren’t available on all Android phones, like photo editing options that are powered by the Tensor processor.

The launch comes amid questions about Google and Samsung’s relationship. Earlier this week, Alphabet shares fell more than 3.5% Monday after a Times report said Samsung is reportedly considering changing its default search engine from Google to Microsoft’s Bing for its lineup of smartphones, which drives an estimated $3 billion in annual revenue to Google.

The Alphabet-owned company will offer incentives in a bid to convince people to switch to the Pixel Fold, according to documentation. For example, Google plans to offer a trade-in option to swap in a current Pixel, iPhone or an Android-powered phone for a discount on the Pixel Fold. It also plans to offer a free Pixel Watch, the company’s latest smartwatch, to Pixel Fold buyers.