Google’s heavily rumoured upcoming foldable phone could use a Samsung-made display a new report has claimed.

Not just any Samsung display, according to Korean publication ETNews, but one of the company’s most celebrated inventions – an Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) panel. For the uninitiated, UTG is essentially a razor thin piece of glass that can be flexed to a point without breaking. The idea is that it provides better, more study, tactile feedback than the plastic panels used in the original Galaxy Fold, or Motorola’s Razr 5G. 

Check out my video below testing out a UTG sample I received from German display manufacturer Shott, which worked with Samsung on the Fold 2’s display. 

My experience with UTG is that the difference between Motorola’s plastic panel and Samsung’s glass display is minimal, if at all noticeable. But reports have suggested that Samsung is working on thicker UTG that’s closer to the typical glass display found on traditional smartphones.

For Google’s new foldable pixel, and any other flexible phone, this would make a huge difference to the user experience, particularly it can be prodded without a protective plastic film, which I found distracting the Fold 2. 

The ETNews story doesn’t mention anything else about Google’s foldable phone other than it is in the works. But previous leaks suggest the bendable Pixel could release later this year or early 2022 according to tipster Jon Prosser. Published patents also hint at a book-style design – similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Fold range – that folds out into a tablet. 

Google will have some hurdles to clear for its first foldable phone, not least in hinge design which has proved tricky for some companies. The UI will also need to be carefully considered but Google has already done a lot of work to make sure the last two iterations of Android are foldable friendly. 

Improvements in recent Android updates include app continuity (so apps can continue running when the phone is resized). Apps reacting to the degree of the hinge to resize properly and, in Android 12, smoother audio transitions between which app is in use. But getting the hardware right will be paramount, which is something Google has struggled with in past Pixel releases. 

If a foldable Pixel does land this year, it will represent another major shift in launch strategy for the search company. Last year’s Pixel 5 was a cheaper concept than 2019’s Pixel 4 XL and there was only one model. Recent leaks point toward Google again making two models this year, with the “Pro” unit housing high-end specifications like a 120Hz OLED display. A flexible handset, alongside a high-spec new Pixel phone, will show Google is ready to return to the premium tier of handsets.

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