Google will be the latest to Join the foldable smartphone market and they've chosen to use Ultra-Thin Glass for the 'Pixel Fold'
In mid-April Patently Apple posted a report titled "A Google Patent Published today shows that their Engineering Team is working on Future Foldable Devices." Our cover graphic presents images from that patent. Then in mid-May Patently Apple posted another report titled "Google Patent Published this Month by the U.S. Patent Office Reveals a Future Foldable Pixel Phone." Graphics from that patent are presented below.
Then in June we posted another report titled "Rumor Claims that Samsung Display will be Supplying Google with Displays for the first 'Pixel Fold' smartphone due out in late Q4" the report noted that Google was going to introduce a fresh new Pixel phone design and their first foldable phone in Q4 that will have a traditional form factor like the one presented below, instead of a unique design like their patents have shown. At least the patents provided us with a heads-up that Google was planning to introduce a foldable Pixel phone. It came faster than expected.
Today The Elec is reporting that Google's Pixel Fold will use second generation display materials known as "Ultra-Thin Glasses" (UTG) as opposed to first generation polymide films. The Pixel Fold will reportedly offer a 7.6" in-fold style design.
Last September Patently Apple posted a report titled "Samsung is beginning to work with Corning's Ultra Thin Glass Substrates for future Galaxy Fold smartphones.
The report noted that "Looking forward, it's been revealed that Samsung Electronics has partnered with Corning in developing its own "foldable glass." Using Corning’s glass substrate, it will look to develop cover glass for foldable smartphones that can be bent or folded.
According to display industry sources, Samsung Electronics IT & Mobile Communications Business recently started receiving necessary glass substrates from Corning that are required for development of foldable glass. They have established a partnership in order to materialize 'ultra-thin glass (UTG)' that is a key material for cover window used for foldable smartphones."
Interestingly today's report from The Elec mentioned that Chinese display supplier BOE will be entering the UTG market with foldable glass for China's Honor smartphone brand that will be introducing an 8.03" inner display.
BOE will also be supplying Apple with about 5-6% of the OLED displays for iPhone 13.
Apple has 71 patents covering foldable, scrollable and slidable device form factors on record. In November Patently Apple posted a report titled "A new Rumor Claims that Apple is working with Several Supply Chain Partners in Preparing for Future Foldable Devices."
It's still a mystery as to whether Apple will follow the pack (Samsung, Microsoft Google, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Honor) or shift their focus toward another form factor such as a foldable iPad or a scrollable iPhone or even another device like their upcoming mixed reality headset.