Google's Pixel 5a, Pixel 6, and first foldable Pixel may already be in the works


While Google is not exactly known for its ability to keep a secret, losing control of the Pixel 4a leaking situation a long time ago, it definitely seems premature even by the search giant's notoriously low standards to have confidential information about unreleased devices revealed more than a year ahead of a possible announcement.

But here we are, reporting on an internal Android document the typically reliable folks at 9to5Google strongly believe to be legit, which appears to disclose Big G's full (albeit vague) mobile hardware plans for 2021. 

Before getting too excited (and there's definitely some exciting stuff included in the doc), you may want to keep in mind these types of long-term product roadmaps are often revised and adjusted to keep up with shifting consumer preferences and various supply chain complexities. The Pixel 4a XL is the perfect example of a planned and cancelled product, which means there are absolutely no guarantees Google will bring its current designs to fruition in the timeline projected right now... or ever, for that matter.

Foldable Pixel incoming?

If you had asked us a little over a year ago how many smartphone manufacturers were likely to get in on the ground floor of the foldable industry, we'd have probably thrown at least a dozen names around. But as many analysts predicted, these groundbreaking designs are a tough nut to crack, which is why a lot of companies haven't even tried to crack them yet, waiting for various interweaving technologies to become fully mature.

For its part, Google expressed its skepticism about the utility of the foldable concept way back when the conventional Pixel 3a mid-ranger was unveiled while confirming in no uncertain terms its prototyping work in this field, which was already taking place for "a long time."

Well, it appears that those efforts may bear fruit in the not-so-distant future, as the company is currently eyeing a Q4 2021 release for a device codenamed "passport" and explicitly labeled as a "foldable" in the internal document reviewed by 9To5Google.

Obviously, it's far too early to know more about Google's first-ever foldable Pixel phone, which may or may not see daylight by the end of next year and will almost certainly be referred by a different, fish-inspired codename in future reports and rumors. Apple's rookie foldable effort just so happens to be expected out in late 2021 as well, which means competition will definitely heat up in this fledgling Samsung-dominated segment... at some point.

Pixel 5a, Pixel 6, and 6 XL are also in the works

Between the cancellation of the Pixel 4a XL, the existence of both 4G LTE-only and 5G-enabled variants of the Pixel 4a, and the possible absence of a Pixel 5 XL model from Google's in-house 2020 product portfolio, we can definitely say the company likes to... keep things unpredictable.

For now, it looks like the 2021 Pixel lineup might be a little less... all over the place, including a "lower end mid year device" explicitly mentioned by the 5a moniker and two models codenamed "raven" and "oriole" that could well end up being called Pixel 6 and 6 XL.

The phones we presume to be the high-end Google Pixel 6 and 6 XL are tentatively slated for Q4 2021 announcements, while the handset pretty much guaranteed to come out as the Pixel 5a should do so at some point during the second quarter of next year. That's anywhere between April and June, which makes it crystal clear it was never the tech giant's intention to release this year's Pixel 4a in August.

Speaking of this year, it seems more and more likely that the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) will be up for grabs in October, a timeline only vaguely teased by Google earlier this week.

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