Google may force folding phones to be as reliable as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

samsung galaxy z flip 5
(Image credit: Future)

Google may soon force Android folding phones to meet certain durability and software support requirements if they want to use its operating system.

This change – if it comes into effect – would affect pretty much every new foldable released in the US, UK, and Australia (until Apple enters the folding phone game that is). This would likely include follow-ups to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, the Google Pixel Fold, and the Motorola Razr Plus (or Razr 40 Plus outside the US).

The news comes from Mishaal Rahman’s paywalled Patreon, an Android expert who says insiders have told him the changes are on the way (SamMobile has shared some of the details without a paywall). For a start, Google will apparently mandate that Android folding phones need to last for at least 200,000 folds (which is classed as a full cycle of being closed and opened) before it fails. 

This guarantee is already offered by Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5. That said, officially they don't meet the requirement that the device's hinge would also need to deliver at least 80% of the original friction torque – so a gadget can’t get away with having a hinge that’s disgustingly loose but not technically broken. Samsung's phone might achieve this, however, Samsung hasn't committed publicly to this kind of durability guarantee.

Beyond the hinge requirements, Rahman says that Google would also require that folding phone brands offer support for at least two major Android OS upgrades (i.e. a folding phone that launches with Android 14 would also need to support Android 15 and 16) as well as three years of security updates. Folding phones can offer software support for longer, these are just minimums.

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 front angled closed

Motorola Razr 40 Ultra (left) and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (right) (Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

We should take all leaks with a pinch of salt, but it’s not uncommon for Google to impose restrictions on people who develop hardware and software for Android. In the app world, new phone software has to target Android 13 or higher if a developer wants to release it on the Play Store.

Phones you can trust

Folding phones are serious investments – with recent releases like the Z Flip 5 setting you back $999.99 / £1,049 / AU$1,649 for its cheapest model. If you don’t buy one outright you might be tied into a phone plan that’s two years – or even three years – long and if the hinge fails partway through you’re likely going to feel burned by your purchase.

Not only would this taint your perspective of folding phones, but Google may be concerned that your bad experience and the resulting frustration could cause you to abandon the Android OS altogether. In your mind, Android is now linked with failure and unreliability.

If Google did introduce minimum requirements this would make folding phones feel much more reliable – especially as pretty much every notable foldable currently runs a version of the Android OS.

The only question we have left is how will Google go about verifying how sturdy the phones are. How you test a folding phone can seriously affect how long it lasts – with a recent live-streamed test breaking a Motorola Razr Plus in 126,300 folds, significantly less than the 400,000 folds Motorola has said it can survive. 

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.