Foldable devices have only recently begun to gain traction, and the rivalry is fiercer than ever, with new folding hardware from Samsung and Motorola, and even more in China from Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo. On the other hand, Google could be planning its entry into this emerging market, with the Google Pixel Fold expected to come this year, despite rumors that it had been canceled.
We’ve compiled all of the latest news and rumors about Google’s first folding device.
When will the Google Pixel Fold be released?
There is no clear release schedule as of yet, as Google has not even verified the existence of a foldable gadget.
In 2020 9to5Google stated that it had seen leaked internal Google papers indicating that a foldable gadget would be available in the fourth quarter of 2021. That did not happen, and the phone also did not emerge in 2022.
That means 2023 is now the goal, and the good news is that early indications point to a spring 2023 launch, as revealed by display expert Ross Young, Korean site The Elec, and leaker Jon Prosser. That implies it could make an appearance at the Google I/O conference in 2023, possibly alongside the Pixel 7a, as detailed in a Pixel product roadmap acquired by Android Authority.
Of course, we have no idea when I/O will take place. Young predicts a March launch, with panel manufacturing reportedly beginning in January, though Prosser’s Front Page Tech predicts a May debut.
However, there is one more gloomy prediction: The Elec released a new report in January 2023 saying that full production for the phone has been postponed yet again and will not take place until Q3 of this year – from July to September. That doesn’t rule out a phone reveal at I/O, but it does mean that any such reveal would be months before the phone goes on sale, giving some cause to believe that the Fold will instead appear alongside the Pixel 8 in October.
Is the Pixel Fold canceled?
There were rumors that the Pixel folding had been canceled.
In 2021, Ross Young reported that “Google has chosen not to put the Pixel Fold to market,” citing insiders in the display supply chain who claimed that Google had canceled its component orders for the foldable.
Young speculated that Google was worried that “the product would not be as competitive as it needed to be,” because they would be competing mainly with Samsung “in a tiny specialized market confronting greater costs than their major rival.”
This appears to be improbable. Young has since reported that the Pixel Fold is back on schedule, and it appears that, while the company did rescind parts orders, Young was a little hasty in reporting that the phone as a whole had been scrapped.
What will the Pixel foldable be called?
To put it bluntly, we don’t know – though most people online have begun dubbing it the Pixel Fold.
9to5Google projected that it would be named the Pixel Notepad in 2022, but has since altered its tone and predicted that Fold is the more likely name.
Google has only revealed the phone’s codenames: Passport, Pipit, and Felix, which are thought to allude to various internal versions of the product.
The term ‘Passport’ was discovered in different pieces of Android code, including the first public release of Android 12, according to 9to5Google. It showed alongside a model number – GPQ72 – thought to be associated with the phone’s Japanese version.
‘Pipit’ has lately surfaced in Camera app code, a Geekbench entry, and sections of the Android 12L beta, according to 9to5Google thinks this is a new pseudonym for a foldable Pixel phone, while the Android 13 code introduced a third codename, ‘Felix,’ which has since surfaced on Geekbench and appears to reflect the phone’s final version.
How much will the Google Pixel Foldable cost?
This is another place where we don’t have a lot of information. There is no precedent to go on, and this gadget’s cost is still somewhat hazy. But one thing is certain: it will not be inexpensive.
9to5Google’s research uncovered a price, as well as the rumored moniker and release strategy, and the site claims that Google has a “target price” of $1,400 for the Pixel flexible in the United States.
If correct, that would put the phone $400 cheaper than its main competitor, the Samsung Z Fold 4. That would almost definitely be enough to make Samsung reconsider, and it could compel the Korean tech titan to lower prices for this year’s Z Fold 5.
However, we’ve heard a greater price elsewhere, with Front Page Tech estimating that the phone will cost a whopping $1,799 when it comes to the United States, making it much less competitive.
In any event, any foldable gadget Google releases in 2023 is likely to cost more than a grand, so you might want to start saving up for it now.
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What are the Google Pixel Foldable specs?
Displays and design
The primary addition to the Pixel feature set will be some kind of folding screen. This appears to be the book-style method taken by the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Huawei Mate X2, as opposed to the vertical clamshell configuration taken by the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Motorola Razr.
Getting the display right will be critical, as we’ve seen how difficult it is to prevent creasing in the display where it folds or the screens simply breaking, as with the original Samsung Galaxy Z Fold.
The most tantalizing models to date come from Front Page Tech and are allegedly based on pictures of the phone seen by the site. They reveal a foldable with three back cameras and a tall front monitor, comparable to the Pixel 7 Pro. The site also claims that it will be available in ‘Chalk’ and ‘Obsidian’ – a.k.a. white and black – and that its source claims the phone is “really f**king heavy,” which has since been confirmed by a 9to5Google report that the phone will be “heavier than the 263g Z Fold 4,” though no specific weight is given.
If you’re still not persuaded, consider that competitor leaker OnLeaks has created eerily identical renders in collaboration with the website HowtoiSolve. Both show comparable dimensions, a reasonably broad design, and nearly identical views of the updated camera bar.
According to OnLeaks, the cover display will be 5.8in, the interior screen being 7.7in, and the phone measuring 158.7 x 139.7 x 5.7mm when uncovered.
YouTube Dave2D obtained a plastic dummy unit of the phone, allegedly with completely exact physical measurements, to get a closer glimpse at the phone’s size and shape. He mentions how thin the phone is – each side is only 5.7mm thick, which matches OnLeaks’ specifications – and how the phone appears to shut completely flat, implying it uses a waterdrop hinge like recent Oppo and Xiaomi foldable but not Samsung’s latest.
Interestingly, he notices a camera cut-out inside the thick bezel of the interior screen on his dummy device, implying that this camera will reside inside the bezel rather than using a punch-hole (though there will appear to be a punch-hole on the front).
In terms of more precise screen specifications, The Elec has previously claimed that Google purchases the phone’s displays from Samsung. The most recent rumors point to a 7.57 foldable display and a 5.78 exterior screen, which are approximately by the figures used in the above images, though both OnLeaks and the Dave2D dummy point to a slightly bigger 7.67 interior display.
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Interestingly, The Elec reports that, while the phone will have the same ultra-thin glass (UTG) covering as Samsung’s foldable, it will not have the stylus support of the Z Fold 4, and will instead use an earlier, bulkier form of Samsung’s display technology – the type used before the Z Fold 3. That could make Google’s phone more difficult to compete with unless it undercuts the Galaxy in price.
In a report for 91mobiles, leaker and coder Kuba Wojciechowski added weight to those forecasts. He also claims that the Pixel Fold will have a Samsung-made panel with a resolution of 18402208 and measurements of 123mm x 148mm – which works out to the same 7.6in diagonal as previously reported. Wojciechowski adds that the monitor will have 1200 nits of brightness and may have a refresh rate of 120Hz, though he doesn’t affirm that exact number.
In terms of the outer display, the 5.8in stated dimension is lower than the 6.2in screen on the Z Fold 4. This includes a wider aspect ratio, implying that the cover display will be shorter and squatter than the Fold 4’s narrow screen, as seen in the images above.
Another clue in the design can be found in the Android 12L beta 2 animations, which appear to show the basic outline Google is using.
The two animations, discovered by 9to5Google, demonstrate how a SIM card can be put into the gadget (the second shows the phone in its closed form). We can see that it’s a broad book-style folding, but the aspect ratio appears to be closer to the square-ish shape of the Oppo Find N2 than any of Samsung’s Z Fold designs, which could help the Google foldable stick out when it debuts in Western markets.
In terms of fundamental specifications, it appears almost certain that the Fold will use the in-house Tensor G2 chipset created by Google for its Pixel 7 phones.
We assumed the Fold would use the first-generation Tensor because of a Geekbench 4 listing for a phone called ‘Google Pipit’ – recall, Pipit is one of the Fold’s expected codenames. The description does not identify the Tensor processor, but it does list an octa-core ARM CPU with a basic speed of 1.8GHz and a top speed of 2.8GHz, which is an identical match. It’s shown here with 12GB of Memory and, as expected, operating Android 12.
The second Tensor is far more likely to show now, and we’ve seen it on Geekbench as well, this time under the pseudonym ‘Google Felix’ – another known codename for the Fold. We see the second Tensor’s top speed of 2.85GHz and performance cores at 2.35GHz, and the phone appears to have 12GB of Memory once again, though this time it’s running Android 13.0.
Of course, if the Fold is delayed further, there’s a possibility it will eventually ship with the Tensor G3 processor that we’re hoping to see in the Pixel 8.
We believe we have a good idea of the phone’s camera specifications, but there are two important variations visible. The first originates from the 9to5Google story that revealed the Pipit codename. The site discovered code revealing the four image sensors thought to be used in the foldable: a 12.2Mp IMX363, a 12Mp IMX386, and two 8Mp IMX335 sensors. The latter two are labeled ‘inner’ and ‘outer,’ implying they’re for a set of photo takers.
For perspective, this appears to be a return to the camera specifications used before the recent Pixel 6 update. The IMX363 sensor is used for the primary camera in the Pixel 3, 4, and 5, while the IMX335 sensor is used for the selfie sensors in Pixels up to and including the 6, but not the 6 Pro. The IMX386 is also present in the Pixel 6, where it powers the ultrawide camera.
Separate code analysis by coder Kuba Wojciechowski shows the same collection of photo sensors, as well as a Samsung GN1 – the current primary sensor in the Pixel 6 and 7 phones.
Wojciechowski has also discovered a different camera system associated with the Felix codename, which he thinks is more likely to be what is seen in the finished foldable. A triple back camera is present here, with a 64Mp Sony IMX787 main sensor, a 10.8Mp Samsung S5K3J1 telephoto, and a 12Mp Sony IMX386 ultrawide sensor. The interior selfie camera looks to be an 8Mp Sony IMX355, with another Samsung S5K3J1 on the front (though presumably not used with a telephoto lens here).
While some speculated that Google would test an under-display camera on the Fold, renders and reports so far indicate otherwise: a normal punch-hole selfie camera on the outside screen and a camera integrated into the bezel on the inside. That would allow for an unbroken primary screen without the quality sacrifices imposed by cameras beneath the screen, though any camera tiny enough to fit into the interior frame would likely be quite restricted in any case.
We even have a rough notion of what that might appear like thanks to a patent discovered by 91mobiles, which was allegedly filed in June 2021.
Battery and charging
We don’t know much about the Pixel Fold’s charging powers, but we do know one thing. The same 9to5Google story that claims the phone will be bulkier than competitors explains why: it will have a larger battery.
There are no details provided, other than the fact that it will be bigger than the 4400mAh cell in the Z Fold 4 or the 4520mAh cell in the Oppo Find N2, but will still be “well below” 5000mAh. It’s quite large for a flexible, but not as large as some slab phone flagships.
The phone will also profit from software upgrades, such as features from Android 12L, an Android update that enhances support for large-screen devices such as tablets and foldable. It features improved split-screen support for all Android applications, two-column notification shade and control center arrangements, and a desktop-style taskbar, all of which we can expect to see on the Pixel Fold’s large screen.