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Google Pixel Fold: Price, release date, features, and more

Pixel 5
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The rumored Pixel Fold will be Google’s first attempt at entering the foldable smartphone market, going head-to-head with well-established foldable giants like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold. While all eyes are on Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, a number of leaks indicate the first foldable Pixel will have plenty to show off, too.

Google’s main competition will no doubt be Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3, which has now been unveiled after Samsung's August Unpacked event, along with the Galaxy Flip 3. Keep in mind, however, that we wouldn’t be getting a Pixel Fold (or any of its leaks) without Samsung Display developing a major component of the phone. 

According to sources speaking to 9to5Google, there is a second foldable Pixel phone in the works. Named "Jumbojack," the foldable is expected to be an internal testing device, featuring two displays that act like the Samsung Galaxy Fold. For now, the Pixel Fold is still the foremost anticipated device.

That said, a recent report states the Pixel Fold may have been canceled, meaning it was scrapped before it even saw the light of day.  

Foldable phones may be in a tragic state at the moment, but the Pixel Fold — along with the upcoming foldables from Samsung — aims to shift the dynamic and bring about the era of foldable smartphones. Samsung may have laid the foundation in 2019, but Google could bring folding phones to the mainstream. The Pixel Fold, or whatever it may be called, has yet to be officially announced, but we already know a thing or two about its price, release date, design, and more. 

Google Pixel Fold release date

With this being Google’s first Pixel phone with an entirely different form factor, it’s difficult to pinpoint when the Pixel Fold will be revealed. That said, a report from The Elec from earlier this year suggested the Fold will arrive by the end of 2021 or early 2022. Google's Pixel Fall Launch event has come and gone, however, which means the Pixel Fold launch is leaning more towards 2022.

To back this up, the team at 9to5Google uncovered references to the foldable Pixel in the most recent Google Camera app. A listing code states "isPixel2022Foldable," which points to a 2022 launch date. This means we may see the Fold sometime in April to coincide with the launch of Android 12L, the new tablet and foldable optimized version of Android 12.

Earlier this year, tipster Yogesh Brar claimed that the launch of the Pixel Fold had been delayed. While this suggests that an early 2022 projection is more likely, senior director of Display Supply Chain Consultants, David Naranjo, states otherwise.

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As previously reported, Google's first foldable has remerged thanks to new animations spotted in the Android 12L Beta 2, indicating the highly anticipated Pixel Fold may not be canceled after all, as previously suspected by display analyst Ross Young. What's more, it's expected to sport a similar design to the Oppo Find N.

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The beta shows distinct animations showcasing how to insert a SIM card into a foldable device when open and closed, with Google's signature logo at the center of the smartphone. This is similar to the animation shown when setting up other Pixel devices such as the recent Pixel 6.

As reported by 9to5google, the animation also makes reference to one of the Pixel Fold's alleged codenames: "Pipit." Previously, Google's foldable had been referred to as "Passport," but has recently been known as Pipit as shown in a leaked Geekbench listing (via Notebookcheck). 

Google Pixel Fold alleged sim insertion

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

With the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro already out in the wild, it looks like the Pixel Fold won't be announced until early 2022. It could only be a matter of months until we see the Pixel Fold become official. 

(Image credit: Waqar Khan)

Google Pixel Fold price

Not much is known about how much the Pixel Fold will set customers back, but if previous Pixel phones are anything to go by, Google may be offering a more affordable alternative to the $1,799 price point of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2. 

(Image credit: Waqar Khan)

After the success of the Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a 5G priced from just $499, along with the Pixel 5’s price drop to $699 and the best Android value ever, the Pixel 6, Google hit the mark for mid-tier smartphones bringing flagship capabilities. What’s more, Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated that Google has "definitely shown that Pixel 4a, Pixel 5 are a clear value proposition. We'll build on that."

In order to beat any potential competition from other foldables hitting the market in 2021, Google will likely need to stick with its plan to keep costs down with its Pixel phone lineup. While it definitely won’t be as low as the Pixel 4a 5G, we could see the Fold being slightly pricier than the retail price for the Pixel 6: $599. Could the Pixel Fold be a sub-$1,000 foldable smartphone? We’ll keep our fingers crossed. 

Google Pixel Fold design

So far, the Pixel Fold has yet to reveal itself. While there have been no sneak peeks of its form factor or how it may look, designer Waqar Khan created design renders based on the leaks that have surfaced. 

According to reports from The Elec, the Pixel Fold is expected to have a 7.6-inch in-folding display panel, with a form factor along the lines of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold. It is expected to boast a display on the front along with an inner folding display.

The renders show off a near-exact design to the Pixel 5, although with an extra foldable screen. We were fans of the look and feel of the Pixel 5, with its compact footprint and thin, curved edges. We’d be happy to see the Pixel Fold take some design cues, especially if the Fold doubles its width. This will be Google’s first whack at a foldable, so its design may come with a few issues — though we hope the tech giant took lessons from Samsung’s early attempts. 

Google Pixel Fold display

The majority of Pixel Fold rumors had a focus on its display, and it’s looking to impress. According to display panel insiders Ross Young and David Naranjo, all foldables set to arrive with panels from Samsung Display will be equipped with a 120Hz LTPO display — which is something we’re more than excited to hear. This includes the Pixel Fold, along with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3. However, Young stated these would arrive in 2021, yet we still have no Pixel Fold.  

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 display (Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Thanks to Samsung Display, the Pixel Fold is expected to have a 7.6-inch in-folding display panel. This makes it smaller than other displays Samsung Display is apparently developing.

We also may have seen a sneak peek at the Fold. As shown in the animations from the Android 12L Beta 3, the Pixel Fold bares a more box-shaped design like the recently released Oppo Find N, rather than the narrow structure of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. There is a notable hinge on the left side of the foldable, along with a bump on the right side indicating the volume buttons. 

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

Google Pixel Fold cameras

Uncovered by 9to5Google, codes in the Google Camera app offered a precise rundown of the camera specs for the phone.

According to the findings, the primary wide-angle camera on the foldable Pixel is the same 12.2MP IMX363 found in the Pixel 5 and a number of other Pixels. While Google definitely wrings every last bit of performance out of that thing, it was showing its age two years ago.

A secondary 12MP Sony IMX386 is also listed, that is the same sensor that is used for the ultra-wide in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, so presumably, it is doing that duty on the foldable Pixel as well. Like the Sony IMX363, this sensor was first released in 2016. 

No telephoto lens, unfortunately, but it will feature two 8MP Sony IMX355 front-facing cameras, one on the outer display and one on the inner display. That is the same front-facing sensor that Google used for the Pixel 3 in 2018.

Google Pixel Fold performance

Foldables are known to be equipped with high-end specs. Seeing as Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon 888 Plus 5G for flagship smartphones launching toward the end of 2021, Google could pack its Pixel Fold with the chip maker’s latest chip. With the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro launch, however, we now know the foldable Pixel is likely to be powered by a Tensor chip. 

As spotted by Notebookcheck, two listings codenamed "Google Pipit," another rumored codename for the Pixel Fold, has been found on Geekbench. According to the listing, the Pixel Fold will be powered by the Tensor chip, and boast 12GB of RAM. This is the same as the Pixel 6 Pro. However, Geekbench can be unreliable for rumored phones, as certain listings can be faked. 

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Previous rumors of Google making its own chip for Pixel devices, codenamed “Whitechapel,” came to be true. Google Tensor is Google's first-ever in-house silicon for phones, bringing enhanced speech recognition capabilities for better performance from Google Assistant and more features to be powered by AI and machine learning.

"Tensor enables us to make the Google phones we’ve always envisioned —  phones that keep getting better, while tapping the most powerful parts of Google, all in a highly personalized experience. And with Tensor’s new security core and Titan M2, Pixel 6 will have the most layers of hardware security in any phone," Google wrote in a blog post.

Cameras on Pixel devices will also be getting an upgrade thanks to the Tensor chip, as the improved AI is said to offer clearer, DSLR-like photos. With faster performance, Pixel phones are also expected to gain a boost in battery life.

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Recently, modder cstrack27 found three codenames relating to Google's upcoming Pixel devices that could sport the same modem. In the tweet, it lists Oriole, Raven and Passport, which were codenames for the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Pixel Fold, respectively. The “g5123b” codename is expected to be a Samsung 5G modem. With the "Passport" codename being mentioned along with the codenames for the next Pixel smartphones, that's a good sign the Pixel Fold is getting identical technology.  

While the new chip will be used in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, if the Pixel Fold launches alongside Google's flagship phones or follows closely behind, there’s reason to believe all Pixel phones will boast the same chip, or at least something similar. 

Qualcomm's new Snapdragon is another contender. The new smartphone chip's 6th generation Qualcomm AI Engine will offer a 20% improvement over the last chip, with up to 32 trillion operations per second (TOPS) AI performance, and 5G download speeds up to 7.5 Gbps. This is quite the improvement from a flagship chip that came out in December. All that being said, Qualcomm didn’t mention Google being part of the brands that will use the upgraded chip.

Outlook

There’s still a lot to learn about Google’s first foldable phone, but there’s more than enough reason to think a Pixel Fold is on its way, and soon. With a 7.6-inch 120Hz LTPO in-folding display panel apparently in the works, and the potential for Google to offer an affordable foldable as opposed to Samsung’s pricey Galaxy Z Fold, the Pixel Fold could easily kick off the year of the foldables if it arrives later in 2021.

While we wait for the potential early 2022 release date, check out everything we know about Google’s official smartphone, the Pixel 6