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Google Pixel Fold: Everything we know so far

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 7 and Pixel 7 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 4, which is gearing up to be unveiled at Samsung's August Unpacked event. 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. 

Foldable phones may have been in a tragic state, 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 rumors

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 suggested the Fold would arrive by the end of 2021 or early 2022. That didn't happen, and Google I/O 2022 has already shown off what we can expect until early 2023.

The rumor mill is seeing more evidence of a foldable Pixel. Developer Kuba Wojciechowski revealed camera specs for upcoming Pixel phones, including the Pixel Fold.

What's more, Young stated that it may arrive in the fourth quarter of 2022, despite Google itself showcasing details of devices set to arrive at the end of 2022 and in early 2023 at I/O 2022. However, this has apparently been pushed back to spring 2023, as Google may want to use a next-gen Tensor chip in it.

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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.

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 Pixel 6.

Google Pixel Fold alleged sim insertion

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

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 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 3

(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."

(Image credit: Waqar Khan)

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. 

The renders show off a near-exact design of 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. 

According to Digital Chat Station on Weibo, who announced that Chinese manufacturer Foxconn will develop the Pixel Fold and rumored high-end Pixel 7, the Pixel Fold will have a folding screen similar to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold. The post also reveals the Pixel Fold will have a similar back cover to the Pixel 7, while the front will look like Oppo's first foldable, the Find N. The internal screen, on the other hand, will be a full screen without a notch — no hole-punch hole camera in sight. 

“The inner screen has a full screen without a hole, and the ultra-micro-hole camera is on the frame,” the post states. The post is translated using Google Translate, so it's hard to know what this means exactly. Instead of an under-display camera, apparently, there could be an "ultra-micro-hole camera" somewhere on the frame, possibly in the bezel. That said, we may not see a camera when the foldable is open, meaning no selfie camera.

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

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. 

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.

However, Ross Young says otherwise, stating that the foldable Pixel would have a smaller 5.8-inch cover display compared to the rumored Galaxy Fold 4's 6.19-inch display.

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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.

In a dive into Google code, developer Kuba Wojciechowski gave us a look at camera details for the Pixel Fold. Apparently, it will offer a "standard GN1 for the main sensor, IMX363, IMX386 (Pixel 6's ultrawide) - listed as "FOLDED" and IMX355 (Pixel 6's front)."

Google Pixel Fold performance

Foldables are known to be equipped with high-end specs, and the Pixel Fold isn't looking any different. It was previously believed to house the same Tensor chip as the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, but now that we're getting closer to the Pixel 7, we could see it use a next-gen 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 got an upgrade thanks to the Tensor chip, as the improved AI offered clearer, DSLR-like photos. Whether the next-gen Tensor chip will bring huge improvements? Only time will tell, but there's reason to believe the Pixel Fold will come packed with Google's custom 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 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 in 2023.

While we wait for the potential early 2023 release date, check out all things Pixel 7, along with Google's affordable Pixel, the Pixel 6a

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.