While the Google Pixel Fold has been long rumored, recently things have been a bit quiet on the information tidbit front with no real mention of a foldable phone from Google on its way.
Given Google works to make Android friendly for foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, there's an argument that the search giant doesn't need to make its own folding phone. But an idealized version of a foldable phone from Google's perspective is still a tantalizing prospect.
With that in mind, here's what we've heard so far about the Google Pixel Fold and the search giant's foldable plans.
Google Pixel Fold latest news (Updated September 2)
- The Google Pixel Fold just got tipped for a 2023 launch, amidst reports of Google moving its production to Vietnam from China.
- The latest Google patents seem to confirm the rumor that the Google Pixel Fold will ditch the notch and instead feature a camera in the bezel.
- Google Pixel Fold may have just been leaked by Google's own app — Google's camera app seems to have an icon that hints at the Pixel Fold.
- Leaker and developer Kuba Wojciechowski has tweeted the likely camera hardware on the Google Pixel Fold. This includes a 50MP main camera along with two 12MP sensors and an 8MP one.
- After rumors that we would see the Pixel Fold arrive by the end of the year, a new report claims that Google has delayed the Pixel Fold yet again.
Google Pixel Fold rumored release date
The latest on the Pixel Fold's release date is that the foldable could be seen in 2023. According to a report in The New York Times (opens in new tab), Google is “exploring a foldable for 2023." The report goes on to say that the tech giant is looking at shifting more than half of its high-end phones 2023 manufacturing to Vietnam from China.
Last year, reports surfaced that Google had canceled its plans for the Pixel Fold, though rumors about the phone continue to bubble away. Soon, display expert Ross Young (opens in new tab) predicted that Google would launch the phone in the fourth quarter of 2022, after beginning assembly in Q3.
However, Young is now saying the Pixel Fold won't arrive this year, citing reports from the supply chain. A separate report in The Elec out of South Korea also suggests that the Pixel Fold launch has been delayed.
A recent report indicates that the Pixel Fold may have just been leaked by Google's own camera app. This could hint at the Pixel Fold being in works and maybe even on the horizon.
At this point, we'd assume that we won't see the Pixel Fold until 2023 at the earliest. Considering that the Pixel Fold was a no-show at Google I/O in May despite the fact that the company showed off a Pixel tablet that won't launch until next year, we'd assume the Pixel Fold isn't anywhere close to launching.
Google Pixel Fold price
While we haven't heard any specific numbers, 9to5Google (opens in new tab) reports that the Pixel Fold could cost less than the Galaxy Z Fold line (opens in new tab), and more specifically around $1,400, which would be a welcome move.
Right now, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the most expensive foldable you can get, costing $1,799. Flip phones like the new Galaxy Z Flip 3 or Motorola Razr 5G are a little more affordable at $999 and $1,399, respectively — affordable being a relative term in this case.
Google's approach with its most recent Pixel phones has been to undercut the competition, with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro both very competitively priced. In fact, we think it's one of the ways the Google Pixels beat the current iPhone and Galaxy phones.
Could the Pixel Fold do the same? Well, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 costs $200 less than its predecessor, so Google will certainly want to be on par or below Samsung's latest offerings.
Google Pixel Fold name: Pixel Notepad?
According to a report in 9to5Google, it's possible that the Google Pixel Fold could be called the Pixel Notepad. If this proves true, we would expect Google to offer stylus support, but that remains to be seen. The same report says that Google has considered other names, such as Logbook, but hopefully that's out of the running.
For now, we'll refer to the device as the Pixel Fold, as that's the moniker most rumor mongers are using.
Google Pixel Fold design
The best idea we have of how the Pixel Fold could look comes from animations found in Android 12L. This foldable and tablet-focused version of Android uses abstract illustrations of a foldable phone, one which could be based on the Pixel Fold. If it is, then we'll be getting a book-fold-style device with a full outer display alongside the big inner display. The shape of the device doesn't look as tall and skinny as something like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, instead bearing more resemblance to the squarer Oppo Find N.
One rumor now suggests that the Pixel Fold could have a novel solution to avoiding the notch. The rumor suggests it could have the camera on the bezel of the phone or it could do away with a camera altogether when the phone is opened out. This rumor seems to have substance. Google's latest patents show an in-bezel camera instead of a notch or pinhole. This means that the Pixel Fold could opt to forgo the under-display camera at the expense of having as little bezel as possible.
Any other details about Google's design plans for the Pixel Fold largely come from multiple patent filings the company has made for foldable devices. One such patent shows a device that opens on a hinge to reveal a larger screen, with the ability to slide out an additional display for added screen real estate. Another patent intriguingly teases a foldable that could fold in three places.
We don't know if these designs are anywhere close to reality — that's the drawback to relying on patents, which may cover products that never see the light of day. However, from the designs being teased in these filings, it seems that whatever Google has in the works has more in common with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the way the smartphone-sized device unfolds to reveal a larger display.
Adding fuel to that speculation is a report that Google has struck a deal with Samsung to get its hands on foldable OLED panels. (Samsung's a leading display maker and actually supplies the screens found on many phone built by its rivals, including Apple.) The original report claims that Google has ordered 7.6-inch panels, which just happens to be the size of the Galaxy Z Fold 3's internal screen. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 should have that same screen size, too, when it arrives later this year.
DSCC's Ross Young supports the idea of the Pixel Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 4 sharing a 7.6-inch screen size, but he forecasts a different-sized external display for Google's foldable. Young says the Pixel Fold will have a 5.8-inch cover display — more like the Oppo Find N's screen than the 6.2-inch panel on the outside of Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold phones.
Another report from The Elec (opens in new tab) backs up the claim that the Google Pixel Fold will feature a 7.6-inch display.
In addition, Samsung will reportedly supply Google with its ultra thin glass layer, which has been a crucial component in making Samsung's own foldables more durable. The display will supposedly also use LTPO technology, meaning that it can scale up to 120Hz.
Designer Waqar Khan has floated several different concept designs for the Pixel Fold, with the latest Pixel Fold design drawing on both the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Pixel 6 for inspiration. Khan's concept design features an external display that opens up to reveal the larger screen, just like the fold. Meanwhile, the camera array on the back of the phone stretches horizontally — a design Google ended up using for the Pixel 6.
Google Pixel Fold specs and cameras
Given the fact that past Pixel devices have been mainstays among the best camera phones, we'd expect any Pixel Fold that ultimately ships to follow suit and put an emphasis on cameras.
That doesn't necessarily mean a lot of lenses on the Pixel Fold. Before the Pixel 6 Pro arrived, Google traditionally shied away from adding multiple cameras — the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G only featured a main lens and an ultrawide shooter along with a front-facing camera. Depending on the Pixel Fold's design, Google could add more cameras, but the company seems to favor a less-is-more approach, instead choosing to focus on offering the best post-processing software for producing better photos.
One rumor suggested that there would be only a single 12MP rear camera on the Pixel Fold, and two front-facing 8MP ones according to data found in the Google Camera app. The single 12MP sensor is disappointing considering the rival Galaxy Z Fold 3 has three rear cameras.
However with its software powers, Google may still ensure the Pixel Fold takes the best photos of any foldable.
As for those two front-facing cameras, it's not clear how they're arranged. The obvious answer would be to have one on the front with an exterior display and another inside on the main unfolded display. However if there's only a single display on the Pixel Fold, perhaps the two cameras act as a main/ultrawide pair.
A recent tweet by leaker and developer Kuba Wojciechowski tweeted mentions the likely camera hardware we might see on the Pixel Fold. This includes a 50MP main camera along with two 12MP sensors and an 8MP one.
Chinese leaker Digital Chat Station on Weibo (opens in new tab) says that there will be no notch on the Pixel Fold’s internal screen. When translated to English, this rumor could be interpreted in two ways — that there will be no camera when the phone is opened out or it could mean that there will be a tiny camera on the bezel of the phone. This rumor doesn't mention any specs of the camera in question.
As for the processor powering the Pixel Fold, it would be logical for Google to go with its own in-house designed Tensor chip.
Used in the latest Pixel phones, the chipset might not beat the likes of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 but it's still plenty powerful. It's also smart and enables a lot of neat features in the current Pixels, so having it in the Pixel Fold, and potentially enabling the phone to adjust to a user's needs, makes sense.
This has been backed up by recent alleged benchmarks that apparently show the Pixel Fold running a chipset with eight cores and a clock speed ranging from 1.8GHz to 2.8GHz; that happens to be the same as the Tensor chip. This slice of silicon could also be paired with 12GB of RAM and a Mali-G78 GPU.
Google Pixel Fold software
Android 12 spots better software support for folding phones running Google's operations system, so that'll almost certainly be at the heart of the Pixel Fold; we doubt Google will make a custom folding phone OS. After all, Google has worked closely with Samsung to optimize its own apps for foldable screens.
The ability to build more foldable-friendly features into Android and then optimize them on a Google-built phone probably explains Google's interest in developing a Pixel Fold.
That's where Android 12L comes in. An extension of Android 12, this update brings features aimed at foldable phones to Google's software. Specifically, you can expect devices running Android 12L to offer an interface that takes better advantage of the vast screen real estate that's available. There will be support for additional multitasking options like multi-window and a taskbar, too.
Google may be experimenting with how the Pixel Fold's interface could work in Android 13. It was found in the first Developer Preview that switching between two different DPIs lets you have two separate home screens that you can arrange separately from one another. This is how the inner and outer displays behave on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold series, so it follows that Google's working out how to implement this natively.
Google Pixel Fold outlook
While the actual status of the Google Pixel Fold is still open for debate, we feel the time is right for a Google-made folding phone.
The evolution of Android has shown Google can make a slick mobile operating system, especially when the Pixel Launcher is added on top. So we relish the idea of that approach being assigned to foldable phones, as software still tends to be the area that's holding them back.
If Google can nail that side of things, it could create a foldable phone that sets the template for others to follow, maybe in terms of both hardware and software. Time, as ever, will tell here, but we're quietly optimistic about the potential the so-called Google Pixel Fold could have.