The Google Pixel Fold has been on our radar for a while, even if rumors about the foldable phone have been quiet recently. Nevertheless, a number of Google watchers insist that we're going to see a Pixel Fold in the coming year. So if that's true, what should we expect?
Given Google works to make Android friendly for foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, 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. And it could mean more competition for the title of best foldable phone, which is always a good thing. (Speaking of competition, here's how a Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 face-off could shake out based on early rumors about Google's phone.)
With the caveat that there's still more details about Googles foldable plans that need to emerge, 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 January 17)
- Check out this hands-on with a Pixel Fold dummy unit
- Google could be preparing the Pixel Fold to launch at the same time as its biggest rival.
- Based on rumors thus far, here's how the Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 comparison is shaping up.
- New renders of the Google Pixel Fold have given us another glimpse at what Google's first foldable phone could look like.
Google Pixel Fold rumored release date
The Google Pixel Fold's release date has long been open to speculation, now Front Page Tech (opens in new tab) has said it could launch in May 2023 along with the Pixel Tablet. For what it's worth, Google typically holds its developers conference in May each year, and at the 2022 event, it showed off the Pixel 6a and Pixel 7 phones.
However, display analyst Ross Young reckons the Pixel Fold could arrive in the first quarter of 2023, at least going by his forecast of panel shipments and production. This would seem like a fairly decent prediction to us, though we'd not yet put a substantial sum on it. Hopefully, we'll see the Pixel Fold next year before the summer comes calling.
If you want yet another opinion, another source claims the Pixel Fold could instead arrive in late summer/early fall. That would coincide with the likely launch of the Galaxy Z Fold 5, but is far later than either of the other two sources are saying.
Google Pixel Fold price
Some rumors indicate that the Pixel Fold could cost less than the Galaxy Z Fold line, while others say that it could as much as Samsung's top tier foldables.
Front Page Tech has just said that the Pixel Fold could cost as much as $1,799 which is much more expensive than the Pixel 7 series and as much as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
9to5Google (opens in new tab) earlier reported 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 4 is the most expensive foldable you can get, costing $1,799. Flip phones like the new Galaxy Z Flip 4 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 7 and Pixel 7 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.
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
Going by the rumors thus far, the Google Pixel Fold could look a lot like a thicker Google Pixel 7 Pro from the outside, and then fold out like a Galaxy Z Fold 4 to reveal its larger internal display. But unlike the latter phone, the Pixel Fold could have a shorter but wider outside display, offering a look that's not too far away from the Oppo Find N.
New Google Pixel Fold renders seemingly based on leaked information, showcase this design and hint at a folding phone that sits between the Find N and Galaxy Z Fold 4.
A later plastic dummy of the Pixel Fold, presumably based on these leaks, was later revealed, showing how the design looks in reality, albeit with some of the features missing.
Apparently the foldable Pixel will feature a 7.69-inch inner display and a 5.79-inch outer display, and measure 158.7 x 139.7 x 5.7mm (6.2 x 5.5 x 0.2 inches) when unfolded, or 8.3mm deep (0.3 inches) if you include the Pixel 7-style shiny metal camera bar. And it'll supposedly be available in either silver or black.
Developer Kuba Wojciechowski has leaked key display details of the Google Pixel Fold noting the resolution of the inner display is expected te be 2208 x 1840. This is extremely close to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 specs as well that has a 7.6-inch inner display.
The inside display will also reportedly have a 120Hz refresh rate, although the leaker is not certain about this. In terms of brightness, we could see the display get 1200 nits of peak brightness with an average brightness of 800 nits.
One rumor 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.
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.
A leak by Front Page Tech (opens in new tab) mentions that the front cameras on both the outer and inner screen will have the same 9.5MP camera. As for the cameras on the back — they will be arranged in a similar manner to the Pixel 7 Pro and could very well be the cameras on the 7 Pro — 50MP main lens, 12MP ultrawide camera, and 48MP telephoto camera.
Another 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.
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 or the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 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. More benchmarks have since backed these up, and show that while this possible Pixel Fold beats the Pixel 7 Pro on performance, it can't match up to Snapdragon-powered rivals like the Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Google Pixel Fold software
Android 12 introduced 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 brought features aimed at foldable phones to Google's software. Specifically, devices running Android 12L offer an interface that takes better advantage of the vast screen real estate that's available. There's support for additional multitasking options like multi-window and a taskbar, too. Those changes have been rolled into 2022's Android 13 update.
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.