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Google Pixel Fold — everything we know so far

a concept render of the Google Pixel Fold
(Image credit: MacRumors render)

The Google Pixel Fold still only exists as a rumor with Google keeping tight-lipped on any plans it has for a foldable phone. However, that's not stopped the rumor mill from churning and spitting out alleged leaks and claims around the so-called Pixel Fold. 

These tidbits of information so far seem to have a Pixel Fold tipped to arrive sooner than later, which would make sense as the world of foldables is expanding; just take a look at our best foldable phones list. 

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 May 3)

Google Pixel Fold rumored release date

There have been rumors suggesting that Google may have canceled its plans for the Pixel Fold. But the jury is out on this especially as Pixel Fold rumors are still bubbling away. 

The strongest claim we've got about a release date for the phone is from display expert Ross Young (opens in new tab), who says Google will launch the phone in the fourth quarter of 2022, after beginning assembly in Q3. That could mean it's not that long until we see Google's first ever foldable, although arriving in Q4 could mean it distracts from the more conventional Pixel 7 that's thought to be coming at the same time.

Given that more foldable devices, including laptops, are being showcased the time seems ripe for Google to enter the foldables fray. And it would seem logical too, given it has an advert on YouTube (opens in new tab) promoting the way Google apps work with Samsung's latest foldable phones, offering some hint that Google was paying attention to foldables. 

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.

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.

Google Pixel Fold: Pixel Fold patent

(Image credit: USPTO)

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.

Pixel Fold concept design shows a look similar to the Pixel 6

(Image credit: Waqar Khan/Let's Go Digital)

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.

The only rumor we've got to go on right now is 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.

google pixel 6 tensor

(Image credit: Google)

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.

Google Pixel Fold: galaxy z flip

Flex Mode on the Galaxy Z Flip is supported by Google's software. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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. 

android 12l multitasking gif

(Image credit: Google)

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.

A Google Pixel 4 XL running on Android 13 next to a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, showing the Android 13's tablet-style interface

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

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. 

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.