This Pixel fold prototype has one feature that never made it to market

Google Pixel Fold shown in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While the Pixel Fold launched last summer, years after competitors like the Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip hit markets, rumors had long been circulating that Google was working on its own foldable phone. 

It even had a prototype ready a year before the Fold, Google’s Ivy Ross confirmed it was scrapped in a 2023 Made by Google Podcast. Now we have our first look at that prototype, and it has one key feature that never made it to the final product. 

Photos of a Pixel Fold-like device featuring a Pixel 6-era design recently surfaced in an XDA forum thread. While the original images have since been deleted, an anonymous source inside Google confirmed to Android Authority that they were of the canceled Pixel foldable codenamed "Pipit." 

Another rumored Pixel foldable codenamed "Passport," which we first heard chatter about back in 2020, apparently started as a separate device before the two projects were merged into a single device known under the "Pipit" name internally.  

LEAKED photos of scrapped Pixel Fold predecessor! #google #pixelfold #googlepixel #tech - YouTube LEAKED photos of scrapped Pixel Fold predecessor! #google #pixelfold #googlepixel #tech - YouTube
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Most interestingly, Google prototyped stylus support for the Fold prototype: "the last prototype including this concept was “PIPIT EVT 1.0 Stylus,” while the other versions of the device made it through to the much later DVT stage," according to Android Authority. We can speculate that this stylus would function similarly to the S Pen found on Samsung's Galaxy Fold series, perhaps even featuring a retractable tip to help users avoid putting too much pressure on the foldable's delicate inner screen. 

In terms of design, not much has changed between Pipit and the first-gen Pixel Fold. The Pipit's outer display is slightly smaller at 66 x 128mm compared to the Pixel Fold's 67 x 130mm display. The canceled Pixel Fold borrows a few design cues from the Pixel 6 series, like a single piece of glass with metal rails at the top and bottom that runs throughout the entire width of the device. The camera bar also more closely resembles the Pixel 6's configuration than that of the final product. 

According to specs shared with Android Authority, the two share the same Sony IMX363 12 MP lens and there's no telephoto lens, which was a Pixel 6 Pro exclusive. Spec-wise, the prototype was powered by the first-gen Tenser and Exynos Modem 5123 instead of the Tensor G2 with Exynos Modem 5300 found on the Pixel Fold.

Why Google opted to shelf its Pipit prototype isn't immediately clear from these images and specs. Still, this is an interesting look at the Pixel Fold that could have been. 

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.