Foldable devices have been getting better in the last year or two, and the competition is heating up in 2022 as Samsung and Motorola update their foldable hardware.
The Google Pixel Fold is expected to come out this year, so the company could be getting ready to join this growing market. Some reports, though, say that the foldable phone may have been put on hold or even cancelled.
All the news and rumours about Google’s first foldable device are collected here.
When will Google release the Pixel Fold?
Google hasn’t confirmed a foldable device, so there’s no release date.
9to5 Google claims it has seen leaked internal documents predicting a foldable tablet in 2021. Ross Young, Jon Prosser, and the Korean site The Elec all made the same prediction. But that didn’t happen, and the Pixel 6 series launch came and went without a foldable phone.
9to5 Google later found code that said “isPixel2022Foldable,” which seemed to confirm that the Pixel Fold would be released at least this year. Some people wanted it to come out at Google’s I/O developer conference in May, but that didn’t happen. After that, leaks from both 9to5Google and display industry analyst Ross Young pointed to an October release along with the Pixel 7 flagship phone.
There are some reasons to be worried, though. Young has changed his prediction, and he now says, along with Korean site The Elec and leaked Jon Prosser, that the foldable has been pushed back to spring 2023. This means it could show up at next year’s I/O, maybe with the Pixel 7a. Leaker In August 2022, Digital Chat Station said that the phone was still on its way and that Foxconn was in charge of putting it together.
Is there no Pixel Fold?
Some people thought that Google had stopped making the Pixel foldable.
Ross Young wrote last year that “Google has decided not to bring the Pixel Fold to market,” citing sources in the display supply chain who said that Google had cancelled its orders for parts for the foldable.
Young said that Google was worried that “the product wouldn’t be as competitive as it needed to be” because its main competitor, Samsung, would be in a small niche market with higher prices than Google.
But this doesn’t seem likely. Young has since said that the Pixel Fold is back on track. It looks like the company did cancel some orders for parts, but Young may have been too quick to say that the phone as a whole had been scrapped.
What do you call the pixel that folds?
To put it simply, we don’t know, but most people online have started calling it the Pixel Fold.
According to 9to5Google, it will be called the Pixel Notepad instead. However, this is just a “working brand name,” so it could still change.
Google has only told us the phone’s internal codenames, which are Passport and Pipit.
9to5 Google found the word “passport” in different parts of the Android code, including the first public beta of Android 12. It showed up with a model number, GPQ72, that is thought to be for the Japanese version of the phone.
It’s important to note that this is still not a sure sign that the Pixel Fold will ever come out. On the same list, there was also a model number for “Needlefish,” which was a Pixel codename from 2019 and was thought to be a 5G Pixel 4 model that never came out. Since Needlefish was never released, this Passport model number doesn’t prove anything, but it does add to the evidence that Google is at least working on a foldable phone.
More recently, the name “Pipit” has shown up in code for the Camera app, a Geekbench listing, and parts of the Android 12L beta. 9to5Google thinks that this is a new codename for the same foldable Pixel phone.
What’s the deal with the second Pixel Fold?
Before we go any further, it’s important to talk about the rumours of a second Pixel Foldable. First reported by 9to5Google, this phone is only known by its codename, “Jumbojack.” This name was found in the code for Android 12.1, which is now called Android 12L. This is the mid-cycle software update that is meant to add more foldable phone support to Android 12.
The phone seems to have two screens, but when the device is closed, one of them can’t be used (which makes sense). We don’t know if it’s a real device that will be sold to the public or just hardware that Google is using to test Android 12.1. However, the fact that it’s called a “pixel” device in the code suggests that it’s a real device.
9to5Google says that the name probably comes from a cheeseburger from the chain Jack in the Box. The site even suggests that this could be a reference to the “hamburger” folding style of phones like the Z Flip 4, rather than the “hot dog” style of the Z Fold 4, though that might be a bit of a stretch.
What will the price be for the Google Pixel Foldable?
Again, we don’t know too much about this. There is no history to look at, and pricing for this type of device is still not clear. One thing is almost certain, though: it won’t be cheap.
In its report, 9to5Google found a price along with the rumoured name and release plan. According to the site, Google’s “target price” for the Pixel Notepad in the US is $1,400.
It would put the phone $400 below its primary competition, the Galaxy Z Fold 4. That would make Samsung consider and may compel it to cut Z-Fold 5 prices next year.
Any foldable device Google makes in 2022 is likely to start at over a thousand dollars, so you might want to start putting money away now.
What are the tech specs for the Google Pixel Foldable?
Designs and displays
Obviously, the Pixel’s most important new feature will be some kind of screen that folds. This seems more like how the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Huawei Mate X2 are made, like a book, than the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Motorola Razr 2022.
Getting the display right will be very important since the original Samsung Galaxy Z Fold showed how hard it is to keep the screen from creasing where it folds or the panels from just breaking.
The Elec says that Samsung is selling folding screens on new devices from Google, Xiaomi, and Oppo. Google is said to have bought a 7.6-inch foldable OLED, which is the same size as the one used in the Fold 4.
The Elec confirms that the screen will be ultra-thin glass in a follow-up story (UTG). Since Samsung makes the display, it’s not surprising to see UTG in its foldables.
We don’t know much about the outer display, but an expert in the field, Ross Young, told us one thing. Google’s folding phone will have a 5.8-inch cover screen, smaller than the Z Fold 4’s 6.2-inch screen. That means the cover display will be shorter and wider than Samsung’s small panel.
Even animations were added to the Android 12L beta 2 that seem to show the rough shape that Google is using.
9to5Google found two animations showing how to insert a SIM card (the second shows the phone in its closed form). The aspect ratio appears more like the Oppo Find N than Samsung’s Z-Fold designs. This could help the Google foldable stand out in western markets when it comes out.
With the rest of the specs in its first foldable, Google could also go in a couple of different directions. It was expected that Google would employ the same Tensor chip as the Pixel 6 series instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. It’s safe to believe Google will continue to employ its own silicon.
This was confirmed by a listing on Geekbench 4 for a phone called “Google Pipit.” Pipit is one of the expected codenames for the Fold. The listing doesn’t name the Tensor chip by name, but it does list an ARM chip with eight cores, 1.8GHz base speed, and 2.8GHz peak speed. The Tensor is an ARM chip with eight cores. Four of the cores are efficient and run at 1.8GHz, while the two fastest cores run at 2.8GHz. It is shown here with 12GB of RAM and, as expected, Android 12.
The only question is whether the Pixel Fold will come out with or after the Pixel 7 series. Google may have upgraded it to a second-generation Tensor chip for the Pixel 7 series. Samsung can mass-produce Google’s 4nm CPU, so it’s unlikely it will ship its foldable with old internals.
9to5Google’s story on the Pipit codename suggests the phone’s camera specs. The site’s code says the foldable features four camera sensors: 12.2Mp IMX363, 12Mp IMX386, and two 8Mp IMX335 sensors. The ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ tags on the last two suggest that they are for a pair of selfie cameras.
This is a return to camera specs before the Pixel 6 upgrade. Pixel 3, 4, and 5 share the same IMX363 camera sensor. The Pixel 6’s front-facing camera uses the IMX335 sensor, but not the 6 Pro. The Pixel 6 also has the IMX386, which is used to power the ultrawide camera.
A separate code dive by developer Kuba Wojciechowski shows the same set of camera sensors and a Samsung GN1. Samsung GN1 is the main sensor in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 phones.
All of this leads to a camera arrangement comparable to the Pixel 6, but without a telephoto lens.
A leaker at Digital Chat Station believes Google won’t put a camera under the Fold’s screen. The screen has a normal punch-hole selfie camera and an inside micro-hole camera. That way, cameras wouldn’t have to interrupt the main screen or decrease the quality. Of course, any camera small enough to fit inside the frame might not be very good anyway.