The Pixel 6 Pro ruled the roost for the best part of a year, and while the Pixel 7 Pro has now replaced it at the top of Google’s hardware tree, signs are pointing to a foldable joining the fray in the near future. Likely to be known as the Pixel Fold or Pixel Notepad, it will be the firm’s flagship handset. It will eventually join the upcoming Pixel 7a and Pixel Watch smartwatch to complete the Pixel line-up.
Foldable phones are on the rise, largely thanks to Samsung and Motorola here in the UK, and Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi in China. Google’s effort will need to need to offer an experience conventional phones can’t match, and the big-screen improvements introduced Android 12L might be exactly what it needs.
Read on as we explain more, including our predictions for the Pixel foldable’s release date, specs, likely launch price and more. All the news and rumours you need are right here in one handy place.
Google Pixel Fold release date and price
Traditionally, Google has launched its new Pixel phones in October. The Pixel 5 is a slight exception, having snuck out at the tail end of September. Google I/O 2022 was swiftly ruled out, and in any case the showcase normally focuses on software. This year’s event did tease the Pixel 7, Pixel tablet and the Pixel Watch, though, so there’s every chance Google has changed its tune with regards to hardware announcements.
Originally the phone was predicted to arrive in 2022, with supply chain expert Ross Young, who has a solid record when it comes to predicting launch dates, specifically mentioning October.
However, new information from the New York Times suggested Google has pushed things back, and the foldable now won’t arrive until 2023. The delay could be down to the firm moving some of its production facilities from China to Vietnam – currently where the Pixel a-series phones are built.
With that in mind, we’re now expecting the Pixel Fold to arrive at I/O 2023, possibly alongside the Pixel Tablet. It’s different enough from the vanilla Pixel line that Google could launch it in isolation, rather than wait until the next set of Pixel phones are ready for an official reveal. The harder-to-produce nature of foldable tech could also mean a longer wait than the usual four- to six-week gap between announcement and delivery.
While rumours of the Pixel Fold’s release date remain exactly that, a rumour, the device may have already popped up on the benchmarking database GeekBench.
According to Pocket-lint, GeekBench shows a listing for something called Google Felix, believed to be a pseudonym for the Pixel Fold. The listing goes on to detail some key specs, too, saying the Pixel Fold will run on Android 13, 12GB of RAM and a Tensor G2 processor. That’s the same as Pixel 7 models.
There has been no official talk of pricing as yet, though recent leaks have suggested the firm is eyeing a $1,799 starting point. That would put it on par with Samsung’s Z Fold line, and make it one of the priciest foldables around. Every folding phone released to date has carried a price premium over more conventional handsets, and it seems unlikely the Pixel Fold will break that trend – but Google might still surprise us.
That contradicts an earlier report from a source familiar with Google’s hardware, who told 9to5Google the folding Pixel phone would cost less in America than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Reportedly Google was targeting $1399 – we’ll have to wait to see which figure is accurate.
Latest Google Pixel Fold rumours and details
Until recently, the only Pixel Fold info we had to go on came via developer Kuba Wojciechowski, who dug out references to the handset from the Android 13 QPR1 beta. There was a possibility that “Felix” referred to the Pixel 7a, but camera drivers that referenced folded and unfolded positions gave the game away.
Further mentions suggest the Pixel Fold will have a 50MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide and 10MP telephoto, plus both internal and external selfie cameras. The outer cover could have a 10MP sensor, while internally there should be an 8MP one.
More recently, renders based on a close look at an in-development prototype were shared by Twitter leaker/YouTube mouthpiece Jon Prosser. If accurate, (Prosser claims he is “100% sure of its accuracy”), it appears the Pixel Fold will have a full-screen outer display that could be a little wider than Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4. The hinge looks particularly svelte, and the camera ‘bar’ at the rear doesn’t stretch to the far edges of the device like it does on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
The leak certainly backs up the animations buried in the code for Android 12L, which suggested the Fold would have a book-like appearance, with a single outer screen and larger interior one. That could put it closer in size to the Oppo Find N. However, subsequent reports suggest Google will source its flexible display panels from Samsung, meaning a 7.6in internal display just like the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Google also holds a patent on a hinged smartphone design, along with one for a display that folds in multiple places rather than just one. It’s likely that these more out-there designs are a lot further down the line – if we’ll see them make production at all.
Further news came from Weibo leaker Digital Chat Station, who suggested the main display is “relatively small-sized” and folds inwards horizontally, as opposed to vertically like the Galaxy Z Flip4 clamshell. Instead of a punch-hole, teardrop or under-display selfie camera, it will apparently have a sensor built into the frame – something backed up by the most recent round of leaked renders. That’s not to suggest it’ll have chunky bezels, mind – more that it’ll use a style not seen since the Xiaomi Mi Mix. The outer screen, meanwhile, will use a more familiar, center-mounted punch-hole lens.
Google Pixel Fold features: what we want to see
Having given the Pixel 6 Pro our coveted 2021 Gadget of the Year award, you could say we’re a bit keen to see how Google plans on adding a folding screen into the mix. And there’s always room for improvement, so here are a few changes we’d like to see make their way to the finished product.
If, as one rumour suggests, Google calls its foldable the Pixel Notepad, we’d expect some kind of stylus support. This has long been the main reason to pick up one of Samsung’s top-end smartphones, and Google’s home-grown Tensor silicon could be trained to do clever things with handwriting recognition. It would transform how you’d use the device, from simply a big-screen phone to a proper work tool.
Google doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to charging speeds. The Pixel 6 Pro was originally said to support 30W charging, but tests confirmed it would top out at 23W, and typically settled at 13W. Compared to the current crop of phones from Chinese brands like Oppo and Xiaomi, this is well off the pace. The foldable Pixel phone should aim to double wired charging speeds, and wireless speeds would benefit from a bump too.
Clever refresh rates
The Pixel 6 Pro was the first Google handset to use LTPO display tech, which let it change refresh rate on the fly based on what you were doing. Playing games? Ramp that frequency up to 120Hz. Reading an ebook? Slam it down to 10Hz. However, this is first-gen tech: LTPO 2.0 can get as low as 1Hz, which makes for big battery life gains. Any new flagship device worth its salt should be aiming to include this, as well as the usual high resolution and HDR support.