The Pixel 6 Pro has ruled the roost for the best part of a year, so now all eyes are on what Google will announce as its replacement – and the signs are pointing to a foldable. Likely to be known as the Pixel Fold or Pixel Notepad, it will be the firm’s flagship handset. It will eventually join the Pixel 6a and Pixel Watch smartwatch, the former of which was revealed and the latter teased at the Google I/O event in May, 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.
Latest Google Pixel Fold rumours and details
All we have to go on when it comes to design is some animations buried in the code for Android 12L. The big screen-friendly version of Google’s OS suggests the Fold will have a book-like appearance, with a single outer screen and a larger interior one. It appears more square-shaped than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, which could put it closer in size to the Oppo Find N. However, recent 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.
Internally, we are expecting Google to use its Tensor silicon to power the handset. Recent benchmark figures suggest prototypes are using 12GB of RAM and running Android 12, although the latter may change by the time the phone launches. It all depends on whether Google decides to roll its tablet-specific tweaks into the main version of Android 13.
The Pixel Fold’s cameras are a bigger unknown. Previous rumours suggested it would use a single 12MP rear camera, along with two front-facing ones. This would put it at a disadvantage against the current Pixel 6 Pro, so we’re thinking Google will probably go for a multi-lens setup. It might stick with a dual-lens array like the vanilla Pixel 6 to keep the foldable as thin as possible, rather than add bulk with the Pixel 6 Pro’s zoom lens.
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. The Google I/O event has now come and gone, so we can at least rule that out. The showcase normally focuses on software, but year’s event teased a Pixel 7, Pixel tablet and the Pixel Watch. Sadly the folding phone didn’t also make an appearance.
The most recent update came from supply chain expert Ross Young, who has a solid record when it comes to predicting launch dates. He specifically mentions October in a follow-up tweet.
With that in mind, we expect the company to return to form and announce the Pixel Fold in October this year. It should arrive alongside the Pixel 7, but right now it’s unclear whether the standard handset will arrive in customer hands first. The harder-to-produce nature of foldable tech could mean a longer wait than the usual four- to six-week gap between announcement and delivery.
There has been no official talk of pricing as yet, though there are clues as to what to expect. Every folding phone released to date has carried a price premium over more conventional handsets. It seems unlikely the Pixel Fold will break that trend – but Google might still surprise us. A source familiar with Google’s hardware told 9to5Google the folding Pixel phone would cost less in America than the $1,799 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. Reportedly Google is targeting $1399, which would land it between the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Motorola Razr 5G flip phones. Notably there’s not been a folding phone as affordable as Google’s rumoured target price.
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.