Google made a statement with the Pixel 6 series last year, demonstrating that it’s dead serious about reviving its struggling phone business. But the tech giant appears to have greater hardware ambitions, reportedly gearing up for the launch of its first-ever foldable phone possibly as early as this year.
Although the phone’s name is nowhere near confirmed, I’ll call it Google’s Pixel Fold for now. Whatever moniker Google eventually decides to run with, the fact that Google is developing a foldable phone in the first place doesn’t come as a surprise. Apart from the plethora of rumors doing the rounds, there have been leaked internal documents as well as moves taken by Google over the years to indicate a bendy handset is in the works. In December 2018, it filed a patent application for a foldable device, and in May 2019 Google confirmed that it’s been prototyping the folding technology. In addition, Google supports foldable phones with its Android 12L platform to develop the technology from the software side. Whether or not we’ll be able to buy a foldable phone from Google later this year, however, is still unconfirmed.
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Google isn’t the only marquee name in Big Tech that’s reported to throw its hat into the foldable phones ring. There have long been rumors that Apple’s gearing up to do the same. CNET has also covered all the buzz surrounding the so-called iPhone Flip.
Pixel Fold design: More Oppo Find N than Galaxy Z Fold 3
Animations found in Android 12L, Google’s software designed specifically for large-screen devices such as tablets and foldable phones, have offered hints at the possible appearance of the Pixel Fold. The Google foldable was initially rumored to resemble the taller and leaner design of Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3, which has an approximate aspect ratio of 22.5: 18. But according to Google 9to5 and other media outlets that have reviewed the Android 12L animations, the opened-up Pixel Fold is more likely to resemble the squarish shape of Oppo’s foldable phone, the Find N. When closed, it’s believed to have an aspect ratio closer to 18:9. If that’s true, it would mean that, like the Find N, the Pixel Fold could be more natural to use as a regular phone when closed.
Pixel Fold camera: Camera module may be step down from Pixel 6
There haven’t been many rumors about the Pixel Fold’s camera, but there’s room for some speculation, courtesy of 9to5 Google. The website is reporting that the Pixel Fold will have two front-facing 8-megapixel lenses, one presumably on the cover and one for the interiors, as well as a 12-megapixel rear camera. The main sensor is expected to be a step down from the Pixel 6 series, since it’s rumored to rely on Sony’s IMX363 sensor, used in the Pixel 3 back in 2018, as opposed to Samsung’s top-of-the-line GN1 sensor, from the main 50-megapixel camera of the Pixel 6 series.
If I had to guess, the logic for this potential decision comes down to the size of the GN1 sensor, which is one of the larger camera sensors on the market. This means it’ll be tough for a foldable phone to carry it without increasing the overall heft of an already-hefty foldable device.
Pixel Fold price: Under $1,800
There’s no telling for certain what a phone will cost until launch day — if that happens at all. But according to a report by 9to5 Google citing an unnamed source, Pixel Fold will be priced below the $1,800 (£1,320 or AU$2,500) mark. That’s less than Samsung’s $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 3, and if true it’s a comparatively low price, especially considering the Pixel Fold would be Google’s inaugural foldable. For context, Samsung’s inaugural folding phone, the Galaxy Fold, started at $1,980 before its price dropped over the years.
Pixel Fold processor: Tensor
Considering Google went to the complex and costly trouble of developing its own system-on-chip technology, it’s all but certain the Pixel Fold will run on the Tensor chipset, which debuted on the Pixel 6 series.