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Pixel Fold: Everything we know about Google's foldable

 3 months ago
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Pixel Fold: Everything we know about Google's foldable

By Manuel Vonau

Updated 23 hours ago

Potentially known as Pixel Notepad

Google has a foldable in the works — we certainly know as much about the company’s aspirations to enter the emerging market, and its wish to add a new device lineup next to the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 5a. But the details are far and few between, and some of them seemingly contradict each other. Not to worry — we’re here to separate the wheat from the chaff, and will give you all the details we have on the Pixel foldable.

Google’s foldable has been in the making for a long time. The company first confirmed to CNET that it was experimenting with the form factor in 2019, though it said that it didn’t see much sense in launching a device of its own at the time. In 2020, an internal Android document then revealed a device codenamed “passport,” which was supposed to be a Google-made foldable. We haven’t heard much about it for a year, but as 2021 came to a close and the foldable-focused Android 12L was released as a preview, the Pixel Fold rumor mill is in full swing again — complete with a new “Jumbojack” codename.

Look, feel, and name

Not much is known about the look and feel of the Pixel foldable other than an animation spotted in Android 12L, depicting a generic folding phone that may or may not be the Google foldable. For what it’s worth, many sources agree that the Pixel device will come in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 style, with a smartphone-like tall exterior screen and a big tablet-like interior display. It’s unclear whether this description relates to both the “Jumbojack” and the “passport” codename, and it’s not clear if those are even two distinct devices that will be released alongside each other at all. For all we know, they could just be two different prototypes or prototype generations.

Pixel Fold SIM animation.gif-anim Image Credit: 9to5Google

If the animation found in Android 12L mentioned earlier is indeed the Pixel foldable, its proportions might be a bit different from Samsung’s. If this is truly what the device will look like, it would sport an inner display with a 7:8 ratio. The Galaxy Z Fold3 is taller than that at 22.5:18, so the Google phone would be much more in line with the more square-ish Oppo Find N with its 8.4:9 ratio. This would make it feel more like a landscape device when unfolded and would also give it a less cramped exterior screen, which we’ve liked a lot on the Oppo phone compared to the Samsung foldable. The interior display could measure 7.6 inches, based on earlier rumors, making it significantly bigger than the Oppo Find N and its 7.1-inch screen.

Pixel Fold open SIM animation-anim Image Credit: 9to5Google

While we’ve often called the device “Pixel Fold” for consistency’s sake, the name is actually not confirmed at all just yet. A report from 9to5Google mentions that Google may want to differentiate itself from Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold branding by naming its foldable Pixel Notepad instead. That would be ironic enough, given the proximity to Samsung’s other highly regarded (but discontinued) series, the Galaxy Note. For what it’s worth, “Logbook” was also considered as a name.

Specs and Camera

We don’t know much about the hardware just yet, but according to some leaks, the Pixel foldable should have the same Tensor chip at its core as the current Pixel 6 phones.

As for the camera, a few details have been leaked thanks to some code discovered in the Google Camera app. A string called “isPixel2022Foldable” reveals that the software is being developed towards the elusive Pixel Fold/Notepad. The code shows that the device should come with the trusty 12.2 MP Sony IMX363 primary sensor and the 12MP IMX386 wide-angle, just like the Pixel 5 before it — that’s right, it doesn’t seem like the Pixel foldable will get the latest and greatest cameras found in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.

For its selfie cameras on the outside and inside, the Google foldable will apparently get two 8MP IMX355 sensors, the same as the one used in the Pixel 3.

Software

If the foldable Pixel phone is released any time soon, it will almost certainly run Android 12L, the version of Google’s operating system that was specifically made with big screens and foldables in mind. Android 12L takes everything from Android 12 and adds APIs and other improvements that allow apps to work better with big screens. In particular, 12L makes it easier for apps to dynamically adjust to different screen sizes on the fly. This way, they can serve even better for multitasking and split-screen experiences.

Android 12L window size classes

In fact, something interesting was spotted in the Pixel Launcher that's related to this split-screen, dual-pane experience. When you set the screen density of your regular Pixel phone really low (below 230, to be specific), you get to unlock a dual-pane view for your home screen. This looks pretty broken on a regular smartphone, but since the Pixel Launcher is only available on Pixel phones, we would see this as evidence that Google is indeed working on a foldable phone of its own, meant to run its software.

Pixel Launcher layout switching Android 13 DP1 -anim

Android 12L also adds a taskbar to the operating system for foldables and tablets, which owners of these form factors can utilize for multitasking and easier access to often-used applications when using a big screen, visible in the screenshots above and below.

Android 12L multitasking anim

Depending on the timeline, it’s also possible that the Pixel foldable would run Android 13 rather than 12L, though. However, it would make a lot of sense for Google to try and release its foldable for Android 12L, as to have the perfect showcase for the big screen-focused OS.

As for other software tidbits, Google's keyboard is also getting ready for the wider screen of a foldable. Evidence we've uncovered in Gboard's settings suggest that Google has a split layout in the works that would be perfect for devices like the Galaxy Z Fold3 — or, you know, a Pixel Fold.

Launch dates and pricing

As you may have guessed from the “isPixel2022Foldable” string spotted in the Google Camera app (mentioned above), we expect the Pixel foldable to be released this year. Ideally, the launch would coincide with the reveal of stable Android 12L, which is slated to happen in the first quarter. However, given that Pixel phones usually leak substantially the closer the release date inches, we’re not sure if Google will manage to hit that deadline. At this point, it’s much more likely that the foldable will launch during one of the other Google events coming up later this year, like the Google I/O in May or the Pixel Fall event that usually takes place in October. A special foldable event is also a possibility, though.

We’re still in the dark about pricing, though a rumor points to a pleasant surprise here. Google is targeting a price point of about $1,400 for its Pixel foldable. While that would still make it the most expensive phone ever launched by the company, it would undercut the $1,799 Galaxy Z Fold3 by a few hundred dollars, and that’s likely the competitor Google has in mind with its device.

About The Author
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Manuel Vonau (1610 Articles Published)

Manuel is a tech enthusiast and Android fan based in Berlin. When he's not writing articles for Android Police, he's probably out and about as a videographer.

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