(Pocket-lint) - There continues to be discussions about the possibility of a folding Pixel from Google.
With folding phones seen as the next big thing, it's no surprise that brands are interested in where the technology can take us, with a race to crack this rapidly maturing section of the market.
Here's everything you need to know about the folding Pixel.
What will it be called?
While many have been referring to it as the Google Pixel Fold, a report suggested that the device is likely to be called the Pixel Notebook.
We've also seen a number of codenames put forward including Passport, Pipit and Logbook.
At this stage, these are just rumours and we'll only know for sure once Google decides to announce.
Folding Pixel release date
- Q4 2021 originally suggested
- Could now be Q4 2022, or not
In December 2020, Ross Young of DSCC - who has a pretty good reputation reporting in forthcoming display moves - suggested we'd see something from Google in the second half of 2021. Further back, in August 2020, 9to5Google reported on an internal document leak aligning a device codenamed Passport, which was highlighted as a foldable, with a Q4 2021 launch.
In June 2021, it was then claimed production for the display was due to begin in October and would be supplied fully assembled for Google to launch a phone by the end of the year. Google announced the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro on 19 October but the event didn't include a folding Pixel.
Ross Young then suggested that Google didn't launch the folding device because of market pressures.
Bad news for those waiting for the Google Pixel Fold. We hear they have canceled parts orders and decided not to bring it to market as indicated in the latest DSCC Weekly Review. See blog excerpt at https://t.co/EVmWKcgi2c. @DisplaySupply pic.twitter.com/2P5lFW09Pt— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) November 15, 2021
In February 2022, Young then claimed the foldable Pixel was back on track with display production due to start in Q3 of 2022 for a launch in Q4 of 2022, and more specifically October. This suggests the folding Pixel might launch alongside the Pixel 7, though in May 2022, The Elec claimed the device has been postponed again.
- Patent reveals book-like foldable/inward folding screen
There haven't been many firm leaks of the phone's design, but a patent filed in 2021 (and published in 2022) reveal that Google is looking at building an inward folding model like the Galaxy Z Fold series from Samsung.
It seems very likely that - if Google does launch a folding phone - this is the form it takes. Certainly, software changes in Android provide greater support for folding phones and larger displays, so something that folds out to be pretty large would seem logical.
- 7.6-inch AMOLED
- Samsung Dispaly supplied
- 120Hz, LTPO
For any folding phone, the display is obviously the centrepiece. This is where we have a little more information, with a 7.6-inch size reported for the original Passport device.
It was originally thought that Samsung Display would be supplying this flexible AMOLED panel, and at that size - it's the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 - we think it would be a book style folder, rather than a flip phone. It's believed to be in-folding, i.e., so the folded display is on the inside of the device.
There have been claims that while the main display will be the same size as the Galaxy Z Fold 4, the Pixel Fold will have a smaller cover display at 5.8-inches, compared to the rumoured 6.19-inches. To corroborate those rumours, a patent filed by Google and published in August 2022 reveal that Google has been planning a Fold-like foldable phone with a camera in the bezel of the main display.
Beyond that, we don't know a lot. There's been no mention of resolution, external display, or anything else - and Google may well have changed direction on this device completely.
- Google Tensor chip
- 12GB RAM
With this entire project being a little uncertain at the moment, it's not surprising there's a real lack of information on what hardware this phone might have. However, a claimed Geekbench report for Google Pipit - a more recent codename for the folding Pixel - gave a readout suggesting that it's the Google Tensor.
In fact, Android 13 seemingly reveals that the Pixel Fold - possibly codenamed 'Felix' - is powered by the second generation Tensor chipset. That's Google's in-house hardware found in the Pixel 6 and you can read more about the chip in our explainer feature.
It would make sense for Google to use its own hardware in any device it was building, and the 12GB RAM reported by that Geekbench report is the same as the Pixel 6 Pro. Of course, the entire report could be fake - or it could be an engineering device rather than a consumer product, but it's the best we have to go on for now.
- 50MP main camera
- 12MP ultrawide
- 10MP telephoto zoom
- 8MP front?
Say Pixel and people immediately think about the camera. While the Pixel phones have given us excellent cameras, most of the hard work is driven by AI - it's computational photography that comes through, rather than the hardware.
Still, if rumours are anything to go by, the camera system could end up being up there with what you'll find on the Pixel 7 Pro. That means a triple camera system with a primary camera joined by a telephoto zoom and an ultrawide.
One rumour - with information found within Android 13 - reveals that we could see a 50-megapixel IMX787 in the main camera, a 12-megapixel IMX386 in the ultrawide and 10-megapixel Samsung sensor in the zoom lens. This goes against assumptions that we could see a Pixel 5 like system. Instead, it sounds as though Google is going all-in on the camera hardware, which is quite exciting.
Folding Pixel rumours and leaks: What's the story so far?
Here's everything that's happened so far in the story of the future folding Pixel from Google.
12 September 2022: Pixel foldable phone details found in Android 13
Android 13, which has started its rollout, reveals details of Google's planned folding smartphone
26 August 2022: Patent reveals Galaxy Fold-like design
A patent - first filed in 2021 - reveals how Google was intending to design the hinge and incorporate a selfie camera into the bezel of its folding screen.
26 May 2022: Google folding Pixel delayed, again
The Elec reported that people familiar with the matter have claimed the folding Pixel phone has been postponed again as Google not happy yet.
4 May 2022: Google's foldable phone will have similar internal display size to Z Fold 4
Ross Young claims the folding Pixel will have around the same internal display as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, but a smaller cover display.
Z Fold 4 and Google foldable will have similar sized foldable displays, but the Google cover display will be quite a bit smaller at 5.8". This should mean it will have a wider aspect ratio than the Samsung 6.19" Fold 4. Hear more at our conference next week.— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) May 2, 2022
15 February 2022: Is Google's folding Pixel back on track for a 2022 launch?
Ross Young tweeted claiming the folding Pixel display panel was due to go into production in Q3 of 2022 for a launch in Q4 of 2022. He then claimed in the replies to the tweet that it would likely be an October launch and the display will be smaller than that of the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
17 January 2021: Google's upcoming foldable phone is expected to be called the Pixel Notepad
7 January 2021: Google's folding Pipit phone reportedly passes through Geekbench, leaving a trail of specs to consider
A phone has passed through Geekbench claiming to be the Pipit, the reported codename for Google's folding phone.
16 November 2021: Is the Google Pixel Fold cancelled?
It's claimed that Google decided not to launch the folding phone because of strong market competition.
5 November 2021: Google's foldable Pixel expected 2022, with Pixel 5 main camera
Google is rumoured to be working on a foldable Pixel smartphone called Pipit and a report from 9to5Google claims it will be arriving in 2022 and feature the Pixel 5's main camera.
5 October 2021: Will this be what the foldable Pixel phone looks like?
Taking Google's Pixel 6 as inspiration, some creative types have envisioned what a folding Pixel might look like.
20 September 2021: Google's folding phone, codename Passport, still on track for 2021 launch
Reliable leaker Evan Blass claimed that a trusted source has confirmed that the Passport - Google's folding Pixel - will launch in 2021.
Heard from someone I trust that the foldable Pixel -- codename: Passport, retail branding: unknown -- will indeed launch before the end of the year. Apparently they've been working on this device for over two years, and if the P6 is any indication, it'll be worth a look.— E (@evleaks) September 20, 2021
20 September 2021: Potential foldable Pixel codenamed Jumbojack pops up in code
A report from 9to5Google references a device codenamed Jumbojack which appeared in details for future Android versions, suggesting Google could be working on a second foldable device.
19 August 2021: The foldable Pixel is probably going to be delayed after all
A new report indicates that Google will most likely be pushing the release date of its folding Pixel until sometime in 2022.
The leaker does state that this doesn't rule out the possibility of Google at least previewing the phone during the official Pixel 6 series reveal in October, however.
13 August 2021: Google looks to surprise with foldable Pixel phone launching this year
Perhaps the most damning evidence to corroborate the existence of the Pixel Fold comes from directly within Android 12, as references within the code seem to mention a device with a codename dubbed "Passport", something many in the Google community believe to be a moniker for a foldable Pixel.
19 July 2021: Major leak claims Samsung 120Hz LTPO display will drive most 2021 foldable phones
Today's leak - All 2021 foldables using panels from Samsung Display will be 120Hz and LTPO. This of course covers the 6.70" Z Flip 3, 7.55" Z Fold 3 as well as the 7.57" foldable from Google, 7.11" from Oppo, 8.2" from Vivo and 8.1" from Xiaomi.— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) July 19, 2021
9 June 2021: Google Pixel foldable to use Samsung display tech and start production in October
Samsung Display is reportedly working with Google to supply its ultra-thin glass (UTG) and flexible OLED panel for a forthcoming foldable Pixel phone.
It is said that the parts will enter production in October 2021, and be supplied to Google fully constructed for a possible phone launch by the end of the year.
25 February 2021: Twitter leaker claims Pixel fold is real
Jon Prosser has added his ¢2, claiming the folding Pixel is real.
the google pixel "fold" is a real thing— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) February 25, 2021
23 February 2021: Google could launch a folding Pixel in 2021
Sources talking to The Elec in Korea claim that Samsung Display will be supplying Google with a 7.6-inch folding panel for a future product
10 December 2020: Twitter source reveals H2 2021 folding phone from Google
Ross Young from DSCC mentioned a folding phone from Google due in the second half of 2021.
Second half of 2021 is going to be really exciting for foldable smartphones. At least 3 models from Samsung, 4 models from Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi and 1 model from Google...BTW, no Z Fold Lite - Z Flip Lite. Specs for all are in our latest Foldable Report.— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) December 10, 2020
5 August 2020: Leaked Android documents suggest foldable Pixel
Documents unearthed by 9to5Google reveal a device called Passport, said to be a foldable, set to launch in Q4 2021.
7 May 2019: Google is working on a folding Pixel
Mario Queiroz, former VP of product management at Google, commented to CNET that Google was "prototyping the technology" when talking about folding phones.