Now that we’ve had our first plausible look at next year’s Pixel Fold, let’s recap everything we’ve learned about Google’s first foldable Pixel — or more accurately, its third — over the past few years.
With the advent of the Samsung Galaxy Fold in 2019, most Android device makers started working to come up with their own take on the idea of a foldable phone. There have been flip-style designs like the Motorola Razr and articulating dual-screen devices like the Surface Duo, but many are looking to replicate the success of the Galaxy Z Fold series.
To make today’s world of foldables possible, Google has been steadily building support for foldables in Android since at least 2018. Over time, the rise of foldables has revealed how much better Android is still on phones than on tablet-sized screens. Year after year, Android has gotten better, especially with this year’s Android 12L, suitable for “big screens” of all kinds. Android 13 further improved the ideas added in 12L.
Now Android apps can have “continuity” when moving from a smaller screen to a larger one. Switching between applications has become child’s play thanks to a new taskbar. Multitasking has also been overhauled, with new “app pairs”.
All the while, Google has been quietly — or maybe not so quietly — hard at work on its own foldable. In 2019, then Pixel Division Chief Mario Queiroz confirmed that the company was “prototyping” foldable phones. A year later, we exclusively announced that Google had a more tangible foldable codename, dubbed “Passport”, due out in “Q4 2021” alongside the Pixel 6.
Details of this first foldable have leaked out into 2021, with reports indicating that the Pixel Fold will have a 7.6-inch display from Samsung, with a 120Hz refresh rate. Analysts were confident that Google would unveil this “Passport” device as the first Pixel Fold in October 2021. Our team even found the model number for the Japanese variant of this phone, indicating a global release.
After this year’s Made by Google came and went without even a Pixel Fold teaser, our team found evidence confirming that a foldable was now on track for 2022. Along the way, Google had canceled plans for “Passport” and moved to a new device, codenamed “Pipit”.
This second iteration of the Pixel Fold was set to bring the same Google Tensor chip used in the Pixel 6. However, unlike Google’s traditional flagship, this foldable was going to continue using the same dated cameras found in the Pixel 5.
We even got a little preview of this second attempt at Pixel Fold, thanks to the Android 12L beta. From a pair of included animations, we learned that “Pipit” would be more robust in design compared to the Galaxy Z Fold series, closer to that of the Oppo Find N (not that that’s a bad thing) . Notably, these early animations still bear a striking resemblance to the latest Pixel Fold renders.
However, just as momentum was starting to build around this second Pixel Fold attempt, especially with the release of Android 12L, Google delayed the foldable again. We believe this is around the time the company changed direction again, going from “Pipit” to the third iteration, named “Felix”.
It looks like this version of the Google Pixel Fold is now locked down – or at least far enough away to have the more fleshed out details that led to this recent leak of renders, pricing and a supposed launch window. As you’d expect, the main upgrade is to upgrade to the latest Tensor G2 chip, with all the speed and efficiency improvements that come with it.
Unlike Google’s previous attempts, the Pixel Fold is now poised to bring the kind of high-end mobile camera you’ve come to expect from the Pixel series. According to an Android researcher Kuba Wojciechowskithe Pixel Fold is likely to bring the Sony IMX787 sensor (64MP, 1/1.3-inch size) for its primary photography.
On paper, this main camera hardware should be on par or slightly better than what’s used in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 7 series. You’ll also find the typical accompaniment of telephoto, ultra-wide, and front-facing cameras.
That said, you probably won’t use the front camera much when taking selfies on the Pixel Fold. Our APK Insight team found signs that Google Camera will let you take selfies with the main quality camera while previewing from the small outer screen, matching a similar feature that has long been in place on the Galaxy series. Z Fold and similar foldables over the years.
Speaking of which, the exterior display is expected to measure in at 1080 x 2100 resolution, while the 7.6-inch interior display is expected to be 1840 x 2208. Unlike the Pixel 7, neither of these screens will include fingerprint reader under the screen. Instead, whether the Pixel Fold is open or closed, you’ll use a fingerprint reader built into the lock button, much like Samsung’s foldables.
The Pixel Fold has clearly come a long way towards release, and things are certainly looking up if these latest leaks turn out to be entirely accurate. Either way, it’s probably for the best that Google has given this particular device so much time to bake.
Foldables are, despite many improvements, still more prone to damage than traditional form factors. On top of that, Google’s hardware quality with Pixel has improved dramatically with the Pixel 7 series, giving the Pixel Fold a better foundation to really thrive against the competition.
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