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Google's Pixel Fold Rumors: Will It Arrive Next Year?

Google's Pixel 7 series is here, but when will a foldable phone show up?

Patent drawing of a screen bending up with a face on it
Google's patent application included several sketches of a potential foldable device.

Google could be the next major tech company to throw its hat into the foldable ring. There have been rumors fluttering for a while that a bendy handset might see the light of day, especially given the company's focus on hardware in recent years. Google followed up its successful Pixel 6 series with the Pixel 7 series in October, but didn't make a whole lot of changes. It could potentially set the stage for an overhaul in the coming years. 

So far the company has kept mum on the possibility of a foldable phone. But that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from churning and Pixel fans from hoping. Keep in mind that Google confirmed that it had been prototyping the folding technology back in 2019. Prior to that, it filed a patent application for a foldable device.

Although the phone's name is nowhere near confirmed -- it could be called the Pixel Fold or maybe the Pixel Notepad, the latest rumors suggest it could launch as early as the spring of 2023, according to a TomsGuide report citing reliable display analyst Ross Young.

Don't forget, Google isn't the only company that's reportedly joining the foldable phones bandwagon. It appears to be an open secret that Apple's gearing up to do the same, though that may not show up till 2025. (Read CNET's coverage about a potential iPhone Flip.) Samsung meanwhile, launched its latest generation of foldable phones, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, at its Unpacked event in August

Oppo Find N phone open and held in one hand

Even when the phone's opened, it's hard to find a crease on the Oppo Find N. 

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

Pixel Fold design: More Oppo Find N than Galaxy Z Fold 4

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. Based on that, Google's foldable phone will take the form of a book-style foldable with two screens. 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 9to5Google and other media outlets, 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. That said, the Google foldable phone is 

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 9to5Google. 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 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. Another rumor points to the Pixel Fold featuring a 50-megapixel main camera along with two 12-megapixel cameras and an 8-megapixel one. 

Read more: Google Pixel 6A: The Best Android Phone Under $500

Pixel 6 main camera

Google put a relatively large image sensor into the main camera of both its $599 Pixel 6 and $899 Pixel 6 Pro.

Google; Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Pixel Fold price: $1,400 to $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 9to5Google citing an unnamed source, the Pixel Fold will be priced below the $1,800 (£1,320 or AU$2,500) mark. Another report spotted by BGR in March seems to corroborate that notion, putting the price as low as $1,399, which is less than Samsung's $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 4. Those rumors seem to make sense as they appear to align with Google's strategy of undercutting its competitors in terms of price. 

Read More: Google Pixel 7 vs. Apple iPhone 14 vs. Samsung Galaxy S22: The $200 Difference

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.

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