We've heard for years that Google is hard at work on a foldable phone, possibly codenamed Pixel Fold or Pixel Notepad. Leakers originally predicted a fall 2021 release date, then a 2022 release alongside the Pixel 7, and now insist it'll arrive in early 2023. Should we believe them?
There are ample reasons to be skeptical, as Google itself tends to miss its own deadlines for products. But Google did finally schedule the Pixel Watch after years of delays, so we can hope the Pixel Notepad has a similarly dramatic reveal soon. It just won't happen in 2022.
Google has tended to follow Samsung, Motorola, Huawei, OPPO, and Xiaomi, all of which have sold several foldable phones and slowly improved their designs over years. Depending on when it arrives, the Pixel Fold will have to compete with devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 4 — meaning Google won't have as much leeway for failure and experimentation as Samsung did with its first attempts.
What will the Pixel Fold look like, when will it arrive, and could it have more than one design? We'll answer all your questions with all the leaked info we could scrounge up, along with exclusive info we obtained from an inside source about its release date.
Google Pixel Fold: Release date
For months, over-confident leakers assured us that Google planned to release a Pixel foldable phone alongside the Pixel 6 in fall 2021. The Pixel launch event came and went, so they shifted the goalposts to a March 2022 release alongside Android 12L.
When that didn't happen, we heard from DSCC CEO Rick Young that Google would begin its foldable production in Q3 2022, aiming for a Q4 2022 release. But Google I/O 2022 revealed a ton of Google hardware through late 2022 and early 2023, including the Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch slated for fall 2022 as well as the Pixel Tablet in early 2023, with no sign of any foldable phone.
That made us uncertain whether the Fold would arrive anytime soon. So we reached out to a source who told us confidently that the phone would ship in 2023, not 2022.
The latest Pixel Fold launch speculation is that it'll debut in spring 2023. We personally suspect Google will unveil it at I/O 2023, with a summer or fall release date — assuming Google doesn't delay it again.
With so many disappointments, it's easy to lose faith that this phone will ever arrive. But the Pixel Watch faced years of delays before Google finally felt it was ready for consumers. We suspect Google is taking a similarly cautious approach with its first foldable phone, so we haven't lost hope.
Google Pixel Fold: Name and Models
The name "Pixel Fold" has long been rumored, and may have been Google's internal name for it at one point. But it may not be the name that appears on the box.
Thanks to the popularity of Samsung's Z Fold devices, Google reportedly decided it wanted to differentiate its foldable name to avoid comparisons. It allegedly settled on Notepad after previously considering "Logbook," either of which would distance Google's phone from Samsung's lineup.
Whatever it's called, the Pixel Fold may be just one of two Google foldable phones in the pipeline. However, the latter model will most likely never appear on store shelves.
The Pixel Fold went by the codename "Passport," then "Pipit" in various code leaks. The first name refers to the phone's similar horizontal-folding, tablet-sized display to the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
But code leaks suggest that Google may have another foldable Pixel phone, codenamed "Jumbojack." A code deep-dive from 9to5Google (opens in new tab) noted that Android devs had used this mysterious Pixel foldable for a variety of software tests based on the "posture" of the phone, such as "half-opened" or "flipped."
These two codenames evoke a passport opening horizontally and a Jumbo Jack cheeseburger opening vertically, respectively; so in theory, Google could release either or both foldables after the new Android 12L software is ready. However, internal documents have only pointed to "Passport" coming out anytime soon.
We suspect Jumbojack will never ship, and was simply designed as a way for Google to test vertical-folding phones internally for its Android 12L release. But in theory, Google could follow up on its Notepad foldable with a Galaxy Z Flip 3 lookalike down the line.
Google Pixel Fold: Pricing
We've heard several rumors that Google will try to undercut the Z Fold series in price by selling the Pixel Notepad for $1,400. That's $400 less than the Z Fold 3, though the Z Fold 4 may also cost less than its predecessor.
Google took a similar strategy with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, which were priced at $599 and $899, respectively. By selling its flagships for less than the industry rate while offering high-quality performance, Google has made an impression on Android fans.
Of course, $1,400 is still much more than most people would ever spend on a phone; most people bought the Z Fold 3 through carrier deals, after all. So we'll have to see what kinds of trade-in deals people can find for Google's foldable phone.
Google Pixel Fold: Availability
Samsung plans to make its Z foldables available in over 100 countries. But Google has always taken a more measured strategy for its phone availability. Upcoming phones like the Pixel 6a will only be available in 13 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States. Meanwhile, the Pixel 5a only shipped to the United States and Japan.
It's unlikely that the Pixel Fold will sell outside of Google's typical markets. So depending on where you're based, you may have to stick with Samsung or OPPO for your foldable fix.
Google Pixel Fold: Design
Back when we thought the Pixel Fold would arrive in 2021, the rumors suggested it would have a 7.6-inch foldable display with Ultra-Thin Glass, using the same display materials as the Galaxy Z Fold 3. But as we mentioned, Google canceled that order, and now may use a design that evokes a different foldable instead.
Google may still use a rectangular, inward-folding "passport" design, but 9to5Google (opens in new tab) noted that Google's Android 12L animations show a square-shaped foldable, similar to the creaseless, symmetrical OPPO Find N foldable released last year.
But frankly, animations created to show off software don't prove anything definitive. We haven't seen any leaked photos of the device, nor do we know much about the cover display and how it'll compare to Samsung's or OPPO's.
Most recently, the aforementioned DSCC leak suggested once again that the Pixel Fold would have a "similar sized foldable display" to the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which itself will supposedly have a 7.6-inch display with a near-square 6:5 aspect ratio. As for the cover display, Young claimed the Fold would have a 5.8-inch outer display with a wider aspect ratio than the Z Fold 4's square model.
Then again, if the Fold really is shipping in 2023, that casts some doubt on whether this leaked design will prove accurate. We'll have to wait and see.
We do know from a Pixel Fold camera leak that Google planned to use the same 12MP camera sensor found in older Pixel phones. That would match the Z Fold 3 12MP sensor and ensure the phone remains relatively thin when folded, compared to most thick flagship cameras. But that leak is relatively old, and Google may have changed its plans since then.
Google patented a foldable design (via Patently Apple) back in 2018 that shows off a clever three-screen design with a hinge and a smaller rectangular display that slides out to increase the footprint of the device. However, most patents don't end up reflected in their company's final designs.
We'll also have to wait and see whether the Pixel Fold will have a built-in slot for a stylus. Google could design a new, more compact Pixelbook Pen to go with its foldable. But Samsung reportedly abandoned a stylus slot for the Z Fold 4 to keep it more compact; we'll have to see if Google prioritizes slimness or utility for the Pixel Fold.
Google Pixel Fold: Specs
Now, depending on how long the Pixel Fold takes to launch, it could use the new Google Tensor chip, called GS201 and codenamed "Cloudripper," or the third unannounced Tensor chip due out in 2023. It's too early to predict for certain.
Google Tensor is a custom silicon platform made by Google and Samsung LSI that gave the Pixel 6 lineup a processing boost compared to past Pixels. The Pixel 6 series has had some issues with hardware bugs, but Cloudripper will likely address many of those issues.
Also, given the premium price, we'd expect the foldable phone to have 12GB of RAM, same as the Pixel 6 Pro (and Z Fold 3). Combined with Tensor 2.0, that'll put it on par with the best Android phones, at least for speed.
And while we don't know whether the Notepad is still 7.6 inches as originally rumored, we'd expect it will have the same QHD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate with LTPO for variable refresh rates, too. Anything less would make the Notepad look overpriced.
Google Pixel Fold: Software
Android 12 arrived on October 19, 2021, alongside the Pixel 6, bringing with it some substantial feature updates and a snazzy design language called Material You. The Pixel 6 has an updated Security Hub, Pixel Call Screening, voice typing, Instant Translation, and other AI-backed tools, and the Pixel Fold will get all of these tools and more.
Still, it's Android 12L that should define your experience with the Pixel foldable phone. The folded Pixel will likely work like any portrait or landscape-oriented phone. But it adds a multi-window layout for all apps for split screens, so when you open up your phone you'll immediately see more content from that app all at once.
You can also place your favorite apps in a taskbar, then drag and drop them into one half of the foldable display so that you can multitask with ease. You'll be able to reveal or hide the taskbar at any time with a long press, so you're not constantly losing screen space to use it.
Google updated its keyboard app Gboard for foldables in June, dividing the keys across two halves to give you a better typing experience. We hope this will be the first of many improvements to Google's core apps, in preparation for the Pixel Fold's launch.
We'll have to wait and see how "stock" Android performs on foldables and how it compares to unique software developed by competitors like Samsung — which uses similar tools with One UI 4.1. In the end, that'll matter more than hardware for deciding how the Fold, or Notepad, stacks up against the best foldable phones.
Plus, of course, we'll have to wait and see how Android 13 makes additional optimizations to Google's foldable software. Or possibly even Android 14, if the Pixel Notepad really does ship in late 2023.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
The best foldable phone today
We don't know for sure when the Pixel Notepad will arrive. If you don't want to wait, the Z Fold 3 is the best foldable available today, with blazing performance for gaming and browsing, plus superb software that takes full advantage of the mini tablet-sized display. If you can stomach the price, it'll receive support and improvements for years to come.
Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
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