Google’s Pixel Fold (the name we’re giving it until we have something else) has been a hot topic of discussion for quite some time. At one point we thought it would arrive by year’s end and would likely be at least hinted at in Google’s October hardware event, but that clearly didn’t happen. Then we heard of its imminent demise with the same sources now saying that Google had halted the entire project and stopped production. Then we heard from a reliable leaker that he had no indication from his sources that the Pixel Fold was cancelled.
To put it simply, we just don’t have concrete knowledge of this device yet. There are hints all over the place and in the code for other Google apps, there are references to both ‘Passport’ and ‘Pitpit’ that have both been clearly linked to a folding Pixel phone of some sort. But so far, no renders have surfaced and while we still feel confident that Google is working on a folding phone – just have a look at Android 12L and all the foldable phone-specific features it is bringing to the table this spring – we’re still in the dark about what it would look like.
Shedding some new light on the Pixel Fold
Thanks to an amazing find from the folks at 9to5 Google, we may be looking at the first, real indication of the physical form of the Pixel Fold. This isn’t a render or image, but it does show us what I think will be a reasonable rendition of the size/shape Google’s larger, folding phone may take. As always, take this with a grain of salt and remember that these sorts of things can (and sometimes do) change before release.
Below, we have a couple animations 9to5 Google found in the Android 12L Beta. They are simply there to instruct users on installing a SIM card in a folding phone. Crucially, there are code references to ‘Pitpit’ attached to these animations, so it is highly likely that this animation was made specifically for the Pixel Fold, not just a generic folding phone. Also of note, the same sorts of animations are available for other Pixel phones and the dimensions and power buttons on those animations line up with the phones being referenced, so it’s likely these animations are scaled pretty closely to what this folding phone will become. Take a look.
As you can see in both animations, we have only the volume rocker on the side, leaving the power button perhaps recessed as it is on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 with a capacitive fingerprint scanner attached (fingers crossed). On the first animation, you see what looks like a more-standard phone shape with a bit more bezel on the left where the hinge would be. In the second, we have the phone opened up, complete with a notch up at the top in the middle to show where the inner screen’s crease will be.
The biggest takeaway here is the fact that this device is a departure from the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s form factor. Instead of the tall, thin outer display, the phone looks more like the Oppo Find N with a more-standard 18:9 outer screen versus the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s 24.5:9 layout. That tall, thin outer screen gets used far more than you realize (I owned one for a couple weeks) and isn’t great for many of the common smartphone tasks.
Even though the more-standard outer screen layout on the Oppo Find N is technically a bit smaller, it still is close to what you’d get in something like the smaller Pixel 4a and with the added width and more usable aspect ratio versus the Galaxy Z Fold 3, I’d take that drop in screen size every day.
Additionally, this makes the inner screen a bit closer to square and wide enough to trigger most Android apps into displaying their larger screen layouts instead of just blowing up the standard phone interface. Sure, the Oppo Find N only has a 7.1-inch inner display versus the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s 7.6-inch display, but we don’t really know the actual size of the Pixel Fold, either. It could be a bit bigger than the Oppo Find N and still maintain a reasonably small footprint while folded.
We’ve included Mr. Mobile’s video on the Oppo Find N just so you can get a feel for this device. I, for one, am incredibly excited by this development. I love the folding phone concept and enjoyed a lot about the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but I ended up using the outer display far more than I thought I would for day-to-day activities. This made using that phone a bit of a hassle and having an outer display that feels more like a standard, small smartphone would go a long way towards making a folding phone feel more realistic for me as a daily driver. We’ll hopefully know more soon. It’s Google, right? Either something else will leak or they’ll just out themselves at some point.