Google finally reveals its first foldable phone

A rendering of Google’s Pixel Fold showcases its external design when unfolded (HowToiSolve)
A rendering of Google’s Pixel Fold showcases its external design when unfolded (HowToiSolve)

Google’s Pixel Fold, one of the most keenly awaited phones of the year, has been announced.

The phone was teased on Twitter, with a quick 8-second video that shows the phone opening up to reveal the larger tablet-like display inside. As such, it’s similar to recent devices from Samsung, Honor and OPPO.

The tech giant’s first folding device will go head-to-head with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, which is currently the top dog among foldables. Google’s teaser does not provide any specs, or any real detail beyond what we can see. It looks like the Pixel Fold will have three rear cameras, though, including one with a telephoto lens.

According to CNBC, the Pixel Fold will boast a massive battery, a large display when unfolded, and could even get rid of the annoying crease that’s an eyesore on other folding phones. Here’s what we know about Google’s next flagship, including its release date, price and features.

When will Google release the Pixel Fold handset?

Google is expected to fully reveal the Pixel Fold at its annual developer conference, Google I/O, on May 10.

However, you may not be able to buy the phone straight away. In the past, Google has used I/O as a means of previewing its newest Pixel phones before releasing them several months later.

If history repeats itself, we could see the Pixel Fold officially launched at a separate Google event, known as Made By Google, most likely in October. This is where Google typically launches its brand new hardware including Pixel phones, smartwatches and Nest smart home products.

How much will the Google Pixel Fold cost?

As mentioned, Google is positioning the Pixel Fold as a Galaxy Z Fold 4 competitor. That strategy applies to everything from its features (more on those below) to its premium price tag.

Google is reportedly planning to charge $1,700 (£1,370) for the phone in the US, which would make it one of the most expensive phones on the market.

Unfortunately for Brits, Google doesn’t normally follow the US/the UK exchange rate to set UK prices, going instead for numerical equivalence. The Pixel 7, for instance, started at $599 in the US and £599 in the UK, and the Pixel 7 Pro cost $899/£849. So, you can expect the Pixel Fold to cost roughly the same figure in both regions.

Alas, proper foldables that open up to a tablet-like display don’t come cheap. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, for instance, comes with three different storage sizes priced at £1,649 for 256GB, £1,769 for 512GB, and a whopping £2,019 for 1TB.

To make the price more palatable, Google is reportedly planning to throw in a free Pixel Watch with the Pixel Fold. As is the norm among smartphone makers, it could also offer discounts on the new phone when you trade in your current Pixel, Android handset or iPhone.

Both sides of the Pixel Fold shown in an artist’s rendering (HowToiSolve)
Both sides of the Pixel Fold shown in an artist’s rendering (HowToiSolve)

Google Pixel Fold features

So, will the Pixel Fold be worthy of its eye-watering price tag? We already know the design will be similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, but with a few possible improvements over its closest rival.

The Pixel Fold will apparently sport an outside screen that measures 5.8 inches across. Google’s internal photos have also revealed that it will open like a book to a small tablet-style 7.6-inch screen.

That makes it the same size as Samsung’s foldable flagship, but the Pixel Fold will reportedly be slightly heavier at 283.5g.

Google is also promising “the most durable hinge” on a foldable. That’s important, because after repeated use, folding phones tend to show a visible crease in the middle of the display where the hinge mechanism resides.

Broadly speaking, foldables boast a unique design with a spine down the middle of the phone that allows you to open and close the screen. A small gap between the two halves of the phone also prevents the two sides of the glass from touching and creating friction. More recently, manufacturers have been working to reduce this gap and eliminate the crease on their folding phones.

Samsung previously patented a “waterdrop design” for a phone’s hinge that allows it to be completely flat when unfolded, and without a noticeable gap between its halves when folded. The design could be showcased on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 later this year.

Similarly, Motorola’s Razr 2022 also doesn’t appear to have a distinguishable crease halfway down its screen. Plus, Oppo recently claimed that its Find N2 Flip can withstand over 400,000 folds and unfolds at standard room temperature.

In terms of its other specs, the Pixel Fold is also tipped to come with a bigger battery than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which Google says will last for 24 hours, or up to 72 hours in a low-power mode. It will also be water-resistant, though the exact certification remains unknown.

Surprisingly, the Pixel Fold will reportedly pack the same processor as last year’s Pixel 7 range; Google’s Tensor G2 chip. This is despite rumours that Google is working on a third-gen processor for its Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones, both of which are also expected to arrive in October.

The Fold is also likely to pack AI-powered photo-editing tricks that aren’t available outside Google’s Pixel range. Google’s other handsets have come with features that can scrub unwanted people and objects from pics, and unblur faces.

How to watch Google I/O

Google will almost certainly livestream its I/O event on its official YouTube channel on May 10.

Alongside the Pixel Fold, the conference could also herald the launch of the company’s AI-powered search engine, a new Pixel 7a phone, a Pixel tablet and the next iteration of its ubiquitous phone operating system, Android 14.

So, Google fans should have plenty of reasons to tune in to the action.