Google’s most recent Pixel event has come and gone without any mention of a foldable Pixel. But new leaks suggest that Google’s first foldable phone will arrive sometime next year, possibly without some of the most important features people might be hoping to see.
Google kept its latest launch event focused squarely on the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and 9to5Google has now discovered new code hidden in the Google Camera app that suggests a foldable Pixel will see an official release in 2022.
While the first wave of foldable Pixel rumours was originally about a device codenamed Passport, now it seems Google has shifted its foldable efforts towards developing a new device codenamed “Pipit.” The bad news is that according to 9to5Google’s APK Insight team, it appears Pipit is set to feature the 12.2-MP Sony IMX363 sensor used in the Pixel 5 as its main camera sensor instead of the much larger, and much higher-res Samsung GN1 sensor Google uses in the new Pixel 6.
That’s definitely a bummer as the cameras in the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are some of the best features in Google’s latest flagship phones, though it’s somewhat understandable given the even tighter space constraints of foldable phone design. On the Pixel 6, its cameras are housed in a rather large camera bar that sticks out several millimetres and runs the entire width of the phone, and it’s possible Google wants to avoid a clunky design caused by an unusually bulky camera module, similar to what we see on the Surface Duo 2.
Going with slightly less powerful cameras even on an expensive foldable phone is a tactic we’ve seen Samsung employ on its Galaxy Fold line. Despite coming out more than half a year after the S21 Ultra, the Galaxy Z Fold3 lacks the S21 Ultra’s 10x zoom cam and its huge 108-MP main sensor.
Elsewhere, it seems Pipit will feature a 12-MP IMX386 sensor to power an ultra-wide cam, and two IMX355 sensors as selfie cams — most likely to ensure owners get consistent selfie photos regardless of if they using the phones interior or exterior selfie cams.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of other details regarding the foldable Pixel’s screen size, design, or price for now, including no additional clues about Pipit’s release date. But it’s almost guaranteed that Google’s foldable Pixel will run Android 12L at launch, which is designed to better support mobile devices with larger screens like tablets and foldable phones. And with Android 12L not expected to see an official release until March 2022 at the earliest, I wouldn’t count on Google releasing its foldable Pixel until then either.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.