Google has announced several new pieces of hardware at their Google I/O 2023 keynote this morning with the most anticipated device, the Pixel Fold, making a much-awaited appearance – but don’t expect to see it here in Australia any time soon.

Before we get into the details of Google’s first foldable smartphone we will preface the specifics with the fact that Google has not made any announcement regarding Australian availability.  At this stage the only countries the Google Pixel Fold will be launching in are the US, UK and Germany.  No mention of our sunburnt country but where there’s a will there’s a way – especially in the day and age of the worldwide economy.

Now that we have that disappointing news out of the way let’s get into the specifics of the Pixel Fold.

Pixel Fold Hardware

The Google Pixel Fold, when folded, shares some Pixel-specific design features.  The rear shows the camera bar with three cameras inside.  The Pixel Fold though is much smaller in height than all current Pixel smartphones.  When folded the Pixel Fold is 139.7mm tall, 12.1mm thick (camera bump included) and 79.5mm wide, compared to the Pixel 7 Pro which is 162.9mm (H) x 76.6mm (W) x 8.9mm (D).   Open it up and the width is a whopping 158.7mm wide, making it much more useful for multitasking.

The camera hardware included are a 48MP main camera, a 10.8MP telephoto lens capable of 5x optical zoom and a 10.8MP ultrawide camera with a121.1-degreee FOV. The front camera is a 9.5MP camera and the inside camera is an 8MP camera although you will not use these as much now that you can use the external display as viewfinder and default to the triple rear camera instead.

Of course, being a software company, Google’s best camera features are all software-based.  Included are all the Pixel-specific AI features including Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur and more.

The display on the outside is a decent, but not overly large, 5.8-inch 1080P (FHD+) OLED screen.  Inside, the Pixel Fold opens out to a 7.6-inch 2,208 x 1,840 OLED display with both displays supporting a refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

The hinge, according to Google, is the most durable hinge on a foldable and is able to be opened, and stay open by itself, to any degree allowing for a myriad of use cases.  Thanks to this waterdrop hinge the Pixel Fold will sit flush when folded shut – something that the Samsung foldable devices are unable to do at this stage.  

Powering the Fold will be the same chipset inside the Pixel 7 smartphones, the Tensor G2 SOC, with the Titan M2 security chip also included.

The battery in the Pixel Fold seems to be on the smaller side though considering the size of the displays it is powering with it coming in at 4.821mAh.  Google say that it will be capable of powering over 24 hours of use with 30W fast charging allowing for a quick top up of the battery or slower charging using a standard wireless Qi charger.

Fold-Specific software

As you would expect Google has included some Fold-specific software along with all your usual favourite Pixel software enhancements.

With the Pixel Fold you can use both displays to provide live translation to you and the person you are speaking to.  Live translation that is much easier to use – finally.

You can watch videos using the outer display and when you open the Fold, the video will automatically expand onto the larger display.  YouTube can also be used to display the video on the top half of the display while the bottom, semi-folded half, displays the video details and comments.

Further usage of the wider display is through the new Android taskbar which allows the user to drag an app to the side of the display you want to use it, while the previous app is still running on the other side.  This true app multitasking also allows each app window to be manually resized to whatever size you wish them to be by a simple dragging of the window’s edge.

A design tweak is a new wallpaper animation that begins its animation when you open the display.  Also included is a new split keyboard making it easier to type – those who have used Android tablets with third party keyboards will be familiar with this type of keyboard.

Those who wish to create the best possible selfies can also switch the viewfinder to the outside display allowing you to create a high quality ultrawide selfies using the best camera on the device.  

Expect to see more foldable enhancements to come from not just Google, but third-party developers, in the coming months and years. Google has promised five years of software and security updates for the Pixel Fold going forwards.

How much will it cost?

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the Google Pixel Fold will not be available to purchase in Australia but for those with friends or relatives in one of the three countries it is available in expect to pay USD $1,799 for the entry 256GB version.  At current exchange rates that comes in at approximately AUD $2,500, not a cheap investment but par for the course when it comes to foldables of this size.

Colours available are Porcelain and Obsidian.

When can you buy the Google Pixel Fold?

Those who have a US, UK or German Play Store account can pre-order the Google Pixel Fold with it shipping in June.  As a pre-order bonus, Google are throwing in a Pixel Watch with each Pixel Fold pre-order through the Play Store.

Expect it to land on other stores such as BestBuy and more in June.  Details of this is unknown at this stage.