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This is the canceled Pixel Fold that wasn’t good enough for Google

This is the canceled Pixel Fold that wasn’t good enough for Google

The Google Pixel Fold launched relatively late compared to other manufacturers’ first-generation foldables. By the time it finally came out in mid-2023, Samsung had just launched the fifth iteration of its foldable style (and debuted a second look with the more popular Galaxy Z Flip series), and many other companies had their firsts as well. This situation could have been very different, though: Google had another prototype ready a year before the original Pixel Fold, but decided to scrap it because it wasn’t “good enough,” Google’s head of hardware product design Ivy Ross revealed in 2023. Made by Google Podcast Episode.

While the existence of this canceled smartphone is a well-known fact, we never saw it in photos or learned about the full specifications, but that is changing today. Images of what appears to be a mysterious Pixel Fold-like device have quietly emerged for the first time XDA forum thread (The original images are now gone, unfortunately, but we have copies of them), prompting muted speculation that they are either fakes or early prototypes. Thanks to an anonymous source inside Google, Android Authority We can confirm that this is indeed our first look at the cancelled Pixel foldable phone codenamed “pipit” and its specs.

Before we get started, it’s worth noting that the devices codenamed “pipit” and “passport,” both of which are rumored to be the canceled Pixel foldable phone, are actually the same device. While they were different projects at one point, they eventually converged into one device that continues to be called “the pipet.”

Familiar design

The canceled Pixel Fold has an eerily familiar look; The only feature that clearly sets it apart from the final version is a (mostly) smooth glass strip that runs across the entire width of the device, very similar to the Pixel 6. The released Pixel Fold has a smaller camera island made of brushed metal, matching the look of the Pixel 7 Pro.

(We apologize for the quality of the images below. This is the best we were able to salvage from the deleted images in the thread.)

Unfortunately, the device we’re discussing in this post has a broken internal display, so we can’t compare it to the first-generation Pixel Fold. However, it’s reasonable to assume that it looks similar, if not identical.

Normal specifications

If the “pipit” was released, it came a few months after the Pixel 6 series, so its specifications are clearly a generation behind compared to the first generation Pixel Fold, which was built on the base configuration of the Pixel 7. Instead of the Tensor G2 with Exynos Modem 5300, The device came with the first generation Tensor and Exynos Modem 5123, which was notable for the number of issues it encountered.

Likewise, the device had an older camera setup. While the first generation Pixel Fold looked very similar to the Pixel 7a with its updated cameras, the ‘pipit’ had a much older setup with the rather old Sony IMX363, which first appeared on the Pixel 3 in 2018! The other sensors are similarly downgraded, and the telephoto lens is completely absent. I’ve put together a comparison of camera specifications below.

Pixel 6a (codename “bluejay”) The prototype, codenamed “pipit” Pixel Fold (codename “felix”) Pixel 7a (codename “lynx”)

Basic

Pixel 6a (codename “bluejay”)

Sony IMX363 (12 MP) – 1/2.55 inch

Prototype codenamed “pipit”

Sony IMX363 (12 MP) – 1/2.55 inch

Pixel Fold (codename “Felix”)

Sony IMX787 cropped (48MP) – 1/2″

Pixel 7a (codename “lynx”)

Sony IMX787 (64 MP) – 1/1.73 inch

Ultra wide

Pixel 6a (codename “bluejay”)

Sony IMX386 (12 MP) – 1/2.9 inch

The prototype, codenamed “pipit”

Sony IMX386 (12 MP) – 1/2.9 inch

Pixel Fold (codename “Felix”)

Sony IMX386 (12 MP) – 1/2.9 inch

Pixel 7a (codename “lynx”)

Sony IMX712 (13MP) – ~1/3″?

Remote photography

Pixel 6a (codename “bluejay”)

Prototype codenamed “pipit”

Pixel Fold (codename “felix”)

Samsung 3J1 (11 MP) – 1/3 inch

Pixel 7a (codename “lynx”)

Personal photo (external)

Pixel 6a (codename “bluejay”)

Sony IMX355 (8MP) – 1/2.8″

The prototype, codenamed “pipit”

Sony IMX355 (8MP) – 1/2.8″

Pixel Fold (codename “Felix”)

Samsung 3J1 (11MP) – 1/3″

Pixel 7a (codename “lynx”)

Sony IMX712 (13 MP) – ~1/3″?

Selfie (indoor)

Pixel 6a (codename “bluejay”)

nothing

The prototype’s code name is “pipit”.

Sony IMX355 (8 MP) – 1/2.8 inch

Pixel Fold (codename “felix”)

Sony IMX355 (8 MP) – 1/2.8 inch

Pixel 7a (codename “lynx”)

nothing

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The external display was different from the Pixel Fold, as the device had a slightly smaller display measuring 66 x 128mm compared to the 67 x 130mm on the Pixel Fold. The resolution also differed slightly at 1080 x 2100 pixels compared to 1080 x 2092.

Prototype codenamed “pipit” Pixel Fold (codename “felix”)

measuring

Prototype codenamed “pipit”

66 x 128 mm

Pixel Fold (codename “Felix”)

67×130 mm

Accuracy

The prototype’s code name is “pipit”.

1080×2100 pixels

Pixel Fold (codename “Felix”)

1080×2092 pixels

Refresh rate

Prototype codenamed “pipit”

10Hz – 120Hz

Pixel Fold (codename “felix”)

10Hz – 120Hz

The only thing that has remained surprisingly the same is the internal display – it’s a completely unchanged panel. What’s interesting, though, is that Google developed a prototype version of the device with support for pen input. While the idea seems to have been eventually scrapped – the last prototype to include this concept was the “PIPIT EVT 1.0 Stylus,” while other versions of the device have reached the later DVT stage – it’s still interesting to see that Google was exploring something like this.

Build a good enough device

Google Pixel Fold in hand 4 1

Chris Carlone/Android Authority

While the Pixel Fold that ended up on store shelves is an upgrade to the “pipit,” it seems somewhat gradual, which raises the question: What went wrong? Why wasn’t “pipit” good enough?

Of course, this is just speculation, but we can make a good guess by looking at the broader context in which it was released. The “Pipit” was supposed to be announced at Google I/O 2022, right alongside the canceled Pixel tablet with the first-gen Tensor (codenamed “tangor”; the one that ended up shipping was “tangorpro”) and the Pixel 6a. That would also make it one of the first devices to run Google’s large-screen-optimized version of Android — 12L. It couldn’t have been a better fit, so why didn’t it happen?

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The Pixel 6 series launch was a mess. A big part of that was the buggy Android 12 release. While the Android 12L release fixed a few things, it wasn’t even close to stable. Not only that, but a lot of features were delayed, making the 12L less than it was supposed to be.

Would you have bought “pipit” if it had been released?

92 votes

Google likely decided to push both its tablet and foldable a year early to make sure the software was ready and tweaked the hardware where necessary. What ended up shipping was by no means perfect, but it’s likely better than what we would have seen if Google had gone ahead with the “pipette.”

Until it was cancelled, the “pipit” was kind of a success: Our sources tell us that a lot of Google employees used the prototype units as their everyday devices, and the first-generation Pixel Fold certainly built on the hardware and software created for the canceled prototype. Hopefully the upcoming Pixel 9 Pro Fold will continue this generational improvement.