Google has been synonymous with the Android smartphone market, but even more so now thanks to its own Pixel lineup of phones. The latest releases, the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, have been a hit with most buyers, despite some minor flaws. If you’re looking for a pure Android experience, then the Pixel is the way to go. Even I, as a longtime iPhone-only user, prefer the Pixel so far over other Android smartphones based on my testing.
Now, it looks like 2023 may be the year we get the first foldable Pixel device, which may aptly be called the “Google Pixel Fold.” This will be a highly anticipated smartphone, and recent leaks have given us a better idea of what Google’s first foldable phone will look like. Though nothing has been officially announced yet, here are some things we’re hoping to see on the Google Pixel Fold.
Though there are quite a few foldable phones already on the market right now, such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, one thing that can be a hit-or-miss is the camera. But if there’s one thing that Pixel phones are great at, it’s photography.
With the Google Pixel Fold, we hope that it has a high-quality camera system, much like the few generations of Pixel phones before it. We’ve especially grown to love the unique camera bar design on the Pixel since the Pixel 6 series, so I want to see that camera bar land on the Pixel Fold too.
From the rumors already out, we should expect a pretty good camera system on the Pixel Fold — at least 64 megapixels for the primary, with a 10MP telephoto and 12MP ultrawide sensors. The telephoto is a bit of a downgrade from the 48MP camera on the Pixel 7 Pro, but with the folding design, that won’t be too surprising. Since this would be a three-camera system, it’s likely the camera bar will return, and from the leaked renders, this appears to be the case (with some minor differences). But Google could also change things at the last minute too, as nothing is confirmed.
On top of the main three-camera system, reports suggest the addition of two more 9.5MP cameras, with one as a hole-punch cutout on the outer screen, and another in the top bezel of the main inner display when the Pixel Fold is open.
If these reported rumors are true, then the Pixel Fold should be expected to have one of the better camera systems on a foldable phone. And when you combine that with the Pixel’s excellent photo-editing features, like Magic Eraser, then the Pixel Fold has a lot of potential as a super-portable photo studio.
Ever since foldable devices began to hit the market, there was always one big, glaring problem: a crease on the screen where it would fold from the hinge. Even as the folding screens improved from the disaster that was the first Samsung Galaxy Fold, you could always still see a slight crease around the middle. Some are better than others, but there’s no denying that it is an issue.
Google may not be exactly like Apple in terms of perfection, but it’s come a long way in terms of the Pixel lineup. Personally, I hope that Google figures out a way to make the display crease as subtle as possible, and that may be realistic since the Pixel Fold is likely closer in design to the Oppo Find N instead of the Z Fold 4.
From the leaked renders, the Pixel Fold has a wider outer screen than the Z Fold 4, making it closer to what would be considered a “normal” smartphone. Once the Pixel Fold is opened, it has a larger screen that is set to horizontal landscape orientation, and thus, the crease should not be as noticeable when in use.
Regardless, I just hope that the crease won’t be sticking out like a sore thumb once the phone is opened. After all, if I’m going to primarily use a folding phone and spend most of the day looking at it, I don’t want a crease to distract me from what I’m doing.
Starting with the Pixel 6 series, Google went the route of Apple and began making its own chipset, Google Tensor. With the Pixel 7, we saw the introduction of Tensor G2, which is the latest iteration of Google’s own in-house system on a chip (SoC), and it’s done wonders for the Pixel lineup — though battery life could be better.
While the benchmarks for Tensor won’t beat similar chips from Qualcomm and MediaTek, it makes all of the machine learning and artificial intelligence on the Pixel lineup possible, and we hope to see this continue with the Google Pixel Fold.
Since the Pixel Fold is expected in May 2023, we’ll likely see it get the same Tensor G2 chip inside the Pixel 7/7 Pro. However, it’s always possible Google ramps up production of Tensor G3 for the Pixel Fold. Only time will tell what happens there.
Because Tensor is the brains behind all of the AI features of the Pixel devices, I’m excited to see the benefits users will be able to reap from a Tensor-powered foldable. Right now, we already have fun and useful features like Magic Eraser and other AI enhancements for photo editing, background noise removal on phone calls, emoji suggestion based on the context of a conversation in the Messages app with Google Assistant, audio transcription for audio files, and more. Tensor even improved the already impressive Direct My Call feature by skipping the automated directory message on calls and showing all the possible options immediately. Google could harness the larger size of the Pixel Fold with additional Tensor AI tricks, and that’s immensely exciting.
Though it hasn’t been rumored at this point, I would love to see Google add stylus support for the Pixel Fold. I mean, it just makes sense, right? As a foldable device that opens up to a larger screen, it would be perfect for things like taking notes or even drawing, and both of those can be done much better with a proper stylus. Heck, sometimes I like to use a stylus just to navigate around on my devices, as it means fewer fingerprint smudges all over the screen.
Of course, this would be a big if situation. So far, there haven’t been any rumors that the Pixel Fold could have stylus support. Also, adding a slot for an included stylus would definitely mean adding a little extra bulk — Samsung ditched plans for a built-in stylus slot on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in favor of a more compact size, after all. As much as I would like to personally see the Pixel Fold come with a stylus, this may just be wishful thinking.
If Google is dipping its toes into the foldable market, then Android as a whole needs to be better optimized for these larger screens. Right now, a lot of apps are only optimized for phones — finding apps that are best-suited for the larger screens of foldables and tablets is a chore.
Since Google is the primary developer of the Android operating system as a whole, and Pixel devices get the pure no-strings-attached version, hopefully, Android becomes better-suited for larger devices like the Pixel Fold. There are plenty of good examples of such apps on iPadOS, like Scrivener, which is not available on Android, that would work best on a larger screen.
I like the idea of foldable phones in general — compact most of the time, but it can expand and give you more room to work with when need be. But if Google is entering the market with the Pixel Fold, it has to improve and optimize the software to make full use of the larger screen real estate. After all, what would be the point of having a foldable device if all of the apps will look and work best for smaller screens? Google is making progress on this front with Android 12L and Android 13, but with the Pixel Fold, Google needs to really prove it’s serious about big-screen devices.
As the year winds down, it looks like there are a lot of exciting new things to look forward to in the coming year, especially with the Google Pixel Fold. Though I’m primarily an iPhone user, I’ve been enjoying my time with the Google Pixel 7 as I test out various Android devices.
I’m eager to see how Google will do with the first foldable Pixel, especially when we already have strong competition from Samsung, Oppo, and even brands such as Honor. Some of these things I’d like to see may be more of a pipe dream, but most of them should be more realistic to achieve.
Either way, the Google Pixel Fold is definitely one to keep an eye out for in 2023.
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