Google still hasn’t given up on the foldable smartphone game, and rumored details about the Pixel Fold 2 are slowly emerging. The most eye-catching news comes from Android Authority’s Mishaal Rahman, who claims to have a live image of an “early prototype” of the Pixel Fold 2.
A lot is different from the Fold 2, starting with the camera bump on the back. In every Pixel review, we praise the brand’s camera bar because 1) it looks good and 2) it has a symmetrical design that gives the phone a stable base when placed on a table, and this prototype seems to recapture both of those things. The supposed Pixel Fold 2 prototype switches to an unbalanced rear design with a camera block in the top left corner of the phone, just like everyone else in the industry. It’s hard to tell what’s going on with the camera array, but there’s definitely room for four camera lenses now instead of the usual three. The top left post looks almost empty in the photo, though it could just be a place for the laser autofocus sensor.
One justification for the wonky camera block might be that the device has become narrower and doesn’t have room for a full-length camera bar anymore. “The cover screen is narrower, but more importantly, the aspect ratio of the inner screen is closer to square,” the report says. One of the best parts of the Pixel Fold’s design was that it opened on a widescreen device and had enough horizontal space to show off the tablet’s app layout. If you’re of the “foldable should turn into a tablet” camp, the square screen will be a disappointment. The other option, which the Galaxy Fold series basically follows, is “the foldable device must be opened to show the phone’s apps side-by-side,” and the square display puts you more in that camp. You could argue that since there are no apps for Android tablets, a square foldable device is a more practical option. I’d argue that the Pixel line should be ambitious and that foldable devices aren’t yet ready for “practical” arguments, given all the durability issues the devices still have.
Although there is no image of the internal display, it should now have an in-screen camera. The Fold 1 has hidden the camera in the frame, resulting in a wide bezel around the edges.
There is a possibility that this design may change before it reaches production. “The phone is still early in development, so it’s unclear if this is the final design,” says Android Authority, which is not the normal way Pixel phones get leaked. Usually, we first see a render thanks to CAD files leaked by the accessory ecosystem, indicating that the design has been secured and ready for case manufacturers to start their designs. This may be an experiment in choosing a direction. This changes most of the things we liked about the Pixel Fold 1, so hopefully the design will be tweaked.
A second Android Authority report says the Pixel Fold 2 will skip Google’s Tensor G3 and go straight to the G4 chip, suggesting the phone will get a later-than-usual launch. The Pixel Fold 1 had a strange place in Google’s lineup. It shipped at the end of June with the Tensor G2, and a little over three months later, the Tensor G3 came out with the Pixel 8. Google’s most expensive phone didn’t have Google’s fastest chip throughout its lifetime. The Fold 2’s alignment with the G4 launch may suggest that the phone will be released in October alongside the Pixel 9. A later launch would also give Google more time to rethink the design.
Listing image by Android Authority