Google’s rumored Pixel Fold may trade cutting-edge tech for affordability

Hot on the heels of the launch of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, new findings around Google’s rumored folding phone (the Pixel Fold) have surfaced, hinting that the upcoming device won’t get one of the standout upgrades from the latest range.

9to5Google has dug up information from the code of the Google Camera app that suggests the Pixel Fold will be getting the same 12.2MP primary camera the tech giant has used since its Pixel 3 handset from 2018.

Obviously, this means it’ll miss out on the 50MP primary snapper of the Pixel 6 series – one of the standout upgrades in this year’s lineup of Google flagships. 

However, if these findings are to be believed, the Pixel Fold will still get the 12MP ultrawide camera (from the Pixel 6) alongside the older 12.2MP primary sensor, as well as a pair of 8MP selfie cameras – one for when the Pixel Fold is open, and the other when it’s folded.

Downgrade?

While it may seem like a step backwards to launch a newer phone that lacks the latest componentry of its predecessor, this certainly isn’t unprecedented when it comes to foldable phones.

Both Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the significantly more premium Galaxy Z Fold 3 don’t share the same powerful camera specs with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Similarly, Motorola’s Edge 20 Pro with its 108MP primary camera is leagues ahead of the Motorola Razr (2020)‘s 48MP unit, and costs a good deal less.

The reasoning for this can vary, but when you look at the size of the new camera ‘visor’ in the Pixel 6 phones, you can imagine that at least part of the reason may be to keep the foldable phones slim.

Rear of the Pixel 6 Pro showing the camera bar and lock key

(Image credit: Google)

What’s more, Google has been well renowned in the smartphone industry for its photo chops thanks to its impressive machine learning and software that goes into it, with the hardware specs of most Pixel phones not mattering nearly as much as the behind-the-scenes action.

If Google is able to keep its folding phone svelte and still offer the excellent algorithmic photo and video capabilities it’s been known for, all the while reducing costs by foregoing more recent and expensive tech, we’re not too worried about the camera hardware being downgraded.

2022 release

Previous information had pointed at a late 2021 release for the rumored Pixel Fold, but as that time period is coming to a close, it’s looking more likely to be next year at the earliest.

Furthermore, 9to5Google’s analysis of the code has found a reference to “isPixel2022Foldable” – a term that’s structured much the same way as previous releases such as the Pixel 4’s “isPixel2019”. 

This is fairly strong evidence to suggest that Google expects to launch its Pixel Fold next year, which would line up perfectly with the company’s Q2 2022 launch of the recently announced Android 12L, a restructuring of the Android 12 mobile OS that’s been designed to work with larger screens in foldable devices and tablets.

Despite the strength of all these latest findings, they still aren’t close to being official announcements from Google itself, so as always, take them with a grain of salt.