We’ve been hearing rumors about a ‘Pixel Fold’ for years now, but the leaks have been on the rise lately, suggesting that Google may finally be ready to reveal it early next year. But if the latest leaks turn out to be true, the Pixel Fold may not be as premium a device as many expected, and it may not be that bad.
Last week, 9to5Google reported that the foldable Pixel may not be using the same giant camera sensor on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, instead opting for what appears to be the same old, small sensor on the budget Pixel 5a … as well as on the Pixel 5, 4a 5G, Pixel 4 and Pixel 3. Google has surely taken advantage of that Sony IMX363 sensor a lot.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this leak. At first glance, it’s a shame. Pixel 6 and 6 Pro proved that Google was Finally take hardware seriously. Google used one of the best camera sensors on the market, the massive Samsung GN1, for its main camera, immediately catapulting its imaging hardware to match some of the best in the business.
Going back to a small standards sensor by 2021 seems like a misstep for a company that has spent the past few months building up its hardware credibility, largely due to the Google Tensor processor.
But after my initial disappointment, I realized that this news could be quite good. It points to an important possibility: a cheap flip phone. Relatively speaking, anyway.
Make the right price
Now obviously I have no way of knowing for sure how much the foldable Pixel will cost, but if the Pixel 6 is something to bet on, I’d bet my bottom dollar that Google is targeting very aggressive pricing.
Priced at $ 599, the smaller Pixel 6 beat out other flagship competition by a substantial margin, likely altering the way phone makers will price their devices in the future. The Pixel 6’s hardware is in many ways comparable to the iPhone 13 and Galaxy S21, but Google’s phone costs $ 200 cheaper than the phones at launch.
Meanwhile, foldable phones have so far been ridiculously expensive, especially the ones that are deployed on tablet-sized devices. The Galaxy Fold 3, the most famous of them, costs $ 1,800. It is only the price that automatically eliminates these types of devices as an option for many people.
The Galaxy Flip 3 took a big step in making foldable phones more affordable by lowering the price to $ 1,000. But having tested Flip and Fold at the same time, I think it’s pretty clear that the former is the most interesting and useful device.
The folding screen is mostly a first for the Flip – a cool party trick with the occasional benefit of helping you tune out your usual barrage of notifications. But at the end of the day, you’re still doing the same things you’ve always done with the phone, but on a device with a smaller battery and less durable screen.
The Galaxy Fold, on the other hand, completely changes the way I think about using my phone. It’s pretty much a tablet with a useful stylus, and I can actually do real work on it.
The problem, again, is the price.
So if Google can price the phone cheaper using the same sensor it has since 2018, so be it. Given the recent trends and sensor choice, I’m convinced that Google is looking to advertise the foldable Pixel at a much lower price than the Galaxy Fold 3. I’m completely guessing here, but I’d be surprised if it was a hundred more than $ 1,500, and I hope to be closer to $ 1,200. If we are lucky, even less so.
No need for a large sensor
But will people still want to buy a high-end phone with a weak camera sensor in 2021? I would say if it is from Google, and the price is not too high – the answer is yes.
I’m not sure any other company (besides Apple) can get away with it, but Google has lagged behind camera hardware on its competitors’ devices for years. Even so, their phones have been regularly considered to offer some of the best images on the market, because Google’s processing is only that well.
In an ironic way, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro themselves are the best proof of this.
The Pixel 6 Pro may well have the best cameras on the market, but having tested the phone shortly after the Pixel 5a, two things stood out in particular:
- Under most conditions, the Pixel 5a’s images look pretty close to the Pixel 6’s.
- The best features of the Pixel 6 were related to the Tensor chip, not the hardware of the camera itself.
Do not misunderstand; The Pixel 6 Pro’s sleek telephoto lens is excellent, and the camera outperforms its predecessors in all respects, especially in extremely low light conditions or creating shallow depth of field. If Google could Make an affordable Pixel Fold while keeping the same hardware on the Pixel 6 Pro, I’d totally agree. But for day-to-day images meant to appear on social media, these enhancements are largely subtle.
In many ways, the Pixel 6’s camera hardware is kind of a flex; It’s like Google is telling us “see, we didn’t need the best sensors to deliver great images, but at least now you’re getting your money’s worth.” For the majority Situations, the Pixel 6 did not provide the dramatic generational leap that I think many of us were expecting, simply because Google was already pushing the limits on the software side.
Instead, it was Tensor-driven functions like the Magic eraser and the mode of movement that really wowed me. And it’s pretty much a guarantee that the foldable Pixel will use the Google Tensor chip.
A foldable phone that people will actually buy?
I realize there’s a lot of guesswork and guesswork in this op-ed, but given what we saw with the Pixel 6, I have no doubt that Google wants to make the Pixel Fold as tempting as possible to purchase. Also, it’s different from Google to target the ultra-premium price range. As a brand, Google has rarely played in that luxury space the way Apple and Samsung do, and it has had a history of undercutting its competitors, starting with the old Nexus phones.
Think about it: which one would you be most likely to buy? A Pixel Fold that costs $ 1,800 with the best camera hardware on the market, or a Pixel Fold of $ 1,200 that only receives a slight impact on image quality?
I know which one I would choose.