Update: The Google Pixel Fold has once again been tipped for an 2023 release. This time Q1 of next year is on the cards.
Like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold series, Google’s foldable is expected to be a smartphone that opens up to reveal a larger tablet canvas. For its internal cameras, Samsung initially opted for a notch with the first two generations, before including a (slightly subpar) under-screen camera for the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
According to the Chinese leaker Digital Chat Station on Weibo (opens in new tab), there will be no notch on the Pixel Fold’s internal screen. The language barrier makes it hard to read exactly how, so judge for yourself. “The inner screen has a full screen without a hole, and the ultra-micro-hole camera is on the frame,” the post reads, when put through Google Translate.
Does that mean there’s going to be a tiny camera embedded in the bezel, or no camera at all when it’s open? It can be read either way, but whichever it ends up being, it doesn’t sound like we’re going to have an unsightly notch of any kind.
Personally, as someone who uses the selfie camera on his phone maybe twice per year, I’d be very happy for a foldable to simply skip it altogether. I’d much rather have more screen real estate, and if I really needed a selfie, I could always close the phone and take one that way.
On the other hand, if you’re a business user looking to jump into a video call with multiple people, then it would certainly be handy to use tablet mode and see more faces at once. But if it really is a micro camera in the frame — something backed up by an earlier leak that promised 50MP, 12MP and 8MP cameras on the handset — then the quality may be questionable. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Either way, this may go some way to explain what the mysterious icon found in the Google code last week means. Perhaps the arrow is instructing users to flip their open phone over in order to take a selfie.
Elsewhere, Digital Chat Station seems to suggest that while the rear of the handset will match the Pixel 7’s design (presumably with the familiar camera bar included), the front will be closer to the Oppo Find N foldable. The inner folded screen is described as “relatively small-sized” which sounds a little ominous given the hidden tablet form factor is the whole point of this kind of foldable.
Hopefully we’ll find out more about the Pixel Fold this year. Although it wasn’t mentioned during Google I/O in May, when even next year’s Pixel tablet got an outing, display analyst Ross Young believes it’ll be a 2022 product. Perhaps it’ll be teased this fall, when the Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch are officially unveiled. We'll just have to wait to find out.