Original Pixel Fold had much more Google character

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Original Pixel Fold had much more Google character
Google started working on a foldable phone way back in 2020. At the time, however, Samsung was already at Galaxy Z Fold 2, and the Chinese juggernauts hadn't yet encroached on its turf with more impressive handsets with bendy displays like they are now.

Making a compelling foldable phone turned out to be harder than originally envisioned, though, and not only because the hardware at the time didn't allow for the teardrop hinges and ironed out creases that are now the norm. 

Google also had to think about the software adaptations that would make stock Android take advantage of the larger screen that can fold in half, and find ways to stand out from the other brands' foldables.

Also read:

Google had the right Pixel Fold design hitch


Said originally envisioned Pixel Fold turned out to be more characteristic and unique than what Google actually came up with last year as a retail device sold in the Google Store. 

One of the initial prototypes of the Pixel Fold codenamed "Pipit" has popped up, most likely dating back to 2020, and it is rather different from what we have now as the actual retail Pixel Fold.



Alleged "Pipit" Pixel Fold prototype | Image credit — Android Authority

The freshness of the Google design is visible on both the final product, and on the prototype, but the Pixel spirit is carried better by the initial effort of Google's (or HTC's) design team.

It reminds of what began with the Pixel 6, something signature that will be immediately recognizable and carries the brand with it like an iPhone notch or Dynamic Island. Well, the notch is an acquired taste bordering on a haphazard design abomination born from the necessity to accommodate someone's irreconcilable Face ID biometry vision, but we digress.

All the prototype Pixel Fold cameras and accompanying paraphernalia on it are placed in a strip across the back that asymmetrically splits the two-tone patterned body. This is actually one of the most welcomed new phone designs in recent memory.

The design is not just different for the sake of it. The neatly arranged sensor and lens combos can't easily snap photos of your fingers or butcher the ultrawide perspective as a corner camera island would. Plus, there is ample strip space for our index finger to press against while we use the phone with one hand.

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Second, the stripe is unique to look at and blends with the back without sticking out like a sore thumb, even though it is elevated. Moreover, this is a design playground with numerous two- and three-color combos of the Pixel Fold to keep its looks fresh and adjustable to every taste.

Most phone cameras are lazy ergonomics



After getting pressed on the camera front by Android handsets that started employing large sensors, ultrawide or macro lens, and even zoom cameras, Apple started playing catch up and slapped multiple cameras on the back of its iPhones in its turn. To fit them in, however, it didn't resort to symmetrical shapes or positioning.

Since it started deploying those unsightly camera islands on every iPhone, from the basic to expensive ones, other phone makers stopped having qualms about slapping one on the back, too, and brought on a sea of identical handsets.

The sheer litany of larger components resulted in the advent of the camera island on the back - an elevation that had to house all of a phone's camera abilities while at the same time protruding significantly from the rear in order to keep the phone thin, but only in the specs listings.

This typically means that today's trinity of phone camera features - main, ultrawide, and telephoto sensors - were predominantly tucked in the easiest possible from a design standpoint place, the upper left corner of the back.

With time, it started getting so crowded by more and larger sensors, lenses, flashes, periscopes, lasers, and infrared or even LiDAR sets, that its size got way out of proportion and ergonomics were nowhere to be found.


Samsung then started separating the elements in their own tiny "islands" which was still not a symmetric solution, while companies like Oppo or OnePlus simply moved all cameras in the middle of the back, bringing back symmetry and ergonomics.

Google's camera strips on its Pixels, however, are a stroke of genius design that stays signature for the brand even as it provides handling ergonomics that other solutions don't offer and allow for a play of colors that would have set the Pixel Fold apart had it managed to stay the course with the prototype design.

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