As someone who works in the tech industry, it's likely no surprise that I have a bit of an obsession with having the newest gadgets. This is why I have owned nearly every Google Nexus and Pixel device released. However, the last one I personally used was the Pixel 4 XL, and while I loved it, I wasn't able to be convinced to get the Pixel 5 — though I did get one for my wife. My reasons for not getting the Pixel 5 vary, but the biggest was that I didn't feel that the phone was pushing the envelope enough. The phone that did, however, is the phone that I am still using today, and that's the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2. So what is it going to take to pull me back to the Pixel lineup? I believe that Android 12 will be better on the rumored Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Don't get me wrong; I have really enjoyed my Z Fold 2. It's been in my pocket more than any other phone since it was released. But I miss using a Pixel. In my opinion, the version of Android that runs on a Pixel, and all of the Pixel-specific features that come with it, is the best version of Android. With what has been shown off so far in the upcoming Android 12, I can't wait to use it as presented without the addition of Samsung's One UI skin.
Google has been building in hardware support for foldable devices into Android for a few years now. Some of that is already implemented in current builds of the OS that manufacturers are using right now. But with Android 12 giving us such a visual overhaul this year in so many ways, seeing it flow along the larger form-factor of a foldable should be a beautiful experience. In pairing these software changes with Google pushing further into new hardware development, the prospect of melding the company's vision of software and hardware into a single folding phone has me reaching for my wallet.
Of course, well-designed software is only part of the equation for making any phone — let alone one a complex phone that folds. Samsung has been making some of the best Android phones and currently produces the best foldable phone as well. Still, even with all of that manufacturing expertise, its first foray with the original Galaxy Fold didn't go so well.
So what makes me think that Google, which has had its share of hardware complications with traditional form-factors, will produce a product that I can trust? Perhaps it is just optimistic blind faith. However, I feel that since Google, in a way, took off last year in not pushing the envelope for a top-tier flagship phone, and it's had time to refine and focus on 2021. With what we know so far in the Pixel 6 and the much anticipated Google-made SoC, Whitechapel, the Pixel Fold should be a hit.
A reasonable person would likely say that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be the better phone for no other reason than Samsung's experience. There is a good chance that may end up being very true. The Z Fold 2 is a fantastic device in many ways, and the third version will likely be as well. The hardware is great, the displays are some of the best in any device, and Samsung's software is making excellent use of the form-factor. But there are things about using a Pixel that I miss from both a software and hardware standpoint when using the Z Fold 2.
My biggest complaint about the Z Fold 2, aside from the fact that I have to be uber careful with the device not to damage it, is the camera system. I will say that it takes good photos that can sometimes be great. However, I don't have the same trust in the images that I did with my Pixel phones. My Z Fold 2 sometimes has focusing issues. Colors can be muted, which is saying something for a Samsung phone, and the capture time is too long, causing me to miss the moment I'm attempting to catch.
So long as my faith can be rewarded that Google will design and manufacture a high-quality piece of hardware, I believe that a Pixel Fold is likely to be my next phone. The Pixel 6 is expected to finally get the spec bump in the camera department that has been long overdue, and it's likely to trickle over to the foldable too. Given the prowess that Pixel phones in the past have had in photography with older camera sensors, it's expected for that to be enhanced even further on the new phones.
Though the Pixel Fold, or whatever it's going to be officially called, is still largely a rumor, there's enough information out there that I'm allowing myself to get excited. Android 12 is a significant revision of the operating system and creates the perfect moment for Google to bring a new piece of hardware into the fold at the same time — and I'm here for it.