Google will need some special sauce to sell a folding phone
Samsung owns this market. For now.
Google all but confirmed that we're finally going to see a folding Pixel phone. People who are not Google have been talking about one for years but something makes Google think now is the time and we should see something at Google I/O next week.
And part of what we see has to be something none of the other folding phones — which really only means the Galaxy Fold here in North America — offers. Some features or bits of software that will make the Pixel Fold magical.
What's key is that it has to be something exclusive. Like, if you had a big box full of foldable phones you would root through it until you found the Pixel Fold because it has that one thing that Samsung isn't offering.
I've looked through the renders and the "official" teaser hundreds of times and I'm pretty confident that it isn't going to be design-based. The bezels look small and plenty of people like small bezels. It also seems thin, which is important when you're doubling the thickness because it's two phones folded into one phone. To me, this isn't going to be enough to make people care.
Maybe they are relying on the Pixel's awesome camera. Pixel cameras are so good that even the budget-priced Pixel 6a has a better camera than any thousand-dollar phone you match it up against. The Pixel 7a should be exactly the same and take photos as good or better than a $1,300 Galaxy S23 Ultra. It's always been that way and unless Google really screws up it always will be that way.
I don't think this is the case either. Everyone wants a good camera on their expensive new phone, but nobody is saying any flagship phone has a bad one and they are all good enough. Very few people will pick a Pixel Fold because the camera is better than the Galaxy Z Fold.
That leaves one thing that Google can do to differentiate itself — software. This is both a wonderful and horrible idea that I honestly hope doesn't happen.
Google maintains and does most of the work when it comes to Android. But another completely different division of Google makes Pixel phones. This is why the Android that is installed on the Pixel line is more like the Android that is installed on Samsung's phones than what you would get if you downloaded the source code and made it yourself. The Pixel is chock full of software that's not part of Android.
I don't mean the various bits and bobs that Google gives to any company that signs an agreement, either. If you have a device that has access to the Google Play Store, you have all of Google's services or access to them. It doesn't matter who made the phone.
Only a Pixel phone has the Pixel camera software. Only a Pixel phone has the Pixel home launcher. Only a Pixel phone has Google's crash detection feature. Some things used to be pixel exclusive but are now available for other devices, like the Phone dialer or Google Messages. That doesn't mean that these software features are better than anything offered by another phone maker, just that Google does keep things just for its Pixel phones.
Samsung (yes, I know Xiaomi and Motorola exist but I'm going to stick with Samsung here) also has unique software features for its foldables like support for a proprietary stylus, and unique hardware features like UTG (ultra-thin glass) and a patented hinge and that S Pen stylus itself. features are what sells phones in the crowded Android space.
Plain and simple, Google is going to need some of those unique features for the Pixel Fold if it's ever going to be successful. Some novel ways to use the two displays or some hidden hardware trick that we didn't see from the sneak peek.
That's tough to pull off, especially since Google worked hand-in-hand with Samsung and Microsoft (remember that foldable failure?) to get Android ready for big screens that fold in half. this also means that Google knows what Samsung is doing and could one-up its only real competition.
What that "one more thing" idea could be, well I have no idea. I just know it almost has to be there if Google expects to sell more than a few Pixel Folds.
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Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.
So for us more discerning and sophisticated users:p...Google is the only choice.:cool: