Google Pixel folds in 2022, cameras leave Pixel 6


The first foldable Pixel phone is expected to arrive in 2022, and it won’t use the same high-end camera sensors found in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.

One of the biggest advancements in the Pixel lineup this year has been in the camera department. While Google’s phones typically make up for outdated camera hardware with some really impressive software and machine learning improvements, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are upgrading to a 50 MP rear camera. Beyond the cheap megapixel metric, the Samsung GN1 sensor in the Pixel 6 series is physically larger, allowing for brighter, more detailed photos.

For the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, Google had to compensate for this physical increase, which led to the now iconic camera bar or “visor” protruding from the phone by a few millimeters. On a traditional panel smartphone, that’s not a big deal, depending on your design tastes anyway. For a foldable, however, every excess millimeter is essential, with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 measuring over half an inch thick when folded.

To that end, according to the information our APK Insight team uncovered in the files associated with the latest version of the Google Camera app, the upcoming Pixel foldable phone – codenamed “Pipit” – should instead use essentially the same sensors. camera than last year’s Pixel. 5. Specifically, instead of the new GN1 sensor, the foldable Pixel will have the same 12.2 megapixel IMX363 used since the Pixel 3, presumably as the main sensor.

As you may remember, in August 2020 we were the first to report the development of a foldable Pixel phone. At the time, the work was carried out under the code name “Passport” and its release was tentatively scheduled for the end of 2021. Since then, Passport has appeared several times, notably in the Google Camera app and in various places in the beta version. ‘Android 12.

At some point in development, Google appears to have moved away from the original Passport model for a new foldable phone called “Pipit”. It’s unclear exactly what has changed, but this kind of mid-development codename has happened before. For example, the Pixel Slate was developed under the name “Meowth” when it was planned to run on Intel’s Cannon Lake processors. When these were delayed, Google rebuilt the Pixel Slate on older Intel processors under the name “Nocturne”.

Back to the camera specs, this foldable Pipit will feature a 12 megapixel camera. IMX386 sensor which, if the Pixel 6’s design can be trusted, should be used for an ultra-wide camera. One quirk to note is that in the code this specific camera is labeled with “Folded,” suggesting that it would only be used when the phone is folded closed. We leave this mystery to your imagination and look forward to hearing your theories.

Meanwhile, the foldable Pixel will also be equipped with two 8-megapixels. IMX355 sensors, one labeled as “interior” and the other as “exterior”. Older Pixel phones, including the Pixel 6, but not the Pixel 6 Pro, typically used the IMX355 like a front selfie camera. From there, we believe that including two identical cameras will help ensure that your foldable Pixel will take the same quality of selfies when folded or unfolded, with one of these selfie shooters on the external display. and another on the internal screen, much like the Galaxy Fold Configuration.

It’s not clear at this point if this would be an under-screen camera sensor like on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or a hole-punch style like on Pixel phones today.

Underscreen camera sensor on Galaxy Z Fold 3

To sum up, from what we can piece together so far, the foldable Pixel will likely be equipped with four camera sensors:

  • 12.2 Megapixel IMX363 main camera
  • 12-megapixel IMX386 ultra-wide camera
  • Dual 8-megapixel IMX355 front cameras
    • One for outdoor display
    • One for indoor display

Overall, it looks like this foldable first Pixel will reduce camera quality compared to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. That’s actually normal for foldable phones of this particular form factor, as even the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 doesn’t have the same high-end camera specs as the Galaxy S21. The most likely reason is to reduce the thickness of the phone, as phone makers are currently trying to make their foldables smaller every year, and a thick camera visor like on the Pixel 6 would do the exact opposite.

Knowing that the foldable Pixel won’t use the same camera sensors as the Pixel 6, it makes sense that Google is going with sensors they used before. This reuse of hardware also allows them to reuse machine learning models designed for these cameras, which is where most of the magic of Pixel Series photography comes from.

In other files associated with the Google Camera app, we found the first real signal indicating when this long-awaited “Pixel Fold” is expected to arrive. In the code there is a reference to “isPixel2022Foldable”. Generally speaking, the Google Camera app will refer to different generations of Pixel phones with this type of designation.

For example, Pixel 4 and 4 XL are “isPixel2019” and Pixel 3a and 3a XL are “isPixel2019MidRange”. The latter name “isPixel2022Foldable” confirms that Google intends to launch this foldable next year.

This is the presumed timeline since the announcement of Android 12L, a new version of Android designed with improvements for tablets and foldables. Android 12L isn’t expected to launch until at least March, and it would make a lot of sense to launch a foldable Pixel on this ready-to-fold version.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which benefit some APK Insight teardowns.

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