While it feels a bit like we know what to expect as we head into the assumed Google hardware event in October, things keep popping up to make us think there could be more on offer than we expect. There’s been talk of an Ultra version of the Pixel 7 and for longer than we care to admit, there’s been buzz around a folding Pixel as well. While previous leaks have made it clear that Google is at work in some way, shape or form on an in-house foldable, the latest patent filing completely solidifies those assumptions.
Patent filing for a folding phone with a camera in the bezel
What we’re looking at is a patent filed with the WIPO last summer (published a few days ago) by Google for a folding phone with a camera in the top-right bezel. This isn’t ground-breaking stuff, here, and I’m unsure how you even get a patent on something so routine. But that’s not really the point, here. Instead, from the drawings in the patent for the Pixel Notepad, we can glean a bit more info regarding the looks of this mystery device from Google.
We’ve understood the Pixel Notepad to be a device similar to the Samsung Galaxy Fold from the beginning, meaning it’s larger, folding screen is on the inside of the phone and concealed when folded. It’s also been rumored that the Pixel Notepad would go with a wider internal screen than those from Samsung, making way for a more-standard sized outer display as well. We see this form factor in the Oppo Find N and in my opinion, this makes for a far more versatile phone in every way.
From the patent filing, we can see that this form factor is likely still in place and the direction Google intends to go with the Pixel Notepad. Interestingly, the bezels and hinges in the drawings look a bit more similar to the Microsoft Surface Duo, only with a folding screen. This is likely just a result of the sketches pointing out the placements of the hinges in the bezels for the Pixel Notepad.
In those bezels will live a front-facing camera, so there’s no need to worry about a cloudy, poor-quality under-display camera like Samsung utilizes in its Galaxy Fold at this point. While I love seeing bezels shrink on devices over the years, I’m still a fan of small bezels on handheld, tablet-sized devices. They simply provide a place for your hands to rest, and I’m 100% OK with the bezels on the Pixel Notepad if they end up looking exactly like this patent filing.
Additionally, there are leaks pointing to a 5.8-inch outer display that should come with a more-standard aspect ratio, I think the Pixel Notepad could be a perfect marriage of portability, usability, and function. During my time with it, I found the Galaxy Z Fold 3 to be far too narrow on the outer display and far too square on the inner display, and that caused issues with quite a few apps. If Google’s foldable delivers an outer display closer to the Pixel 4a and a more-landscape inner screen, things will likely just look and function better overall.
A patent filing is far from confirmation of a release for the Pixel Notepad, but it sure does solidify much of what has been rumored about this device. The timing of this could simply be coincidence, but if Google had any control on when this patent filing went public, it could signal a release sooner than later. And, hey, why not October? I think the Pixel Notepad will be a niche-enough device to not steal the thunder from the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, and that means it could be announced right alongside those phones. Will it be? For that answer, we wait.