The Google Pixel Fold is a product I’m reluctant to recommend, but it still gets a few key things right — I made as much clear in my ode to the Pixel Fold’s way of handling screen rotation. While I wish that the Pixel Fold’s screen rotation behavior could come to other manufacturers’ foldables, the Pixel Fold has another quality that I wish some other phones and products would get — specifically, other Pixel phones. I’m talking about the Pixel Fold’s silky smooth frosted glass back.
In contrast to all other phones in Google’s current lineup, the Pixel Fold is the only one to offer a frosted glass back. The Pixel 7, the Pixel 7 Pro, and the Pixel 7a all exhibit glossy finishes, with the a series phone forgoing the glass finish for a plastic build. This makes the Pixel Fold stand out even more than it already does with its foldable design, thanks to some extra design tweaks, like the notebook-style design and the camera visor that has been adapted to be a camera bar.
The Fold’s frosted glass look isn’t entirely new in the Pixel lineup. From the get-go, the very first Pixel sported a dual-tone design with frosted glass at the bottom and regular glass at the top, creating a distinct look right away. This look stayed intact all the way until the Pixel 4, which introduced a fully frosted back design (without a capacitive fingerprint reader to break up the look) with a squircle camera array in the top left. The general design stuck with the lineup all the way until the Pixel 6, though the company did switch to a bio-resin coated aluminum back in the Pixel 5.
The Google Pixel 3 and the Pixel 4 with their smooth backs
The Pixel 6 seemed like a full refresh to the way Google designs its phones. Apart from introducing a new Pro model, the Pixel 6 was also the first to feature a prominent camera visor stretching across the top of the back, drastically setting Google phones apart from the competition. However, the company also switched to regular glass for its new lineup. As much as I like the look of the Pixel 6 and especially the more refined Pixel 7 after it, I’ve always missed the beauty of Google’s frosted glass of old. It’s just less prone to fingerprints, hiding scratches and other wear and tear better, and it makes for a cleaner look overall.
The Pixel Fold offers the best of both worlds. You get the frosted glass of yesteryear that I’ve grown to love, all while offering a camera style that resembles the Pixel 6 and 7’s new distinct look. I can only hope that the Pixel 8 or maybe the next generation after it also makes that same switch again. It might even be an opportunity for Google to further differentiate the Pro model for entry-level devices. After all, the company already uses polished and matte finishes on the edges of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro to offer distinct looks.
Zooming out from the Pixel Fold, it looks like Google is starting to experiment with its hardware design a little more again. The Pixel Tablet also doesn’t exhibit a glossy glass or plastic build. Instead, it has an all-aluminum back coated in a matte finish that’s soft to the touch but not quite like the frosted glass on the Pixel Fold — it reminds me a lot of the Pixel 5 with its bio-resin back.
It will certainly be interesting to see the next generation of Pixel devices, but Google has to be careful. If the company starts experimenting too much, it could easily lose the new signature look it’s trying to establish. The Pixel Fold and the Pixel Tablet already look distinct from the rest of the lineup, so there is a thin line for Google to walk if it wants its products to stay instantly recognizable.
The Google Pixel Fold may not be perfect, but it gets a lot of things right. The first-generation device might even be a glimpse at what’s to come from Google, and getting one is a chance to see those things early.