Over the final 4 years, phone-makers like Samsung, Huawei and Oppo have tried to good making a pill that folds down right into a telephone and suits in your pocket. Now, it is Google’s flip with the Pixel Fold, which begins at $1,799 (£1,749) and ships on June 27.
With its first foldable telephone, Google manages to keep away from a few of the pitfalls we have seen in early fashions from different corporations. It seems to be nearly like a daily telephone when closed, making the Pixel Fold extra usable in “telephone mode” than the taller and skinnier Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. The cameras on the Pixel Fold are additionally top-notch, which means you do not have to sacrifice photograph high quality to get a foldable display screen. That’s one space the place Microsoft’s foldable telephone, the Surface Duo, notably fell quick.
But after utilizing it for a number of days, there’s one main downside Google hasn’t solved. It hasn’t answered the overarching query of why foldables ought to exist within the first place. Having an enormous display screen in your pocket might be helpful, however is it $1,799 helpful? That’s greater than the typical month-to-month mortgage fee in, for instance, Ohio or Indiana, in response to a examine from LendingTree.
Google is not alone; Samsung’s phone-tablet hybrid prices the identical. But it simply reiterates that foldable telephones just like the Pixel Fold nonetheless lack broad attraction. Until corporations like Google and Samsung can get the worth down, tablet-size foldables are more likely to stay a distinct segment.
But that does not imply the Pixel Fold would not have promise.
It can fold utterly shut
The Pixel Fold has a wider form than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, making it look extra like a passport or a Moleskine pocket book than Samsung’s telephone. It’s extra corresponding to the Oppo Find N than Samsung’s foldable when it comes to its total look. It additionally resembles Microsoft’s Surface Duo, though that telephone consists of two screens joined collectively relatively than one foldable show.
The Pixel Fold shuts utterly with no hole, not like the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which has an area close to its hinge. This provides the Pixel Fold a sleeker look when closed, though each the Z Fold 4 and Pixel Fold have the identical IPX8 sturdiness score. That means they need to have the ability to stand up to some immersion in water even when neither are thought-about mud proof or waterproof.
The digital camera bar on the Pixel Fold would not protrude as prominently because the Galaxy Z Fold’s, which allows it to relaxation on tables and surfaces with out wobbling when closed.
But be warned; the Pixel Fold remains to be a cumbersome telephone. The extensive cowl display screen positively works within the Pixel Fold’s favor (extra on that under), but it surely additionally means you could battle to make use of it with one hand.
Its large entrance display screen is a giant deal
One of the most important drawbacks with foldable telephones is the training curve. Their thickness and weird form could make the change from a typical telephone to a foldable machine really feel jarring. Luckily, the Pixel Fold’s extensive cowl display screen makes the transition just a little simpler.
Don’t get me improper, there’s nonetheless rather a lot to get used to. But having an exterior show that is related in form to the display screen on a daily, nonfoldable telephone goes a great distance towards making apps and settings menus really feel extra pure. That’s very true with regards to typing; utilizing the keyboard on the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s cowl display screen felt cramped by comparability.
The Pixel Fold’s 5.8-inch exterior display screen additionally makes it far more helpful as a video participant. Even although it is technically smaller than the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s 6.2-inch cowl display screen, the Pixel Fold’s proportions really feel extra appropriate for video in comparison with the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s elongated show.
That goes for the inside show, too. The Pixel Fold has a characteristic known as Tabletop mode, which because the identify implies adjusts the software program accordingly when opening the telephone like a laptop computer. It’s just like Samsung’s Flex mode, which shifts an app to the highest portion of the display screen when folded midway.
Many apps aren’t supported but, however fortunately some streaming companies like Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu work on this mode. Google Meet additionally works in Tabletop mode, so you possibly can take video calls with out having to carry up your machine. This labored effortlessly: When calling a colleague over Google Meet, the app conformed to suit the show as quickly as I bent the telephone midway. However, the inner digital camera’s location makes it tough to place the Pixel Fold at an angle that does not really feel awkward for video calls on this mode.
The draw back to Tabletop mode is that the Pixel Fold might be difficult to function on this place. I normally discover it simpler to select up the Pixel Fold and both shut it or open it absolutely to modify apps or play one other video. This makes me admire the touchpad mode Samsung added to its foldables final 12 months, which helps you to flip the underside portion of the display screen right into a trackpad to be able to extra simply manipulate apps operating on the opposite half of the show.
While I want the Pixel Fold’s form, Samsung’s telephone has the higher hand with regards to the inside display screen in different methods. Colors are likely to pop extra on the Galaxy Z Fold’s 7.6-inch AMOLED show, and the thinner bezel provides it a sleeker look total. The Pixel Fold does have a noticeable crease operating down the center of the display screen when opened. It’s visually just like the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s, however feels a bit flatter to the contact in comparison with Samsung’s.
Its software program is all about multitasking
Google is positioning the Pixel Fold as a multitasking machine, and it is simple to see why given its large inside show. You can use apps in split-screen mode and drag and drop content material between apps. Google solely permits you to open two apps directly, whilst you can cowl the Z Fold 4’s inner show with as much as 4 apps.
Some may discover that to be a downside, however I personally do not open greater than two apps at a time in on a regular basis use. On a telephone just like the Pixel Fold or Galaxy Z Fold 4, I want dedicating that complete inside show to at least one app in order that I can get a extra immersive view.
There have been occasions when split-screen mode got here in useful. I needed to reset a password to certainly one of my app accounts, and I liked with the ability to rapidly pull up Gmail for my login code with out having to leap between apps. It’s additionally good with the ability to control Slack whereas I’m doing one thing else on my telephone, like listening to Spotify, looking electronic mail or scrolling by social media.
But the Pixel Fold is lacking an essential characteristic that Samsung gives: the flexibility to pin apps collectively to be able to launch them in split-screen mode in a single faucet. The Pixel Fold will maintain apps paired whereas they’re open, however there is not any approach to maintain it that manner for future use.
As is the case with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, you too can drag and drop content material between apps on the Pixel Fold when utilizing split-screen mode. This labored properly once I moved an image from Google Photos to a textual content message within the Messages app and an electronic mail in Gmail. But there have been occasions when it took a few tries to efficiently drag a YouTube clip to Messages. Given that foldables have already got sufficient of a studying curve, I hope this will get sorted out shortly.
Even after they perform at their finest, I do not suppose split-screen apps are compelling sufficient to persuade somebody to purchase a foldable telephone. I’m so accustomed to switching between apps on the single-screen telephones that working a multi-app mode requires me to consider apps otherwise. Returning to the house display screen or app switcher to hop between apps feels instinctual at this level. It’s laborious to interrupt a decade-plus lengthy behavior, as I think about will probably be for others switching to their first foldable telephone. That’s not particular to the Pixel Fold, however maybe it is telling of why foldable telephones are taking so lengthy to achieve widespread recognition.
It’s additionally value noting that many apps look tiny on the Pixel Fold’s inside display screen. While huge names like Netflix, TikTok, Calm, Slack, Discord, Outlook, WhatsApp, Roblox, Amazon and Candy Crush Soda Saga refill the Pixel Fold’s huge show, some equally standard apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Uber, Candy Crush Saga and Seamless seem like floating home windows within the heart of the display screen. (These apps run in a full-screen view on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, by the way in which.) For essentially the most half, apps transitioned between the entrance and inside display screen with out problem. There was one occasion when Discord did not conform when transferring between the tablet-size inside show and the duvet display screen, but it surely labored correctly the following time I used the app.
What I’m trying ahead to essentially the most, nonetheless, is seeing how the entrance and inside display screen work collectively sooner or later. When Google unveiled the Pixel Fold, it demonstrated a characteristic known as twin display screen interpreter mode, which allows the entrance and inside screens to work concurrently throughout language translation. The app would present translations on each side of the telephone in order that the members might see one another’s phrases of their most well-liked language on display screen. Since this characteristic is coming in Android 14, I wasn’t in a position to strive it but.
It has nice cameras
The Pixel Fold has three cameras: one for normal, ultrawide and telephoto photographs. While the Pixel 7 Pro has an analogous digital camera setup, they are not the identical. The Fold’s telephoto digital camera has a ten.8-megapixel sensor in comparison with the 48-megapixel one on the 7 Pro.
Overall, I used to be actually impressed with the Pixel Fold’s digital camera. Like different Pixel telephones, the Fold gives an ideal steadiness of colour that is pure however nonetheless daring whereas capturing loads of element. Photos taken on the Pixel Fold’s predominant and ultrawide cameras additionally regarded colourful and crisp, whether or not I used to be taking pictures in daylight, at night time or indoors.
Pixel Fold, Pixel 7 Pro and Galaxy Z Fold 4 digital camera specs
|Google Pixel Fold||Google Pixel 7 Pro||Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4|
|Rear cameras||48MP predominant; 10.8MP ultrawide; 10.8MP telephoto||50MP predominant; 12MP ultrawide; 48MP telephoto||50MP predominant; 12MP ultrawide; 10MP telephoto|
|Front digital camera||9.5MP||10.8MP||10MP|
|Inner digital camera||8MP||N/A||4MP|
Even although the Pixel Fold has a decrease decision telephoto digital camera, zoomed-in images regarded roughly the identical as these taken on the Pixel 7 Pro in my testing. Both telephones can zoom optically as much as 5x, which is barely nearer than the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s 3x optical zoom. But the Pixel 7 Pro can zoom digitally as much as 30x, whereas the Pixel Fold can solely attain a 20x digital zoom.
Pixel 7 Pro
Compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4, I believed the Pixel Fold typically rendered pores and skin tones in a extra correct and flattering manner, as you possibly can see within the photograph under. Colors additionally regarded too blown out in images taken on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in comparison with the Pixel Fold in some situations.
Galaxy Z Fold 4
But in some circumstances, Samsung punched up the colour a bit extra, as proven within the photos under.
Galaxy Z Fold 4
The Pixel Fold additionally fares properly in low gentle. All three telephones have been able to capturing a flattering photograph of me exterior of a restaurant at night time. Samsung’s photograph is the brightest of the three, however I want Google’s images since each the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel Fold made my face look a bit softer. That stated, for those who’re concerned about brightness alone, Samsung wins this spherical.
Pixel 7 Pro
Galaxy Z Fold 4
Take a take a look at another images taken with the Pixel Fold under.
What units the Pixel Fold and different foldables prefer it other than common telephones, nonetheless, is their potential to face on their very own when folded midway. The Pixel Fold, Galaxy Z Fold 4, Motorola Razr Plus and different foldables primarily have a built-in tripod, making it simpler to seize regular photographs or group selfies.
When utilizing the digital camera app in Tabletop mode, the viewfinder shifts to the highest portion of the show when digital camera controls are located on the underside. Samsung has been providing this characteristic for some time, so it is nothing new. The Z Fold 4 may even present images proper after they have been taken on the underside portion of the display screen alongside the digital camera controls. That makes it simpler to see if the photograph you simply captured is to your liking.
But the benefit that Google has when taking images comes all the way down to the scale and form of the Pixel Fold’s show. The folded portion of the display screen that serves because the digital camera viewfinder is way taller on the Pixel Fold, giving you extra space to see what your shot may seem like as you are setting it up.
If you are taking a number of selfies you will have loads of choices on the Pixel Fold. There’s a 9.5-megapixel entrance digital camera above the duvet display screen, and an 8-megapixel inside digital camera whenever you open up the machine. That’s double the decision of the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s 4-megapixel inside digital camera, which is underneath the display screen. Compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4, the selfie taken on the Pixel Fold’s inside digital camera seems to be extra pure and has a bit extra element. But Samsung dialed up the colour of my hair, which actually made for a extra flattering photograph.
Galaxy Z Fold 4
Given its foldable form, you too can use the Pixel Fold’s rear cameras to snap selfies, utilizing the duvet show as a viewfinder. You positively seize extra element in selfies by utilizing the Pixel Fold’s rear digital camera, however doing so can really feel awkward. It requires two arms, and feels nearly like taking a photograph with an iPad.
Front digital camera
Rear digital camera
It has stable efficiency and battery life
The Pixel Fold runs on Google’s Tensor G2 processor, the identical chip that powers the Pixel 7 lineup. Performance is clean; the Pixel Fold launches apps rapidly, runs video games like PUBG Mobile and Shadowgun: Legends with ease, and shifts between the entrance and inside shows nearly immediately. The again of the telephone received just a little heat after gaming for about 10 minutes to the purpose the place it is noticeable however not uncomfortable.
The benchmarks exams that CNET normally runs to check common computing and graphics efficiency weren’t accessible on the time of writing. We’ll replace this evaluate with these outcomes at a later date.
But the Tensor G2 is about extra than simply efficiency and velocity anyhow. Google’s customized chip allows it to convey particular options to its units, reminiscent of Photo Unblur, which sharpens images which might be blurry or fuzzy. That holds true for the Pixel Fold too, which has Photo Unblur amongst different Tensor-powered options.
The Pixel Fold’s battery life might be sufficient to get you thru a full day, however you will need to pack a charger when you’ve got a very busy schedule.
After roughly six hours of use, the Pixel Fold’s battery dropped to 70%. During that point, I had the always-on show and excessive refresh price settings turned on, and I turned off adaptive brightness. While I left the brightness at 50% more often than not, I turned it as much as round 80% when outside to extra simply see the display screen. During that half-day interval, I streamed Spotify for a few half hour, took a number of images and a brief video, browsed social media, learn emails and despatched textual content messages.
Battery life will at all times differ relying on how you utilize your machine, which is why I’m being particular concerning the machine’s settings and the sorts of apps I’ve been operating. Whether you are utilizing the tablet-size inside display screen or the duvet display screen may even play a task.
We ran CNET’s battery take a look at, which includes streaming YouTube over the course of three hours and checking the battery proportion at every hour, on each the inside and exterior display screen. The Pixel Fold was all the way down to 83% after operating the three-hour take a look at on the entrance display screen, whereas it dipped all the way down to 69% on the within display screen.
The battery take a look at outcomes from the duvet display screen are on par with the Galaxy S23 collection and barely higher than the Pixel 7, whereas the within display screen’s outcomes are decrease than most telephones we have examined (apart from the Sony Xperia 1V, which has a 4K display screen). But that is to be anticipated for the reason that cowl display screen is smaller than the shows discovered on a lot of at present’s telephones, whereas the inside display screen is extra corresponding to a pill than a telephone.
However, the Pixel Fold carried out properly throughout CNET’s battery endurance take a look at, throughout which I streamed video, browsed social media, took a brief video name and performed video games over the course of 45 minutes to see how a lot these duties would drain the battery. The Pixel Fold’s battery dropped from 100% to 95% throughout that point. Compared to different telephones CNET has examined this 12 months, these outcomes are about the identical because the Galaxy S23 Plus’ and Lenovo ThinkPhone’s. For this take a look at, I used a mixture of the inside and exterior show relying on which display screen was best-suited for the duty at hand. For instance, I scrolled social media and performed Candy Crush on the entrance display screen, whereas I used the inside display screen for taking part in PUBG Mobile, watching YouTube and making a video name in Tabletop mode.
The Pixel Fold helps 21-watt quick charging, though you will want a suitable energy adapter to realize these speeds. Google recommends utilizing its 30-watt adapter, though you will need to buy it individually. The Pixel Fold went from 0% to 41% in half-hour, which is commendable however not as spectacular as another nonfoldable telephones, such because the Lenovo ThinkPhone, which went from 0% to 92% in the identical time interval due to its 68-watt charging (and included charger within the field). There’s additionally 7.5-watt wi-fi charging on the Pixel Fold, which replenished the battery from 26% to 35% in half-hour.
Google Pixel Fold total ideas
Google will get rather a lot proper with its first foldable telephone. The wider cowl display screen makes it really feel immensely extra helpful for the duties it is best suited to, like watching movies and taking images hands-free with no kickstand or tripod. The exterior show additionally feels far more pure when utilizing apps in comparison with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which is narrower than your common telephone. Like its commonplace Pixel telephones, Google excelled with the Pixel Fold’s design, particularly with regards to the gapless hinge.
But the Pixel Fold nonetheless seems like a first-generation product. Some main apps, like Instagram and Uber, aren’t optimized to occupy the total display screen. Google’s drag and drop performance, which is for transferring content material between apps in split-screen mode, felt just a little hit-or-miss in my testing. And above all else, the Pixel Fold is an costly machine at an eye-watering $1,799, making it tough to suggest.
The Pixel Fold jogs my memory a number of the Pixel Watch. It’s a polished-looking execution of a product class that is existed for years, but it surely would not essentially push the business ahead. At least not but. Google sometimes updates its Pixel merchandise with new options over time by software program updates, and I believe that would be the identical for the Pixel Fold. I believe one of the best elements of the Pixel Fold are nonetheless to come back.
How we take a look at telephones
Every telephone examined by CNET’s evaluations crew was truly utilized in the actual world. We take a look at a telephone’s options, play video games and take images. We look at the show to see if it is vivid, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and construct to see how it’s to carry and whether or not it has an IP-rating for water resistance. We push the processor’s efficiency to the extremes utilizing each standardized benchmark instruments like Geekbench and 3DMark, together with our personal anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution movies and enjoying graphically intense video games at excessive refresh charges.
All the cameras are examined in a wide range of situations from vivid daylight to darkish indoor scenes. We check out particular options like night time mode and portrait mode and examine our findings towards equally priced competing telephones. We additionally try the battery life by utilizing it each day in addition to operating a collection of battery drain exams.
We take note of further options like help for 5G, satellite tv for pc connectivity, fingerprint and face sensors, stylus help, quick charging speeds and foldable shows amongst others that may be helpful. And we steadiness all of this towards the worth to provide the verdict on whether or not that telephone, no matter its worth is, truly represents good worth. Please be aware that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 was reviewed utilizing CNET’s outdated scoring system, so its evaluate quantity rating is not instantly corresponding to the one the Pixel Fold has been given in 2023.
Pixel Fold Specs vs. Samsung and Honor
|Google Pixel Fold||Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 5G||Honor Magic Vs|
|Display dimension, tech, decision, refresh price, brightness||Internal: 7.6-inch OLED, 2,208 x 1,840 pixels; exterior: 5.8-inch; 2,092 x 1,080 pixels, 60-120Hz||Internal: 7.6-inch AMOLED, 2,176 x 1,812 pixels; exterior: 6.2-inch, 2,316 x 904 pixels||Internal: 7.9-inch, 2,272 x 1,984 pixels, 90Hz; exterior: 6.45-inch, 2,560 x 1,080 pixels, 120Hz|
|Pixel density||External: 408 ppi; inner: 380 ppi||External: 402 ppi; inner: 374 ppi||External: 431 ppi; inner: 381 ppi|
|Dimensions (inches)||Closed: 5.5 x 3.1 x 0.5 in; open: 5.5 x 6.2 x 0.2 in||Closed: 6.11 x 2.64 x 0.62 in; open: 6.11 x 5.12 x 0.25 in||Closed: 6.31 x 2.86 x 0.51 in; open: 6.31 x 5.57 x 0.24 in|
|Dimensions (millimeters)||Closed: 139.7 x 79.5 x 12.1 mm; open: 139.7 x 158.7 x 5.8 mm||Closed: 155.1 x 67.1 x 15.8 mm; open: 155.1 x 130.1 x 6.3 mm||Closed: 160.3 x 72.6 x 12.9 mm; open: 160.3 x 141.5 x 6.1 mm|
|Weight (grams, ounces)||283g, 9.98 oz||263g, 9.27 oz||261g, 9.21 oz (orange); 267g, 9.42 oz (black & cyan)|
|Mobile software program||Android 13||Android 12L||Android 13|
|Camera||48-megapixel (predominant), 10.8-megapixel (ultrawide), 10.8-megapixel (telephoto)||50-megapixel (predominant), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (telephoto)||54-megapixel (predominant), 50-megapixel (ultrawide), 8-megapixel (telephoto)|
|Front-facing digital camera||9.5-megapixel (cowl display screen), 8-megapixel (inside display screen)||10-megapixel (cowl display screen); 4-megapixel (inside display screen, underneath show)||16-megapixel (cowl display screen); 16-megapixel (inside display screen)|
|Processor||Tensor G2||Snapdragon 8 Gen Plus 1||Snapdragon 8 Gen Plus 1|
|RAM/storage||12GB + 256GB, 12GB + 512GB (US, UK, Germany)||12GB + 256GB/512GB/1TB||12GB + 512GB|
|Battery||4,821 mAh||4,400 mAh||5,000 mAh|
|Special options||5G (mmw/Sub6), IPX8 score, 5x optical zoom, twin sim, estimated 24-33 hours battery life||5G, 30x area zoom digital camera, IPX8, 25-watt fast-charging (no in-box charger)||3x optical zoom, 66-watt bundled fast-charger|
|US worth off-contract||$1,799||$1,800||Converts to $1,740|