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Google Pixel Fold Review: Flawless Foldable Experience

The Google Pixel Fold impresses with its versatility, seamlessly transitioning between a robust smartphone and a compact tablet. It combines exceptional performance, stellar photography, and solid construction, justifying its relatively high price tag when viewed as two devices in one.

Pros:

  • Impeccable front screen without compromises
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Stunning large display
  • Impressive camera capabilities and photography features

Cons:

  • Noticeable bezel around the tablet screen
  • Requires a slight push to lie completely flat
  • The price may require some justification
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Google Pixel Fold

Late Arrival, but Impressive Performance

The Google Pixel Fold arrives slightly late to the foldable party but, based on my time with the device, it’s a smartphone/tablet combo that mostly delights and is sure to earn a place among our ranking of the best Foldable Phones.

Dual-Functionality: Delightful Smartphone/Tablet Combo

From its construction, including its precision hinge, to its high-resolution screens, the Pixel Fold is a well-thought-out Android phone that’s equally at home as a small-screen, but thick, 5.8-inch phone or, unfolded, as a 7.6-inch mini tablet.

Well-Crafted Construction and High-Resolution Screens

The large bezel around the main screen might give pause to some, but it quickly fades into the background, thanks to a responsive, colorful, and multitasking-friendly screen. Even the unavoidable crease down the middle is somewhat less prominent than those on competing foldable phones. And when you fold the Pixel Fold, the two sides meet with nary any visible space between them.

Minimal Bezels and Seamlessly Foldable Design

The collection of cameras on board does not disappoint. They can capture lovely landscapes, portraits, macro-like photos (there isn’t a dedicated macro mode), astrophotography, and striking long exposures that use image segmentation to blur motion while keeping other aspects of the scene in focus.

Stellar Camera Capabilities

I’m particularly pleased that Google put a 5x optical zoom on this phone. Sure, that’s half of what you get on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, but it does beat its closest foldable rival, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

A Powerful and Versatile Folding Device

(video credit: Google)/ NewForTech.com

Google equips the Pixel Fold with its Tensor G2 chip (also found in the Pixel 7 line), a capable processor that handles tasks with ease. It excels in web browsing and high-intensity gaming, with smooth visuals thanks to variable refresh rates. One drawback is the relatively dimmer main screen compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which may pose challenges in direct sunlight.

Android 13, with five years of promised security updates, seamlessly integrates with the Pixel Fold. Google’s optimized apps like Mail and Photos work seamlessly on the spacious screen, offering the convenience of drag-and-drop functionality.

Pricing becomes a stumbling block for Google, with the Pixel Fold priced at $1,799 / £1,749. However, considering its dual-device nature, it offers two premium devices in one, justifying the cost.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Google’s first folding device. The Pixel Fold confidently enters the foldable market without compromise, making a remarkable impact.

Google Pixel Fold: Price, Availability, and Color Options

Google unveiled the Pixel Fold at its May 10 Google I/O 2023 developer conference keynote, alongside the Pixel 7a phone, Pixel Tablet, charging speaker dock, and new AI technology.

The Pixel Fold is available for pre-order now, with shipping starting on June 27. However, the exact availability may vary depending on your location. It comes in two colors: Porcelain (off-white) and Obsidian (black). The Obsidian variant was the color of the review unit, which personally preferred over the white.

Price and Configuration:

  • 12GB RAM / 256GB: $1,799 / £1,749
  • 12GB RAM / 512GB (Obsidian only): $1,919 / £1,869
Google Pixel Fold: Price, Availability, and Color Options

Google Pixel Fold: A Dual-Device Worth the Price

The Google Pixel Fold, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, offers two fully functional devices in one, justifying its $1,799 / £1,749 price tag.

With a 5.8-inch and a 7.6-inch screen, each capable of standalone operation, the Pixel Fold provides a comprehensive communication, information, gaming, and entertainment experience.

The Pixel Fold boasts an impressive camera setup, featuring three rear cameras, one on the external screen, and another above the main display.

Comparatively, purchasing an iPhone 14 Pro ($999 / £1,099 / AU$1,749) and an iPad mini ($499 / £479 / $749) would cost around $1,500, offering perspective on the Pixel Fold’s value, considering the additional cameras and the exceptional foldable display.

While the price remains a significant factor, trade-in deals are already available, significantly reducing the cost of this impressive device. Paying full price should be unnecessary.

  • Value score: 4/5

Google Pixel Fold Design: A Solid and Versatile Foldable

The Google Pixel Fold offers the ideal form factor for a phone-to-mini-tablet foldable device, providing a solid feel despite being slightly heavy. It folds completely flat and operates silently. However, the large bezel might be a concern for some users.

Thoughtful Design and Premium Materials

Google’s decision to wait and refine its foldable offering resulted in the Pixel Fold’s impressive design. When folded, it resembles a thick 5.8-inch smartphone, unlike the elongated Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. The dimensions and front screen align with a traditional smartphone, except for the flat hinge side, which doesn’t match the curved corners on the opposite side.

High-Quality Construction and Smooth Operation

While the Pixel Fold is heavier compared to standard smartphones, this is expected for a multi-purpose device of its kind. It boasts premium materials such as a polished aluminum frame and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front and back. The stainless steel hinge operates flawlessly, with whisper-quiet performance and exceptional durability.

Minimalistic Exterior and Button Configuration

The external features of the Pixel Fold are minimal, including Google’s iconic ‘G’ logo on the back and a button configuration opposite the hinge. The power/sleep fingerprint reader and volume rocker are located on the right edge. The speaker and microphone grilles are positioned along the top and bottom edges, while the USB-C charging port and physical SIM slot are on the bottom.

Smooth Unfolding and Notable Bezels

When unfolded, the Pixel Fold requires an extra press to fully flatten, but it’s easy to achieve. The notable feature is the large bezel surrounding the flexible main screen, which accommodates the 9MP camera. Although the bezel appears significant compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4, it quickly becomes unobtrusive during usage.

Convenient Biometric Security Options

The power button serves as a reliable fingerprint reader, and face recognition is available through the Cover screen’s camera. However, it’s worth noting that unfolding the Pixel Fold doesn’t activate the screen’s camera for face unlocking, which is a small but noticeable omission.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold Displays: Versatile and Stunning

Impressive Cover Screen

The Google Pixel Fold’s cover screen is a standout feature, offering a full-width 5.8-inch display with a wider aspect ratio compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The 2092 x 1080 OLED resolution provides a pleasingly bright screen with excellent visibility indoors and outdoors. The adaptive refresh rate of 60Hz to 120Hz ensures smooth operation. The always-on display option adds convenience. The cover screen is ideal for on-the-go use, serving as a viewfinder for the main camera array and offering a palm-friendly size.

Large and Engaging Main Screen

Unfolded, the Pixel Fold reveals its impressive 7.6-inch tablet-like display covered in ultra-thin flexible glass and a protective plastic layer. With a resolution of 2208 x 1840, this main screen offers a fantastic experience for various activities, including browsing Google Maps, watching Netflix and YouTube, and playing games like Asphalt 9: Legends and Call of Duty Mobile. The adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz, 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 16 million colors, and HDR support delivers vibrant visuals. Although the main screen is slightly less bright compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4, the difference is hardly noticeable without a side-by-side comparison.

Foldable Magic and Practical Features

The Pixel Fold’s foldable design introduces a crease that is barely noticeable during app usage, gaming, and video playback. The crease is even less prominent than that of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. Google leverages the cover display effectively, utilizing the device’s folding capabilities. Folding the phone to approximately 45 degrees sets it up like a tent, offering a full-screen Netflix experience on the cover display. Unfolding the Pixel Fold automatically switches the content to the main screen. However, YouTube optimization for the Pixel Fold in Tent mode is not perfect, occasionally playing videos upside down.

The main screen offers versatile mid-fold functionalities. Bending it 90 degrees allows for Tabletop mode, enabling hands-free activities such as watching movies, taking selfies, capturing time-lapse videos, or participating in Google Meet video meetings. Additionally, bending the phone further unlocks unique tripod-free night photography possibilities.

The spacious main screen accommodates two apps simultaneously, enhancing multitasking capabilities. Users can easily run two apps side by side, resizing the split view as desired. While running a third app is not possible, the convenience of having a map open alongside the camera viewfinder, especially during outdoor activities, adds value to the Pixel Fold’s functionality.

  • Display score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold Cameras: Excellent Performance and Powerful Features

Stellar Camera Performance

Google continues its reputation for exceptional camera quality with the Pixel Fold. The cameras capture stunning photos across various styles, complemented by powerful onboard image-processing capabilities. The entire camera hardware suite is impressive, providing a rewarding photography experience.

Google Pixel Fold Cameras

Impressive Camera Array

The Pixel Fold boasts an array of cameras that rival the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. The notable difference is the Pixel Fold’s main display camera, which offers double the megapixels. The camera lineup includes:

  • 48MP f/1.7 wide (rear)
  • 10.8MP ultra-wide f/2.2, 121-degree field of view (rear)
  • 10.8MP telephoto 5x optical f/3.05 (rear)
  • 9.5MP f/2.2 (cover)
  • 8MP f/2.0 (above the main screen)

Optical Zoom and Image Stabilization

One standout feature of the Pixel Fold is its 5x optical zoom, providing greater flexibility and capturing distant subjects with clarity. The Super Res Zoom feature enhances digital zoom capabilities, although images may lose quality at higher zoom levels. The inclusion of optical image stabilization (OIS) and electronic image stabilization (EIS) ensures steady shots even while zooming.

Impressive Image Quality and Versatile Shooting

The Pixel Fold produces sharp, vibrant images with excellent color fidelity. Images appear true to life without oversaturated colors. The camera array allows for capturing subjects from a distance and enables an approximation of macro photography, achieving a blurred background and sharp focus on nearby objects.

Powerful On-board Camera Features

The camera app of Pixel Fold is packed with useful features to enhance photography. The Photo Unblur feature sharpens photos affected by camera shake. The Magic Eraser tool allows for easy removal of unwanted elements from photos. One standout feature is the Long Exposure mode, capturing subtle movements while keeping the rest of the photo sharp. It adds a creative touch to flowing water or moving objects.

Selfie and Astrophotography Capabilities

The Pixel Fold offers various selfie options. Users can shoot selfies with the inside camera, cover screen camera, or utilize the rear camera array by unfolding the device and switching camera display screens. Although the process may be a bit cumbersome, it allows for capturing high-quality selfies with the best camera on the Pixel Fold.

Additionally, the Pixel Fold excels in astrophotography, combining Nightscape photography and Tabletop mode to capture stunning starscapes without the need for a tripod. The 5x optical zoom and longer exposures contribute to achieving impressive results.

  • Camera score: 4.5/5

Google Pixel Fold Performance and Specifications: Powerful Hardware with a Few Trade-offs

Capable, Yet Aging Chipset

The Google Pixel Fold is equipped with the Google Tensor G2 chip, which also powers the Google Pixel 7. While it’s a zippy mobile CPU, it falls slightly behind the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chips in terms of cutting-edge performance. It’s worth noting that a Tensor G3 chip is expected shortly, potentially in the Pixel 8.

Smooth and Responsive Experience

Despite not having the most advanced chipset, the Pixel Fold delivers smooth and instantaneous performance in every game, app, and web operation. While some photo-editing operations and advanced features may take a moment to render, the overall experience remains snappy.

Smooth and Responsive Experience

Ample RAM and Security Features

It comes with a generous 12GB of RAM, ensuring efficient multitasking capabilities. It also features the Titan M2 security coprocessor, enhancing device security and data protection.

Competitive Benchmark Scores

Benchmark scores position the Pixel Fold slightly behind the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset. However, real-world gaming experiences, such as Asphalt 9: Legends and Call of Duty Mobile, show no noticeable difference. The gameplay is smooth, responsive, and visually impressive.

5G Connectivity and WiFi 6e Support

The Google Fold smartphone is a 5G-capable device, offering high-speed connectivity when compatible networks are available. Additionally, WiFi 6e support ensures fast and reliable wireless connections, whether at home or in the office.

Immersive Audio and Sensitive Microphones

The Pixel Fold features stereo speakers that deliver loud and immersive audio experiences, enhanced by spatial audio support. The three microphones are highly sensitive, accurately capturing even whispered voice commands for seamless interaction with Google Assistant.

  • Performance score: 4/5
Google Pixel Fold Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Oppo Find N2 Flip specs
Dimensions (folded): 139.7 x 79.5 x 12.1mm 155.1 x 67.1 x 15.8mm 85.5 x 75.2 x 16.02mm
Dimensions (unfolded): 139.7 x 158.7 x 5.8mm 130.1 x 155.1 x 6.33mm 166.2 x 75.2 x 7.45mm
Weight: 283g 263g 191g
Main display: 7.6 inch (2208 x 1840) OLED 7.6 inch (2176 x 1812) AMOLED 6.8-inch 21:9 (2520 x 1080) LTPO E6 AMOLED, protected by UTG
Cover display: 5.8 inches (2092 x 1080) OLED 6.2 inches (2316 x 904) AMOLED 3.26-inch 17:9 (720 x 382) AMOLED, protected by Gorilla Glass 5
Chipset: Google Tensor G2 Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 MediaTek Dimensity 9000 Plus
RAM: 12GB (LPDDR 5) 12GB 8GB (LPDDR5)
Storage: 256GB / 512GB 256GB / 256GB / 1TB 256GB (UFS 3.1)
OS: Android 13 Android 13 Android 13 w/ ColorOS 13
Primary camera: 48MP, f/1.7 50MP f/2.2 50MP, f/1.8, 23mm, 86° FoV (Sony IMX890)
Ultrawide camera: 10.8MP, f/2.2 12MP f/2.2 8MP, f/2.2, 16mm, 112° FoV (Sony IMX355)
Telephoto: 10.8MP f/3.05 10MP f/2.4
Front Camera: 9.5MP f/2.2 10MP f/2.2 32MP, f/2.4, 21mm, 90° FoV (Sony IMX709)
Inner Camera: 8MP f/2.0 4MP f/1.8
Battery: 4,727mAh 4,400mAh 4,300mAh
Charging: 30W (wired) 25W (wired) 44W (wired)
Colors: Porcelain, Obsidian Gray, Phantom Black, and Beige Astral Black, Moonlit Purple

Google Pixel Fold Software:

The Google Pixel Fold runs on the latest version of Android, Android 13. This ensures you have access to the latest features, improvements, and security updates from Google.

Google has optimized many of its core apps, including Maps, Gmail, Photos, Home, and Drive, for the folding-screen environment. These apps have been redesigned to make the most of the Pixel Fold’s small external and large internal screens. The Pixel Fold excels in multitasking.

You can easily drag and drop one app to open alongside another on the main screen, making it effortless to work with multiple apps simultaneously. While you can’t add a third app on top of the two, the ability to drag and drop content between open apps enhances productivity. Overall, the software experience on the Google Pixel Fold is described as a pleasant surprise. The apps are optimized, everything looks visually appealing, and the software works seamlessly across the different screens.

  • Software score: 4.5/5
Google Pixel Fold Software:

Google Pixel Fold Battery Life:

The Google Pixel Fold is equipped with a sizable 4,727mAh battery, providing ample power to support its folding display and various tasks. In testing, the Pixel Fold demonstrated impressive battery life.

With intensive usage throughout the day, including activities such as playing games, watching videos, browsing the web, and engaging in video conference calls, the phone lasted until around 10 pm. It’s worth noting that the Pixel Fold does not come with a charging adapter in the package. You’ll need to provide your adapter to charge the device, although it supports wireless charging on Qi-compatible charging bases.

  • Battery score: 4.5/5

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