Google is finally making a foray into the foldable device market. For some people, this step might feel a bit weird and this is totally understandable because there’s always been the sense that the regular design Pixel phones haven’t exactly taken the smartphone market share many have expected them to. But the good news for Google is that it does seem like we are the beginning of a shift in the type of smart devices people are willing to use, especially as most Tech giants continue to roll out “enthusiast devices” more frequently than ever before.
Pixel Fold – Purchasing Guide
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Why Buy a Foldable Phone?
In summary, people might just be getting bored of the regular ‘flagship model’ form of smartphones and this is why the Google Pixel Fold could end up being very successful and there are a few reasons why you might want to look into getting one.
Firstly, it’s Google. They basically own the Android operating system and all the major competitors in the foldable device game also run on Android so they will always have the upper hand when it comes to the optimization of software and they can easily squeeze a little bit more juice out of your favourite apps in a way most other foldable devices can’t, especially in terms of making use of the added real estate that comes with owning a foldable device. This also means that the Pixel Fold has the potential to be the most customizable foldable device in the smartphone market and the increased interactivity is definitely a plus for their prospects of becoming the top dog in that market.
Secondly, if you’re a foldable device enthusiast and you use your phones to run some heavy tasks then this is a recommendable device for you. Coming with a 4821 mAh battery, it houses the largest of its kind in any foldable device and when you take the size and optimization into account you have potentially the longest battery life in any foldable.
Another point which might be the most important reason of all to get a Pixel Fold is the fact that they’re probably going to be the main competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy fold devices. This means they can be what Apple is to Samsung but in the foldable devices market and there clearly is an onus on them to deliver one of the best foldable device experiences ever seen because the foldable device market is definitely there for the taking. This might be the first iteration but the phone is indeed packing even compared to its peers who have been in the game for longer and for you to understand just how good it could turn out to be here are some of the key features of the Pixel Fold that I think are worth going into detail.
The Pixel Fold certainly has a unique design. Coming in at around 5.8 x 3.12 x 0.48 inches when folded, it is the thinnest foldable device on the market (if you don’t take the camera bump into account) and it also feels like the most compact one. This is mostly because the hinge mechanism here is unique. Google decided to put the hinge mechanism above and below the middle crease of the phone rather than behind which makes mechanical sense as it means the hinges here are probably going to be the most durable and the most stable on any foldable. This mechanism also means the inner display is better protected from damage if by any chance dust particles or debris get inside. One trade-off however is that the bezels here are much thicker than average because of this but whether that’s a deal breaker is down to personal preference.
Another design choice working for the Pixel Fold is the fact that Google have decided to make them wider and shorter, so they look more like regular phones when folded as opposed to the slim and tall design Samsung chose with their Z Fold 4 for example. So it feels much more comfortable to use.
The Pixel Fold certainly looks like a Pixel when folded with its 5.8 inch OLED display and hole-punch camera but when unfolded you get 7.6 inches worth of real estate which is optimised so you can use every bit of it so you’re certain to get quite the viewing experience on the Fold.
Going to the back, the Pixel Fold comes with a corning Gorilla Glass Victus back housing a neat matte finish which is going to protect it from all kinds of finger smudges like you see with some metal and glass back finishes. The cover screen is also made of Gorilla Glass Victus so it should do pretty well in a drop test (please don’t drop your phone)
There are a total of 5 cameras on the Fold. One on the outside screen for selfies, one for the inner screen and 3 around the back (We’ll get more into the specs later!). The camera bump here is also similar to the more recently released Pixel devices so they’ve kept it really on brand with that.
The Pixel Fold comes in only two colours, Porcelain (white) and Obsidian (jet-black). The duo-chrome roll out is pretty much expected for a niche device such as this because Google aren’t exactly targeting a wide market with their first release of a foldable so it’s more cost-effective to narrow it down to the most acceptable two colours, no matter how boring you might think that is. Hopefully in future versions they do get to add another colour such as silver which would look great on the Fold.
The Pixel Fold is packed with a host of new features such as TableTop mode, which lets you place your phone folded like a laptop and view content in the top half of the phone. This is also great for making videos/taking photos as you no longer need a tripod to hold the phone up, just a flat surface. It also comes with Live Screen Interpreter Mode which makes use of Google AI and the dual screen capabilities to make translations appear while you have face-to-face conversations in different languages.
Other Pixel features such as Astrophotography and Photo Unblur would also be present, which is expected. The Fold comes with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner for security although with those large bezels, one would’ve expected them to include decent Face ID tech (Hint Hint! Google). It also comes with wireless charging capabilities which is always great to see, especially in a foldable device.
At $1799, the Pixel Fold certainly doesn’t come cheap but being around the same price as its number 1 competitor, the Z Fold 4, means this is the range we should expect foldable phones to start around and to find out one of the reasons why, it’s finally time to look into the tech specifications!
Camera – The camera experience here isn’t far off what we’ve come to expect from Pixel phones and in most cases, it’s actually better. For the main set up it houses a 48MP main camera lens with an f/1.7 aperture as well as two 10.8MP lens (one Ultrawide and one telephoto) and for the selfie cameras, it has an 8MP, f2.0 aperture lens for the cover camera and a 9.5MP, f/2.2 aperture lens for the inside selfie cam. With the phone being able to fold at different angles, you can potentially take the best quality selfie on a smartphone which is awesome. It can also shoot 4k video at 60fps so that could be a good one for content creators.
Processor – The Fold comes with the powerful Google Tensor G2 chip that we’ve already seen in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro so we would expect a similar level performance here (which is top class by the way)
Screen – The Fold comes with a 1080p OLED display, 120Hz max refresh rate and 1450nits of peak brightness (1550 nits for the cover screen) so you can expect a top end viewing experience even when outdoors under sunlight.
Memory – The Fold does not come with an SD card slot but there are two versions to pick from, the 256GB or the 512GB versions, both coming with 12GB of RAM.
Power – The Pixel Fold comes with a 4821mAh battery which puts it at the top for foldable devices. It also supports 21W fast charging which isn’t the fastest but definitely decent. However, the Fold does not come with a charger in the box, keeping up with the recent trend from most phone companies.
Even with the sense of an incoming paradigm shift in the type of devices people want to use, especially in consuming media content, the foldables market remains a niche one so the average user might not find it anything other than fascinating but to the smart device enthusiasts who want a different experience, it’s definitely a device worth owning irrespective of the lofty price tag. The Google Pixel Fold is a very well built device that looks and performs solid in every ramification. The powerful cameras are also packing a punch but it’s what we’ve come to expect from Pixel phones but maybe the best part of all is the optimisation that comes from Google literally owning the Android OS so you just know the apps will look so much better here than on any foldable device out there.
It would’ve been great for them to include Stylus support though, so people can get to use smart pens especially with the extra screen real estate that’s available now. This isn’t a deal breaker however and I think they could well include it in future models. So for between $1750 – $1800, the Pixel Fold might be expensive but if foldables continue to rise in popularity then it could definitely turn out to be a great deal.