Latest Google Pixel Fold review: you need everything to know Google’s folding phone has been a long time coming. Rumors that the company was developing one began several years back; in a surprise revelation during a recent Made by Google podcast episode, the world discovered that the Pixel Fold wasn’t the first.
A previous design hadn’t made the grade and was canceled because it wasn’t good enough. The Pixel Fold must have passed muster, and it’s taking the fight to various rivals but mainly Samsung. The South Korean company has a big lead on Google, having released its first Galaxy Fold in 2019 and is on track to launch its fifth-generation foldable phone soon.
The history lesson is relevant because the Pixel Fold doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And while there’s a lot to like about the phone, there’s some frustration, too – some might be fixed in software updates. Then there’s also the price, which isn’t a million miles away from $2,000/£2,000.
Design & build
The Pixel Fold is the type of folding phone that aims to replace a tablet rather than the ‘flip’ style, which takes a normal phone and folds it in half.
Google Pixel Fold review: This makes the Pixel Fold a big, heavy phone. It’s 12.1mm thick (not including the camera bump) and 80mm wide. At 140mm tall, it’s shorter than many phones, but at 284g, quite a lot heavier – 20g heavier than the Galaxy Z Fold 4. And everyone I handed the Pixel Fold to commented on the weight first. But, as with any folding phone, it also has a huge wow factor. Pictured here is the Obsidan color, but you can also get it in Porcelain.
Opening it up to reveal the 7.6 internal screens will usually elicit a “wow” or a gasp because, in 2023, not many people have seen a phone that folds in half. The crease doesn’t ever go away, but the screen’s brightness often hides it. It’s even more hidden if you’re running one app on each side of the screen.
The crease doesn’t ever go away, but the screen’s brightness often hides it.
Google Pixel Fold review: The Fold differs from its rivals – notably the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 – because it has a 6:5 aspect ratio. That means it is more landscape than portrait which is more significant than you might imagine as it affects how apps behave.
When folded, there’s no gap between the screens. The gap is one of the things you first notice about the Galaxy Fold 4, but Samsung is likely to address it in the Fold 5, which launches in just a few weeks.
The overwhelming feeling is that this is an especially delicate phone requiring much care.
One benefit of the stiff hinge is adjusting the screen to a certain angle, and it’ll stay there. That’s useful if you want to watch a video hands-free on the outer screen in ‘tent’ mode, but it also means you can do the same thing with the internal screen in laptop mode.’
That could be useful for video calls as a camera is on the inside bezel, and one is embedded into the outer screen. When Android 14 launches, there will also be an update to YouTube, which displays the video on the top part of the screen and puts playback controls on the part lying flat.
Screen & speakers
It isn’t supposed to be the main attraction, but the Pixel Fold’s outside screen is unusual for a folding phone because it’s very similar in proportions to a normal phone—or, at least, a normal phone from a few years ago.
The 17.4:9 aspect ratio is much more usable than the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s 23.1:9 outer screen. It’s a bright OLED panel, peaking at 1550 nits, and a real joy even in bright outdoor conditions. The resolution, the colors, and – no surprise – viewing angles are, too.
Some may dislike Google’s choice of punch-hole selfie camera, but it doesn’t get in the way.
Prise open the Fold – something that needs two hands and a fingernail because there’s no gap–and becomes a small tablet. The screen has the same 7.6 diagonals as the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Although this makes both phones square-ish, the Pixel Fold has a 6:5 aspect ratio against the Z Fold 4’s 21.6:18.Human brains can’t easily compare those numbers, but what it boils down to is that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (and pretty much every other competitor) has a taller, narrower screen. At the same time, the Pixel Fold is wider and shorter.
Is this a benefit? The answer is complicated, and one is best answered when discussing the Pixel Fold’s software later.
Both screens support a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz, but the internal screen isn’t quite as bright at 1000 nits, with a peak brightness of 1200 nits. The other thing to note is the bezel around the internal screen. It’s thicker at the top and bottom than the sides, but it’s not something you notice in normal use. If anything, it’s too thin at the sides, making it hard to grip the phone without accidentally touching something on the screen.
Google Pixel Fold review You’d assume that Google would have copied and pasted the cameras from the Pixel 7 Pro, but no. All three sensors on the rear have different resolutions (all lower, surprisingly), and the front camera has an unusual 9.5Mp count. Not that it matters: these great cameras deliver very good photos and videos in most situations. Photos from the main rear camera are sharp, well-exposed, and have good dynamic range. Here’s a selection:
Fortunately, Google’s software magic makes this a great phone for photography, and most people won’t notice or care about the drawbacks. You can erase objects from photos, unblur them, pick the best shot from a burst series, and all that other Pixel-y good stuff.
It’s a good phone for video, particularly because of its excellent stabilization. You can shoot at up to 4K/60fps. Slo-mo is also worth highlighting, being easily accessible within the main video mode and producing outstanding results.
Battery life & charging
The Pixel Fold uses batteries up to around 4800mAh, so many regular phones have bigger cells. Google says that’s enough to last beyond 24 hours, which is true. But it’s not true every day.
I used the Fold for over a week before writing this review, and while the clever Adaptive Battery may not have had enough time to kick in properly, my mileage varied a lot. In my estimation, I used the Fold for about the same amount of time each day – give or take – and did the same things, using a mix of the outer and inner screens to browse, play games, take photos, and use social media: the usual.
Some days ended with comfortable levels – around 20-25% –but on others, it didn’t even make it to bedtime without recharging. Conversely, on another day, there was almost 40% left, which lasted until after lunch the following day.
Weirdly, Google hasn’t caught up with the fast-charging other phone makers now offer, and it’s hard to call the Fold a fast-charging phone. Google doesn’t include a charger in the box, but if you have one that can output 30W, the Fold will take it.
Using a 61W Ravpower charger, I had to hand, the Fold charged from empty to 14% in 15 minutes and was up to 28% at 30 minutes: nice and linear but also very slow.
- 5.8in FHD+ 120Hz LTPO OLED
- 7.6in 2208 x 1840 120Hz LTPO OLED
- Google Tensor G2 chipset
- 12GB RAM
- 128/256GB non-expandable UFS 3.1 storage
- 4800mAh battery
- 30W wired charging
- Wireless charging
- 48Mp f/1.7 main camera
- 10.8Mp f/2.2 ultrawide camera.
- 10.8Mp f/3.05 5x telephoto camera
- 9.5Mp f/2.2 front camera
- 8Mp f/2 inner camera
- Wi-Fi 6E
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Gorilla Glass Victus (front and rear)
- 140mm x 79.5mm x 12.1mm (5.5 x 3.1 x 0.5in)
- 284g / 10oz