After using the Google Pixel Fold phone as my primary device for a month, it’s time for a comprehensive review. In this review, we’ll delve into its design, cover screen, internal display, software, battery life, and camera performance tests. Let’s jump right in!
Read Also: Google Pixel 6 Pro Review
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Design and Durability
First and foremost, Google’s new foldable offering stands out from the crowd in terms of design when compared to other large foldable phones I’ve had the opportunity to handle and test over the past few years. The outer display is compact, measuring just 5.8 inches, a size quite similar to the Asus Zenfone 10, which is currently considered one of the best mobiles available.
However, the Pixel Fold feels wider in comparison, mainly due to its chunkier section where the hinges are located, making it a distinctively broad device compared to the Zenfone. This broader appearance is partly due to the zero gap design, though some competitors like the Huawei Mate X3 have also adopted a slender profile in recent times.
Despite its squat and slim appearance, it’s essential to note that the Google Pixel Fold carries some weight, coming in at 283 grams. Furthermore, as it’s an all-glass phone, it tends to be slippery.
The substantial camera bump on the Google Pixel Fold serves an unexpected purpose it can be used as a ledge, allowing you to rest the phone against your index finger, or even your middle finger if you’re feeling adventurous. This feature adds a level of comfort when holding the phone. When it comes to unfolding the Google Pixel Fold, I found it quite comfortable to hold in this position; it’s akin to holding a mini tablet.
The device is built with Gorilla Glass on both the front and rear, separated by an aluminum frame. There has been some online debate about the overall durability of the Google Pixel Fold, but I personally haven’t encountered any issues. However, I did notice some light scratching on the Gorilla Glass. While it’s standard for Gorilla Glass, I would recommend considering a screen protector to maintain the screen’s integrity.
The camera bump is prone to scratches, but fortunately, the lenses themselves remain undamaged. The hinge, on the other hand, feels robust and doesn’t require overly delicate handling. Not everything about the device is exceptionally tough.
The Google Pixel Fold offers a choice of two colors: porcelain or obsidian, essentially a whitish or blackish model. I have the obsidian model, which looks very sleek, though I do miss the lighter pastel colors that some other Pixel models come in. Fortunately, there may be an option for those colors in the future.
I appreciate that the Pixel Fold has a matte finish, so even though it’s made of glass, it doesn’t attract as much grime and grease. However, the camera bump tends to get dirty, so occasional cleaning is necessary. Similarly, the hinge can accumulate dirt and debris, and nobody wants a dirty hinge.
Fingerprint and Face Unlock
If you’ve used any recent Pixel phone, you’ll find the software experience familiar it’s a stock version of Android 13. To unlock the phone, there’s an edge-mounted fingerprint sensor integrated into the power button on the right side. A quick tap of your finger and you’re in; it’s highly responsive, and I’ve encountered no issues with it.
However, if you prefer face unlock, it’s worth noting that the internal camera doesn’t support this feature. You’ll need to close the Pixel Fold and use the front-facing selfie camera for face unlock. Personally, this hasn’t been an inconvenience for me, as I typically pull the phone out of my pocket and use the fingerprint sensor for a quick unlock, or I resort to face unlock when my hands aren’t clean.
When the Pixel is folded, it resembles a unique 5.8-inch device. It might be wider and heavier than the Zenfone 10, but it’s still incredibly easy to use with just one hand. Even with my small thumbs, I can comfortably reach almost every part of the screen. The display is a short, squat OLED panel with a 17.4 by 9.9 aspect ratio, which is quite unusual for a modern mobile device. I found this aspect ratio to be well-suited for anime and TV shows; you don’t have to deal with annoying pillar boxing or cropping the top of people’s heads when watching in full-screen mode. However, it does result in some letterboxing when viewing 21×9 cinematic content.
The full HD+ resolution keeps everything sharp, and with HDR10 streaming support on Netflix and other services, the visuals are just as stunning as on regular Pixel phones. The front panel also boasts a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, ensuring a buttery-smooth experience, though it’s not an LTPO display, so it may not support an always-on display.
In the folded-up mode, you’ll enjoy a stereo speaker setup that provides loud and clear audio, making it ideal for watching content without headphones. It can really give your audio a boost, and I’ve had no significant issues with Bluetooth streaming on the Pixel Fold, even with a good pair of wireless headphones. The audio is crisp and clear, with full support for LDAC and other high-quality audio technologies. You won’t have to worry about audio cutouts, even in noisy environments.
When you open up the Pixel Fold, you’re greeted with an 8.6-inch internal display. It has a slightly more rectangular shape compared to many other foldable devices, giving it a tablet-like or even book-like feel, especially when using it in split-screen mode. The internal display is another 120Hz OLED panel with HDR support, delivering stunning visuals that are truly impressive. There’s no selfie camera to obstruct your view when you go full screen, as the selfie cam is discreetly placed in the admittedly somewhat chunky bezel at the top.
Similar to most foldable phones these days, the internal display of the Pixel Fold comes with a glossy screen protector. I have to admit, it tends to accumulate smudges and grease quite easily. Most of the time, it’s not a noticeable issue, but it becomes instantly noticeable when you’re using apps in dark mode, and you start getting reflections on the surface, highlighting every grimy mark.
Additionally, the internal display isn’t exceptionally bright, though it’s still quite usable. I found it comfortable for watching YouTube or Netflix, even when I was on a train or outdoors. However, there was a fair amount of glare in outdoor environments. It’s worth noting that when consuming content on the internal display, the speakers become top- and bottom-mounted, unless you turn the phone around to watch your video, which can feel a bit unusual unless you’re multitasking, in which case it makes more sense.
Software and Bugs
Some apps work incredibly well on the Pixel Fold’s internal display. For example, Google Maps is a joy to use on it, and I rarely bother with the cover screen for navigation because it’s just so much easier on the Pixel Fold’s larger display. However, there are quite a few apps that still don’t fully optimize for this display. For instance, if you’re a Twitter fan, the experience on the internal screen might leave you scratching your head.
There’s this massive black bar for some reason, and you can shift the app to the center or the other side if you prefer. Everything seems stretched out to try to fill up the display, which becomes particularly noticeable when you click on an album, leaving a lot of empty space that could be better utilized, perhaps with cover art to make it look less empty.
Audible, on the other hand, follows the same pattern of making everything bigger when you go into the library, resulting in a less-than-ideal visual experience. When you click on what you want to play, you don’t even get the cover art, leaving even more empty space.
Split Screen Multitasking
To fully leverage the impressive internal screen, you’ll want to use the split-screen feature, which is quite straightforward once you get the hang of it. Here’s how you do it: open your first app, then slowly swipe your finger up from the bottom edge to bring up the app bar. Next, drag and drop your second app onto either half of the screen to activate split-screen mode. If the app you want to use in split-screen mode isn’t in the app bar, tap the dots below to find it, and then long-press it to drag it onto either half of the screen.
Now, there is a bit of a learning curve initially because the gesture to bring up the app bar is similar to going back home or accessing your recent apps menu. So, during the first week or so, it might feel a bit tricky, like But after three weeks of using this device, I’ve become quite accustomed to the gesture. My fingers instinctively know the right pace and distance to swipe up and access the app bar.
Indeed, they could have considered making the gesture to bring up the app toolbar more intuitive, such as swiping up from a corner, similar to how you call up the Google Assistant. Customizability in this regard could have been a valuable addition. During my review of the Pixel Fold, I discovered numerous useful split-screen combinations. For example, it’s incredibly convenient when I’m quickly drafting a script for an unboxing video because I can easily highlight text and drag it from one app to another. This functionality works particularly well with applications like Google Docs, Chrome, and Gmail. Additionally, I appreciate the ability to video call with relatives while discreetly keeping an eye on a sports game or browsing the web while catching up on Netflix or Crunchyroll shows.
I do have some concerns with the multitasking and split-screen functionality, one of which is that split-screen arrangements can be easily forgotten when you switch to other apps. There have been instances where I’ve gone into the recent apps menu to return to a split-screen setup, only to find it missing. I think it would have been great to have a shortcut button that allows you to tap and instantly load up two apps side by side for your most commonly used tasks, similar to what Samsung offers with its foldable phones.
Additionally, there are occasional quirks when closing the Pixel Fold. The front display can sometimes behave unpredictably; it may go into hibernation, remain active, or even experience crashes and glitches. If you’re in split-screen mode and briefly close and reopen the Pixel Fold, only one of those apps will remain on the main display. As much as I enjoy using the Google Pixel for its internal display and split-screen capabilities, there’s room for improvement in the software. I’d appreciate more customization options to control what happens when you fold and unfold the device.
Beyond the features tailored for the foldable design, the Google Pixel Fold offers the familiar stock Android experience. However, it’s worth noting that Android on Pixel devices is slightly less customizable compared to some competitors. For instance, you still can’t remove the Google search bar. Nevertheless, the Pixel Fold packs in plenty of great features, including excellent call screening capabilities, a reliable built-in VPN, and robust privacy features. As with other Pixel devices, Google has included a separate Titan security chip to securely store your sensitive data.
Performance and Gaming
The performance of the Pixel Fold, driven by Google’s Tensor G2 chipset and supported by 12 GB of RAM, is generally impressively smooth. It’s quite rare to encounter any stutters or hiccups when using the foldable device. However, it’s worth noting that occasionally it can get a bit warm, especially when used outdoors on a sunny day, similar to the Pixel 7 phone. As long as you’re in the shade, you’ll find that you can play demanding games like Genshin Impact for extended periods on the Pixel Fold, with graphics settings maxed out. There might be occasional frame rate drops during intense gameplay, but overall, it’s still a very enjoyable gaming experience. Plus, you have the advantage of the large internal screen if you prefer a more immersive gaming experience.
You also have the standard Google gaming mode included here, allowing you to block notifications, record your gameplay, and even livestream on YouTube if you want to showcase your gaming skills. Given that this smartphone costs nearly two grand, you can expect full 5G connectivity, although I did notice that the mobile connection could be a bit inconsistent at times, especially in local areas where I usually have a strong signal. In these spots, the Pixel Fold didn’t perform as well as some of its competitors. Overall, the Pixel Fold is generally fine, but I have to admit, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations in terms of signal strength.
In terms of battery, Google has managed to fit a sizable 4800 milliamp-hour battery into the Pixel Fold, which is quite impressive for a foldable device. During my time reviewing the Google Pixel Fold, I was able to drain the battery from 100 to zero percent in a single day, and that included four hours of screen-on time. On most days, however, the Pixel Fold easily lasted me until bedtime with no concerns at all.
If you do find yourself running low on battery, the charging process can be a bit slow, similar to the regular Pixel phones. It takes a couple of hours to fully charge the device. Even a short 15-20 minute charge will only give you a small boost. However, if you prefer wireless charging, the Google Pixel Fold supports that option as well.
The Pixel Fold proudly boasts the best camera setup on a foldable phone, and that’s a fair claim, given Google’s expertise in smartphone photography. There are a total of five camera lenses on this device. To start, there’s a 9.5-megapixel selfie shooter on the front when the device is folded. When opened, you’ll notice an 8-megapixel shooter in the top bezel. On the back, there’s a triple-lens setup featuring a 48-megapixel quad PD sensor, complete with optical image stabilization. Instead of overwhelming users with a plethora of camera features, Google focuses on simplicity while leveraging its renowned image processing and software to ensure your photos look stunning. Lovely is certainly an apt description for the photos captured by the Pixel Fold, which, much like the Pixel 7, delivers natural-looking images.
Even in challenging lighting conditions, the Pixel Fold excels. You can confidently capture photos against a bright sky and still retain deep, attractive blues rather than washed-out pastel colors. The device handles sharp contrast skillfully, avoiding the over-processed look seen in photos taken with some other smartphones, like the iPhone 11. Subjects are well-defined, even if they’re in motion, and portrait shots turn out as expected with minimal bulkiness.
The Pixel Fold’s night mode kicks in automatically when needed, brightening up your shots with on-screen guidance to help you keep still during the capture. Just hold steady for a second or two, and you’ll achieve impressive results even in low-light conditions. However, I did notice some issues with blowouts when light sources intruded into the shot.
The Pixel Fold also features a 10.8-megapixel ultrawide-angle lens for those moments when you need it. Thanks to the reliable processor, I found that this sensor delivers color representation very similar to the main shooter. Detail levels are satisfactory, and distortion isn’t too problematic. Additionally, there’s a telephoto lens with a five-times zoom capability, aptly named ‘Zoom,’ supported by excellent stabilization that ensures you can capture crisp and clear shots. However, I did notice that the Pixel Fold takes a second or so to switch to the telephoto shooter when zooming in, which can be a bit inconvenient.
Google wisely capped the zoom at 20 times, which is less than what many competitors offer, but photos remain quite sharp at this maximum level. Attempting to zoom in further would result in pixelation. At any point, you can switch to the 9.5-megapixel front-facing camera to take a selfie, just like on a regular smartphone. Alternatively, if you don’t mind the slightly awkward handling, you can unfold the Pixel Fold and use the rear camera for more detailed photos at any time of day. Switching to the rear camera is particularly recommended in challenging lighting conditions, as it produces sharper images with richer tones.
Then, there’s an 8-megapixel camera located just above the massive internal display. You can use this for video calls, Zoom meetings, and other purposes. It’s decent, although I noticed that everything appeared somewhat hazy when using it, even after thoroughly cleaning the lens.
When I’m more than just a few feet away from the Pixel Fold, people often complain that they can’t hear me clearly during video chats. So, it’s advisable to stay relatively close when conducting your video calls. If you use the main camera setup for video recording, you can expect respectable 4K resolution results. However, this is an area where iPhones and Samsung Galaxies tend to excel in producing sharper visuals overall. Like many other mobile devices, the Pixel Fold struggles a bit when lighting conditions get dark, but as long as you’re not trying to capture random scenes in dimly lit dive bars, it performs well. The focus remains accurate even when capturing fast-moving subjects, and you have the flexibility to zoom in and out as much as you need. The audio quality is also good, even when shooting outdoors on overcast days.
So, that’s my take on the Google Pixel Fold smartphone after using it for almost a month. I must admit, I rather like it. However, should you buy it? Well, it really depends on your budget. The Pixel Fold is an impressive first effort from Google in the foldable phone space, and I wasn’t expecting it to be this good. The hardware is excellent, but the software needs some refinements and tweaks to fully harness the potential of the unique design and the large internal display. Personally, I might lean towards a Pixel 7a or a Pixel 7, as they are much more affordable options in the world of foldable phones. I tend to prefer the more compact foldables like the Z Flip series. Anyway, I’ll wrap it up now; otherwise, this review might turn into a 20-minute extravaganza.