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Google Pixel Fold hands-on review

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Erin L

Erin L

 

GOOGLE PIXEL FOLD with box.Google has finally entered the foldable smartphone market with the Google Pixel Fold, a new smartphone that gives you two smart devices in one: a 5.8-inch outside screen that looks like a regular smartphone, and it cracks open to reveal a larger 7.6-inch internal display that’s akin to a tablet. Toss in the powerful Google Tensor Gen 2 processor, a triple-lens rear camera system, and a 10.8MP front-facing camera and on paper you’ve seemingly got a pretty versatile powerful device.

Google Pixel Fold Phone Full hands-on review

In this google pixel fold phone reviews, I’ll delve into the design as well as the user experience, the camera, software, pricing, and more about the Google Pixel Fold to give you an in-depth understanding of what this device brings to the table. I’ll wrap thigs up by sharing the pros and cons and letting you know if I think it’s a good pick for you.

Google Pixel Fold
4.5

Summary

The Google Pixel Fold smartphone is a solid contender in foldable smartphone technology and solves a lot of smartphone pain for many users. If you want something that doubles as a tablet, the hefty price tag might actually become economical for you.

Pros

  • Tablet AND smartphone
  • Multiple screens
  • Seems durable
  • Takes good photos
  • Versatile
  • Beautiful screen
  • Exterior screen is full size
  • Smart features

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Visible crease, does not sit completely flat

Design

GOOGLE PIXEL FOLD rear.I have to admit I am way behind on the folding phone trend. I have reviewed exactly zero of the existing folding phones on the market. It was only a couple of weeks ago I was able to get about an hour with Samsung’s newest folding smart phones (Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5) which you can read about here. So I’m still one of those people who finds folding cell phones incredibly novel and a little bit exciting.

Watch my hands-on review of Google Pixel Fold


The Google Pixel Fold phone sports a more compact form factor, reminiscent of the Galaxy Fold 5 (and also, I’m told, Oppo Find N2). It’s shorter and wider and when used while closed closes completely with no gap.

The outer screen (Like Samsung’s Fold 4 and Fold 5) is a full size phone screen, meaning you can do a lot with it before you open it right up: No mini window here.

The hinge mechanism is noticeable in the design as Google opted to position of the hinge components at the very top and bottom resulting in larger bezels when the phone is unfolded.

The other thing I will say about this version of a folding phone is that the crease in the screen is extremely noticeable. The phone does not sit completely flat. It almost has a bit of a V shape to it to accommodate the hinges. That also results in a rather noticeable dip in the centre of the screen. I don’t think there’s really any way around this, though in the hour I spent with Samsung’s Fold 5 I felt their crease was a lot less noticeable.GOOGLE PIXEL FOLD open on table.

There is a large protruding camera array on the back of the phone which means when it is folded closed and sitting on its back it leans at a slight angle.

Will the chunky bezels, awkward crease, and somewhat bulky form factor start to annoy me? I’ll have to report back after I’ve had some more time with it.

The edges of the phone are extremely rounded and one early annoyance I did find is that that makes it very slippery and somewhat awkward to open the phone to its tablet configuration. Most of the time I opted to jam a fingernail in there to help pop it open, but it seemed like the nail was getting caught a bit on the screen edge so that did concern me. Plus, not everyone has nails.

Despite those minor annoyance says I’d still give the overall design an 8 out of 10, because this type of technology still absolutely impresses me.

User experience

Google pixel fold screen

Let’s talk about the user experience of google pixel folding phone. Using this phone does take some getting used to for those of us who have been using smaller standard single screen devices. But I will say as someone who is eyesight is not the best, the ability to have a bigger screen instantly at hand when I need one is a game changer.

Some of the motions on the phone can be a little bit awkward to get used to, and I noticed things like the pass code would flip from one side of the tablet screen to another depending on which side of the crease I happened to swipe to open the phone. Pixel fold also comes with fingerprint unlock and the fingerprint sensor is embedded into the power button. This actually opens the phone screen extremely fast and conveniently.

Like other phones, you can use the Taskbar to switch between your apps or drag a compatible app into splitscreen mode to multitask with two apps side-by-side. When in splitscreen, you can drag and drop files across different apps, like Google Photos to Messages and Slides. Plus Google made the Taskbar dynamic, meaning it will disappear when you’re done using it so it doesn’t take up screen real estate.

When it comes to overall user experience, it’s hard to find things to complain about. The things I would consider griping about are simply grapes because I am not used to using them on such a large and versatile device. If some of the hand motions are awkward it’s because I’ve never made them before.

Hardware

GOOGLE PIXEL FOLD open screen.The hardware specifications of the Google Pixel Fold are impressive, bordering on flagship level. The external 5.8-inch display offers a 1080p 120Hz OLED panel with over 1500 nits peak brightness. On the inside, there’s a 7.6-inch OLED display also featuring a 120Hz refresh rate and slightly over 1440p resolution.

The phone is powered by Google’s Tensor G2 chip, which has been in the Pixel lineup for some time. It also has 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage.

Battery & Charging

The battery is a 4,821mAh battery, which, while slightly smaller than the Pixel 7 Pro, presents a potential concern given the larger and brighter display. True battery performance can only be accurately assessed through real-world usage.

I use the phone more intermittently during my testing. Since it was on loan to me. I was able to get a couple days out of a charge, but heavy all-day users can expect more like 8 – 12 hours, depending of course what you’re doing with the phone and for how long.

Durability

 

GOOGLE PIXEL FOLD crease-hinge.I have read some stories about damage and breakage to the screen but so far in my couple of weeks with this phone I have not experienced any issues of concern.

Water resistance

Somewhat amazingly, Pixel Fold has an IPX8 rating for water resistance, meaning it is (basically, without going into a detailed explanation on IP ratings) waterproof, but not dirt and dustproof. As the device was on loan to me from Google, I didn’t dunk test it.

Use the Taskbar to easily switch between your apps or drag a compatible app into splitscreen mode to multitask with two apps side-by-side. When in splitscreen, you can easily drag and drop files across different apps, like Google Photos to Messages and Slides. Since the Taskbar is dynamic, it will disappear when you’re done using it so it doesn’t take up screen space.

Camera

Google Fold has a triple-lens rear camera system that consists of a 50MP main sensor, a 12MP ultrawide sensor, and a 48MP telephoto sensor. The front-facing camera is a 10.8MP sensor.

Google pixel fold taking photo of really cute dog.Main sensor: The main sensor is a 50MP sensor that has a wide aperture of f/1.8. This allows it to capture a lot of light, which is important for taking photos in low-light conditions. The main sensor also has optical image stabilization (OIS), which helps to reduce blur caused by camera shake.

Ultrawide sensor: The ultrawide sensor is a 12MP sensor that has a wide field of view of 120 degrees. This allows you to capture more of the scene in your photos. The ultrawide sensor also has a wide aperture of f/2.2, which allows it to capture a lot of light.

Telephoto sensor: The telephoto sensor is a 48MP sensor with a focal length of 48mm. This allows you to zoom in on distant objects without losing much detail. The telephoto sensor also has OIS, which helps to reduce blur caused by camera shake.

Front-facing camera: The front-facing camera is a 10.8MP sensor that has a wide aperture of f/2.2. This allows it to capture a lot of light, which is important for taking selfies in low-light conditions. The front-facing camera also has OIS.

The Pixel Fold’s camera system is also supported by several software features you can find in existing Pixel phones, such as Night Sight, Portrait Mode, and Magic Eraser. Night Sight is a feature that allows you to take sharp, clear photos in low-light conditions. Portrait Mode is a feature that allows you to blur the background of your photos, giving them a professional look. Magic Eraser is a feature that allows you to remove unwanted objects from your photos.

I can see shooting photos on with the Fold open to its tablet configuration makes it super easy to frame shots perfectly. You definitely get an eye full and you can really capture exactly the photos you want because you can see them a lot better.

I will say the aspect ratio looks quite square when shooting videos and I wasn’t entirely sure what it was going to look like once I got them off of the fold and onto my computer for editing.

Software

Software plays a crucial role in making a phone exceptional, especially in the case of foldable devices. The Pixel Fold incorporates all the fan favourite Pixel features like Google Assistant, Now Playing for identifying music, Recorder for voice notes and transcriptions, Call Screening, translate, YouTube and Material You—an aesthetically customizable version of Android seen in previous Pixel devices.

A quick shout out to the extremely cleverly redesigned interpreter mode in Google Translate which can actually display different messages on different screens.

Dual Screen interpreter mode simultaneously uses the inner and outer screens to translate live conversations. With this feature, you’ll be able to have more natural conversations across languages, without having to huddle around a single screen.

The Pixel Fold runs Android 14 out of the box. Google has also worked on optimizing various apps for the foldable display, collaborating with developers to ensure apps make the most of the larger screen real estate. While there have been concerns about the software experience on Android tablets in the past, Google seems to have addressed these issues, providing side-by-side multitasking and introducing new app management features.

You can open two different windows on each half of the screen for multitasking or multiple views. Of course you can also open apps on the front screen as well if you want more of a traditional smart phone experience. Interestingly you can also split the front screen… Or at least it will adopt the split view if you’ve had it loaded on the tablet screen…

Overall Review: Google Pixel Fold

Google Pixel fold on pink background.

Overall this is a really fun phone that is going to solve a lot of smartphone pain points for a lot of users. That it doubles has both a regular size smartphone and a substantially bigger tablet in one device may justify its hefty price tag.

The Google Pixel Fold sells for $1,799US (and as I’ve noted before it’s not available in Canada). Google pixel fold price competes with other premium foldable smartphones on the market, but there’s no denying it’s an investment.

I think the screens are beautiful and bright and easy to read, the phone actually feels surprisingly durable and solidly built. It takes great photos and is an extremely versatile device and I’m glad to see there are many apps that have been optimized for use on this larger screen.

When it comes to the downsides you’ve already heard the big one; it’s the price tag. But for shoppers who might be inclined to pick up both a new smartphone and a new tablet, bundling them together into one device may actually be an economical choice.

There are a few other minor annoyances like the fact the phone won’t sit completely flat well fully open and has that visible crease, but these do become less noticeable the more you use it.

In short, I quite enjoyed my time with the Google Pixel Fold and I think even with a few things that could be improved, it’s a pretty solid first crack device and I can definitely recommend it if you’re in the market for a hybrid smartphone and tablet.

You can get a Pixel fold in the USA from Google or Amazon.


**A note about Affiliate Links: TechGadgetsCanada & TechGadgetsInternational is supported by our readers. Occasionally I will include affiliate links in my reviews. I do this partly for convenience of the reader (since I’ll almost always include a link to the company website or similar anyway) in case you want to read more or purchase, but I also may get a small commission from the click, which helps me keep the blog running. If you choose to use this link I thank you greatly for supporting the blog. There’s no obligation or cost to you for using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Erin L

Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.

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