First impressions of Google’s first foldable

After Samsung already has four foldable generations and the fifth is imminent, Google is now delivering the Pixel Fold, the first smartphone with a foldable display. The first model from the Android developers is based a little on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 with its external and internal display. However, the proximity to Oppo’s Find N2 should not be neglected. Many, like us, consider that to be the better form factor.

Pixel Fold: Form factor more like an Oppo Find N2 than a Galaxy Fold

Google Pixel Fold. (Photo: t3n)

While Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is rather elongated and narrow, both Google’s and Oppo’s foldable models are slightly wider and less tall. This makes them easier to grab and the outer screen is also reachable in the last corner. With the Samsung Fold, the outer display in the top left corner can only be reached by changing your grip.

In terms of dimensions, the Pixel Fold is 139.7 by 79.5 millimeters and 12.9 millimeters thick. When unfolded, it measures 158.7 millimeters and is 5.8 millimeters thick. Oppo’s Find N 2 is 132.2 millimeters high and 72.6 millimeters wide when folded. When unfolded, it has a width of 140.5 millimeters. When folded, it is also 14.60 millimeters thick and unfolds 7.10 millimeters.

For comparison: Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is 155.1 x 67.1 x 15.8 millimeters closed and 155.1 x 130.1 x 6.3 millimeters open.

Google Pixel Fold. (Photo: t3n)

In terms of weight, the Oppo foldable cuts a better figure, as it only weighs 233 grams, while the Pixel Fold, despite its smaller size, is heavier at 283 grams than the Samsung Fold, which weighs 263 grams.

This weight can also be felt in the hand, but it also makes the Pixel Fold appear high-quality – which it is. Because in terms of processing and feel, it makes an excellent impression. In addition, the matte obsidian back of the Fold model’s case doesn’t seem to attract much fingerprints, which is nice.

Google Pixel Fold. (Photo: t3n)

The power button and volume rockers are installed on the right side of the slightly rounded metal frame, which is pleasant to the touch. As with the Google Pixel Tablet (test), the fingerprint sensor is also integrated in the power button, with which the foldable can be quickly unlocked. Like Samsung and some other foldable providers, Google has opted for the side fingerprint scanner because it can be reached both when the device is closed and when it is open. Fat finger streaks can be seen here and there on the frame, but they are hardly noticeable due to the thin frame.

The situation is different with the hinge element that connects the front with the back: Fat fingers are more visible here. It’s the same with the camera element, which, like other Pixel phones, stretches across the upper part of the back. Incidentally, the camera bar makes a massive contribution to the fact that the foldable tends to wobble when it is completely unfolded on a flat surface. That’s not particularly nice, but Google offers so many different uses and positions for the Pixel Fold – and it shouldn’t be positioned that way very often.

In addition, good camera sensors simply require a little more space. And finally, Google wants to have installed this in the Pixel Fold.

As with all foldables, the inside display of the Google Pixel Fold also has a slight crease. (Photo: t3n)

As far as the displays are concerned, both the 5.8-inch external display and the 7.6-inch internal display appear bright and crisp. What is striking is the rather thick frame of the interior display, which, according to the Google designer was chosento forego an under-display camera. The symmetrical frame is also designed to increase durability and water resistance, and provide a place to rest your hands.

The point of the under-display camera is understandable, because this solution in Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold is not very good indeed. The other arguments, on the other hand, are less conclusive, since Samsung’s model with fewer frames also has protection against water. However, a real hand rest of this width is not required and could possibly be omitted in the next Pixel Fold version.

Google Pixel Fold. (Photo: t3n)

Google Pixel Fold. (Photo: t3n)

Google Pixel Fold. (Photo: t3n)

On the other hand, the frame is not disturbing and may ultimately have been necessary due to the construction. Because if you look closely, the frame is almost as wide as the hinge, which can also be seen when it is unfolded. The hinge itself seems stable and can be opened and closed steplessly.

Google Pixel Fold in tabletop mode. (Photo: t3n)

This means that the Pixel Fold can be set up like a notebook in tabletop mode, either to watch YouTube videos, to have a stable base for the camera, for example to capture the starry sky at night using long-term recording, or to take a group photo.

There is also a tent mode that allows you to view content on the external display hands-free. When opened, the entire 7.8-inch display area is ultimately available for displaying apps or other content.

Pixel Fold: Android 13 is optimized for large displays

Google Pixel Fold: Not all apps are optimized for the large display. (Photo: t3n)

The inner display in particular shows the strength of Android 13, which has been specially optimized for tablets and foldables. In addition to the flying change between the outer and inner display by opening the foldable, the optimizations are also reflected in the easy-to-use split-screen mode, with which two apps can be used side by side. Content can also be moved from one app to another with a swipe gesture.

In addition, Google has adapted or had numerous apps adapted for larger displays in order to use the full width. There are currently just over 80 optimized apps on offer. This is not yet the case with other apps such as Twitter, Slack or Instagram, so that sometimes the entire inner screen is not filled out.

First impressions of the Pixel Fold are largely positive, although it is not a lightweight device. However, it feels extremely high quality and delivers a good software experience, which should not be underestimated. The displays and the system also make a good first impression.

It should be mentioned in advance that Google’s first foldable is not particularly cheap at 1,899 euros and is therefore on a price level with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold.

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