Pixel Fold: Google’s foldable Galaxy Fold hasn’t learned much from Samsung’s mistakes

The global takeover of foldable phones is taking much longer than expected.

Surprise, surprise But it turns out that Samsung is not enough, and despite the amazing Huawei Mate X3, the global market is still waiting for the first major competitor to the Galaxy Fold. Correction: The first major competitor to the Galaxy Fold was waiting, and after a long wait and months of leaks and rumors, the Pixel Fold has now been announced, ready to take on the very important mission of giving Samsung a hard time and moving the industry forward. The Pixel Fold should be on the shelves in the second half of June, or about a month before we expect to see the new Galaxy Z Fold 5.

“Best camera, durable hinge, thinnest foldable (in markets outside of China)” – Google’s claims of record-breaking accomplishments might lead you to believe that the company has done what Samsung has failed to do in the past four years, and that we can finally crown the best foldable phone Folding without any hesitation. However, I beg to differ…

The Pixel Fold may be the first Google’s flagship since the Pixel 6, which doesn’t seem to stand out with the same incredible value offering as the Google phones released in the last couple of years. Quite the contrary, the Pixel Fold is shaping up to be the toughest Google phone to recommend. Why?

  • Don’t undercut similar phones, costing up to $1,800 (it costs as many as four Pixel 7a phones to sell)
  • It doesn’t seem to offer any standout features to justify that ridiculous price tag — if you’re going to make an expensive phone, who better to make, Google?

Where is the value, Google?

Google’s foldable phone is anti-Samsung but also anti-Google: Unlike the Pixel 7 flagship phones that give you the best value on Android, the Pixel Fold is pricey, but less impressive than competing foldable phones

With steep prices comes great responsibility, and without wasting too much time, I’m going to ask the hot question I’ve been asking myself since the launch of Google’s first foldable phone…why Pixel Fold exists in the first place? Mind you, this is not me saying it shouldn’t exist. I’m looking for a Google target here.

In my view, the two foldable phones that are emerging (and being released globally) at the moment are called Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Huawei Mate X3. Samsung’s latest foldable phone is significant for obvious reasons (it’s the most popular), while the Huawei Mate X3 single-handedly pushes the industry forward with an unrivaled design but lacks native Google support for self-explanatory reasons.

Meanwhile, what does the Pixel Fold, which (don’t forget) cost a whopping $1,800 to challenge the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and/or the Huawei Mate X3?

  • Is Google’s foldable phone cheaper than competitors? No, it’s not — in fact, the Pixel Fold is significantly more expensive than some Folds like the Pixel Fold OPPO Find N2, Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 which is available globally Honor Magic Vs (This could be yours for only £1,200 / €1,400 if you buy it before May 26th)

  • Given the Galactic’s price, does the Pixel Fold bring the most impressive hardware we’ve seen? This is also an easy “no”; That title belongs to the Huawei Mate X3, which weighs the same as the iPhone 14 Pro Max and is about the same thickness as a “regular” phone in a box; Once again, the Pixel Fold doesn’t come close

  • Does the Pixel Fold provide the best software experience on a foldable phone, which takes advantage of the form factor? I’ll leave this for our full review but so far this may be Google’s only blessing; Android 13L looks impressive at first glance, and it might be what gives the Pixel Fold a much-needed edge over other foldable devices (so upgrade with this version of Android?)

The Pixel Fold’s cover screen is a winner but the inner screen takes you straight back to 2019 — did Samsung make the right compromises with the Galaxy Z Fold 4?

While the Pixel Fold definitely brings a more practical cover screen compared to the Fold 4’s remote control-like outer screen, the inner screen is a different story.

To address the elephant in the room, I don’t mind the massive bezels of the Pixel Fold’s internal display when I look at it in isolation. In fact, most tablets have similar sized bezels anyway, and the bezels give you something to hold onto. It can be practical. But when you place the Pixel Fold next to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 when the first one starts to look a bit dated.

For starters, the Fold 4’s internal screen has a much larger screen-to-body ratio — Samsung gives you as much exposure as possible here. Then, the Pixel Fold unfolds into a widescreen tablet, which is at the same time heavier than the Fold 4, which has a higher aspect ratio. Sure, the Fold 4 might not be ideal for watching videos when open but the taller inner screen makes it more practical for one-handed use (so, for every other task). And of course, you can flip the Fold 4 around and get a wider aspect ratio, similar to that of the Pixel.

Basically, we have a “give some, take some” attitude, and I think Samsung’s approach to the internal display form factor may be more practical than that of the Pixel Fold, which seems fine for watching YouTube videos but is less ideal for everything else.

Pixel Fold: One of the most expensive foldable phones on the market that doesn’t have the most impressive design, biggest battery, fastest charging, or most powerful processor.

And since I already brought up the weight difference between Google’s and Samsung’s foldable devices, I’d say this: If you can’t make the lightest foldable phone on the market, you’re already losing major points, Google. And you too, Samsung.

  • Pixel Fold: 283g – One of the heaviest foldable phones on the market
  • Galaxy Z Fold 4: 263g – significantly heavier compared to the ‘normal’ phone
  • Huawei Mate X3: 240g – the lightest and thinnest foldable tablet (weighs the same as iPhone 14 Pro Max)

In short, Google wants to sell you a ridiculously priced $1,800 foldable phone, but I don’t think the first-gen Pixel Fold is impressive enough to make me think: “Sure, that’s expensive but totally worth it.” And that’s not quite Google, and it’s not. Well… well.

Here’s a few more things the $1,800 Pixel Fold doesn’t have: It doesn’t have the biggest battery in a foldable phone, the fastest charging, or the best camera hardware. Meanwhile, the Tensor G2 that powers Google’s premium foldable feature is the same chip found in the $500 Pixel 7a. While the Tensor G2 seems pretty decent for a $500 phone like the Pixel 7a, I’m not sure I can say the same when we’re talking about an $1,800 device.

I’m not buying a first-gen foldable phone for the price of a last-gen Google: Buy a Pixel 7 and a Pixel Tablet and save $800

While Google’s “regular” Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones challenge the likes of the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Ultra at significantly lower prices and unmatched value, the Pixel Fold costs almost as much as the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (at launch). amazing! This might make people think that the Pixel Fold might be better than the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in every way, which is simply not the case here…

In the past couple of years, Google has worked hard to establish itself as the best alternative to Samsung (and other Android phone makers), which is why tech reviewers are letting some things slip. Sure, the Pixels don’t have the best displays, the fastest chipset, the longest-lasting batteries, or the most impressive cameras, but at $300-400 less than the competition, phones like the Pixel 6a, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro do just that. More than enough to deserve all the praise they get.

Now, looking at the $1,800 Pixel Fold, I can’t help but think: “What’s the value on offer here?” I’m used to getting the best value from Google, and around $2,000 the Pixel Fold just doesn’t fit the bill. The story would have been very different if the Pixel Fold had arrived at $1,400 (for example), undercutting Samsung’s Galaxy Fold — in the same way the Pixel 7 beats the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Or if the Pixel Fold is better than the Fold 4 and Huawei Mate X3 in every way. But none of this feels right.

However, to see if the Pixel Fold folds better than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, we’ll have to wait for our full Pixel Fold review, which should come sometime in June. It seems to me that Google’s all-new Android L (Android for foldables/tablets) software experience might be the Pixel Fold’s only chance to set itself apart from the competition. But will it be enough? my guess? No, let’s have a discussion in the comments!

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