Google Pixel Fold review: Samsung’s first big competitor comes out swinging



pros and cons


  • Wider aspect ratio is ideal for content consumption
  • Smooth and seamless software
  • Impressive battery for a foldable
  • Hardware elevates the Pixel cameras

  • Give me a pen, a stylus, anything!
  • Limited multitasking capabilities
  • 30W charging is just passable
  • $1,799 is a big ask

more buying choices

I remember when the very first phone-to-tablet foldable, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, hit the market. I was still in college, and the thought of paying $1,980 for a handset that I would inevitably use for scrolling Reddit and watching YouTube videos was not on my pre-pandemic bingo card. But I was also a big tech geek, and my unhealthy relationship with my wallet proved strong.

Four years later, Google is finally releasing a foldable of its own; Pixel hardware, powered by in-house silicon and Android. On paper, the Pixel Fold sounds like a dream phone for Google fans who live on the bleeding edge. But the price for entry, $1,799, is sure to keep you grounded in reality.

At that price, Google is competing head-to-head with Samsung’s similar-priced Galaxy Z Fold 4. But the important thing here is not so much what Google is charging for its first foldable, but how it’s making it.

Review: Google Pixel Tablet: What Android tablets should have been all along

I’ve been testing the Pixel Fold over the past week, and while I reserve my final judgment after a longer review period, I’m nearly sold on what is arguably the company’s most ambitious market-ready product in years. Here’s why.



Outer: 5.8-inch (2092 x 1080) OLED with 120Hz | Inner: 7.6-inch (2208 x 1840) OLED with 120Hz


283 g


Google Tensor G2


12GB with 256/512GB


4,821mAh with 30W charging and 5W wireless


48MP f/1.7 wide, 10.8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (121° FOV), 10.8 f/3.05 telephoto, 8MP f/2.0 front (inner), 9.5MP f/2.2 (outer)





What’s new with this model 

Again, a week’s time is never enough to fully evaluate and give a final verdict on any consumer product, let alone a foldable phone from the Android maker itself. Aspects like how the hinge and flexible display hold up after 1,000, 25,000, and 200,000 folds remain in question. After-sales support is another big, dark, gray area. So stay tuned for my long-term updates to this review. 

For now, here’s my account of the Google Pixel Fold experience after seven days, starting with its biggest wins and followed by what areas it could do better in.

1. A form factor I’d like to see more of

Motorola Razr Plus (2023) mounted in a car

The wider aspect ratio on the Pixel Fold (left) makes most apps appear less cramped than the Z Fold 4 (right).

June Wan/ZDNET

Immediately when you unbox the Google Pixel Fold, you’ll notice how much shorter, wider, and thinner the device is compared to other phone-to-tablet foldables. Using the 5.8-inch, 17.4:9 aspect ratio, external display feels more like using a regular phone than, say, a remote control. Naturally, I felt right at home with the outside screen; scrolling through social media doesn’t feel like a confined stream of shrunken images and text, and watching videos (16:9, 18:9, or even 21:9) feels like the usual.

That’s a good thing because assimilating to the foldable experience is already steep enough of a learning curve; having to relearn your most popular apps and services would be added nuisance.

Also: Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Which foldable does it better?

Unfolding the new Pixel reveals a larger 7.6-inch OLED display that’s just about what you’d expect from a flagship foldable. Its 120Hz panel portrays images and videos with just the right touch of vibrancy and color, and there’s the inevitable line of reflectiveness beaming down the centerfold. (Normal people call it a crease.) Should you swipe your finger from one side of the display to the other, you’ll most definitely feel the bending. Visually, it didn’t bother me at all.

What did frustrate me was the lack of brightness on the Pixel Fold, and it’s not the first Pixel device I’ve had problems with when it comes to distinguishing text and the viewfinder outdoors. During a sunny afternoon in Central Park, the Pixel Fold’s 1,200 nits max brightness (1,550 nits peak) was not enough for me to clearly see what was on the display as I was capturing images and videos of local greenery and animals.

Review: Google’s best Pixel phones zoom past Samsung on this one camera feature

Aside from that, and the fact that this smaller-looking phone weighs more (283 g) than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (263 g), I’m a fan of the Pixel Fold’s design. It’s easier to pocket and unfold, the inner display presents smaller letterboxing when watching movies, and the hinge is sturdy enough that I can confidently stack the phone up in tent mode for hands-free viewing.

2. A Pixel camera system, upheld by hardware

Back cover with camera bump on the Pixel Fold

June Wan/ZDNET

If you’re a spec warrior, it may disappoint you to know that the Pixel Fold does not have the same camera system as the flagship Pixel 7 Pro. On the rear of the new phone sits a 48MP main sensor (versus the Pixel 7 Pro’s 50MP), a 10.8MP ultrawide lens (versus 12MP), and a 10.8MP telephoto (versus 48MP). In practice, the Pixel Fold’s cameras were still performant, especially when it came to processing HDR, skin tones, and balancing colors in vibrant scenes.

Pixel Fold Camera Sample - Landscape

The Little Island in New York City, captured by the 48-megapixel main sensor.

June Wan/ZDNET

Where the Pixel Fold truly shines, and more than makes up for the “inferior” camera system, is in long exposure shots and selfies. By nature, the Pixel Fold is its own tripod. You simply can’t beat the ability to set a phone down, flex one-half of the display (and the cameras behind it) to your desired angle, hit capture, and let the magic of light gathering do the rest.

Birds on a tree, captured with the Google Pixel Fold

Images taken with Super Res Zoom are impressively sharp.

June Wan/ZDNET

I’m based in New York City, so astrophotography is very much out of the question, but I can see the Pixel Fold being a handy all-in-one camera should you find yourself upstate or in an area full of stars and deep-sky objects.

Also: My go-to camera setting for the smoothest phone videos. Just don’t abuse it

And about those selfies; this is the best selfie camera on any Google Pixel, and that’s not a hot take. With some unfolding and prompting the viewfinder to display on the outer screen, you can leverage the rear cameras (including the ultrawide and telephoto) of the Pixel Fold to take crisp, group-friendly selfies. For these instances, the phone’s show-palm-to-capture gesture works best. Otherwise, you’ll need the longest of fingers to reach the shutter button while the device is unfolded.

3. All of the Googliness, now and later  

Motorola Razr Plus 2023 crease

June Wan/ZDNET

Fan-favorite features like Call Screening, Magic Eraser, and Google’s free VPN service are present on the Pixel Fold, so I’m pleased to see that the company didn’t lose its identity in the process of pursuing the new form factor. Such features are ones that I’ve come to appreciate and always look forward to reusing whenever I switch back to a Pixel for testing.

Likewise, things like the warmer-toned flashlight, double back-tap gestures, and burdenless animations — the app icons, widgets, and wallpaper will slowly suck into the center of the display when you fold the phone shut — make it clear that Google is ultimately a software-first company, catering to users even from a system level.

Also: Google’s ‘translation glasses’ were actually at I/O 2023, and right in front of our eyes

What really excites me about the Pixel Fold software is the upcoming Dual Screen Interpreter Mode. By leveraging both sides of the phone and Google’s Tensor G2 chip, you’ll soon be able to communicate with others who speak a different language, seeing translated transcriptions in real time. The feature, along with YouTube optimizations in Tabletop Mode, are a few of the software promises that I’ll be keeping an eye out for, and most definitely testing, in the longer-term review.

What I’d like to see in the next model 

It’s commendable how well Google has managed to infuse the best aspects of the Pixel phone experience into a new form factor. But keep in mind that those reference devices cost less than half of what the company is charging for the Pixel Fold — It would be very remiss of me not to spotlight the growing areas of opportunities for the device.

1. Better app continuity and multitasking 

Split screen on the Pixel Fold

June Wan/ZDNET

To fully take advantage of the larger 7.6-inch display of the Pixel Fold, Split Screen is your best friend. A simple swipe up and hold from the gesture or navigation bar brings up a Taskbar, presenting you with your docked apps and the two most recent. From there, you can drag and drop to set the apps on the left or right side of the screen, drag the divider to scale the halves, and double-tap it to switch the two sides. 

I found Split Screen the most useful when sharing images via Messages. With Google Photos open on one half and Messages on the other, sharing an image is as easy as dragging it from the gallery and into the text field.

Also: How to customize ‘At a Glance’ so you get only the information you want

Here’s the catch: You can’t split screen with more than two apps at once, and there’s no way to have preset app pairings. While it’s rare that I’m multitasking with three apps, I’ve met plenty of foldable users who are more imaginative, including car service drivers who want to scan information beyond the navigation. 

And as I find myself reopening certain combinations of apps, it can feel unproductive not being able to open the two in a single tap — like how I could on the Galaxy Z Fold.

Lastly, Google tells me that app continuity from the internal display to the external one only works with apps that are meant to run in the background, meaning YouTube and Camera will automatically reappear on the outside screen when I fold the phone, while Google Chrome and Instagram will not. I’d love the ability to permit this seamless transition with every app and service.

2. Give me a pen, a stylus, something!

The outer display of the Google Pixel Fold

June Wan/ZDNET

If there’s one thing truly missing from the Pixel Fold, it’s a proprietary stylus for note-taking, sketching, and other graphic applications. Samsung scratched that itch when it bundled the Galaxy Z Fold 3 with the S Pen, and using the larger display of the Pixel Fold made me wish that it, too, had one. 

Does it surprise me that Google didn’t pair its first-ever foldable with a stylus? Not at all. The company’s recent Pixel Tablet, which has an even larger canvas for notes and doodles, lacked the companion accessory. 

Also: This is the $400 Android phone to beat in 2023 – and it even has a stylus

And Google opting to launch the Pixel Fold with a Tensor G2 chip — when a Tensor G3 is potentially on the docket come fall — tells me that this $1,799 device won’t be the company’s most powerful smartphone in 2023. 

Bottom line 

For a first-generation foldable, the Pixel Fold gets more right than wrong. After one week of testing, I’ve yet to experience any app crashes or weird deformation of visuals when switching between the two displays. That alone puts the Pixel Fold high up on my best foldable phones list.

Should I buy one?

To put it best, I’d recommend the Pixel Fold to two types of users: 1. Fans of the Pixel phone experience and 2. Those who want a phone-to-tablet foldable with the smallest learning curve.

If you’re a college student who has an unhealthy relationship with your wallet, then no, a phone that costs $1,799 because it can fold and double as a tripod isn’t worth it. But if you currently use a phone and tablet for work and play, and would prefer the convenience and functionality of both devices in one unit, then this is the phone for you. 

My final buying advice is to visit your local carrier store and see what offers they have. Chances are, you’ll be able to leave with a Pixel Fold for up to 50% off.

Alternatives to consider 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Main Display


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung’s phone-to-tablet foldable is arguably more mature and refined than the Pixel Fold, and it supports S Pen inputs.

Motorola Razr Plus (2023) in hand


Motorola Razr Plus

For a new foldable phone that’s easier on the wallet, Motorola’s Razr Plus offers high-end specifications and a number of creative camera features.

Google Pixel 7 Pro


Google Pixel 7 Pro

For something more familiar, Google’s Pixel 7 Pro offers most of the software features found on the Pixel Fold, including Magic Eraser, Call Screening, and more.

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