Year after year, I’ve watched phone makers find ways to divest parts of Apple’s massive iPhone business. Some of them have been successful, such as Samsung’s introduction of the “phablet” to a larger smartphone a decade ago. Most of them, like physical keyboards, modular designs, encrypted phones, ultra-privacy features, or docks that turn phones into computers, have failed.
But after trying a test model of Google’s Pixel Fold for a few weeks, I’m convinced that folding phones aren’t just a gimmick. They’re not for everyone, especially considering the price, but if you can benefit from a bigger screen, they offer real utility.
I love the big screen where I can view maps, play games, watch videos and edit photos. I mentally classify the Pixel Fold as a tablet, but unlike my iPad, it fits in my pocket.
Folding phones like the Pixel Fold, Motorola Razr Plus and Samsung rival Galaxy Z Fold 5 are a key development. While folding phones are an expensive product for a limited market these days, improvements may tempt us to upgrade rather than stick with the old ones. With bigger screens, foldable phones could be important for those of us who work or play for hours a day.
That’s why the Pixel Fold convinced me.
Meet Pixel Collapse
Google’s Pixel Fold, which was only announced in June, has two screens: a reasonable (if not huge) 5.8-inch exterior screen that can be used when the phone is closed; It activates when you turn on your phone. Telephone. The Pixel Fold is spring-loaded so it stays closed unless you open it, similar to the two-hand operation of opening a book.
When folded, it’s much thicker than a traditional smartphone, but still fits in your pocket. When you open it, you won’t notice the crease on the screen unless you’re looking for it.
In CNET’s review, Lisa Eadicco liked the Pixel Fold’s promise, though she didn’t like the wide bezels around the screen or the hefty price tag.
The Fold is priced at $1,799 for 256GB of storage and $1,919 for 512GB of storage, putting it in the same price bracket as Samsung’s rival Galaxy Z Fold 5, which goes on sale on August 11. Google’s powerful but humble Tensor G2 processor powers the phone. The device also has a main wide-angle camera, as well as ultra-wide, selfie and 5x telephoto cameras, which are all good, albeit a slight step up from the one on the Google Pixel 7A.
It’s one of the few hinge-equipped models from the likes of Samsung and Motorola, able to stand out from the “ubiquitous ultra-thin slab” design, as my curious Galaxy Flip colleague Katie Collins puts it , which aptly points out as well as any other saturated smartphone model. Describe the market.
My Favorite Apps on Pixel Fold
The big screen got me interested in foldable phones, even without Android’s fancy split-screen features (which can be a hassle to set up and use).
I was most impressed with the Fold when using Gaia GPS, my favorite mapping app for hiking and biking, where I was able to better capture my surroundings without too much zooming and panning. In bright sunlight, the screen doesn’t perform worse than most phones, which means it won’t perform very well unless I shield the phone, but the big screen helps.
When I solve a crossword in the New York Times Games app, I can see clues to the selected square up and down the puzzle. On a regular phone, you have to switch back and forth, which can be tedious, especially if you’re running against the clock.
I take a lot of photos on my phone, but when editing I mostly sync them to Lightroom Classic on my Mac. However, with the Pixel Fold, photo editing with Lightroom just got easier, more precise, and more useful. Because of the larger screen, I’m less likely to add the exaggerated color saturation and contrast to my photos, which is common when editing photos on a phone.
I’m not a big gamer, but I was pleasantly surprised by the more immersive track view in Asphalt 9: Legends.
Many other apps are actually bigger, and even better. For example, Gmail shows my inbox on the left and selected messages on the right. Larger YouTube videos look great when the phone is fully open, and I like being able to watch videos with the phone half open on a table or bed without having to lift the phone or use a stand.
Finally, as a photographer, I like the way I can use my phone’s high-quality main camera to take selfies by opening the phone and using the external screen to compose the shot. For selfies, the Pixel Fold’s image quality is better than my Pixel 7A. However, the Pixel 7A’s camera is significantly better when shooting in low light or with the 5x or 10x telephoto lenses.
Need more software to complete
Obviously, many apps are built for the aspect ratio of traditional mobile phone screens. The Pixel Fold’s progress has been hampered by the fact that Android tablets have some hardware lag that many developers haven’t taken advantage of. There is no supporting competition.
Fortunately, many apps can easily adapt to larger screens thanks to the fluid layouts enabled by modern responsive design. But I’m getting a lot of glitches.
The Amazon Kindle app doesn’t zoom in on the image until I tap it, and the text size control doesn’t fit the screen properly. The Spelling Bee of the NYT Games app clipped the controls and underutilized the available space. I’m having trouble reading two-column content on Google Play Books.
Deciding what to do with the exterior and interior screens is also complicated. The worst culprit here is Google’s own Podcasts app, whose lock screen widget only works when I open the Fold. This is annoying when pausing, playing and fast forwarding. I also can’t turn on the flashlight from the lock screen.
Foldable phones are a great idea
These software issues are just a nuisance. I hope that, with competition from the Pixel Fold and Samsung’s Z Fold, folding phones catch on and software developers address these shortcomings.
As developers build better support for the larger screens of foldable phones, so too will Android tablets, and while new offerings like Google’s Pixel tablet promise to offer some hope, the Android tablet market has generally been flat .
I wouldn’t buy a Pixel Fold. The price scares me. I need the Pixel 7’s better overall camera. I’m concerned about the hinge and screen being able to withstand years of bending.
But none of these worries were enough to dampen my optimism. The Pixel Fold is a breath of fresh air for those who live off their phones and whose big screens have brought huge improvements to work and play.