I used to love the Google Pixel Fold. Now, I’m not so sure

A person holding the Google Pixel Fold.
Andy Boxall/

A few years ago, the dominant player in the foldable market was Samsung, at least in the US, however, 2023 seemed to be the year of the foldable phone, as Google entered the fray with its first foldable, the Google Pixel Fold, in July 2023. ,

One issue I have with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold series is the narrow cover screen, which makes it awkward to type on and use when closed. But the Google Pixel Fold was appealing to me because the cover display was essentially the same size as a standard phone, so it felt easier to use. I also like that it opens like a book. All of those things resulted in me giving the Pixel Fold an overall positive review.

But then OnePlus also launched its first foldable, the OnePlus Open, a few months later in October. Although the name is silly, it’s a surprisingly great foldable for a first-generation product, and it’s made me reconsider the Pixel Fold and its flaws.

Google’s software is not good

Google Pixel Fold showing Facebook in Obsidian internal display.
Default appearance of Facebook when opening on internal display Christine Romero-Chan/

With a foldable, one thing you expect it to handle well is multitasking. After all, you open it up to take advantage of the larger screen, which is the perfect step for handling multiple apps at once.

However, while Google has focused on optimizing many of its own apps for the Pixel Fold’s larger internal display, it’s still pretty shoddy when it comes to third-party apps. Since the Pixel Fold opens in a horizontal orientation layout, non-optimized apps – such as Facebook and Instagram – still have black bars on the sides, while the app is centered in the middle.

If you want to use the full screen, you’ll have to rotate the Pixel Fold 90 degrees so it’s technically in vertical orientation, which will allow those apps to take up all the space. This isn’t an issue with other foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and OnePlus Open because those internal displays are already vertically oriented.

Running three apps simultaneously using multitasking features on the handheld OnePlus Open.
Open Canvas on the OnePlus Open is a boon. Tushar Mehta/

Another limitation with the Pixel Fold is multitasking. You’re limited to only two apps running in split-screen simultaneously, and there’s no way to save paired app presets. However, OnePlus does have the ability to run two apps in split-screen, plus a third in a floating window. But OnePlus takes it even further with Open Canvas, which allows you to run multiple apps in full-screen or compact mode, with the full-screen option using a virtual screen on the left, right, or above the actual display . You can also save an app group as a shortcut for easy access in the future.

The Pixel Fold is Google’s first foldable, and the OnePlus Open is also OnePlus’ first foldable. However, only one of these was able to truly harness the power of the foldable for productivity.

Pixel Fold is too heavy

Google Pixel Fold in Obsidian in hand at Disneyland castle.
Christine Romero-Chan/

Since folding phones are essentially two slab phones put together, it’s inevitable that they’ll be thicker and heavier than “regular” phones.

Although one of my favorite things about the Pixel Fold is its size, I can’t say the same thing about its weight – it’s the phone Heavy At 283 grams. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is only 253 grams, while the OnePlus Open is a mere 239 grams, making it the lightest foldable right now.

For some people, the weight gain may not be very noticeable. When I reviewed it, I mentioned that it was still manageable enough for normal one-handed smartphone use with a cover display. However, I have noticed that the weight is a little hard to handle when using it as a camera with one hand, especially when I use it to take product photos (ie, holding the phone in my other hand to take photos). For). The lightweight body of the OnePlus Open makes it very easy to use overall, especially when taking photos one-handed.

Again, I like the size of the Pixel Fold, but I hope Google can improve the overall weight of the device in the future. I don’t want to experience hand cramps when trying to photograph a nice in-hand product.

It’s all about the hinge and internal performance

OnePlus Open and Google Pixel Fold Hinge.
Christine Romero-Chan/

An important aspect of folding phones is the hinge. And for the most part, Google’s custom-designed hinge is great.

The Pixel Fold’s hinge feels great to open, with not a lot of friction when separating the parts. It is not going to open even by mistake. But one thing that bothered me about it is that it won’t open completely without some force. And yet, because of the highly reflective internal screen, the crease is always noticeable.

This is another area where OnePlus does better with OpenGL, although it’s not perfect either. The OnePlus Open’s flexion hinge was designed with fewer components than the competition to be more lightweight, and it opens flat with ease as it “snaps” into the fully open position after reaching a certain angle. goes. However, this is a double-edged sword, as it is a bit difficult to place the OnePlus Open in clamshell mode at steeper angles (more than 135 degrees). But because of the antireflective layer on OnePlus phones, you don’t really see the crease.

OnePlus Open and Google Pixel Fold inner display.
Christine Romero-Chan/

The Pixel Fold’s screen looks great, but is let down by being highly reflective and only achieves a peak brightness of 1,450 nits. It combines poorly with glare, so it’s a little hard to use outside. OnePlus one-ups the Pixel Fold by having the Open Antireflective, making it easier to see, and reaching a peak brightness of 2,800 nits.

Although I was impressed by the Pixel Fold’s internal display when it first came out, it’s not as special compared to the OnePlus Open. I still prefer the stiffness of the Pixel Fold’s hinge, as I can use it in clamshell mode at any angle, but the rest of the hardware hasn’t aged as well.

Not all first-generation foldables are the same

OnePlus Open and Google Pixel Fold are set to show off the design.
Christine Romero-Chan/

When the Google Pixel Fold first came out, I was surprised and impressed by how cool it was – or so I thought. At the time, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 was not available, and the Pixel Fold was the only foldable that had no gap when closed.

But now we have the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and the OnePlus Open. The Pixel Fold is Google’s first decent attempt at foldables, but it doesn’t seem to live up to the competition. Even the OnePlus Open’s cameras are better, although the Pixel generally takes pretty good photos due to its software processing.

The Google Pixel Fold is a good start for Google’s foldable series, but hopefully it can learn from competitors and make the next generation even better.

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