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Google beats Samsung in designing a foldable phone I actually want to use

OPINION: While stock is very scarce just about everywhere, Google’s ambitious Pixel Fold is available to buy for those who have deep pockets.

We rendered our official verdict on the Pixel Fold just as it went on sale, with our Mobile Editor Lewis scoring the phone a respectable 3.5 stars.

I’ve now had the chance to test the first foldable from Google out for myself, and while I don’t think I could recommend many people splurge nearly £2000/$2000 on it, it’s still the most fun I have had using a phone like this – and I prefer it, in many ways, to the Galaxy Fold 4.

Among many decisions Google should be praised for, the choice to go for a passport-sized (and shaped) device rather than an overly tall one makes this the most comfortable book-style foldable on the market. The wider outer display is very usable – more than can be said for the oddly tall front screen on the Z Fold 4 – and I probably spent more time scrolling, swiping and just the phone closed as I did with it open.

Samsung Z Fold 4
Z Fold 4 closed

With Samsung’s effort, it’s all about the inside screens, with the outer one feeling cumbersome for anything other than sending a quick WhatsApp or answering a phone call. On the Pixel Fold, the outer screen just feels like a small phone and everything from messaging, to light gaming and even watching YouTube videos works well.

The device the Fold most resembles, at least that I have spent considerable time using, is the Oppo Find N2. This is a China-only foldable that goes for a similarly squat and wide look. It’s a lot smaller (although thicker) than the Pixel Fold, especially when it comes to the displays, which makes it a little harder to use comfortably.

Left ImageRight Image

The Pixel Fold gets the design right – and Google should be commended for not simply copying what’s already popular on the market, but beating it by going in a different direction.

However, while I am a big fan of the general design, the Fold does fall into many of the traps often seen in first-gen products. It’s taken other brands, Samsung especially, multiple generations to even begin to iron these kinks out so it’s no surprise that the Fold feels a tad outdated in some ways.

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The display crease, for example, is immediately obvious – especially compared to the virtually invisible one on the Oppo Find N2. The indent that runs down the middle of the phone’s display catches light, reflecting sunlight off it even in fairly dark rooms. My eyes have adjusted, but it’s a real nuisance when watching videos and gives off a feeling the phone is almost unfinished.

Google Pixel Fold
Pixel Fold

There are other oddities too. Apps displaying in a mere small portion of the internal display, uneven battery life and the fact it requires an extra push to get it fully unfolded. For a deeper look, check out our full in-depth review.

But for all the cons, Google has done something worthy with the Pixel Fold and there are enough positives here to make me sure that the Pixel Fold 2 (or more likely Fold 3) can achieve its vision. It’s hard to recommend anyone spend the high price just yet, but the Fold series shouldn’t be written off.

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