Google I/O 2023 is in the books and without doubt, the announcement that received the most claps, whoops, and cheers during the 2-hour keynote presentation was the new Pixel Fold. And while we’ve known all about Google’s new foldable for quite some time now – there was an absolute torrent of leaks leading up to I/O – it’s nice to finally be able to talk about this new device without having to use words like ‘rumor’ and ‘leak’.
What’s even better than the official reveal is the fact that at least a handful of YouTubers got the chance to actually get their hands on the device both in Mountain View and in New York city, and that means we have some real life reactions to this premium phone already. These aren’t in-depth reviews, but I watched most of them on day one and there’s enough info out there for me to know that when it comes to the Pixel Fold…I’m sold. Let’s talk about it 5 reasons why.
Before we get into why I’m all-in on the Pixel Fold, we should probably cover the specs at a high level. They are exactly what’s been leaked for weeks at this point, but I’ll put them here as well. This isn’t a hands-on video, an unboxing or a review, so if you are looking for that, I’d recommend checking out some of the other creators who actually got to hold the device for a little bit. Mr. Mobile, MKBHD, and Mr. Who’s the Boss all come to mind as very informative videos that I watched and, right after this, you should probably go check them out.
Google Pixel Fold Specs
- 5.8-inch outer screen (FHD+ OLED 1200 nits 120Hz)
- 7.6-inch inner screen (2208×1840 OLED 1450 nits 120Hz)
- Steel alloy hinge with quad-cam fluid friction design
- 139.7 height x 79.5 width x 12.1 depth (mm) folded
- 139.7 height x 158.7 width x 5.8 depth (mm) unfolded
- 4821 mAh battery with up to 24-hour battery life
- 12GB RAM
- 256GB/512GB UFS 3.1 storage
- Tensor G2 w/Titan M2 security
- 48 MP Main camera with Quad PD with OIS + CLAF (82-degrees)
- 10.8 MP ultrawide (121.1-degrees)
- 10.8 MP 5X telephoto
- 9.5 MP front camera (84-degree)
- 8 MP inner camera (84-degree)
- Up to 4K 60 video recording
- Fingerprint scanner in power button
- Wi-Fi 6E
- Bluetooth 5.2
- 5 years of Pixel updates
- Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
- IPX8 water resistance
1: I’m already sold on the fold…able
Here’s the thing: I didn’t need a hands-on with the Pixel Fold to know I’m into folding phones. Well, one type of folding phone, anyway. I don’t care much one way or the other about the flip-style phones. I suppose those are attractive for a few reasons to some people, but they aren’t really my thing. I like the folding phones that are basically small tablets that condense down to a standard smartphone I can keep in my pocket. That, I love.
And I’ve tried a few of them out, too. I’ve previously had two versions of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold and, for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed having a tablet in my pocket. For gaming, for reading, for web browsing, and basically anything you could think of, I loved having that tablet-sized device at the ready, in my pocket, and available whenever the need arose.
But I hated the outer screen. A lot. And I’ve said this many times in the past, but if you are interested in folding phones, you need to understand that you will absolutely use the outer screen all the time. There are simply too many little interactions throughout the day that are just simpler to do on the smaller screen. And for me, the Samsung Z Fold’s outer screen is too thin to be enjoyable to use for long periods. And ultimately, that was the reason I had to move away from the Z Fold 3 and haven’t been tempted by it since.
2. I’m sold on the aspect ratio
And that brings me to my second reason I’m sold on this phone: Google has corrected the Z Fold’s outer screen shortcoming in a superb way. Right now I’m using the Pixel 7a and it’s smaller 6.1-inch screen. Though some tasks I enjoy far more on my larger phones, the 7a’s smaller size makes it easier for one-handed use and it feels easier to put in and out of my pocket. Simple things feel quicker and easier thanks to this form factor, and it is similar in size to what we’ll have on the Pixel Fold’s outer screen.
And the Pixel Fold will come with a 17.4:9 aspect ratio on that outer screen that will feel very natural when being used in a closed state. For reference, most phones these days are 19:9 or 20:9, meaning they are thinner and taller than the 16:9 aspect ratio we see on TVs and older smartphones.
That makes them easier to hold, but you lose screen real estate the thinner you make the screen. With the Pixel Fold, the outer screen pushes back towards the glorious 16:9 days, making the 5.8-inch screen size likely feel much larger than what you would experience on a equally-sized 5.8-inch 20:9 screen. Doing the math, it’s a little over a 10% upgrade in the actual square inch area of the screen, so it makes a difference.
3. I’m sold on the thinness
Which brings me to my 3rd reason I’m sold on this new Pixel Fold: build quality and thinness. It seems Google really thought all of this through as the outer screen size I just talked about goes hand-in-hand with the build thinness. With an 5.8mm thickness on each individual panel, the Fold comes together as one of the thinnest folding phones ever made, and that design choice and outer screen size should make for a folded phone that feels far more like a normal smartphone instead of a tablet that has been bent in half when closed. Again, I’ve not handled it, but the look in multiple people’s hands tells me the Fold will be a pleasure to use even when the big screen isn’t in play.
4. I’m sold on the hinges
And when the big screen is called on, I’m also excited to see how Google has implemented the hinges. With all the leaks, I’ve continually referenced the Microsoft Surface Duo when talking about this foldable’s overall look. The size of each side panel and the thinness of them simply feels reminiscent of that device, and as Michael Fisher pointed out in his video, the hinge design does too.
With the Pixel Fold’s unique hinge, you get the same full range of motion that the Surface Duo has – it’s only 180 degrees for obvious reasons – meaning you can place it at any orientation and it will stay that way. This is great for video consumption, Astrophotography, and taking selfies when no tripod or stand is around. For a folding phone, the size, weight, and hinges are massively important, and it looks as if Google has nailed this on the first attempt.
5. I’m sold on the uncompromised Pixel experience
Finally, I’m sold on seeing an uncompromised Pixel experience on a folding phone. That means all the stuff you love about Pixels like Now Playing, Photo Unblur, Call Screening, the Recorder app and it’s wildly-good transcription are all here. For many of us, it’s a known fact that on the software side of things, Google’s Pixel phones just do Android better.
And now we finally get to try out a folding device that seems to get most of the hardware right, paired up with the software that Android purists really want. And with Google using this and the Pixel Tablet as ways to entice developers to build better apps for bigger screens, they look to be thinking through all the ways that the OS can be better for larger displays.
So far, I’ve only seen glimpses of the multitasking, multi-window adaptations the Pixel Fold will be capable of, and they all look great. The animations look fluid, the on-request task bar looks well-implemented, and simple things like drag-and-drop between apps will be a huge help when trying to get a little productive away from the desk.
And as I said at the open: I was already sold on the idea of a folding phone. With the course corrections Google has made with the Pixel Fold when compared with something like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, I’m all-in at this point. And if you’ve been interested in folding phones and not willing to jump over to a Samsung, this could be the case for you too. It’s expensive – I know – but folding glass, complex hinges, and years of design and development cost money. But if you’re like me and you’ve been waiting a very long time for a device just like this one to come along, it’s about to be a very fun summer.