Let’s face it: we’re only a couple weeks from Google I/O 2023, so hardware is bound to start leaking even more than it has prior to now. With the Pixel Fold, what does that mean? Well, it means we are finally seeing the device in someone’s hands up close and personal in a video. It’s short and though we only learn a few things from it, this is the first look we have at the device in the flesh, opened and closed, and I’m honestly more excited for it now than I was before seeing this.
There it is, folks, and as I said, it’s about as short as you can get. However, it does give us the chance to see the Pixel Fold in reality, not in renders. Looking closely at the video, however, there are a few things that stand out, and the internet at large seems to be fixated on the size of the bezels. So, let’s quickly talk about them, shall we?
Bezels aren’t all bad
I get it. I do. Small devices with tiny bezels look amazing and futuristic, and I’m all for it. But larger, handheld screens need a bit of a border to hold onto. It’s that simple. You don’t think Apple or Samsung could build a tablet with the minimal bezels you get on a smartphone? And if they can, why don’t they? Simple: they understand that larger handheld devices need a place for your hands to rest.
And if you’re going to make a little room for ergonomics, you can also use that space to put in things like cameras, sensors, microphones and speakers without the need of notches, hole-punches, or other workarounds we’ve seen as bezels on phones have disappeared.
And from what I’m seeing, this isn’t some huge detractor in the overall usability of a pocketable tablet you can carry with you every day. It’s arguable that larger bezels on smartphones – when used properly – never really hurt the overall experience to begin with. On a folding phone, these interior bezels won’t have any effect on the overall function of the larger, internal display. Put plainly: they just aren’t a big deal in any way at all.
A flatter folding screen
Secondly, we can see in this video that the crease of the screen is – as expected – not as aggressive as what you get in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold series. This comes down to the style of the hinge that Google is employing, and I love it! While I admittedly got used to the screen crease on the Z Fold 3 I used for a bit, I love the hinge style that Google is going with and the fact that it gives the phone a more-uniform fold and a far-less-noticeable crease when opened.
A fold-flat design
Finally, as we expected, the Pixel Fold will use that hinge mechanism to fold completely flush when closed. While the Z Fold series closes in more of a wedge shape with a bit of a gap between the two halves when shut, the Pixel Fold will close completely, making one-handed use far easier when it is shut down.
For me, this is a wildly-important piece of the folding phone puzzle. I’ve remarked repeatedly about the fact that I used the Z Fold 3 in its closed state far more than I expected to, and the ultra thin screen proportions made that fact a bit unbearable for me. To each their own, but I hate the aspect ratio of the Z Fold’s outer display, and the wedge-shape when closed only made it more frustrating to use.
The thing is, I found myself using it anyway! With this style of phone, the outer display is for all the quick-glance, quick-response stuff you do throughout the day. Trust me, if you get a Pixel Fold, you’ll use the outer display a lot. And with Google’s move to employ a fully-flat phone when closed up (paired with a reasonable aspect ratio and overall size), we’ll all enjoy the Pixel Fold far more because of these choices.
I don’t know about you, but this all sounds pretty awesome to me. I’ve been waiting a long, long time for a folding phone with the Pixel experience to show up, and the choices Google made with the Pixel Fold all look to be adding up to a device that will deliver on all the stuff I’ve wanted in a folding phone. We have just over two weeks to wait to finally see it for real, and for me at least, the hype meter is off the charts right now.