Google Pixel Fold: The thinnest foldable (with the biggest battery) in the US

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Ron Amadeo
2023-05-10 15:01:18

Following Google’s early half-announcement that the Pixel Fold is a real phone, Google finally posted the full details of the upcoming foldable today during the company’s I/O conference. Google’s first foldable smartphone will cost $1,799, and it’s up for preorder now. Google says the phone is shipping sometime next month.

First, let’s talk about the very interesting dimensions of the Pixel Fold. The official specs have the phone at 139.7×79.5×12.1 mm when folded and 139.7×158.7×5.8 mm when open. Just look at the lineup of Pixel phones in the gallery above. The Fold is both the shortest and widest phone in the lineup. That 5.8 mm thickness for each half is very thin, easily besting the 6.3-mm-thick Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Oppo Find N2, which is 7.4 mm thick.

Google calls this the thinnest foldable on the market. That’s true for the US, but internationally, you can find the Huawei Mate X3 at 5.3 mm for each half or the 5.4-mm-per-half Xiaomi Fold 2. We’re usually not fans of the old-school smartphone thinness wars, but for foldables, which are mini tablets you’re supposed to carry in a pocket, bulk can be a real problem. Google is pitching this device as being pocket-friendly. At 283 g, though, it seems like it will weigh a lot compared to the Fold 4 (263 g) or the Oppo Find N2 (an impressive 233 g).

Enlarge / Being the thinnest foldable in the US supposedly makes this pretty pocketable.


Speaking of markets, we give Google a lot of grief for its small worldwide distribution network; the company usually launches Pixel phones in around 13–17 countries, while rivals like Samsung and Apple launch in 100-plus countries. Google’s distribution is even smaller for the Pixel Fold—it’s coming to just four countries: the US, UK, Germany, and Japan. That’s it. 

For specs, we have a 5.8-inch, 120 Hz, 2092×1080 OLED for the outside display and a 7.6-inch, 120 Hz, 2208×1840 OLED for the inside display. The spec sheet says that, just like a Samsung phone, the device has “Ultra Thin Glass with [a] protective plastic layer” on top. The glass should provide some structural rigidity to the touch surface, but a single scratch to bending glass will make it shatter, so it has a non-removable plastic scratch guard.

Like everything Google is announcing today, the Pixel Fold has a Google Tensor G2 chip (won’t it be awkward when it sits alongside the Tensor G3-equipped Pixel 8?). It also has 12GB of RAM, 256 or 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage, a fingerprint sensor in the power button, and a 4821 mAh battery with 30 W fast charging and (5 W, we assume) wireless charging.

Wait, what? That battery is huge for a foldable. Foldables usually have battery problems because you have to cut the entire phone in half to make the folding mechanism work, and that means a lot of lost space for the battery. 4821 mAh would mean the Google Pixel Fold has the biggest battery in the US market for a foldable. The Galaxy Fold 4 has a 4400 mAh battery, while the Oppo Find N2 has a 4520 mAh battery. The biggest battery internationally is probably the China-exclusive version of the Huawei Mate X3, which has supposedly cracked 5000 mAh.

The inner screen.
Enlarge / The inner screen.


Google says the phone has IPX8 dust and water resistance, which means it’s not dust-resistant at all, but it is submergible in water, and several press shots show the device being used in the rain. That’s a weird combination, but it’s similar to Samsung phones in that it’s not actually blocking the ingress of anything. Dust and debris getting under the display or in the hinge would hurt the phone, while water in those areas will just drain out.

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Google says you can expect the usual Pixel camera quality from the Fold. On the back is a 48 MP main camera, a 10.8 MP wide-angle, and a 10.8 MP 5x telephoto lens. The specs don’t match any existing Pixel camera sensors, so it appears these are all new, but most Google sensors produce images that all look the same after being filtered through the company’s “computational photography” Pixel software. The inner camera (the one above the foldable screen) is 8 MP, while the front camera is a 9.5 MP sensor. You can also just skip the front camera entirely and take selfies with the rear camera; when a foldable is open, you can see the front screen and the rear camera.

Exactly how well the Android software works with the Pixel Fold will be a make-or-break feature. Google says its work on designing for widescreen tablet apps applies to mostly square-screened foldables, but we’ll have to see how that works out. The company did demo some neat “dual screen” features, like a Google Translate mode that lets shows you your translated text on the inside screen while showing the other person the translation output on the front screen. These are coming to phones alongside Android 14, which will be out before the end of the year.

The spec sheet of the Pixel Fold is actually impressive, and that’s a rare thing to say about a Google device. This all seems promising.

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