Pixel Fold review: the first foldable that really looks like a tablet

Pixel Fold's internal display.
Zoom in / Pixel Fold’s internal display.

Ron Amedeo

After years of rumors and at least one canceled attempt, Google is finally releasing a foldable smartphone. Samsung has been in the foldable business for four years now, and with a ton of Chinese OEMs following in Samsung’s footsteps, you could be forgiven for thinking the Pixel Fold would simply copy what Samsung is doing. But Google is entering the foldable world with a vision of its own, and it’s one I really like. This is the foldable I’ve long wanted: a device that’s a phone when folded and a tablet when unfolded.

The usual Android tablet app selection issues, which are getting better, are still present in tablet mode. When you find a tablet app, though, this feels like the first foldout that delivers on the promise of letting you do more on the big screen.

The Pixel Fold hardware also looks incredibly advanced. Google has made both the thinnest foldables on the US market AND the one with the biggest battery, which is not what you would normally expect from the software company.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that durability is a concern. In fact, I was the first to break a Pixel Fold. Companies like to talk about the “ultra-thin glass” used as an intermediate layer in foldable screens, but since you can break it with almost anything, including a scratch, it’s not really protective. The only real protective layer is a thin sheet of plastic.

And at $1,800, the Pixel Fold was always going to be a luxury item instead of a practical workhorse.

The first foldable tablet

What shape should a leaflet have? This is still an open question.

Indoor screens are all sort of a rectangle, sure, but the industry hasn’t established a standard set of aspect ratios for them. One school of thought states that a foldout should be “two regular smartphone screens side by side,” which prioritizes using split-screen mode. That’s where the Galaxy Fold comes in, with its internal 21761812 display. It’s usually reported as “6.5” aspect ratio, but you could also call it 21:17, or very close to two normal smartphone screens 21:9 one next to each other.

The Samsung-style hardware has some practicality, as the selection of Android apps for the big screen is still small. The display on a Samsung-style foldout, being taller than it is wide, tends to keep apps in phone mode. When the phone is closed, you get a phone app; when the phone is open you get a double wide phone app. Samsung tends to prioritize multitasking with two (or three!) phone apps in a split screen view. App scaling in Android is tricky, and while there are settings you can change, that’s how it works for most apps.

Many of Google's interfaces go with this 50/50 split and the left and right sides are often different colors.
Zoom in / Many of Google’s interfaces go with this 50/50 split and the left and right sides are often different colors.

Ron Amedeo

Google is going in a completely different direction. Pixel Fold opens to a 18402208 screen that is wider than it is tall, making it look, feel and function like a mini-tablet. When you open the device, apps enter a dual-pane interface much easier than on tall devices.

A look at the spec sheet might make you wonder if the screen is just a side Galaxy Fold display. That might be true for the hardware, but the software just doesn’t work like it does on a Galaxy Fold. The Pixel Fold software package looks like a new foldable-focused version of Android. We’ve seen snippets of tablet design on a Samsung foldable, but it still feels geared towards multitasking, while the Pixel Fold has a “tablet-first” design in both hardware and software.

For starters, Google is releasing over 40 “foldable-optimized” internal apps alongside the Pixel Fold, and many of the big hits, like Google Maps, Gmail, Gboard, and Calendar, look great on this screen, with dual-pane views and check in all the right places. A bunch of third parties are also releasing foldable apps, including WhatsApp, TikTok, Spotify, Evernote, Dropbox, and Microsoft apps like Office. Even the core Android operating system seems to have received a bit of a polish for the foldouts, with the phone settings, clock, calculator, contacts and apps all getting new interfaces for the foldouts and a new toolbar. applications displayed throughout the operating system.

Google often fails to deliver a cohesive ecosystem, either because software and hardware don’t follow the same agenda or because they gave up on an idea halfway through its development. The Pixel Fold shows surprisingly good coordination between Google’s operating system and app selection. There are many things Google could improve on, but as a first generation version, the Pixel Fold is impressive.

#Pixel #Fold #review #foldable #tablet
Image Source : arstechnica.com

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