When I recently turned on Google’s new Pixel Fold smartphone and opened it as if it were a book, it transformed into a miniature tablet similar to the iPad mini or Amazon Fire. Then something unexpected happened.
For the next few hours, I found it hard to put the device down, as though I was immersed in a great novel. The phone’s performance was smooth and snappy, and the large screen made reading email, watching videos, and reading comic books more enjoyable than with a normal phone screen.
I was surprised as I have been wary of foldable phones. earliest model Released almost four years ago by Samsung, Motorola and Huawei There were obvious flaws. They were thick and heavy, had durability problems and lacked software to take advantage of their new hardware. But I knew right away that the Pixel Fold — Google’s first foldable phone — was different.
When I folded the device back, the second 5.8-inch external screen lit up, converting it into a regular smartphone that could be used with one hand. Importantly, it wasn’t too thick—it’s about half an inch thick when folded, which is a bit bigger than my iPhone—so it was comfortable to carry in my pocket.
The Pixel Fold, which was unveiled last month and arrived on Wednesday, is proof that when cutting-edge technology emerges, it’s wise to wait before plunging your hard-earned money into it. In just four years, Google has managed to erase most of the problems with foldable phones, turning a gimmicky concept into a product that has compelling reasons to exist.
What Google failed to do was make the foldable phone technology affordable. The Pixel Fold costs $1,800, which is about $400 more than a similar phone released a few years ago. Google said the device’s cost partly stemmed from the engineering challenge of stuffing high-quality components, including cameras similar to other Pixel phones, into such a thin device. (When unfolded, the Pixel Fold is thinner than a typical smartphone.)
that’s a bummer. Most people won’t spend that much on a phone when there are many great options out there that are cheaper. But I can recommend it to its target audience: people with a lot of disposable income who rely heavily on their devices.
Still, the advancement of foldable technology is good news. A few years ago, handsets from companies like Apple and Samsung were at their peak. Their flagship phones were already incredibly fast, their screens were big and bright, and their cameras took amazing pictures. The smartphone industry, as a whole, has become a pile of nearly indistinguishable black rectangles.
What was left to do? In 2019, Samsung was one of the first to release a foldable phone, but it poisoned the market by bringing the gadget. Screens on early review samples of its Galaxy Fold failed, forcing the South Korean manufacturer to postpone the product, Samsung and others have since released some more foldable phonesBut nobody was forcing me.
Google’s entry into the market is significant. Reflecting Apple’s tight control over the iPhone’s design, Google designed both the hardware (including the computing processor) and the software that power the Pixel Fold. This means the device’s software was tailored to work with it, and it has long battery life and very fast performance.
Apart from the big screen, Google has come up with clever reasons for how and why you can use your foldable phone.
For one, the Pixel Fold is a great video player to use everywhere because it folds at an angle like a laptop.
While I was cooking in the kitchen, I played a YouTube video with a recipe and turned the device at a 90-degree angle. The upper half of the screen showed the video, and the lower half showed a description listing the contents. In some ways, it was even better than a tablet, which you’d have to prop up with a stand on the countertop in order to view it at the proper angle.
What Else Can You Do With Foldables? With the device open, I ran two apps side-by-side, which was useful for reading webpages while typing emails.
Google also demonstrated how its Translate app can take advantage of two screens. Consider a situation in which you, an English speaker, are trying to communicate with someone who speaks Chinese. With the phone open, you can speak English into the microphone and the other person can be shown translated text in Chinese on the phone’s external screen. When a Chinese speaker answers, you can read the translated text on the internal screen.
This feature won’t be released until autumn, so I haven’t had a chance to test it. But it’s an interesting use case.
Lastly, this device is cost-effective as it is equipped with advanced technology without any major changes. In my tests, its camera produced clear and vibrant images on par with photos taken with Apple’s latest iPhone and the Pixel 7 Pro, Google’s $900 smartphone that has an excellent camera.
Although the Pixel Fold’s high price will make it out of reach for most people, it was an exciting glimpse of the next step for smartphones. in the past five years, as phone screen got biggerWell, we’ve voted with our wallets and we’ve proved that we love big screens, as long as they come on devices that are easy to carry around. The Pixel Fold provides that.
I suspect that in a few years, the price of foldable phones will probably drop to replace existing phones with the “Pro” moniker and it will reach new highs in the market. When that happens, I can see myself and many others switching to foldables – and there will be a future where tablets become less relevant.