When watching videos, the Galaxy Fold 4’s square-ish interior display has large black bars. Dan Seifert, my colleague, found that Google’s Pixel Fold had a wider aspect ratio, which felt more natural to multitask with. It should also make for a much better entertainment device.
The Pixel Fold is actually very promising. I don’t worry about the cameras or software. Google’s computational imaging may not have a sensor the same size as that of the 7 or 7 Pro but I trust it more than any other phone manufacturer to get the shot right on the first attempt. I love the colorful Material You UX on Android, and I believe that developers will continue to release apps optimized for foldable devices.
There are a few things I’m not happy about. They boil down to reliability, performance and customer service. All three are still unknowns at the moment.
Google’s Tensor chip isn’t efficient and can get hot
Google’s own-branded processors are often behind Qualcomm and Apple’s in benchmarks – sometimes by a considerable amount – but they’re powerful enough to deliver a smooth smartphone experience on a daily basis. Google seems to have been content with this. They are perfectly adequate.
Except for those moments they aren’t.
I’ve owned Pixel 6, Pixel 6A and, most recently, Pixel 7. As a result, I can confirm that the Tensor G1 & G2 both have a tendency for to run hot. Not all the time. Some days are better. When things get hot, Pixel phones often disable features such as 4K video recording and even something as basic as a flash on the camera. Do you use your device when it is plugged in or not? If the battery percentage increases, expect slow charging speeds. In my experience, the Pixel 7 isn’t as hot as its predecessors. These phones aren’t yet in their first summer: The Pixel Fold arrives just as temperatures increase across the US.
Similar reports are not uncommon if you search the Pixel subreddit or other social media. Google has overcome the terrible cellular reception issues that Pixel 6 and 6 Pro users have faced. These chips aren’t as powerful as Qualcomm’s latest and greatest. If I am being honest, Samsung’s Galaxy Fold will absolutely crush the Pixel Fold when it comes to performance. It won’t be important to everyone.
The Galaxy Fold 5 will be released in the summer and it is likely to use a variant of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. This could lead to a big difference between the Galaxy Fold 5 and the Pixel Fold with regards thermal performance. Battery life is generally better with a cooler processor. The Fold’s battery estimate already seems optimistic, considering that it has two 120Hz displays which can be very bright.
Tensor quirks are sometimes excused with phones between $400 and $900. If a $1800 foldable phone starts to overheat and disable software features when doing normal summer activities, then people will lose their minds.
The silicon is the one element that gives me pause about the Pixel Fold. I do my best to believe Google has considered all this, made cooling tweaks to this form factor and that it won’t become a thing. We’ll find out by late June.
How do you fix this?
There are many Apple stores within a few miles, and there are only two Google Store locations in the area. The Apple Stores are plentiful, there are only two Google Stores in the area, and Samsung 837 offers scheduled repairs for all its foldables. This includes screen protectors, yes the Pixel Fold does have one, and other hardware problems.
There will be many Pixel Fold purchasers who live outside of this city or San Francisco. Their repair options are also very new. Samsung may not have as much retail space as Apple but at least it has partnered with Best Buy to provide authorized repairs.
Google has in the past partnered with Asurion’s uBreakiFix to offer its extended warranty. The same arrangement appears to be continuing for the Pixel Fold. Coverage costs $15 per month, or $279 if you want two years (including accidental damages).
If you want to get the best service, make sure that you visit a corporate Asurion branch.