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Google Pixel Fold unboxing and first impressions: I'm underwhelmed
After waiting 7 weeks, the Google Pixel Fold has arrived and I am... underwhelmed more than I am enjoying it. Here's my unboxing and first hands-on impressions!
The Google Pixel Fold is finally here, seven weeks after it was announced at the big IO keynote. Google has finally launched its new folding phone, but is it too late? Has the Pixel Fold lost its allure?
When Google announced the Pixel Fold, I immediately rushed to buy it. It felt like it was important, and it definitely feels important in the hand. But that’s not the full story.
I have a strong suspicion that I won't love this as I had hoped to, or like the Motorola Razr+ that I absolutely adore. Why? Scroll down to find out.
What's in the Pixel Fold box
Here's the Google Pixel unboxing video:
In the Google Pixel Fold box, you get the following:
Google Pixel Fold in your color of choice
USB C-to-C cable
USB-C to USB-A On-The-Go adapter
SIM Pin and documentation
There's no charger but the Pixel Fold supports up to 30W charging and Google sells its own 30W charger separately.
How fast does it charge? Not that fast sadly, but stay tuned for a Google Pixel Fold charging test tomorrow (it's on charge as I type this)!
First Impressions of the Google Pixel Fold
My Google Pixel Fold first impressions are based on just a few hours of usage, which is far too long to create lasting impressions, but far from a full review. That said, I have reviewed a ton of foldable phones and so far, I can honestly say, based on my vast experience, I’ve been underwhelmed by the new Pixel Fold.
✅ Design. I love the wider front compared to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. The Google Pixel Fold feels less cramped and more usable as a phone. I dislike the fingerprint sensor and volume keys positioning but it's similar to the Oppo Find N2, which I quite like. We'll see how this changes, but the design is a ✅ for now!
❌ Fingerprint magnet. No $1,800 phone should ever collect this many fingerprints. Look at the video above: everything is a dust and fingerprint magnet, especially the hinge. The feeling of joy at holding the phone at first is quickly replaced by annoyance as the fingerprints collect within seconds.
✅ Solid feel in the hand. The Pixel Fold is heavy and feels heavier than the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The weight is evenly distributed so it doesn't feel top-heavy, and it feels premium in the hand (aside from the fingerprints). It has the same kind of reassuring heft that Nokia's E90 communicator had back in the day, especially when folded.
❌ Oh, Tensor. This is probably the main reason the Pixel Fold will be relegated to my phone drawer: the Tensor SoC is just as bad as I remember it. So far the phone has already run hot, the battery life is questionable but noticeably worse than any other foldable, and the network strength is absolutely atrocious. All of this is caused by Tensor and all of it is important to me, so we'll see how it handles the next week or two.
✅ Hinge is very sturdy. It’s part of the design but deserves its own mention: the hinge is really sturdy. The phone can stay open at any angle, there’s no wobble when opening or closing, and it takes some force to move it. We’ll see how it lasts but the hinge leaves a great first impression!
🧐 Google Software. I have never been a huge stock Android fan, but I really enjoyed it on the Motorola Razr+ and was looking forward to it on the Pixel Fold. Unfortunately, I dislike Pixel Launcher a lot and it feels far too simplified for my liking. That said, I'm going to stick with it and reserve my judgment until I've spent more time with it. The Panel Launcher also makes the display seem really washed out and I much prefer the vibrancy of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 screen.
🤔 Cameras. I haven't taken many photos (more coming soon in the full Pixel Fold review) yet but the camera hardware is solid and could be one reason I keep the Pixel Fold. The addition of 5X zoom in the telephoto lens is the real draw for me, although it'll also depend on what Samsung does with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 next month!
Stay tuned for more on the Google Pixel Fold
We've got a lot of content planned so stay tuned for more. So far, the Google Pixel Fold is pretty underwhelming but I'm hoping that this changes and the phone grows on me. That said, this is shaping up to be another one of Google’s biggest growing pains when it comes to launching new hardware. Even with great cameras, durability, design and performance do matter when going up against the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.