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After years of being the lone option, Samsung finally has some foldable competition in the US, and that partially takes the form of Google’s Pixel Fold, which comes in at the same price as Samsung’s brand-new Galaxy Z Fold 5. But after using both devices, there’s a clear better option.
Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Pixel Fold: How they compare on paper
When you look at the spec sheet alone, Google’s Pixel Fold and Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 are rather similar. Both have 7.6-inch inner displays, plenty of RAM and storage and hinges that are rated for at least 200,000 folds.
The differences really come down to the details. The Pixel Fold has a wider aspect ratio to both of its displays. The 17.4:9 ratio of the outer display is short and wide compared to the Fold 5’s 23.1:9 ratio, which is extremely tall and narrow. The Pixel is also considerably thinner at 12.1mm to the Fold 5’s 13.4mm. Despite that, Pixel Fold also has a bigger battery at 4,821 mAh.
|Google Pixel Fold||Galaxy Z Fold 5|
|Outer display||5.8 inch, 17.4:9 ratio||6.2 inch 23.1:9 ratio|
|Inner display||7.6 inch, 6:5 ratio||7.6 inch, 21.6:18 ratio|
|Processor||Google Tensor G2||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy|
|Storage/RAM||256GB/512GB UFS 3.1 + 12GB RAM||256/512GB/1TB UFS 4.0 + 12GB RAM|
|Hinge rating||200,000 open/close||200,000 open/close|
|Thickness||12.1mm folded/5.8mm unfolded||13.4mm folded/6.1mm unfolded|
|Battery||4,821 mAh||4,400 mAh|
|Cameras (rear)||48MP/10.8MP 5x/10.8MP UW||50MP/10MP 3x/12MP UW|
How the two compare, though, really comes down to actually using them.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is boring in the best way
If you’ve looked into a foldable before now, you’ve likely looked at the Galaxy Z Fold series. And through that eye, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 doesn’t seem all that new, and that’s because it isn’t. The design of the device hasn’t really changed much at all over the past three years, and compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 before it, the Fold 5 really only has a new hinge, and that’s about it.
But the lack of major upgrades in Samsung’s flagship foldable has led to something perhaps more important.
Samsung’s foldable tech has just gotten really, really polished over the past couple of generations. The company has spent its time addressing the little problems, like improving the screen brightness, extending battery life, and improving the hinge, rather than hitting bigger issues like the display crease and cameras. In Samsung’s eyes, it seems, those aspects are “good enough,” where others still need work. And after using the Fold 5 for a few weeks, I mostly agree. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 really just feels like it’s as good as this particular form factor can get without bigger changes. And if you like this overall package, it’s really just a great refined product.
Beyond that, another strength of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is its software. While One UI is a heavy skin on top of Android, it’s packed with features that are useful on the Fold 5’s bigger display and ones that Google’s cleaner Android build just doesn’t have.
Of course, none of this is to say the Galaxy Z Fold 5 isn’t without its flaws. The tall and narrow outer display isn’t great for typing and doesn’t play very well with some apps. The inner display’s taller nature also means that a lot of apps never trigger a tablet interface, which makes some apps feel less optimized for the form factor.
Pixel Fold is undeniably good – it’s just not as good
That’s why the Pixel Fold falls – death by a thousand cuts.
The Pixel Fold’s downsides really just outweigh the good. The Tensor chip inside is plenty powerful, but it’s prone to overheating very easily, which is a really hard pill to swallow at this price point.
The screens also aren’t nearly as bright as Samsung’s, and Google’s crease isn’t any better either. Samsung’s crease still isn’t good, and it’s very noticeable, but Google’s is wider and thus felt more often.
There’s also the hinge. While I stand by the opinion that the Pixel’s hinge not easily sitting at 180 degrees isn’t a problem, I’ve much enjoyed not having to apply the bit of extra pressure on the hinge when using the Fold 5. It’s just a much more consistent feel. Similarly, the Fold 5’s inner display is much easier to type on because Google’s phone is just way too wide.
Battery life is also another sore point for the Google device. Whereas Samsung’s latest generation has pulled off some kind of miracle by upping endurance significantly compared to the last model, the Pixel Fold suffers from mediocre battery life. Often I find the device struggling to make it through a long day, whereas the Galaxy just seems to keep on chugging along.
Really, the perks of Pixel Fold come down to just two aspects.
Firstly, there’s the aspect ratio. Google’s device has a short and wide outer display that makes way for a very wide inner display. This means that the outside is far more usable than Samsung’s, and the inner display triggers more tablet apps. I still think this leads to too many poor app experiences (like Instagram, Reddit, and so on), but when it works, it just works really nicely.
Google Weather on the Pixel Fold
The other point is, of course, the camera. Google’s Pixel line has built its entire legacy on the camera, and that translates wonderfully to the Fold. The 48MP primary camera takes shots that look great and that, more importantly, I can trust. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 will pump out a good shot now and then, but it’s not consistent enough. Two shots taken back to back can look drastically different, for example. Plus, the Pixel Fold has a much better 5x telephoto camera that absolutely destroys the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s camera setup at range. There’s just no competition there: Google has the way better camera.
Tensor is a real problem in a pricey foldable
Google’s Tensor processor is unique to Pixel phones, and it’s not a terrible chip. It has plenty of power, and Google uses its AI strengths to optimize a few features and the camera experience too. However, Tensor is just not as good as a modern Snapdragon chip.
Tensor tends to overheat quickly and struggles with battery efficiency when on a cellular network, especially if signal is spotty. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the Galaxy Z Fold 5, though, is as good as it gets in an Android phone. It’s exceptionally powerful and extremely efficient, which leads to great battery life on the Fold 5.
Personally, I’m usually willing to put up with Tensor’s deficiencies because Pixel phones are usually a lot cheaper than the competition, but that’s not the case with the Pixel Fold. Google’s foldable costs $1,799, the same as Samsung’s device, and Google doesn’t offer the same discounts and trade-ins to go with that. Tensor shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for a normal Pixel phone, but it is absolutely a valid killer on the Fold.
Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the better foldable
Where the Pixel’s aspect ratio and cameras are genuine improvements in many ways, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 makes strides where it counts. The screen is brighter and better. The hinge is smoother and tougher. The chip inside is stronger and much less prone to overheating. And there are perks Google just can’t match, like stylus support and a much more fleshed-out accessories ecosystem.
Don’t think it can be argued. Objectively, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the better foldable.
Why some still using the Pixel Fold
Despite the Pixel Fold’s many shortcomings, it’s the one some going to keep using. Why? It really boils down to one thing – the camera.
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 gets a whole lot right, but its camera is a deal-breaker for me. It’s too unreliable, and as such, I’ve always dual-wielded a Pixel phone alongside a Galaxy Z Fold device for the past three years. But now that I have the option to get a foldable Pixel, that’s what I choose to carry because, most of the time, I only want to carry one device.