Google announced the upcoming launch of its first folding phone, the Pixel Fold, at Google’s I/O 2023.
The Pixel Fold is the only direct competitor to Samsung’s Fold 4 in the US. Its strength in AI and software power will give Samsung a run for its money – if Google can execute on the hardware.
The Pixel Fold is a notebook-style folding phone and comes with the Tensor G2 chip, 12GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, and 120Hz refresh rates on both displays. The outer screen is 5.8 inches high and the inner one opens to a 7.6-inch 2208 x 1840 OLED display. The Fold will cost $1,799 and is available for preorder today. The phone will be available starting June 2023 in Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US.
Samsung has no rival in the US for its notebook-style folding phone. There is almost no meaningful competition in foldables outside of China, too. But Chinese brands, such as OPPO with its foldable N2 phone, are out of reach for most US customers. So, the addition of the Pixel Fold is a huge win, just by its mere existence.
The Fold is a device with AI and productivity at its core, which is why Google chose the more expensive notebook-style form factor, which can imitate a desktop dual-monitor scenario, over a flip phone. The Pixel branding is stronger than Lenovo’s, the only US competitor to Samsung (albeit in flip phones only).
The success of the Pixel Fold “hinges” on its hardware execution, which remains to be seen. But matching up to Samsung’s iteratively improving foldable functionality will not be easy, and expect many missteps, which also was the case with Samsung.
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A distinctive use case for the Pixel Fold
The Pixel Fold’s Dual Screen Interpreter Mode uses the internal and external displays at the same time to see two languages getting translated in real time. This is a distinctive use case for productivity that consumers will find appealing. Its design language is clear and unique from the Galaxy Fold 4. The Pixel Fold is shaped more like a regular smartphone compared with Samsung’s awkward and tall appearance, and opens into a wider tablet format than Samsung.
This category has been Samsung’s to shape and beating Samsung at its own game will be an uphill climb for Google. Its history is littered with Google’s failed attempts at making phones as well as hardware acquisitions that fizzled out. But if Google sticks with this form factor and doesn’t abandon its hardware halfway through, the Pixel Fold will indeed give Samsung a run for its money.