3 ways the Pixel Fold falls short of current foldable phones

Close-up of the Google Pixel Fold cover display
(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

If you've either listened to the Android Central podcast or read a few of my articles, you probably aren't surprised at how excited I am for the Pixel Fold. It took a couple of iterations, but I jumped on the foldable phone train back with the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Since then, I've upgraded to the latest Samsung foldable as soon as it's released, a trend that might come to an end this year. The Pixel Fold is one of the big reasons why I might not be upgrading to the Galaxy Z Fold 5. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to be getting rid of my current Galaxy Z Fold 4 either.

From afar, it appears that Google made a lot of the right decisions when it comes to the company's first venture into the foldable market. Android 12L introduced better support for large-screen devices, and the software only continues to improve over time.

Plus, I'll be able to enjoy all of the wonders that come from using a camera on a Pixel device. That being said, there are still three major ways that I feel the Pixel Fold falls short of the competition.

You're stuck with the stylus' on your hands

Split-screening two Android apps on the Google Pixel Fold

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Even though I don't use the stylus on my Galaxy Z Fold 4 every day, I love having it at my disposal. It's the same feeling I have about the Apple Pencil with an iPad or the S Pen with the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

So while I wasn't expecting the Pixel Fold to include stylus support, I was REALLY, REALLY hoping for it to be compatible with the best USI 2.0 stylus pens, just like the Pixel Tablet. Unfortunately, that just simply isn't the case.

Writing notes on a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 with the S Pen Fold Edition

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

I don't have any "insider information" as to why the decision was made. But I can only surmise that it was to help lower the potential for customers to break the glass, even accidentally. It's the same reason why Samsung waited until the Galaxy Z Fold 3 before introducing stylus support, and even then, it's not compatible with the same S Pen you'll find in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. All of that is to say that Google's playing it safe this time around, but hopefully, that will change in the future.

Where's Google's DeX competitor?

Use Galaxy Z Fold 4 as touchpad for wireless Samsung DeX

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

One of the novelties of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is that it's actually three devices built into one. You have a smartphone that doubles as a tablet and triples as a powerful computing device.

Samsung DeX is one of those "under-the-radar" features that feels as though it shouldn't be possible. Simply by plugging my Fold 4 into an HDMI-to-USB-C cable, or using Wireless DeX, I can get actual work done from a single device.

All foldable phones should include a Samsung DeX-like competitor, and Google should have been leading the way.

Technically, there is a desktop mode built into Android, but it doesn't even hold a candle to what DeX offers. You can't even access it without enabling Developer Options and then flipping a few toggles. Google has been "working" on this for a few years at this point, and the Pixel Fold would have been the perfect time to unveil it.

Sadly, it doesn't seem as though it's in the cards for more widespread availability. But like almost everything else that Google does, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that it actually comes to fruition.

Will there be a successor?

Project Ara promo screengrab

(Image credit: Google)

The last reason I think that Google's Pixel Fold doesn't stand up to the competition is because of Google itself. It's a running joke that Google creates things, just to terminate the projects later on. I mean, all you need to do is think about all of the different messaging apps.

You could go so far as to say that the same rings true when it comes to Google hardware. The Pixel Watch didn't just appear out of thin air, as it was a device that was rumored ever since Android Wear debuted. The same can be said about the Pixel Fold, which we first started hearing rumblings about back in 2021.

But then there's all of the hardware that doesn't see the light of day, such as the rumored Pixelbook 2 and even Project Ara. Suffice it to say, I am a bit worried about putting all of my eggs in Google's foldable basket. There are no guarantees in this world, but that sentiment rings especially true of Google.

I'm still getting the Pixel Fold anyways

Taking a photo with the Google Pixel Fold

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

The sad thing about all of this is that the logical side of me says to skip the Pixel Fold and just stick with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. If the rumors are true, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will be an incremental upgrade, at best. Likely, we'll just see a bump in the processor, and maybe some fancy (or boring) new colors.

Unlike my foldable compatriot, Nick Sutrich, I haven't been able to mess around with a phone like the Oppo Find N2. Having a foldable phone with a cover screen that doesn't make my hands cramp is just too enticing on its own to be ignored.

Throw in the fact that I've been wanting a foldable with Google's Pixel software for years, and it's already a winner. Going even further, having Google's camera in a foldable form factor just puts me over the top. But none of this means that I can't think that Google might have missed the boat a bit.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks, tablets, and wearables

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.

  • politebat2001
    None of those things matter to me. I'm buying.
  • Morty2264
    While none of those things matter to me, I'm sure they will to some! This is a good article to keep potential buyers informed -- thanks for sharing!
  • cribble2k
    AC News said:
    There's little doubt that there aren't better foldable phones on the market today. And while the Pixel Fold sparks a lot of excitement, there are a few key reasons why it falls short of the competition.

    3 ways the Pixel Fold falls short of current foldable phones : Read more
    This will be my first foldable phone. I just hope they open pre-orders to Canada soon.
  • Bkdodger1
    All in