Sunday, June 23, 2024
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The Galaxy Z Fold 5 needs these 4 things to beat the Pixel Fold


Google Pixel Fold in Obsidian laying flat on a planter.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Google recently released its first foldable device to the masses with the Google Pixel Fold. Though it’s far from perfect, I was pleasantly surprised with the device overall, and it’s become one of my favorite phones I’ve tried so far this year — though I think I’m one of the more favorable reviews in an otherwise mixed bag.

Of course, Google’s a little late to the foldable market, as Samsung has been the reigning champion for that niche for a few years now, especially for the U.S. Samsung is also having its next Galaxy Unpacked event on July 26, and we’re definitely expecting Samsung’s next generation of foldables with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5.

I think I’m in a unique position here. The Google Pixel Fold is technically my first experience with a foldable device (not counting flip phones like the Galaxy Z Flip 4), as my primary smartphone experience has typically been with slab-style phones like the iPhone 14 Pro. So, with the Z Fold 5 on the horizon, here are a few things I want to see — especially if Samsung wants to pry me away from the Pixel Fold.

A more usable cover screen

Google Pixel Fold in Obsidian held in hand.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

One of the things that I like a lot about the Pixel Fold is the 5.8-inch cover display. It’s shorter and wider than what you get on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which is tall and narrow. The Pixel Fold’s cover display looks and feels more like a regular smartphone due to its size.

I’ve long said that the 5.8-inch size of the iPhone X and iPhone XS was perfect, and that size should come back. Well, it has with the Pixel Fold. I love the Pixel Fold size because it’s comfortable enough for me to use the device one-handed when closed, and while it is heavy, it’s still manageable for the most part. And when I use it with both hands, it just feels more natural to me than the Galaxy Z Fold 4 with its cramped keyboard.

I swear I had to retype my Google password about three times before I was able to not make any mistakes, which is something that doesn’t happen on literally every other normal-sized phone I’ve tested. Even with practice, the Fold 4’s cover screen is a pain to get used to.

As much as I would love for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to have a more standard size when closed, it doesn’t seem likely. All the rumors point to it having the same tall and narrow form factor as its predecessor, and with leaked renders, I highly doubt Samsung will change this with the Unpacked event happening a few weeks from now.

Perhaps this is something Samsung could consider in a future model of the Galaxy Z Fold series. Maybe next year.

It’s time to tone down the camera’s vibrancy

A Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 on top of a Google Pixel Fold, showing the cameras on both phones.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

One of my issues with Samsung phones is the fact that Samsung likes to turn up the brightness and vibrancy of my photos to 11 out of 10. While this works for some scenes, usually it just looks oversaturated and unnatural, as if a filter is slapped on — and I’m not a big fan.

Since I’ve been using the Google Pixel Fold, one of the things that I’ve come to appreciate is the fact that it’s hard to take a bad photo. Google’s Tensor chip has a lot of computational AI magic in there, and it helps create natural-looking photos that are close to what you see in reality. This is what I prefer, and I would like to be able to take a photo with a Samsung device that doesn’t look super fake from the moment I tap the shutter button.

From the rumors so far, we should expect a pretty similar triple-lens camera system on the Galaxy Z Fold 5, which means a 50MP main camera, 10MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom, and 12MP ultrawide lens with 12MP selfie on the cover display. We can only hope the inner display camera will be better than 4MP, though.

But I would like to see Samsung make it possible to capture natural-looking photos with the hardware rather than making everything look super bright and vibrant to the point where it looks fake. Maybe with the speculated Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip? Who knows, but I can’t be the only one out there who wants to see more natural-looking photos and videos from Samsung phones, right?

Refine the gap and the crease

Google Pixel Fold in Obsidian and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 top view gap comparison.
Google Pixel Fold (right) in Obsidian next to Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 both closed, showing gaps between halves from the top Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

One of the other things that bugs me about the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the fact that there’s a small wedge-shaped gap when you have the phone closed. This doesn’t affect usability, but I simply prefer my devices to minimize unnecessary gaps, as that makes it easy for dust and lint to get in there. The Pixel Fold has no gap when it’s closed shut.

Thankfully, this seems to be something that Samsung will correct with the Galaxy Z Fold 5. That’s because Samsung will be going with what appears to be a water-drop hinge mechanism design while retaining a firm hinge, allowing the device to be propped up at any angle for Flex Mode.

While I like the Google Pixel Fold, one thing I was slightly disappointed with was the crease, which was still plenty visible, despite Google’s take on its unique hinge. From what we can tell right now, the new gap-less hinge design should also help with making the middle crease less noticeable. I really hope that is the case — Motorola seems to have gotten the crease on the Razr Plus to the point where you barely notice it. Hopefully, Samsung — given many years of experience now — can improve it drastically.

Longer battery life

Google Pixel Fold in Obsidian side by side with Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.
Google Pixel Fold (right) in Obsidian next to Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, both closed Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

As much as I like the Google Pixel Fold, one of its weak points is battery life. Despite having a 4,821mAh battery, the phone will only last about a full day on a single charge. That’s in part because Google’s Tensor chip is not the most power efficient, as it tends to make the phone run hot when you do a lot of resource-intensive tasks or gaming on it. Of course, you could extend it to about 72 hours with Extreme Battery Saver, but that isn’t without compromises.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 also isn’t that great with battery, as its 4,400mAh battery also only gets about a day of use on a single charge. But from my experience with a Samsung Galaxy S23, which has the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip inside, the battery on that was pretty impressive, as it would get me through a full day with juice left to spare. And on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, you can easily get through two days per charge.

It seems that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy does make a difference in power efficiency. If that’s the case, and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 comes with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip, then we should see significant gains in battery life over its predecessor, as well as the competing Google Pixel Fold.

We’ll find out in a few more weeks

Renders of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
WinFuture

Google certainly released its Pixel Fold at an interesting time, as Samsung’s getting ready to launch its next-generation foldables later this month at the Galaxy Unpacked July 2023 event in Seoul, Korea.

We are certainly expecting the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to be announced, as well as its cousin, the Z Flip 5, which would be great competition for Motorola’s Razr Plus. On top of that, we are expecting the Galaxy Watch 6 series, as well as the next iteration of Galaxy Tab S9 tablets.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is shaping up to be a great foldable, but if it’s going to take me away from the Pixel Fold any time soon, it sure does have its work cut out for it.

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