Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: What to expect

Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
(Image credit: Front Page Tech/Tom's Guide)

A Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 face-off would be an interesting clash of foldable phones — if Google actually plans on releasing a foldable device of its own. And right now, that's far from certain.

Still, we hope it comes to pass. The best foldable phones are currently a roll call of Samsung devices — the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is Samsung's other foldable offering beside the Z Fold — so it'd be nice to see some new competition to push Samsung's future foldables.

Of course, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a top phone on its own merits. Samsung has not only improved upon the foldable design with each new version of the phone, it's also equipped the current model with a powerful processor and an optional S Pen that boosts productivity. Even the cameras — a weak spot on previous editions — are better on the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

That sets a high bar for the Pixel Fold to clear, but if anyone's capable of taking on Samsung, it's Google, which has made great strides with its more conventional Pixel flagships. We'd expect the Pixel Fold to take some of the best elements of the Pixel 7 — namely, those top performing cameras and Google's Tensor chipset — and bring them a foldable design that delivers a unique counterpart to the Galaxy Z Fold.

Even as the Pixel Fold remains a rumor, here's how we see a Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 comparison shaking out, based on what we've seen from Samsung's phone and what we've heard about this possible Google release.

Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 went on sale in late August, and it's currently the most expensive smartphone you can buy with a starting price of $1,799. That gets you a 128GB version, but you can also opt for 512GB ($1,919) or 1TB ($2,159) if you are as rich as a potentate. The best Galaxy Z Fold 4 deals can lower the price somewhat.

There's no clear guidance on when — or if — the Pixel Fold would appear, but the most confident rumor we've heard so far comes from Front Page Tech (opens in new tab) which says that the foldable may arrive in May 2023. That would line up with the likely date for Google I/O 2023, where the company has previewed phones in the past. Display analyst Ross Young has tipped a Pixel Fold release for early 2023.

If the date of the Pixel Fold's release is still up in the air, so is a potential price. Front Page Tech suggested a $1,799 price tag — that'd match the Galaxy Z Fold 4 price — though earlier rumors had floated the possibility of a slightly lower price to distinguish the Pixel Fold from Samsung's offerings.

Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Design and display

From the exterior, the Pixel Fold could look a lot like the foldable phone it's hoping to challenge. Initial Pixel Fold rumors suggest Google is taking the same basic approach as Samsung did with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 — create a foldable phone that opens up to reveal a much larger display on the inside.

Even the rumored 6.2 x 5.5 x 0.2-inch Pixel Fold size isn't that much different from the Galaxy Z Fold 4's actual dimensions of 6.1 x 5.1 x 0.21 inches, though that would suggest a wider phone from Google.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 crease

Galaxy Z Fold 4 (Image credit: Future)

Rumors tip the Pixel Fold to feature a 7.69-inch inner display — again, not all that different from the Galaxy Z Fold 4's 7.6-inch main screen. Like the Samsung phone, the Pixel Fold's display would likely refresh at 120Hz.

If there's a big difference between the two phones, it could be the outer display. Samsung equips the Galaxy Z Fold with a 6.2-inch cover screen so that you can use the phone without having to open it up. Google's likely to follow the same tack, but rumors suggest a shorter, wider cover display in the vein of the Oppo Find N.

An render of the Google Pixel Fold, based on currently known rumors

Pixel Fold render (Image credit: OnLeaks/Howtoisolve)

There could be one other key Pixel Fold vs. Galaxy Z Fold 4 design difference, and it would be on the inside of the phone. Rather than go with the under-display camera on the main display that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 uses, Google is apparently contemplating putting the display camera on the frame above the display. (Another interpretation of that rumor suggests no interior camera at all, but given how important video messaging is, we'd dismiss that possibility.) Such an approach would allow Google to avoid including a notch in the main display, as early Galaxy Z Fold models featured.

Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Cameras

While we're on the subject of cameras, the Galaxy Z Fold's optics took a big step forward with the 2022 model. The Galaxy Z Fold now uses the same camera system as the standard Galaxy S22 — a 50MP main camera and 12MP ultrawide angle lens on the outside of the phone. There's a 10MP selfie camera on the front exterior of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, with that 4MP under-display sensor waiting when you open the foldable.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Galaxy Z Fold 4 (Image credit: Future)

If it took a few Galaxy Fold generations to get Samsung's foldable on par with the cameras of its other flagship devices, we'd expect Google to put a lot of effort into the Pixel Fold cameras right away. After all, even Google's budget phones have made a name for themselves on the mobile photography front. If nothing else, you'd expect the Pixel Fold to benefit from the company's expertise with computational photography and photo processing.

As for the Pixel Fold's camera hardware, rumors are all over the map. We've heard the Fold could adopt a three camera setup for its rear lenses, with a 50MP main camera joined by two 12MP lenses (presumably one for ultrawide shots and the other a telephoto camera). Another rumor claims there will be just a single 12MP rear camera. That's two pretty diverse extremes. If we had to guess, we'd figure a setup comparable to the Pixel 7 Pro's 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide and 48MP telephoto cameras wouldn't be out of line.

Image of a leaked render of the Google Pixel Fold back cameras

Pixel Fold render (Image credit: Front Page Tech)

For front cameras, multiple rumors suggest Google will use the same sensor for the front exterior camera as it does for the camera on the inside of the unfolded phone, though opinions on the megapixel rating for those cameras vary between 8MP and 9.5MP.

Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Performance

Expect a repeat of the Pixel 7 vs. Galaxy S22 here, in which Google's phone uses the company's own silicon while Samsung turns to a top-of-the-line chipset from Qualcomm.

In the case of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, that's the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 — the best performing silicon Qualcomm makes until the newly unveiled Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 starts showing up in phones. Meanwhile, we'd expect the Pixel Fold to follow the lead of other Pixel devices and use Google's own Tensor chipset. The Pixel 7 family uses the Tensor G2, and we'd expect the Pixel Fold to do likewise if it winds up shipping in the first half of 2023.

Tensor's focus is more on machine learning-driven experiences than blazing performance — we'll talk about that in a bit — so we'd anticipate the Pixel Fold posting less impressive benchmarks than the Galaxy Z Fold 4. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Processor (Phone)Geekbench 5 (Single core/multicore)Wild Life Unlimited (FPS)
Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 (Galaxy Z Fold 4)1,328/3,83152.8
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (Reference device)1,500/5,24984
Tensor G2 (Pixel 7 Pro)1,060/3,04640.3

On Geekbench 5, which measures overall performance, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 posted single and multicore scores of 1,328 and 3,831 — some of the best numbers we saw from an Android phone in 2022. In contrast, the Pixel 7 Pro had 1,060 and 3,046 scores on those same tests. The gap was less wide in graphics testing, where the Pixel 7 Pro's 40.3 frames per second result in 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited Test was just behind the Z Fold 4's 52.6 fps result. We wouldn't anticipate a G2-powered Pixel Fold doing much to upend those numbers.

Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Battery life and charging

Battery life has been one area where foldable phones have struggled, and for good reason. With a larger display to keep powered up — and often a secondary display on the phone's exterior — that's a big drain on power.

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a good example of this. Despite a 4,400 mAh battery, Samsung's foldable lasted 8 hours and 19 minutes in our battery test, in which phones surf the web until they run out of power. That's more than 1.5 hours behind the average for a smartphone, though we should point out it's longer battery life than previous Galaxy Z Fold models.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 mid fold on a bench

Galaxy Z Fold 4 (Image credit: Future)

We haven't heard any rumors about battery size for the Pixel Fold, which makes it hard to estimate how Google's foldable might hold up in daily use. Neither phone in the Pixel 7 series lasted long on our battery test, and it's been a long while since any Google phone landed on our best phone battery life list. The Pixel Fold with its bigger screen certainly has a challenge ahead.

Similarly, rumors about Pixel Fold charging speeds haven't surfaced yet either. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 can get to a 50% charge after 30 minutes, so Google's foldable will have its work cut out for it.

Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Software and special features

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 debuted with Android 12 on board, and it's now in the process of migrating to Android 13 with Samsung's One UI 5 interface. The Pixel Fold would obviously debut with whatever the latest version of Android happens to be at the time of its launch — Android 13 if the early 2023 rumors are correct, and possibly Android 14 if the phone doesn't arrive until the second half of the year.

The real story with software will be what kind of special features each phone offers to take advantage of the foldable design. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 lets you multitask with three apps open at once, for example, and a Flex mode turns half of the screen into a control panel for select apps.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Galaxy Z Fold 4 (Image credit: Future)

We'd imagine this is where the Tensor sensor comes into play for the Pixel Fold, just like the Google silicon allows for real-time translation and phone call management features on the latest Pixels.

Pixel Fold concept design shows a look similar to the Pixel 6

Pixel Fold concept design (Image credit: Waqar Khan/Let's Go Digital)

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 enjoys another advantage over other phones in that it offers support for the S Pen stylus. The pen's an optional accessory — only the Galaxy S22 Ultra currently offers the stylus as a built-in feature — but it's a good addition for sketch and note-taking on the Fold's ample display. It's unclear if Google plans to offer a stylus with its foldable.

Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: Outlook

While this gives you an early idea about how the Pixel Fold might differentiate itself from the Galaxy Z Fold 4, we're going to need a few more concrete rumors to get a more complete picture. Even then, there's always the possibility that Google winds up tabling the foldable's release, as it's reportedly done in the past.

But we do hope to see the Pixel Fold in the coming year. As good as the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has proven to be, a little competition never hurt anyone. And right now, that's the one thing foldable phones are sorely lacking.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.