Google Pixel Fold display breaks already — and this could be the cause

Google Pixel Fold
(Image credit: Future)

A major weakness of the Google Pixel Fold's design may have been exposed by Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica, whose attempt to review the phone was cut short after four days by a broken inner display.

Despite only putting the Pixel Fold through what he describes as "the lightest possible usage of a phone," the bottom portion of Amadeo's Pixel Fold display now shows pure white, with a small band of pixels above also displaying brighter than normal. The affected pixels also no longer respond to taps, making the screen further unusable.

An image showing damage to the inner display of a Google Pixel Fold

(Image credit: Ron Amadeo / Ars Technica)

After examining the phone, Amadeo believes he's found a possible explanation near the display's edge. As this close-up image shows, there's a gap between the Pixel Fold's bezel and the plastic screen protector where the bare glass laminate display is exposed. A small speck of dust is visible in this tiny intermediate area, which Amadeo thinks likely punctured the display at some point when he folded the phone closed. 

An image showing damage to the inner display of a Google Pixel Fold

(Image credit: Ron Amadeo / Ars Technica)

This gap between the screen protector and bezel is common on foldable phones. But unlike other foldables where the bezel is raised to stop both sides of the inner display from touching, the Pixel Fold's bezels are much shorter, meaning more potential contact between one side of the screen and the other when shut.

Hopefully a very rare case 

It's a good idea with any foldable to take extra care not to leave visible specs of dirt on the inside display, in order to avoid damage. That advice apparently needs an addendum to focus on the protector/bezel gap in particular with the Pixel Fold, lest your display meet the same fate as Amadeo's.

In our own Pixel Fold review, we didn't come across this problem. In fact, we liked it so much that we named it the top foldable phone in our Tom's Guide Awards 2023 phones category after concluding it beats the previous champion, the Galaxy Z Fold 4, in several key areas. However, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 hasn't suffered a catastrophic display failure from such a small source of damage as far as we know.

Today marks the official retail launch of the Google Pixel Fold, and if you're confident you won't meet the same fate as this one reviewer, we have a guide on Pixel Fold pre-orders if you still want to get your order in just before the deadline (but watch out for possible cancelations).

However, hopefully this story shows you why you need to be absolutely sure you're ready for a foldable before buying one. As useful and exciting as they are to use, they're still expensive and delicate pieces of tech that need more care than you may expect. 

At least Google's just announced it'll offer an easy way to buy spares for DIY repair of the Pixel Fold.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.

  • ntada
    I received my Pixel Fold two days ago. Been using it normally and have noticed small dimples on both sides of the internal screen in the same location as the picture. Looks to be part of how the internal screen is held in place somehow.