Google Pixel Fold has a potentially fatal design flaw — here’s why

A screenshot of JerryRigEverything's Google Pixel Fold durability test, showing the phone folded backwards, breaking around the antenna line
(Image credit: JerryRigEverything / YouTube)

The Google Pixel Fold is an attractive and smartly-designed foldable, but a new video from JerryRigEverything has shown one big problem with its design that could lead to phone-killing damage.

Our host Zack, known for both device teardowns and durability tests, begins with a scratch test, showing the Pixel Fold's outer display is just as tough as other recent smartphones, but equally that the inner display is just as fragile as those of other foldables. 

A screenshot of JerryRigEverything's Google Pixel Fold durability test, showing scratch test results on the inner display

(Image credit: JerryRigEverything / YouTube)

It's somewhat surprising to see the Pixel Fold's inside display survive this part of the test. Reports from reviewers (though fortunately not us at TG) and early owners showed multiple instances of the display getting damaged or failing after barely any use

Next, Zack begins scraping the glass back, aluminum sides and frame, glass camera lenses and plastic inner bezel of the phone with a metal razor knife, with the parts resisting and succumbing to the blade as expected from their materials. Interestingly, he also accidentally forced the Pixel Fold to shut down due to the heat from a lighter used to test the display durability, something that hasn't happened in previous testing,

Then comes the dust test. Fortunately for the Pixel Fold, it effectively resists a handful of dirt thrown between the sides of the inner display, despite only being rated IPX8 for water resistance. Its power button/fingerprint scanner combo also still works when scratched with the razor knife to simulate heavy wear and tear.

The Pixel Fold folds in the opposite direction

But then we get to the bend test. Obviously, the Pixel Fold is designed to bend in one direction, but bending it the other way cracks the phone along a 5G antenna to the side of the hinge, leaving half of the inner display non-functional and the phone unable to close properly.

A screenshot of JerryRigEverything's Google Pixel Fold durability test, showing the phone bent further backwards

(Image credit: JerryRigEverything / YouTube)

Arguably this is an unrealistic test, since bending a foldable backward like this isn't likely to happen during daily use. But other foldable phones such as the Galaxy Z Fold 4, tested by JerryRigEverything last year, survived this test.

The hinge itself didn't break during the bend test, which is a small piece of good news. However, for the Pixel Fold 2, Google could definitely do with shifting the position of the phone's antennas to close up this crack in the Pixel Fold's armor.

Assuming you're careful with the Pixel Fold, it's a fantastic foldable, and one of the best smartphones around right now. All that could change when the Galaxy Z Fold 5 arrives later this month, but right now the Pixel Fold beats the current Galaxy Z Fold 4 thanks to its more user-friendly design and display shape, plus better cameras and battery life.

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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.