Galaxy Z Fold 5, Pixel Fold could share this feature — and it's not good news

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 open in a hand
(Image credit: Future)

Google's Pixel Fold figures to have plenty of interesting features when it makes its long-awaited debuted, possibly as soon as next month's Google I/O. We're expecting that the foldable phone will run on Google's Tensor G2 chipset, and there's rumors that the Fold will feature the toughest hinge ever on a foldable, addressing concerns about the durability of such devices.

But for all the high-end features reportedly slated for the Pixel Fold, fast charging won't be one of them.

That's the word from Yogesh Brar, who tweeted out a litany of Pixel Fold specs the other day. Most match the rumored specs for Google's foldable that have already leaked, giving us a pretty good idea of what to expect from the phone. But there's at least one new item in Brar's list that caught my eye — the 23W wired charging speed.

To put that in context, that's the same charging speed as the Pixel 7 Pro and only a touch faster than both the Pixel 7 and Pixel 6a. It's not exactly the kind of spec you expect to see from what figures to be Google's most expensive phone.

Then again, it's not like the two best foldable phones currently available set records when it comes to charging speed. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 both charge at 25W. Only the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra offer faster 45W speeds among Samsung's top phones.

what in the wide world of Wally West is going on with these pokey charging speeds for top foldable phones?

And that's apparently unlikely to change based on a different feature leak. Sammobile reports that filings with China's regulatory agency list 25W charging speeds for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 later this year.

If you feel the need for speed, you might be wondering what in the wide world of Wally West is going on with these pokey charging speeds for top foldable phones? After all, these devices command top dollar — the Galaxy Z Fold 4 starts at $1,799 and some rumors have the Pixel Fold costing just as much. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the relative of the bargain of the bunch costing a mere $999.

Putting it another way: If I told you that phone you were thinking about buying cost $1,000 or more, you might conclude that it offered a little bit more pep when it came to topping off the battery.

The Oppo Find N2 open, from the front

Oppo Find N2 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There doesn't appear to be a technical reason for foldable phones not embracing fast-charging speeds. For example, the Oppo Find N2 supports 67W wired charging that can fully charge the phone in 42 minutes, according to its manufacturer. And the Find N2 has the same basic design as the Galaxy Z Fold, where you open the phone up to reveal a larger display. (The Pixel Fold is said to be going this design as well.) Even the more compact Oppo Find N2 Flip delivers 45W charging speed — faster than speeds linked to the upcoming foldables from Google and Samsung.

So one can't help but conclude that phone makers could make their foldable devices charge faster — they just opted not to.

I don't want to spend my time twiddling my thumbs while I wait for Samsung's foldable to charge up.

But maybe they should. While the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a lot of things going for it, but long battery life isn't one of them. In our battery test, in which we have phones surf the web continuously until they run out of power, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 turned in a time of 8 hours and 19 minutes. Turning off the adaptive refresh rate on the phone's display improved that time by an hour, but even so that would place the Galaxy Z Fold 4 below the average result for smartphones on our battery test.

Hey, it's tough to keep a 7.6-inch interior display powered up — I get that. But since I'm going to need to top off that battery more often than I would with other phones, I don't want to spend my time twiddling my thumbs while I wait for Samsung's foldable to charge up.

We don't know what kind of battery life the Pixel Fold is going to offer at this point, but those leaked spec rumors I mentioned earlier suggest that Google is going to tout that its foldable will have “beyond 24-hour” battery life. I don't want to spend that same amount of time recharging the phone at a tepid 23W pace.

Outlook: Foldables should be better

At the end of the day, a phone's charging speed is probably not going to dissuade you from buying a foldable phone if that's what your heart is set on, which seems like a calculation phone makers have made. But a phone that commands top dollar deserves features that reflect that price — and that goes for charging speeds, too.

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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.