Google Pixel Fold just beat Samsung for best foldable phone

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Google Pixel Fold thickness laying flat on a tablet
(Image credit: Future)

This might be hard to believe but Google has just beat Samsung for the title of best foldable phone based on my testing. As you'll see in my Google Pixel Fold review, Google's first foldable has a lot going for it, from its stellar front display and great camera system to its intuitive multitasking experience. And, yes, it's $1,800. 

Up until now, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has been the standard bearer for the foldable phone category, but in my opinion, it's just been knocked off its pedestal. (Not everyone at Tom's Guide agrees.) To be fair, the new Galaxy Z Fold 5 is on the way in late July with several upgrades, but right now the Pixel Fold is the foldable phone to beat — and it could very well hold on to the top spot for a while. Here's why. 

A wider front display

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Google Pixel Fold showing front display

(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel Fold features a smaller cover display than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, but it has a wider aspect ratio, which means that apps are easier to use without opening up the phone to get to the main display. And the Pixel Fold is also more comfortable to type on. I find the front panel on the Z Fold 4 usable, but a bit too cramped.

The Pixel Fold also has a brighter cover display based on our lab tests. Google's panel reached 1,172 nits of brightness, compared to 870 nits for the Galaxy Z Fold 4. This comes in handy for shooting photos outdoors.

Superior cameras 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 vs Google Pixel Fold cameras

(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel Fold packs Pixel-grade cameras, which means it can go toe to toe with the best camera phones out there. I put the Pixel Fold up against the Galaxy S23  Ultra — which tops our list — and Google's foldable won more rounds than it lost. 

Take this low-light shot of a colorful lantern. The Pixel Fold's photo is brighter all around, and you can make out more detail in the lantern itself and the light bouncing off the concrete. The pool in the background gets lost in the Samsung image as well.

The Pixel Fold also benefits from a more powerful 5x telephoto zoom lens. However, Google's phone lacks a macro mode and it fell behind Samsung on some close-up shots. 

Thinner design with no gap when closed

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Google Pixel Fold on table showing profile and thickness

(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel Fold has the thinnest design yet among book-style foldable phones. When the device is open, it measures just 0.2 inches thick compared to 0.25 inches for the Z Fold 4. This makes the Pixel Fold more comfortable to hold when using the large internal 7.6-inch display. 

However, the Pixel Fold is heavier at 10 ounces versus 9.28 ounces for the Galaxy Z Fold 4. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Google Pixel Fold folded closed on a table

(Image credit: Future)

Another advantage for the Pixel Fold is that the phone doesn't have a gap between the two halves when closed, which should help prevent debris from getting in there when in your pocket or bag. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is also rumored to not have a gap. 

I also have to say that the Pixel Fold's hinge feels smoother in operation and that it's virtually silent; there's a bit of creaking going on with the Z Fold 4. 

Longer battery life 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Google Pixel Fold displays showing Tom's Guide website

(Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel Fold is getting some complaints by reviewers for offering short or inconsistent battery life. But I haven't found that to be the case. On the Tom's Guide Battery test, which consists of continuous web surfing over 5G, the Pixel Fold lasted 10 hours and 21 minutes on the main display with its set to 60Hz. 

Under the same settings, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 lasted 9:17. I'll take an extra hour of endurance any day. We'll be doing more testing with the front and main display and will report back. 

Where the Galaxy Z Fold 4 wins...and Z Fold 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a number of advantages over the Pixel Fold, starting with a more immersive main 7.6-inch display with narrower bezels. I prefer Samsung's phone for watching video.

Samsung's foldable also lets you run three apps at once on screen, compared to two for the Pixel Fold. And I like how Samsung lets you decide which apps continue to run on the front display after you close the phone; Google does not.  If you like the idea of having a dock on the bottom of the display, Samsung gives you the option of having it there all the time. 

The Galaxy Z Fold 4's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is faster than the Tensor G2 inside the Pixel Fold, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that's supposed to power the Galaxy Z Fold 5 should be even faster. Plus, the Z Fold 5 should continue to offer S Pen support, while the Pixel Fold doesn't allow stylus input. 

Bottom line

As you can see, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 remains a great foldable phone, and Galaxy Z Fold 5 could very well become the best foldable phone around. However, right now I prefer the Google Pixel Fold because of its comfier front display, smoother hinge, better cameras and longer endurance.

Some are just going to wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and that's wise to do. When you're spending this much for a phone, you want to be sure you have the best. But the Pixel Fold is the best foldable phone of its kind right now, which is saying something given how long Samsung has been at this. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.