If you're going to spend $1,800 on a phone, you'll want to see that screen in direct sunlight, right? Well, you technically can on both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google Pixel Fold, but one premium foldable is much, much brighter.
Like way brighter.
I'm working on my Galaxy Z Fold 5 review in progress and I just took both of these foldable phones outside on a very warm 88-degree day in New York City, and to be fair, both the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold are fairly visible in the shade.
As you can see in the above photo with a bit of sunshine on the table under some trees in Bryant Park, the Z Fold 5 and and Pixel Fold both do a fine job displaying an ultrawide photo of the park taken with the two camera phones. Yes, the bezel on the Pixel Fold is very noticeable, but that's another story.
But when I took these foldables into very bright sunlight the Pixel Fold's display started to decrease dramatically after 30 seconds. And this was with adaptive brightness on for both devices. Lots of phones start to dim their screens in order to not overheat in the sun, but as you can see the Galaxy Z Fold 5's panel remains way brighter.
In fact, it almost looks like the Pixel Fold's screen is off. Just to make sure this wasn't a fluke I let both phones rest in the shade and tried again.
This time the Pixel Fold's screen was more legible, but the Galaxy Z Fold 5's panel appeared more luminous once again. This not a big surprise given the rated display specs for these handsets.
According to Google, the Pixel Fold is rated for a peak brightness of 1,450 nits, while the Galaxy Z Fold 5's inner display is 1,750 nits. We'll be performing lab tests to back that claim up, but it looks like these numbers are legit.
Still, I think something else is going on here. The Pixel Fold is aggressively dimming the brightness after hitting its peak. I asked Google about this behavior during my initial review, and here's the response I got:
"To protect the longevity of the screen, the higher brightness range for outdoor visibility is only enabled for a limited time. After which, the user can continue to use the phone with normal brightness, and the higher range will automatically be available again after a short timeout."
The bottom line is that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold both have very good displays, but there's a clear winner in direct sunlight. I'll have more to say once I've completed my Galaxy Z Fold 5 review and we've updated our Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Pixel Fold face-off with an overall winner.