The Google Pixel Fold is a different kind. foldable phoneand that’s a good thing at a time when Samsung has become synonymous with the category. The Pixel Fold has a large front display, the thinnest design ever, and of course, Pixel-class cameras.
But as you will see in us Pixel Fold reviewit’s not perfect – and it has the same high price of $1,799 Galaxy Z Fold 5. -also Google I/O 2023I had the opportunity to talk to Google Pixel product manager George Hwang about what makes the Pixel Fold stand out, the size of those bezels, and whether Google is working on a product. Pixel Rotation.
Mark Spoonauer: What three things do you have in mind that make the Pixel Fold stand out?
George Hwang: I’ve been thinking a little bit about it and there’s a lot we’re proud of, but if I had to pick three, this is truly the thinnest foldable design pioneered. Then we focus on durability and durability and make sure it’s tough and people can use it every day as if they were using anything else. And the last one is about the cameras, allowing us to bring all that great Pixel camera goodness to it.
So what will be the thickness of the Pixel Fold? It is only 0.2 inches thin. How could you do this?
This is a great question and one that we’ve spent a lot of time on. We had to rethink how we design a phone, how we place a phone, and even all of its components. So everything had to be redesigned from the ground up, such as the touch modules, speakers and especially the camera, to deliver the great user experience you’ve come to expect from us.
The most important thing that made this possible was our 180-degree fluid friction hinge. It really allows us to be so subtle and balance all other aspects.
One thing that really stands out compared to the Galaxy Z Fold is the outer screen and wide aspect ratio. How did you decide this?
First thing, we actually looked at the data. We were trying to see how often people used their phones and what they were really doing on their phones to try to make some decisions. We found that 99 percent of users unlock their phones and use their phones about 200 times a day.
And most of these are actually pretty short interactions. Sending a quick text message, changing the song or sound, and then maybe setting an alarm clock. So having to change the way you do it is really burdensome.
That’s why we’re really focused on delivering a phone-first design that’s very similar to the phone I’m sure you have in your pocket. And the benefits of this are that it actually gives you a big 7.6 inch screen when you turn it on. This is really useful for things like media consumption and multitasking, which are key use cases if you consider how people use tablets.
What can you do with the various Pixel Fold modes like tent and tabletop?
We’ve worked with our friends on Android, as well as the Play Store and developer partners, to truly show what we can optimize. I’ll be watching a YouTube clip about a recipe. And because my hands are dirty, I will only be watching the clip in tent mode while I prepare the meals. Or we also use it for astrophotography because you want to have a hands-free tripod. And so when you go camping you set it to astrophotography mode, you get a really cool starry sky view.
And then on this side (in desktop mode), we’ve optimized a few apps and continue to expand on that as well. YouTube is a great one. Peloton is another great one where the content is on the top followed by additional information like stats, reviews and playlists at the bottom.
Or what I like to do is, if I’m on a Google Meet call and I’m going to focus my attention on the Warriors game, I’ll use a split screen to write the box score at the bottom.
That’s why I talked about the thinness of this device and the many things that revolve around the hinge. Usually most hinges are made so that the hinge mechanisms are actually behind the screen. And this increases the thickness of the device, right? Because if you only think of a stack, you have to add something on top of that stack.
And what we did to really achieve thinness was actually taking these hinge mechanisms all the way into the corner. It drove what you call frameworks, but it actually gave us two benefits. It allowed us to improve the hinge’s durability and place the selfie camera in the bezels so you have a great widescreen display.
Google says the Pixel Fold has the most durable hinge in a phone. How do you come to such a claim?
Lots of tests. Many devices are dropped. He worked closely with the engineering and reliability teams to be pretty meticulous about it. But it’s actually something you need to start over.
You can’t be like that, oh, and we’ll test it later, right? We really put a lot of thought into this and got people to trust the device when they buy it. And we incorporated that into our design from the very beginning. And then we clearly verified this through rigorous testing.
How did you take AI to the next level with the Pixel Fold?
One feature that is truly exclusive to the Pixel Fold will be its dual-screen interpreter mode. And if you are in another country then we can have a much more fluent conversation because with this type of device you can be quite creative. You know, there’s screens on both sides of the screen, there’s cameras everywhere, and you have that really interesting hinge, that’s holding up. It unleashes the capabilities that strengthen our AI capabilities and allows you to think through new use cases and new experiences for our users.
What about the $1,799 price? Google is known for beating the competition. Have you considered going lower?
We really wanted to make sure we were bringing the best of Google and the best we could carry forward. And so we’ve balanced out a lot of the hinge stuff, everything from the design to the camera. And I think our focus has been to ensure we bring the best overall device anywhere. And we feel like we’ve done a really great job with that, assuring that we can deliver on the promise we truly want and offer our users the greatest experience for a foldable phone.
What do you think about flip-style foldable phones? Is it a category you are searching for?
We’re always looking at different types of devices, different types of technology, and it’s really interesting. We’re definitely looking. What matters to us is that we want to focus specifically on this form factor. [Pixel Fold] because everything we can bring to it and ensure that we can fix some key user issues from design to apps to camera. So we’re pretty confident in what we do with it, but we’re always exploring other types of devices and other types of technologies.
This is our interview with George Hwang of the Pixel team. Be sure to check out our full Google Pixel Fold review and our Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Pixel Fold comparison.
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