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I didn’t expect the Pixel Fold to fold the other way

Published Jul 6th, 2023 8:44AM EDT
Google Pixel Fold smartphone unfolded.
Image: Jonathan S. Geller, BGR

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Samsung can’t wait to unveil the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Flip 5, worried that Google’s Pixel Fold might steal potential buyers willing to spend $1,799 on a foldable smartphone. That’s why we’re getting a Galaxy Z launch event in late July rather than August. But with each day that goes by, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Pixel Fold might not be the best foldable to buy this year. And it’s all because of its durability.

During the review period, I learned that the Pixel Fold display can break easily. Actual buyers started experiencing screen issues hours into their Pixel Fold experiences.

Now, just a week later, a YouTuber well known for his smartphone stress tests managed to break the Pixel Fold by folding it the other way. I did not see this coming.

Durability is one of Google’s main selling points when marketing the Pixel Fold. This might be a first-gen handset for Google, but it supposedly features the most durable hinge in the industry, a hinge that lets you fold the handset completely without a gap. That’s something Samsung never dared offer buyers, and the Fold 5 will be the first Galaxy Z model to close perfectly.

YouTuber JerryRigEverything found that the hinge is indeed durable in his usual smartphone stress test for the Pixel Fold. It’s the rest of the metal chassis that can’t handle the pressure.

That is, you can continue folding the phone the other way with ease, beyond the 180-degree you’d get to when unfolding it to tablet mode. On that note, the Pixel Fold doesn’t quite unfold to 180 degrees naturally, as seen in the clip.

That’s not the biggest problem here. It’s the unexpected bending that you’ll want to avoid. You can practically fold the handset the other way, with the now-broken foldable display sitting on the outside.

Google's Pixel Fold can fold the other way around, and the bend will destroy the foldable display.
Google’s Pixel Fold can fold the other way around, and the bend will destroy the foldable display. Image source: JerryRigEverything

That’s something that never happened with Samsung’s foldable phones in JerryRigEverything’s similar tests. And the YouTube channel employs the same tests for each new smartphone, whether it’s foldable or not. As for Samsung, the company had its own share of durability issues with the first-gen Galaxy Fold.

I’m not saying that Pixel Fold users will have to worry about how they fold and unfold their handsets more than they are. I’m fairly certain that most people who buy foldable phones pay attention to the way they handle these fragile devices. Also, the YouTuber’s stress tests are extreme, and they’re meant to push these phones to their limits.

Still, accidents can happen in the real world. The point of this Pixel Fold exercise is to show the most extreme sort of beating the handset can take and still work. And it looks like the Pixel Fold can do something no foldable should: bend the other way. This will destroy the screen.

It’s not just bad news, however. The clip also tells us the external display can handle scratches like the back panel. And that the metal frame and case module might scratch, but they’re made of metal.

That said, the tests also show the internal screen scratches easily, as there’s a plastic layer covering the ultra thing glass. That much we know from the review accident I mentioned before. But the clip tells us that the Pixel Fold will turn off if the foldable screen is exposed to heat.

With all that in mind, I’m even less interested in owning a Pixel Fold than I was a few weeks ago. And Google’s design team should certainly pay attention to this Pixel Fold test video for the second-gen device.

While we wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s durability test, you can watch JerryRigEverything bend the Pixel Fold in the video below:

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.