Google Pixel Fold has the smartest way to handle auto-rotate

The Google Pixel Fold may fall short of Samsung’s fourth-generation foldable when it comes to hardware durability and build quality, but to be fair, that sort of thing has never been Google’s strongest suit. Instead, the Pixel Fold’s appeal lies in its approach to software, it includes an assortment of smart features that mostly stay out of the way, but can make a real difference when using the phone. One highlight is how Google implements auto-rotate on the Pixel Fold’s inner and outer screen, which I’d like to highlight today.

Google Pixel Fold handles auto-rotate better than any other foldable device

Out of the box, the Pixel Fold offers what has to be the most thoughtful approach to auto-rotate. By default, the external screen is locked to stay vertical, with the familiar override button appearing at an angle when you rotate the phone sideways.

However, the internal screen does not reflect this behavior by default. Instead, it’s set to always auto-rotate, which makes a lot of sense since it offers perfectly usable interfaces in both landscape and landscape modes. This makes me find myself happily switching between landscape and landscape modes all the time on the open screen, much more so than on other foldables, since it’s so easy to keep my preferences separate. Frankly, I don’t like auto-rotate on phone-sized screens, as it can easily trigger accidentally when I take my phone out of my pocket. This is rarely a problem with the screen open, however, as opening it and holding it right is a much more deliberate action.


If you are not satisfied with this arrangement, you can change this behavior to your liking by long pressing the auto-rotate tile in the quick settings or looking for the option in the system settings. Here, you get two independent switches that let you select your preferred rotational behavior on the inner and outer screen – a great way to personalize your experience no matter how you use (and hold) your foldout.

That’s not the only thing I think Google’s foldable does well from a software standpoint. As bizarre as some apps may seem when you use the phone open in landscape mode with their letterbox effect, it’s still better than forcing yourself to rotate the screen or comically blowing up the interface to make it fill full screen, which is what other manufacturers do. I also like Google’s minimalist approach to multitasking, which is more intuitive for most people to understand: no complicated floating windows or triple-app layouts to worry about.

The competition is missing some of these intricate software tricks

Contrary to Google’s auto-rotate option, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 owners have to jump through much more hoops to achieve this behavior. According to a Redditor who made it, you have to create a Bixby routine that automatically turns on auto-rotate when the screen is open and turns it off when the display is closed.

Other foldables I’ve tested, like the Tecno Phantom V Fold and Honor Magic V, aren’t even half as smart. Both of these phones only let you set auto-rotate to always on or always off, with no built-in scripting available for a more flexible solution.


The Honor Magic Vs has its taskbar hidden inside the rear gesture

In addition to the automatic rotation, Google offers a few more features that I really like compared to the other foldables that I have managed to test extensively so far. Google’s first-party taskbar and the option to seamlessly open split screen with it is intuitive and easier to use than Honor and Tecno’s solution, which is hidden in the rear gesture.

I also like Google’s dual-pane home screen when open more than the elongated single tiles from the outer home screen that Honor and Tecno have opted for (Samsung’s approach with two different layouts is also a great solution, though). I also like that it’s a foldable device that has access to all the usual Google features I know and love from other Pixel phones, which you can check out in our post on the best Pixel features.

Other foldables still offer superior hardware and build quality

None of this is to say that I think the Pixel Fold is the perfect foldable and everyone should have one – there are plenty of reasons to pick the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 or other foldables, especially if you’re in a region where you have more choice. The Pixel Fold regularly gets too hot to offer its full functionality, with even light, unopened web browsing sessions triggering the ‘too hot to flash’ warning in the camera app. I’m also almost satisfied with the battery life, which is significantly worse than the Honor Magic Vs and Tecno Phantom V Fold.


The Honor Magic Vs and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 offer better hardware

JerryRigEverything’s video showing the Pixel Fold snapping too easily also worries me about its long-term durability. Even if you’re not actively looking to break the phones, using the Honor Magic Vs and Pixel Fold side by side, the overall build quality is much better on the former Huawei sub-brand. The screen folds out without any extra help, and the smaller rubberized bezels give it a much more modern look. All of these points make me feel very reluctant to recommend the Pixel Fold right now.

But the Pixel Fold definitely has the potential to become a viable competitor a generation or two down the line, and I can only hope Google keeps up the momentum and trusts its product enough to continue refining the form factor to get it off the ground properly – if not with hardware, I’m sure Google will woo us again with software.

Google Pixel Fold angled in Porcelain color

Source: Google

Google Pixel Fold

The Pixel Fold is Google’s first attempt at being foldable, and it does many things well, especially if you care more about the software than the hardware. There are a few tricks up its sleeve, like a clever way to handle auto-rotate and all the Pixel features you know and love.

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