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If the Pixel Fold could copy one thing from the Galaxy Fold, let it be this one

Google's Pixel Fold is a pretty compelling foldable, but Samsung does a better job when it comes to display customization.
By
July 23, 2023

The Pixel Fold is one of the better foldable phones out there, distilling Google’s smartphone strengths into a refreshingly different design. It isn’t without issues, though, much like any other smartphone. But there’s one significant software omission that’s gone under the radar, and we really hope the Pixel maker addresses it soon. After all, Samsung already offers this on its Z Fold line-up, so why wouldn’t Google?

Where’s the per-screen customization?

Google Pixel Fold opened up in garden
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
Pixel Fold
Google’s debut foldable doesn’t actually let you visually customize each screen — i.e. the outer and inner displays — independently of the other. Changes made to one home screen are reflected on the other display’s home screen.

More specifically, the larger inside display’s home screen is literally your first and second outer main home screens placed side by side. Check out the images in the gallery below for a better idea of what we mean.

Google isn’t the only offender here, as the vivo X Fold series does this as well. But it’s arguably more egregious when the Pixel maker is doing this as it’s supposed to be setting an example as a platform holder. In saying so, Google at least extends the search bar to occupy more of the folding display and adds two app icon shortcuts. But that’s about the only positive takeaway here.

Why is this an issue?

This one-size-fits-all approach is problematic because your use cases might — and should, if you’ve invested in a $1500+ foldable — greatly differ for each screen. After all, you’re looking at two drastically different display sizes here.

You might want your media apps and giant widgets front-and-center on the inner folding display to make use of the increased screen real estate. On the other hand, you’ll probably prefer to have quick access to texting apps, mobile payment solutions, grocery and to-do list apps, and smaller widgets on the smartphone display.

Aside from different screen sizes driving different use cases, the ability to tweak each screen independently would also be handy purely for customization’s sake. And more customization options are always a good thing, helping make a device uniquely yours.

It’s not like I’m asking for the impossible: Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold series already offers home screen customization for each display, as you can see in the gallery above. In fact, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 lets you choose between independent screen customization or having the displays mirror each other. Check out the setting below.

samsung galaxy z fold 4 settings
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Samsung even offers tips on its website for customizing each screen. It advises users to think about “on-the-go” tasks, apps with loads of scrolling, and the Edge Panel when customizing the outside smartphone display. Then it suggests that you keep productivity, video, and the taskbar in mind when setting up the inner folding home screen.

Do you want per-display customization on foldables?

145 votes

That’s not to say Samsung has perfectly nailed Fold-style software, however. We’d still like to see it adopt per-display controls for brightness, refresh rate, auto-rotate, and more. But it’s tough to argue that the company isn’t closer to that goal than Google at this point.

Plenty of room for Pixel Fold improvement

It’s clear then that the Pixel Fold is a good first attempt at a foldable phone by Google, finally bringing those exclusive Pixel features to the foldable form factor. But it’s also readily apparent that this software has room for improvement on foldables and that the company needs to learn from market pioneer Samsung when it comes to display customization.

So we hope Google brings per-display customization to the Pixel Fold soon, and folds (heh) it into AOSP as well, so all Android makers have access to this handy capability.