Big-screen foldables, like the Google Pixel Fold, offer a tablet-sized screen when you need it and a normal-sized screen when you don’t. This large main screen is great for actions like playing games, watching content, and even doing general productivity work. But another use case for the larger main screens that come on the best foldable phones is note-taking. It can be hard to quickly jot down notes with a pen on traditional smartphones, even those with an inbuilt stylus like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
However, unlike some flagships, it’s near impossible to fit an inbuilt stylus inside a foldable since so much space is already taken up by the hinge, two displays, and batteries, which are usually split between the two sides of the phone. However, that hasn’t stopped smartphone manufacturers from adding optional stylus support. The Google Pixel Fold is the first foldable smartphone from Google, and we’ve found that it’s one of the best phones in 2023, but does it come with a pen or offer stylus support?
Pen and stylus support on the Google Pixel Fold
Unfortunately, when Google unveiled the Pixel Fold at Google I/O 2023, it didn’t mention a pen or stylus working with the foldable. Sure enough, the Pixel Fold’s specifications cement that there is no pen or stylus support. This is a disappointment, as the bigger screen on the Google Pixel Fold would work great with a stylus. It’s possible that Google can add pen or stylus support in a future generation, but for now, there’s nothing of the sort available. As such, if you need stylus support on your foldable smartphone, you will probably need to look elsewhere.
Do other foldable smartphones have pen or stylus support?
The only competing big-screen foldable in North American markets is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, which does have support for an S Pen. However, it’s not the same S Pen that you’d find on a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Instead, it’s an S Pen Fold Edition, which is designed specifically not to damage the Z Fold 5’s delicate main screen. It’s also important to note that the S Pen Fold Edition is not included with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, so you’ll have to pay an extra $55 for this functionality.
There’s also no way to store the S Pen Fold Edition within the Galaxy Z Fold 5 either, which limits its usefulness. You either have to remember to carry the S Pen separately or use a Z Fold 5 case that holds it. The case makes the already-thick Galaxy Z Fold 5 even thicker, which can be a pain to use. However, Samsung redesigned the S Pen Fold Edition for the Z Fold 5, and it’s thinner than the one you’d find on the Z Fold 4. Although the Galaxy Z Fold 5 does have support for a pen, it’s hardly a perfect solution.
Why doesn’t the Google Pixel Fold have a pen?
Samsung’s first two Galaxy Z Fold smartphones didn’t have S Pen support, and the company had to completely redesign the Galaxy Z Fold 3 to add that functionality. Looking at the Galaxy Z Fold as an example, Google would have to add an extra display layer to recognize pen input. This would likely both increase the cost of the device and make it thicker, which clashes with Google’s effort to make the Google Pixel Fold the thinnest foldable ever.
Plus, foldable smartphones’ inner displays are usually more fragile than true glass. So, if Google didn’t get pen support just right on the Pixel Fold, it could mean damaged displays and potential recalls. Again, we can look at the debut of the Galaxy Z Fold as evidence of how much can go wrong when a foldable isn’t designed to near perfection. There’s also the issue of whether the Pixel Fold can fold flat. Some claim the Pixel Fold can only unfold to 179 degrees, which would hinder the use of a stylus. However, our reviewer found that the Pixel Fold does indeed unfold flat and can stay open at almost any angle between 0 and 180 degrees.
Google Pixel Fold release date and availability
The Google Pixel Fold started to deliver to buyers who preordered the device starting June 27, and the company has finally caught up on the demand for this folding phone. If you order a Pixel Fold directly from Google now, it should deliver in about a week. The smartphone is also available from third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, albeit with longer waiting periods and stock issues. You can skip the line by visiting Google’s flagship store in New York City, where you can pick up limited quantities of the Pixel Fold the same day you order. Plus, the Pixel Fold is also available through the major cellular carriers. Unfortunately, it won’t come with a pen or stylus.
The Google Pixel Fold is a feature-rich device with a compact form factor, flagship hardware, impressive cameras, and a phenomenal software experience.