Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review My top 3 features and 2 wishes

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review My top 3 features and 2 wishes

The Galaxy Z Flip 5: Revitalizing the Foldable Phone Experience

Introduction

Part of the fun and excitement when reviewing a foldable phone are the first impressions from family members, friends, and others around me. Those raw, perplexed reactions are something I’ve missed with today’s consumer technology. And lately, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 can take credit for revitalizing those intimate moments.

The new Z Flip 5 doesn’t push the needle, as they say, but, unless Samsung unveils some form of XR headset later this year, it is without question the company’s most ambitious product of 2023.

Specifications

Specifications
Display External: 3.4-inch AMOLED at 60Hz, Internal: 6.7-inch AMOLED at 120Hz
Weight 187g
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
RAM/Storage 8GB with 256GB/512GB
Battery 3,700mAh with 25W charging
Camera 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP front
Durability IPX8 water resistance
Price Starting at $999

What’s new with this model

On paper, the new Z Flip 5 appears to be an iterative upgrade over last year’s Z Flip 4, but trust me when I say that the three most notable changes with the updated model make a big difference in how you use and experience the foldable.

1. It’s all about that Flex Window

The biggest question going into the Unpacked event this summer was how Samsung would respond to Motorola’s new Razr Plus and the wave of new entrants in the foldable phone space. I reviewed the Moto back in June and rightfully named it “the best flipping foldable right now.” At the time, there was no other device that had both a large, fully functional outer display and a compact, ultraportable form factor.

With the Z Flip 5, Samsung has swapped out last year’s insufficient 1.9-inch screen with a brighter, better-looking 3.4-inch square. On the new panel, you’re able to watch YouTube videos, get a much clearer sense of how subjects are framed when taking flex mode selfies, and can finally see and respond to notifications without squinting your eyes or opening up the phone to type.

I was able to do all of that on the Motorola Razr Plus, too, but the flatter, clean-cut framing of the Z Flip 5 makes using it feel more like a premium pocket companion versus a collapsable toy.

One of my gripes with the Z Flip’s outer display is the feeling of restraint as you tap different weather elements and calendar dates and realize that they don’t expand to anything more – nor do they prompt you to flip open the phone for a detailed view. Likewise, the number of “optimized apps” for the Flex Window can be counted with just my fingers.

2. A gapless hinge, for better or worse

This year’s Z Flip 5 also features a gapless hinge design, meaning the top and bottom sides of the inner display fold completely shut, leaving little to no space in between. Besides a more refined aesthetic, having no gap at the center means dust and debris are less likely to breach into the fragile inner display and cause any physical damage.

Samsung tells me that while the Z Flip 5 still has an IPX8 rating – and no official dust resistance certification like on the Razr Plus – it’s notably more durable and should survive trips to the beach and other dusty environments better than before.

Here’s my only call-out with the new gapless hinge design: it’s not the most finger-friendly if you’re flipping the phone open with one hand. With minimal space separating the two halves of the inner display, there’s now less area for you to tuck your finger in and flick the thing open.

3. Ultra-level performance

A Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset, which debuted with Samsung’s high-end Galaxy S23 Ultra, powers the Z Flip 5. That means the usual onslaught of apps and games run blazingly fast on the phone, and multitasking – whether you’re the split screen type or Picture-in-Picture (PiP) type – is a burdenless experience.

Due to the nature of dual-screen flip phones, I’ve found myself using the camera app and flex mode media player a lot more than usual. From my week’s time with the Z Flip 5, I’ve yet to see any major hiccups or app crashes, even when I spent one afternoon switching between emailing and Slack while keeping my security camera feed open in PiP.

Unfortunately, while I expected the more efficient chipset to bring better battery life to the Z Flip 5, I saw numbers that were relatively similar to the Z Flip 4. The phone is able to get me through a workday with around 15% power left, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing it on trips and other times that call for more photo and video loads.

What I’d like to see in the next model

While I plan on testing the Z Flip 5 for longer and will hold off on giving it a review score until then, it’s clear to me (and, hopefully, to you) that the phone is not perfect. Here are the areas that I’d like to see improvements in, especially if Samsung wants to stay at the top of the foldable phone power rankings.

1. Better cameras, for the love of foldables

For a device that’s pitched toward content creators and fashion-forward consumers, the Z Flip 5’s dual camera system, which fields the same 12MP sensors as last year’s model, is not the most exciting. I’m not saying the cameras are bad – they’re more than capable of capturing vibrant, color-popping eye candy of photos and videos that require little to no post-editing – I just wish Samsung had brought over at least the telephoto sensor of the Galaxy S23 series.

2. An adaptive Flex Window

I touched on the main flaw with the new Flex Window earlier, but if there’s anything else that I’d like to see done differently (or, additionally), it would be smarter, adaptive widget screens. Adapting a similar behavior to the Z Flip 5’s Flex Window would make it more convenient and purposeful to use. It would give the outer display more significance as opposed to just being a smaller version of the interface underneath it.

ENBLE’s buying advice

Unlike the Z Fold 5, the Z Flip is geared toward a more mainstream audience, including parents who want a self-mounting handset for the easiest family photos and videos, gymgoers who value pocket space, and Gen Zers who want a device that they can literally close their digital lives shut.

By adding a larger external display, buffing the processing power, and creating a more durable design, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 fixes most of its last-gen woes and remains the best flip-style phone you can buy today. It’s also worth noting that Samsung has doubled the base storage of the Z Flip this year, upping it from 128GB to 256GB.

I’d also factor in Samsung’s rich infrastructure of after-sales support, including a software update policy that spans up to five years and a customer support system that includes more than 900 stores nationwide plus at-home consultations. And if you’re an existing Samsung Galaxy phone user, consider the aggressive trade-in offers available on Samsung.com and carriers. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to snag a Z Flip 5 for at least a third of the price.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

$999 at Samsung

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