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Galaxy Z Fold 5 Review – Samsung’s Five Year Mark Sees Steady Progress

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold journey began in 2019 with the debut of the original Fold, marking its entry into the world of flexible displays, leaving aside the early attempts like the Royole Flexpai. Despite the original Fold’s evident imperfections, the potential of the technology was undeniable. In subsequent models, Samsung addressed many of its shortcomings by incorporating features like IPX8 water resistance, enhanced durability, and stylus compatibility. Yet, as we transition to the Galaxy Z Fold 5, the leaps of innovation seem to be replaced with incremental enhancements. While appreciating upgrades such as the brighter main display, their significance in daily usage seems minimal. The much-touted change for 2023, the new Flex hinge, although impressive, doesn’t drastically alter the user experience but mainly slims down the profile. With a hefty $1,800 price tag, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the Z Fold series, and perhaps the foldable niche in general, might be plateauing in its innovation trajectory.

Design and Display Breakdown: Unfolding the Galaxy Z Fold 5

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 retains the familiar design of its forerunners, featuring a slender, elongated exterior Cover Screen that unfolds to expose a generous main display. This iteration comes with an integrated fingerprint sensor in its power button. The standout modification this time is the introduction of Samsung’s Flex hinge. This redesigned hinge adopts a dual-rail system, resulting in a more compact structure that seamlessly bridges the divide when the device is folded shut.


  • New Flex Hinge
  • No more gap
  • Improved performance
  • Additional multitasking gestures
  • Great battery life
  • Brighter main screen


  • Very expensive
  • S Pen comes separately
  • Unchanged cameras
  • Still rather bulky

Z Fold enthusiasts have been clamoring for this improvement since the series inception. By shaving off the phone’s thickness to a mere 13.4mm and eradicating that notorious gap, Samsung has not only given the device a sleeker profile but also minimized the risk of unwanted debris compromising the integrity of its plush flexible screen.

Yet the innovations don’t stop there. According to Samsung, the novel Flex hinge introduces a unique waterdrop-shaped crease. This design tweak not only diminishes stress on the display, thereby potentially extending its lifespan, but also aids in keeping the pre-installed screen protector firmly anchored — a recurring grievance with earlier models.

The revamped hinge enhances the overall user experience, making the phone more ergonomically pleasing to grip when closed and facilitating a smoother unfolding motion. Admittedly, one might ponder why it took five iterations to achieve this refinement.

On the display front, Samsung has upped the ante, ramping up the brightness of the primary screen to a dazzling 1,750 nits. This luminosity matches the S23 Ultra and outshines the Pixel Fold’s 1,450 nits. Thus, even though Google’s foldable boasts a commendable screen, the Z Fold 5 undoubtedly takes the crown. Its dimensions and layout make it an ideal companion for avid readers of ebooks or comics. Additionally, for gaming aficionados, this flagship foldable is arguably the premium choice for games like Marvel Snap.

The device continues to support stylus usage, whether for doodling or jotting down notes. The freshly minted S Pen accompanying the Z Fold 5 is notably svelter, boasting a 40% reduction in girth. However, due to the phone’s design constraints, there’s no internal storage space for the stylus. For those keen on always having the pen at hand, Samsung’s newly launched Slim S Pen cases are a worthy consideration.

Performance and multitasking on the Z Fold 5

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The previous version of the Z Fold was by no means a slouch, yet with the incorporation of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset, the Z Fold 5 has ascended to an even higher echelon of performance. Benchmark results offer a revealing glimpse: in Geekbench 6, its multicore scores towered over the Pixel Fold, registering at 5,362 compared to 3,226. With the Z Fold 5, everything feels snappy; games, in particular, render with fluid graphics and seamless animations. For those who crave relentless speed in every operation, the Z Fold 5 emerges as a more compelling choice than the Pixel Fold, which devotes a greater chunk of its Tensor G2 chip’s capabilities towards AI-centered functions.

Samsung has further streamlined mobile multitasking with three salient tweaks. A novel gesture facilitates effortless transitioning to the side-by-side app mode: simply slide in from the screen’s edge using two fingers, and you’ll instantly be in dual-pane view. If you wish to condense a full-screen app into a windowed version, a diagonal swipe starting from either of the top corners does the trick. These gestures, intuitive and time-saving, are not activated by default. To harness their efficiency, users need to enable them via the Advanced Features section in the settings menu.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The Z Fold 5 has further refined its multitasking prowess by augmenting its taskbar to display up to four recent applications, a notable increase from the previous two. This subtle yet effective enhancement capitalizes on the expansive breadth of the Z Fold 5’s primary display, optimizing screen real estate. However, one can’t help but wish that such software advancements, like the expanded taskbar and the newly added gestures, could have been introduced without necessitating the purchase of an entirely new gadget. When juxtaposed with the Pixel Fold, which adopts a more minimalist stance towards multitasking, Samsung’s PC-esque taskbar unequivocally takes the crown for those aiming to replicate a computer-like experience on their phone. Not to be overlooked, Samsung’s signature Dex mode, which provides a desktop-like interface, continues to be an integral feature.

Z Fold 5 Camera Capabilities Explored

In terms of pure camera specs, the Z Fold 5 doesn’t bring anything revolutionary to the table, echoing its predecessor’s capabilities. While the device is competent at capturing quality shots across various scenarios, there’s a looming sense of disparity when one juxtaposes it with the S23 Ultra. The latter, although more affordable by a significant $600, boasts an impressive 200MP main camera and a 10x optical zoom lens, dwarfing the Z Fold 5’s camera offerings. This disparity certainly makes one question the pricing strategy and the value proposition of Samsung’s flagship foldable, especially when camera performance is a primary consideration for many users.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The Z Fold 5, while showcasing Samsung’s signature vibrant and saturated color profile, struggles to match the nuanced image processing offered by the Pixel Fold. The Pixel Fold’s superior zoom capabilities, combined with more refined image processing, endow it with an edge in varied photographic scenarios.

Bright daylight shots from the Z Fold 5, though lively, can sometimes compromise on fine details, occasionally resulting in overexposed areas and a slight deviation from true colors. Transitioning to low-light conditions, the Z Fold 5’s Night Mode commendably elevates exposure levels without introducing too many artifacts. However, pitted against Google’s Night Sight, the Pixel Fold shines brighter—quite literally. The Pixel Fold manages to pull off clearer, sharper images in dim conditions, as illustrated by a nighttime floral shot. Here, the Z Fold 5 emphasized color saturation, but at the expense of the delicate textures present on flower petals. This direct comparison underscores the importance of a well-balanced image processing system, as raw hardware capabilities alone may not clinch the best photographic outcome.

Z Fold 5 Battery Longevity: How It Holds Up

In daily use, the Z Fold 5 easily made it through a full day and often had around 20% left in the tank by bedtime, even with heavy use involving lots of multitasking, video streaming, and photography. This can be credited to the optimizations Samsung has made both in terms of software and hardware efficiency. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip, in particular, plays a big role in this by being more power-efficient than its predecessors.

When it comes to recharging, Samsung’s fast charging tech ensures that the Z Fold 5 tops up quickly. While it doesn’t quite match the breakneck speeds of some competitors, it’s still more than adequate for getting a significant charge during short breaks or a near-full recharge over dinner.

Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging (for charging accessories like earbuds from the phone’s battery) are also available, though as with all phones, using these features will result in slightly slower charge times compared to wired charging.

Overall, for those concerned about the Z Fold 5’s battery longevity, especially given its two screens and large unfolded display, the results here should be reassuring. It’s clear that Samsung has worked hard to ensure that this flagship foldable doesn’t just impress with its form factor and features, but also its day-to-day practicality.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The Z Fold 5’s charging capabilities, while dependable, haven’t seen any major improvement in this generation. Its 25-watt wired charging, while sufficient for daily use, might leave power users yearning for a quicker top-up, especially when you consider that faster charging solutions are increasingly becoming a standard in the premium segment.

Wireless charging at 15 watts is decent, but again, there are other models in the market that offer faster rates. The 5-watt reverse wireless charging or power sharing is a handy feature for charging accessories or even helping out a friend in need, but it’s not particularly speedy.

The comparison with the S23 Ultra makes the Z Fold 5’s charging capabilities seem even more modest. Given that the S23 Ultra supports up to 45 watts of wired charging, it’s puzzling why Samsung didn’t extend this faster charging capability to the Z Fold 5, especially since the latter sits at a higher price point. While charging speed might not be a deal-breaker for everyone, it’s a noteworthy discrepancy in Samsung’s lineup that potential buyers should be aware of.

In conclusion, while the Z Fold 5 brings a plethora of impressive features to the table, when it comes to charging capabilities, it seems like Samsung has played it safe, maintaining the status quo rather than pushing for the cutting edge.

Should You Invest in the Z Fold 5?

The evolution of the Z Fold series from Samsung has been a testament to the company’s commitment to innovation and refinement. The Z Fold 5, while undeniably a pinnacle in foldable tech, treads familiar grounds. However, its advancements—be it in speed, design, display quality, or battery life—should not be dismissed. The real question here is not about the device’s technical prowess, but rather the diminishing returns of successive upgrades. If you already own the previous generation, the jump might feel more like a step. But for newcomers or those upgrading from older models, the Z Fold 5 undoubtedly offers a compelling package. With any maturing product line, the leaps between iterations tend to shrink. Still, Samsung continues to push the envelope, ensuring that the Z Fold remains at the forefront of foldable tech.

Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The Z Fold 5 is undeniably a refined version of Samsung’s foldable vision. While the new Flex Hinge is a notable and much-anticipated addition, it’s fair to question if the device has truly evolved in ways that justify its premium price tag for the wider audience. Incremental improvements, no matter how welcome, might not be enough to convince the average consumer to take the leap, especially when the initial allure of foldables has somewhat settled. For foldable enthusiasts or those with specific use cases, the Z Fold 5 might be enticing. However, for the general public, the phone’s evolution feels evolutionary rather than revolutionary. As the foldable market matures, it will be essential for Samsung to find ways to further innovate or adjust pricing to truly make their devices more accessible and compelling to a broader audience.

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