The Future of Foldable Phones: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Review

Product Review


  • Thinner and lighter than ever
  • Silent, high-quality hinge
  • Strong multitasking tools
  • Fun, social media-friendly camera
  • Inner screen is perfect for games and video
  • IPX8 and durable chassis

Note: Battery life hasn't dramatically improved.


  • Battery life hasn't dramatically improved
  • Slow charging

With the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, where do I begin? It is nearly identical to its predecessor at first look, till you compare them side by side. This is somewhat advantageous because, since its introduction, the Z Fold from last year has been the greatest big-screen folding device available. However, there is also a chance that it could cause some consumers to doubt its true novelty, which might be problematic for Samsung given the increased competition the Galaxy Z Fold 5 faces this year.

However, as I've learned, the Z Fold 5 is also incredible and the closest thing we have to a widely available, large folding smartphone that will be functional for the majority of people every day, all day. As an enthusiastic customer, where does this leave you? I'm going to attempt to make a very difficult decision a little bit easier.

About our evaluation of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Andy Boxall wrote this review on August 7, 2023, following a week-long stay in the UK using the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. After more use and testing, an update will be made in the upcoming weeks and months. On August 13, the review was revised to reflect the Galaxy Z Fold 5's immediate availability for purchasing.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: design

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends
With some clever engineering, the Galaxy Z Fold 5's thickness and weight have been significantly reduced. It now weighs 253 grams, measures 13.4 mm when closed, and features a unique Flex Hinge mechanism that closes the phone without leaving a gap. The Z Fold 5 proves to be more ergonomic, easier and more pleasant to carry, and less bulky than its predecessor, which makes a surprising lot of difference.

The Z Fold 5 differs significantly from the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in that it is 2.4 mm thinner, 10 grams lighter, and even 0.2 mm thinner when unfurled. Though seemingly little, these adjustments have a significant impact on the phone. Unlike the Z Fold 4, I haven't experienced any frightening or costly occasions when I had to juggle the phone because it was too heavy or unstable in my pocket after carrying the Z Fold 5 for more than a week.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends
The innovative Flex Hinge is flawlessly dampened and completely quiet. It provides the phone as a whole an amazing, upscale, and opulent vibe. It has also acclimated itself more quickly than the Z Fold 4 and can keep itself open at different angles, which is fantastic for viewing videos. The initial stiffness vanished after a day of usage, leaving behind an incredibly well-engineered action that inspires confidence. Debris is less likely to get in between the parts now that there isn't a space between them. It completely outperforms every other foldable smartphone hinge available today.

The Z Fold 4's 6.2-inch outer screen, measuring 2316 x 904, and its 7.6-inch inner screen, measuring 2176 x 1812, have the same dimensions and resolution. They also have the same variable refresh rate. The Z Fold 5 boasts an IPX8 water resistant certification in addition to its chassis, which is constructed from Samsung's Armor Aluminum alloy. Higher peak brightness levels and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 glass are two minor improvements. When seen in bright sunshine, this is actually evident, with crisper lettering and improved white balance. The screen also automatically adjusts when it detects challenging lighting.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends
Absolutely, the general design of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is essentially the same as that of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Galaxy Z Fold 3, and even the Galaxy Z Fold 2. However, with the chassis now lighter and smaller, the tall, thin cover screen makes a lot of sense. It's also significantly more useful when closed than broader folding smartphones that claim "normal" phone ergonomics. Samsung has the option to alter the design, but it is not required to. Unless the Huawei Mate Xs 2's outward folding design is chosen, a big-screen foldable phone will always have this fundamental form.

I can understand if a drastic overhaul is what you're desiring. But after living with the phone for a while, I realize that the evolutionary changes are considerably more significant than I had anticipated. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 has undergone significant improvements that will appeal to those who were put off by the size and heft of earlier models, taking it one step closer to becoming widely accepted. When you combine this with the really superb engineering and build quality, the hardware completely justifies its exorbitant asking price.

Reading, playing games, and watching videos on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I read books and watch a lot of videos, but I don't play a lot of games. I want to go into more detail about why I adore using the Z Fold 5, even though I've already covered how its lighter weight and thinner chassis alter how you handle and use the phone. With its large power and sturdy hinge, the open screen makes for an amazing device for reading, gaming, and watching films.

The phone features a flat display that can lie on a desk and is still fully functional because Samsung positioned the volume controls on the same edge as the camera module. The screen can be viewed at various angles thanks to the hinge, making it ideal for casual watching. Because the Galaxy Z Fold 5 can stand on its own and I can roam about the room and still pay attention, I've used it to catch up on lengthy YouTube videos that I've not had time to watch. Not only has it worked amazingly well in landscape position, but I have also used it in portrait orientation.

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Flex Mode controls
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Reading books on the Kindle app

When the Z Fold 5 is halfway folded and placed on a level surface, Samsung's Flex Mode displays media controls on the lower portion of the screen. Unlike watching videos on any other phone, watching videos on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is enjoyable. The same is true—pun intended—when it comes to reading books. The bigger screen may be used comfortably in darker settings because it is dim enough to read outside. When the backdrop is cream or white, the crease almost completely vanishes, even if it is still visible in a dark image. Reading on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is much more natural and pleasant than reading on a non-folding phone; it feels more like reading on an Amazon Kindle or a tiny tablet.

Even though I don't play games as much anymore, the excitement of playing on the enormous screen of the Z Fold 5 cannot be overstated. It's been incredible to see Pocket City so huge and detailed; I'm used to playing it on regular phone screens. It significantly increased the game's immersion, enjoyment, and length of play. Watching the beautiful videos on the primary screen is made easier by the design's adaptability. Nothing compares to reading books on a Kindle, and the Z Fold 5's gaming capabilities should also not be undervalued. The finest option available is the Galaxy Z Fold 5, a big-screen foldable designed for media consumption.

Camera on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The camera is one area where the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Samsung's other flagship phone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, diverge. It isn't quite up to par, and the S23 Ultra is the better option if you want the ultimate Samsung photography experience. Do you feel let down by the Galaxy Z Fold 5 if it's not quite as important? It boasts a 50-megapixel primary camera, a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera, and a 10-megapixel telephoto lens for a 3x optical zoom, same like the Z Fold 4. To enhance quality, the Z Fold 5 makes use of new lenses, an upgraded image signal processor integrated into the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU, and other software adjustments.

If you realize that the Z Fold 5's camera isn't aiming for extreme realism in every picture and that it does have certain limitations, you won't be disappointed by it. On the other hand, the camera on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 has seen some upgrades. The images from the Z Fold 5 are vivid and vibrant. You will see the recognizable, highly saturated tone from previous Samsung phones, such as the Galaxy A54, when the sun is shining.

But if you examine images that weren't shot in these kinds of settings in greater detail, you'll see that the Z Fold 5 also has a natural and realistic tone, superb white balance, more precisely managed exposure, and less noise. Thankfully, the wide-angle camera is included with this. The 3x optical zoom on the new Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a major improvement over the previous generation, providing greater detail, better color balance, and more precise exposure.

However, there are a few issues. Whether in 1x or 3x mode, the camera seems to detest focusing up close; in this regard, it performs significantly worse than the Z Fold 4. Due to the camera's tendency to become confused about where to focus, focussing may also be a factor in certain problems while shooting in low light. I'm using the Z Fold 5 before it's official release, so software upgrades could resolve this issue in the future. Although it doesn't damage the camera, it might limit some artistic possibilities. Part of this is compensated for by the editing suite, which offers a wide range of powerful tools and filters in addition to an Object Eraser tool that matches Google's Magic Eraser.

There are several ways to take selfies. The 4MP Under Display Camera (UDC) on the inner screen, the 10MP selfie camera on the cover screen, or the primary cameras with the cover screen serving as a viewfinder can all be used. The 10MP camera captures enough information, and the portrait effect is correct and skin tones appear natural. Although the UDC's images are a touch soft, they are nevertheless good enough for video conversations, with quality comparable to that of a typical laptop camera.

The camera on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is decent, but it has a flaw. Although it's a very costly smartphone, the camera isn't as good as some of Samsung's other models. Not just the Galaxy S23 Ultra (since that much should be clear), but in certain cases also the regular Galaxy S23. The Z Fold 5 won't likely please a true photography enthusiast, but it will more than enough if all you're looking for is eye-catching, vibrant photographs to post online and share with friends. Although the camera is an improvement over the Galaxy Z Fold 4, the Z Fold 5 isn't worth purchasing for that reason alone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: functionality and software

Three apps and one floating window running at the same time on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. 

The July 1 security update and Android 13 with Samsung's One UI 5.1.1 are installed on the Galaxy Z Fold 5. The software hasn't been altered much by Samsung, so it feels and looks a lot like the Galaxy S23 series and the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The most noticeable modification is that its Taskbar now displays up to four recent apps rather than just two. The Z Fold 5's multitasking feature, which allows programs to be moved onto the main screen, is most helpful when the Taskbar is enabled.

Three applications and a floating window can be used simultaneously on the phone. You can easily switch an open full-screen program to a floating window, and I appreciate Samsung's seamless pinch-to-zoom movements across the system, which are complemented by slick animations. The ability to drag & drop photographs from the Gallery into a new Samsung Notes file is a useful addition, but it's only useful if you use Samsung Notes and frequently attach images.

examining a webpage on the open screen of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.Chrome open on the screen Andy Boxall / Trends in Digital

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Once you get Samsung's One UI configured the way you want it to, it's seamless, intuitive, and never a burden. However, it does take some time to get going. What actions are necessary? The three Android buttons that Samsung uses as the default for navigation are outdated, and gestures should be used instead. I always change these extra settings right away because the always-on screen is turned off by default, I use Chrome instead of Samsung Internet, and the ringtone and notifications are set to Samsung's horrible Over the Horizon theme. I also don't understand why Samsung still has the Taskbar and a fast view Edge Panel on the side of the screen.They serve the same purpose and are only an additional feature in the Settings app that may be disabled.

Compared to the Google Pixel series and even Motorola's Android version on the Razr Plus, Samsung's version of Android has more customizations. There are a lot of preloaded apps, but they're not overly bothersome. However, the program never forces you to utilize or experiment with them. Once One UI is configured to your preferences, the program is logical, dependable, and minimal maintenance. When the outcome is so enjoyable to use, I don't mind making the necessary adjustments to get it functioning properly. Additionally, it includes Samsung's industry-best five-year update schedule, which ensures that the software remains current for the majority of realistic ownership durations.

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The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy CPU, which has 12GB of RAM and 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of internal storage, is the same chipset used in the Galaxy Z Fold 5. It appears to be highly efficient in addition to being incredibly strong. The new vapor chamber cooling system within the phone is probably one of the reasons I haven't seen any heat-related problems or unexpected battery depletion. It stays fluid, quick, and completely under control at all times. I've played Asphalt 9: Legends and Pocket City for far too many hours.

With a screen that is nearly tablet-sized and a foldable design that fits into your pocket, this phone is a real flagship that can easily play the newest games. It may seem like a pretty clear advantage, yet this still seems really futuristic. The Z Fold 5 directly rivals the Galaxy S23 Ultra in terms of power and software, so you'll need to decide whether to get a phone with a folding screen or not. In terms of software and performance, the Z Fold 5 is a true competitor to Samsung's enormous non-folding phone, and fortunately, there is no incorrect choice.On the other hand, the Z Fold 5 is the best option if you multitask a lot.


Battery and charging for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung claims to have extended the battery's usable life with the Z Fold 5, even though it still has the same 4,400mAh capacity as the Z Fold 4. According to my testing conducted thus far, it ends the day with about 35% to 50% left after three to four hours of mixed screen use, which includes viewing videos, using the camera, playing light games, and being linked to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 Classic. It won't last for two full days, but you may aim for one day plus a little extra. If you load up the phone with a ton of games with 5G connection, it should still be able to withstand one day of use. As the phone gets used to my regular usage, I would also anticipate further improvements in battery life.

You must either purchase or own a suitable charger in order to take use of Samsung's 25-watt Super Fast Charging capabilities, as the device does not come with a charging block. It takes around 80 minutes to completely recharge using the Anker 313 GaN charger and USB Type-C to Type-C connection, which supports the necessary Power Delivery PPS standard. Make sure you have a completely suitable charger because it might take up to two hours to recharge the battery if you use a lower-power charger. Both wireless and reverse charging are available.

I haven't worried about the Galaxy Z Fold 5's battery dying in a single day because of its long lifespan.

With its bigger 5,000mAh battery, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers almost the same performance as this device. In addition to charging much more quickly, the OnePlus 11 should offer somewhat longer usage. In our tests, the Google Pixel Fold's battery lasted around a day, and it took 90 minutes to fully recharge. In terms of battery life and charging, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 performs better than Google's foldable. I haven't had to worry about the Galaxy Z Fold 5's battery dying in a single day, which is additional proof that the folding phone is maturing and starting to make sense for more people.

S Pen and more on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Galaxy Z Fold 5 and S Pen case Andy Boxall/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

While not included, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 may be used with a S Pen pen. The S Pen Fold Edition, which Samsung produced especially for the phone, is an improved model that boasts IP68 water and dust protection, 4,096 pressure levels, and a smaller tip. Unlike the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Z Fold 5 lacks a space in its body to accommodate this $55 optional accessory.

To circumvent this, Samsung has created a new cover that has a place for storing the pen on the back of the phone. Though it is slimmer than the Z Fold 4 case of a same design, it nonetheless adds heft. It costs $100, including the S Pen, and is offered in many colors. Although it's not the prettiest cover, there isn't a better option (except from purchasing the Galaxy S23 Ultra) if you truly want the stylus to be always accessible.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I've been using the Galaxy Z Fold 5 with the new Galaxy Watch 6 Classic linked during my evaluation time. Samsung's Galaxy Wearable and Samsung Health applications must be used, however the setup is simple and the connection has worked well.

Although the hardware of smartwatches is excellent, the software has not proven to be as dependable or user-friendly as that of an Apple Watch and iPhone combination. Check out the Mobvoi TicWatch Pro 5, the regular Galaxy Watch 6, and your brand-new Galaxy Z Fold 5 if you're looking for a smartwatch to go with it.

Rates and availability for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

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The retail price of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is $1,799, and it is available in Icy Blue, Cream, or Phantom Black hues. You have the option to select between two unique colors, gray or blue, when placing an order directly with Samsung. The starting price of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 in the UK is 1,749 British pounds. Right now, Samsung, the majority of carriers, and other merchants sell it.

The Z Fold 5's main rival in the US is Google, with their Pixel Fold, which likewise has a $1,799 starting price. The Pixel Fold costs 1,749 pounds in the United Kingdom, but the Honor Magic Vs is available for much less at 1,399 pounds, or around $1,760. But it didn't work with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and won't work with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 either.

Without a question, the greatest big-screen foldable available right now is the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

It's interesting to note that the Z Fold 5 has some very strong internal options. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 surpasses the Galaxy Z Flip 4 thanks to a number of hardware and functionality upgrades. Although the Z Fold 5's function is different from that of the tiny phone, some people could find the smaller size more practical in daily life. Additionally, at $999, it's far less expensive and not as big of a financial commitment if you're eager to test out your first folding smartphone.

With its enormous screen, excellent camera, and same processor as the Z Fold 5, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is a true beast if you're still not sold on folding smartphones. Also concealed in its own compartment is the S Pen stylus. Although it is still a very costly smartphone, it is significantly less expensive than the Z Fold 5 at $1,199. It's a fantastic smartphone, and you'll adore it if the folding screen concept (and maybe the absence of a significant improvement over the Z Fold 4) doesn't entice you. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 doesn't provide anything to entice owners of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 to upgrade.Keeping it and waiting to see what 2024 brings is worthwhile.


Verdict on Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I mentioned in my review that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 ought to be your next phone because it was so fantastic. I will now make the same statement on the Galaxy Z Fold 5. You won't believe how much a foldable phone will alter the way you enjoy and use your phone, so if you've been eyeing one, go ahead and purchase one. You should definitely go out and handle a Z Fold 5 even if you disregarded the Galaxy Z Fold 4, since the hardware changes have made it feel more "normal" in your palm.

There aren't many significant changes elsewhere, but the ones that are present—a quicker CPU, somewhat better cameras, and brighter screens—improve daily usage of the phone. I take suppose this is what we have been waiting for? A large, foldable smartphone that most people could use all day, every day? With a wider appeal owing to Samsung's logical emphasis on ergonomics and performance rather than gaudy additions or needless redesigns, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is almost here.

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However, given there is more competition this year, establishing a clear "must buy" label is a little trickier than it was last. The Google Pixel Fold has some noticeable visual distinctions that some users may find appealing, and the appeal of Google's software cannot be understated, even though it may not be nearly as powerful or well-polished. The innovative Razr Plus from Motorola folds differently, but it's still a great device. With the Galaxy S23 Ultra being so amazing at everything and the Galaxy Z Flip 5 being so alluring, Samsung is also its own worst adversary. Both are also far less expensive.Making a purchase this year is significantly more difficult because the Galaxy Z Fold 5 has far more real competition than the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

I've had a great time using the Galaxy Z Fold 5, and I haven't seen any significant drawbacks that would make me reconsider suggesting it to you. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is without a doubt the best big-screen foldable available right now, but there are some equally amazing compact foldables that offer high-performance folding thrills in a different way. You might find that one of them is a better, more affordable entry point into this fascinating new mobile world before parting with so much cash.

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