This year all eyes are on the Flip 5. Samsung hasn’t crammed bleeding-edge tech into the Fold 5 so the Flip 5 can be the centre of attention. The Z Flip 5 now has a bigger cover display along with 13 widgets that will make use of the new screen real estate. Armed with stable software, a better processor, a stronger hinge and the best camera in the clamshell smartphone category, there’s a lot to flip open here.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review
Playing catch up
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The new Flex Window, as Samsung likes to call it, is now 3.78 times larger than the previous generation Flip. This means you can see yourself perfectly while taking a rear camera selfie without ever flipping the phone open. The 3.4-inch Super AMOLED 60Hz display is brighter and sharper than before and Samsung has added software bits to make use of it all.
Got a message? Well, you can reply directly from the cover screen with an itsy-bitsy QWERTY keyboard. Boarding a flight? The QR code of your boarding pass will show up neatly. Didn’t bring your card to Starbucks? The NFC will let you tap your saved cards from the Samsung Wallet at stores. All of these widgets can be customised. If you have a Galaxy Watch 6, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 can match the watch face on its cover display. The display will also let you access important settings, check your call log and control music. You can even pinch on the screen to bring up a multi-widget window to quickly switch between them.
Although, officially we didn’t find any apps that support this display. You can dive into Settings > Advanced Features > Labs > Apps allowed on the cover screen. Ya, it’s buried deep inside but once you find it, you can enable YouTube, Netflix, WhatsApp, Google Maps and so on. These apps will open into a bite-size window which will make quick tasks quicker. Any keyboard wizardry is well-managed and useful apps like the one we mentioned work without any hiccups. Samsung needs to give developers access and time to officially come out with native Flex Window support. It will be great to see Uber, Swiggy, Zomato and Google Maps officially supporting this size and frame for Samsung users.
Both foldables get a new and improved hinge design which reduces the distance between the folded screens. The wedge shape and the gap near the crease are now gone. Not only does the waterdrop hinge bring Samsung’s foldable chops closer to the competition but it also brings its screen closer…
The newer hinge also brings a smoother and more relaxed mechanism. You may not need the strength of a Sumo wrestler to open the thing or snap it shut. Although you won’t be able to flick it open like the phones from the early 2000s. Opening it with one finger is not a possibility, which means if you have a coffee cup in one hand and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 in another hand, good luck balancing that coffee cup on your head! You’ll need to shimmy your thumb into the gap and then do a bit of thumb gymnastics to open it with one hand. And even if you manage to do that, there’s the possibility of damaging the inside display with your long nails or worse, your freshly done manicure! However, the Flex Window is now totally ripe for banishing these thoughts and possibilities. We had more reason to use it and we did.
The hinge is also designed with a shock dispersion layer which will make accidental oopsies tolerable. The cover display gets Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for screen protection and the plastic protector on the inside main display should not be removed or tampered with. There’s still a prominent crease running down the centre like before as well. It’s not very good at hiding itself and when you’re relentlessly scrolling through social media, it will remind you.
This clamshell smartphone has a 6.7-inch FHD+ display with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate (1-120Hz). It’s also 22:9 aspect ratio which is tall for even The Great Khali. Reaching the top of the smartphone might take two business days. Jokes aside, it’s hella tall and if you have small mitts, be warned. We found a silly way to reach the settings cog on the top of the notification tray and you can do it by semi-folding the top half to bring the entire display closer to your finger. It… works!
Compared to one of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, the saturation and blacks are remarkably close to the non-flipping sibling. The Z Flip 5 has a slightly warmer tone in the overall composition but nothing alarming. Our major gripe with this smartphone is its dimensions. That narrow and tall aspect ratio feels unsuitable for anything that is not in the 21:9 aspect ratio. Adam Project on Netflix is one of the few pieces of content that feel immersive because it supports this wide aspect ratio but everything else that is in 16:9 or broader feels unwelcoming on this display.
Samsung has nailed the audio though. Turn it up and the output of the stereo speakers is wide and the sound is textured. The soundstage is quite expansive for something coming from such a slim chassis. That said, you won’t find depth in the lower frequencies like the iPhone 14 Pro and for dialogue-heavy content, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 can sound a bit sibilant at full volume.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, this too gets the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (Mobile Platform for Galaxy). Optimised and loaded for gaming with some serious firepower for multitasking. The 512GB and the 256GB variant of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 get 8GB RAM. This is a thoroughbred flagship processor. It’s slightly overclocked as well and it can game effortlessly. There’s a bit of heating if you play for too long or spend too much time editing videos but everything runs buttery smooth here. The only place you would feel the pinch is when apps don’t support or resize into the Galaxy Z Flip’s aspect ratio. Marvel’s Snap doesn’t fit into the main screen properly and even Lightroom has issues. These are not performance problems but a lack of native support for Samsung’s aspect ratio. It’s the same story with the Z Fold 5 as well. We don’t know if Samsung plans to keep supporting this aspect ratio in the future and if it does, it really needs to convince the developers and the world that this is the future. So far, I am sceptical.
As for the camera, you get a 10MP selfie camera and a 12MP ultra-wide and a 12MP wide-angle camera. Just like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, the Z Flip 5 also gets no major camera hardware upgrade over the predecessor. However, there’s a better ISP here thanks to the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and with that, you get real-time semantic segmentation, quicker face detection and better bokeh effect. The Snapdragon Sight tech managing the photos on the Z Flip 5 might be all software and AI mumbo-jumbo but the end result is quite commendable. It’s a consistent camera with good temperature balance and likeable contrast. It’s not pitch-perfect like Google Pixel 7 or the Apple iPhone 14 but Samsung’s processing is good enough.
In low light, we prefer Samsung’s vivid and brighter image quality over Apple’s warm tone and Pixel’s oversharpened pictures. It’s all down to preference and unless you sit these smartphones side by side, you will be happy with any and all. For folks who don’t bother nitpicking, Samsung’s brighter picture is often the pick because of how rich and vibrant the colours look. Just like the S23 Ultra, it’s done tastefully and Samsung’s always kept this quality in all their flagships.
Surprisingly, using the inner selfie camera will be as rare as finding good roads in Mumbai. Selfies are now the rear camera’s main business thanks to the bigger cover display. It’s easy and quick. You can toggle between portrait, main and video from the Flex Window while clicking selfies. For ultrawide shots, you will have to pinch the viewfinder with two fingers, we wish there was a toggle for it which would’ve made one-hand ultrawide selfies easier on the cover display.
Software and battery
It’s all down to optimisation and software tweaks this year with the camera and battery life. You can expect a full day’s battery life and refuelling back to 50% takes around 30 minutes. The Oppo Find N2 Flip and others charge much faster than Samsung’s 25W speed. That said, it will last you a full day and the cover display will keep any small interactions minimal to stretch that battery longer.
There’s a fair bit of bloatware here which you’ll have to sit and delete. Meanwhile, the hinge can be propped up halfway for selfies or you can use your apps in the top half of the display and control the screen with a touchpad on the bottom half. It’s indulgent at best but more features are always welcome. Oh, and you can hold it as a camcorder. There’s a 22:9 aspect ratio for video recording that is really fun to use and makes even a Sunday brunch look cinematic.
The bigger cover display makes everything better about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. It was a much-needed addition and right now it puts the Galaxy Z Flip 5 hot on the heels of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra. The widgets are all useful and the addition of the keyboard for quick replies is a great relief. That said, the aspect ratio for the inner display is still not the most intuitive and some apps might not readjust to this tall smartphone.
It’s still a great smartphone, and if you’re set on buying a clamshell smartphone, it doesn’t get better than the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
A fantastic foldable that is unrivalled in performance and features but only falters with its dimensions
|6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X 120Hz Adaptive refresh rate (1~120Hz) Infinity Flex Display
|3.4-inch Super AMOLED 60Hz Display
|10MP Selfie Camera
|Rear Dual Camera:
|12MP Ultra Wide Camera, 12MP Wide-angle Camera
|Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy