Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
If you’ve been hearing one refrain from those who have been using Samsung’s new fleet of foldables, tablets, and wearables — all revealed in late July at Galaxy Unpacked in Seoul — it’s likely been one decrying the generation’s lack of forward progress: too much of the same. After spending some time with much of the new technology, I completely understand those views, but there is one device here that can proudly wear a badge of advancement, one that makes some very compelling points for upgrading (even from a recent model). That’s because the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is easily Samsung’s best hardware this summer.
But last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 4 was also really, really nice, and it was the phone that ultimately convinced me that folding-screen phones were a good concept. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 must not only demonstrate that it can make clever improvements to Samsung’s winning recipe, but it must also rekindle that original magic. While I didn’t witness any flames, I believe I’ve found my new favorite folder.
Galaxy Z Flip 5 from Samsung
9 / 10
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 exemplifies elegance in all aspects. This mature, reasonably priced foldable is the company’s greatest to date, and it sets a high standard for the competition. This year, the significantly larger outside display is genuinely functional, encouraging entertaining new ways of engaging with your phone. When combined with a precisely constructed flat-folding body, this could be the foldable to beat.
Snapdragon 8 Generation 2 for Galaxy
6.7″ OLED 2640 x 1080 120Hz primary display; 3.4″ OLED 720 x 748 60Hz cover display
256 or 512 GB
OS (Operating System)
OneUI 5.1.1 for Android 13
f/2.2 10MP (1.22m pixels)
12MP f/1.8 wide-angle camera (83 FoV, OIS, 1.8m pixels); 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera (123 FoV, 1.12m pixels).
5G (including mmWave), LTE, and Wi-Fi 6E
Unfolded dimensions are 71.9 x 165.1 x 6.9mm; folded dimensions are 71.9 x 85.1 x 15.1mm.
Mint, Graphite, Cream, Lavender
Beginning at $1,000
Everything depends on a large, truly useable Flex Window.
A refined, fold-flat design is an engineering feat.
Makes using a smartphone enjoyable again.
A telephoto lens would be quite useful for this camera.
The battery is adequate at best, but it requires rapid charging.
Flex Window app support is still in the works.
$1000 from Samsung
Network accessibility and availability
On July 26, Samsung revealed the Galaxy Z Flip 5, and preorders began the same day. We’ve officially reached the phase of broad retail availability, and the Flip 5 is now available on the shelves of major shops and carriers nationwide as of August 11. Preorders apparently hit new records, outnumbering the Flip 4 by a significant margin and accounting for the lion’s share of interest in Samsung’s freshly announced hardware – which, given how much less expensive this is than the Fold 5, isn’t a great surprise.
While you can acquire the Flip 5 via you’ll have to get it from Samsung.com if you want it in one of its Samsung-exclusive hues like yellow or blue. The corporation has maintained the same beginning price as last year, but with a twist. A 256GB variant is now available for $1,000, a significant upgrade from last year’s 128GB entry-level model.
Display and design
At first appearance, book-style foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold 5 may pass for a regular phone in a bulky cover. However, the folded-up Flip 5 is undeniably unusual, with an eye-catching small form that is both pocketable and just the right size for one-handed use. I’ll go into how to interact with the newly expanded cover screen — now termed Flex Window — later, but for now, let’s focus on the hardware.
The main news with the Flip 5 design revisions is that Samsung expanded the phone’s outside Flex Window from a 1.9-inch 512 x 260 window to a 3.4-inch 748 x 720 display that stretches to (largely) occupy the available space. Unlike Motorola’s recent attempt with the Razr+, Samsung chooses not to have its phone’s primary camera lenses penetrate this screen directly, instead carving out a notch for them in the corner — the result is a cover screen that looks like an inverted file folder.
Another significant advancement this year is the reengineering of Samsung’s hinge design, with the immediate result that the phone now folds entirely shut — no apparent gap at the hinge end. It may appear to be a little tweak, but I believe this is a substantial achievement for a phone this many generations in, removing what I’d call one of the Flip’s major concessions. All of the “not quite perfect” abnormalities that we’ve come to accept and live with as the price of enjoying the early years of this unique form factor are now gone. The fact that Samsung is tackling this difficulty gives me hope that the firm will continue to refine its approach until foldables achieve the degree of durability and uncompromising design that we’ve come to expect from conventional smartphones. At the very least, it needs to step up, since if Samsung rests on its laurels here, it risks being surpassed by competition that has also been working hard to get its own foldables as mature as possible — as Xiaomi has done with the Mi Mix Fold 3.
As before, Samsung adds tiny protrusions to the edges of the Flip’s screen to prevent the two sides of the display from physically making touch, even when folded shut by this astonishingly flat new hinge – otherwise, this design would almost promote screen damage.
The only true drawback to this otherwise good improvement is that it can be difficult to open the Flip with one hand. Your thumbnail will fight for purchase along the phone’s shiny polished edges, and even when you get it in there, resistance is high, with the possibility of your nail scratching the screen looming in the back of your mind. I’d love it if Samsung required a little less force to open the phone — perhaps by reducing the strength of the magnets in the corner that assist keep it shut. I also wish there was a divot on the side to provide you some grip on the screen without having to press your nail in there.
To Samsung’s credit, the Flip 5 opens effortlessly with both hands, stays open and completely flat without trouble, and folds easily (even one-handed), producing a gratifying “snap” in the process. Despite its flexibility, the hinge is robust enough to hold the screen in place while set to any arbitrary angle. The resistance decreases as you approach 90 degrees, but the display never feels loose or threatens to close on its own.
As a result of the Flip 5’s distinctive folding form, Samsung has given it a high aspect ratio: this is one tall and narrow phone. I enjoy how tiny it is, but one-handed reachability quickly becomes a significant issue when you want to get to your alerts up top. And, while this is completely my fault, the open Flip 5 is simply too tall to fit inside the charging pocket on my electric motorcycle.
When it comes to the display itself, what we have here is rather nice. The screen is a 6.7-inch 2640 x 1080 monitor, which is quite sharp for this size and easily viewable even in direct sunlight. While I don’t enjoy the look or feel of the added screen protector, it’s not extremely distracting and simple to disregard as an inevitability.
There’s also the crease. It’s not terrible, but it’s there, and it’s not something you’ll soon forget. Honestly, my feelings about it on the Flip 5 are basically the same as my feelings about it on the Flip 4: it blends in nicely when viewed head-on or against dark backgrounds, but it becomes increasingly visible when viewed at an angle; you definitely feel the crease when swiping across the middle of the screen; and I quickly found myself tweaking how I interacted with apps to avoid swiping across the crease. I’d like not to have to deal with all of this, but I don’t believe Samsung will solve the problem anytime soon.
Other hardware and contents of the box
Samsung is doing some pretty beautiful things with the color selections for the Flip 5, especially when you consider the Samsung.com-exclusive colours like yellow and green. There are some really appealing possibilities here. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has yet to expand the fully configurable bespoke application that allows you to configure a Flip 3 or Flip 4 to its latest version.
Making our way around the phone, we find the USB-C port situated on the bottom edge (which I’ll grumble about later when we talk battery), flanked by speaker and mic holes. Our power button and volume rocker are located on the right side, just past the hinge. The phone’s fingerprint scanner is once again housed in the power button, and like so many of the sensors I’ve seen implemented this way, its performance is extremely hit-and-miss; some days it feels as responsive as ever, while others it hits its failed-scan limit almost instantly, forcing me to authenticate with PIN. Adding duplicate scans of commonly used fingers helps (especially since you’ll be unlocking from the Flex Window a lot), but it’s still a concern. Up top, there’s only a mic hole, and on the left, there’s a SIM tray and an antenna window.
You’d be excused for thinking that speakers were an afterthought on a phone with this much else going on, but sound quality is actually rather good. Sure, the bottom speaker carries the most of the burden here, and its music sounds nothing like the frequency curve from the earpiece speaker, but with both going at the same time — not awful at all. There was some cracking on voice calls, but nothing overly annoying.
This year, Samsung provides its Flip with IPX8 ingress protection, which means it is safe against water but not dust. Even the water is suspect, with Samsung advising that the protection “is not permanent . It’s not like the phone will warn you if you cross that line, and while that day is probably a long way off, I detest the sense that it’s towering over me, threatening to destroy the phone.
I can’t underline how comfortable this phone is to hold… when it’s folded up. When combined with an actually useable screen like this, the palmable form factor is a revelation, and while there are some software concerns I’ll get to momentarily, I appreciate this experience so much that I’m not sure I’d be interested in a phone this size that didn’t fold out to full-size. It reminds me so much of the strange, entertaining phones that companies were attempting to create in the mid-2010s — remember the Runcible? This is, in a strange manner, its mainstream spiritual successor.
Samsung’s dedication to environmental friendliness may not extend to policies that would significantly cut the largest and most expensive e-waste, but the corporation is continuing its recent trend of offering nothing worthwhile in the packaging of its phones. The Flip 5 comes with a USB-C to USB-C connection, a SIM tool, and a quick-start instruction that basically just lists the components I showed you. It’s an absolute page-turner.
Performance and software
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is powered by Samsung’s One UI 5.1.1, which is based on Android 13. At this time, the skin is largely a known value, and I don’t mind Samsung’s software. Coming from a Pixel, it seems heavy all over, but I love how much there is to do here — how many settings can be altered, how many custom screens can be made, all in the sake of having this phone feel as personalized as possible.
Performance is excellent and constant, as one would expect from a $1,000 flagship. During my testing, the custom-tweaked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy had no trouble keeping up with the demands of programs, even when going split-screen with two. There’s only 8GB of RAM here, but I don’t think anyone will be yearning for 12GB. With such good hardware available, it’s a little disappointing to see Samsung skip DeX support here. I understand that few people utilize DeX even when they have the option, but it’s strange to see Samsung denying the Flip 5 an opportunity entirely.
The most essential software information here is about the foldable experience. While split-screen isn’t unique to this form factor, the actual crease adds a lovely touch, and the ability to move the handset around it highlights the separation of apps. Flex Mode takes care of the hard lifting here, allowing you to control split-screen, opt to have playback controls on the bottom half of the panel, or even use that space as a touchpad — when was the last time you interacted with Android apps using an on-screen cursor? While it isn’t significantly different from what we saw on the Flip 4, I’m still pleased.
As of now, the Flip 5’s Flex Window cover screen provides some basic functionality: alerts, access to widgets such as calendar, weather, and timer, and the ability to run a few Android apps on this little screen. YouTube, for example, and Netflix both work rather well. Maps has potential — I believe it really wins out in terms of convenience, allowing you to see where you are at a glance — but the little display area rapidly becomes clogged with toolbars.
Camera Samsung equips the Flip 5 with two 12MP sensors for its main cameras: an 83 FOV wide-angle camera with OIS and an f/1.8 aperture, as well as an ultra-wide 123 FOV camera with an f/2.2 aperture. Both have good quality, with the type of oversaturated intensity we’ve come to expect from Samsung — if you’re into it, the Flip 5 delivers in spades. Low-light performance is adequate, but expect some moderate bloom and flare from out-of-focus sources. Where this system falls short is the lack of any type of telephoto option, and while digital zoom will do what it can, it’s a road strewn with sacrifices.
The 10MP selfie camera is nothing exceptional, but it shoots clear, though slightly washed-out, photos. I just like how Samsung doesn’t do any under-display crap with this foldable and provides the camera a good, reasonable notch cutout. However, this is not the discussion about selfies on the Flip 5, because this phone has some tricks up its sleeve.
Durability of the battery
If there’s one thing I’ve seen more wringing of hands over with the Galaxy Z Flip 5, it’s the phone’s battery capacity — or, rather, the lack thereof. Many folks were dissatisfied with the Flip 4’s tiny 3,700mAh capacity (despite the fact that it was a great step up from the Flip 3), and Samsung isn’t doing anything to build on that this year – we’re right back in 3,700mAh area.
That may be a valid drawback for heavy smartphone users, but I was perfectly content with the Flip 4’s endurance, and the Flip 5 has done nothing to modify that scenario for me. If anything, I feel like I’m stretching things even further with the Flip 5 because I’m able to get so much more done directly from its external Flex Window, which was also mentioned in our Moto Razr+ review earlier this summer. Quick tasks on the tiny outer screen illuminating the large inner screen.
Internationally, the Flip 5 may face competition from phones like the Oppo Find N2 Flip, but in the US, there are really only two other clamshell folders to compete with: this year’s new Moto Razr+… and Samsung’s own Galaxy Z Flip 4, for shoppers willing to compromise a little to save a buck (or more).
Motorola definitely stepped up for this generation, and the Razr+ is easily its strongest foldable (let alone in recent years) to date. It’s also the model with the most in common with the Flip 5, as both have access to large (relatively speaking) outside screens. They’re also nearly identical in terms of battery capacity, with the Razr+ coming out on top (and supporting somewhat faster charging). If there is one major drawback to Moto’s offering, it has to be the phone’s cameras. While these aren’t great on the Flip 5, Samsung has the lead here. In addition, Samsung uses more current silicon than Moto’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 CPU, and both packages are reasonably priced. To be honest, I’m opting with the Flip 5 primarily because I prefer the feel of its squared-off frame to the curved everything on the Razr+.