We are now in the era of the fifth Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, and while previous iterations mainly focused on refining the original design, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 represents a genuine evolution for Samsung's foldable phone/tablet hybrid. This results in a device that preserves the foldable charm of the original phone but is now genuinely practical for extended usage without causing discomfort in your hands.
Having used the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 as my primary device for two weeks, I can confidently state that it's among the finest phones I've ever experienced. However, it may not be the perfect fit for everyone. The primary issue is the fairly noticeable crease that runs down the center of the device when unfolded. While it doesn't particularly bother me, it's something that I'm aware of whenever I glance at the phone, and it's a factor you'll need to consider if you plan to carry this device in your pocket on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, when it comes to having a compact tablet within a foldable framework that effortlessly fits into my purse, it has significantly improved my commuting experience and made it much more enjoyable.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Preview
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 maintains the signature design of its predecessors - a long and slender phone that unfolds into a tablet, all adorned with stunning AMOLED displays. In tablet mode, you're treated to a 7.6-inch QHD display, which neatly folds down to a more pocket-friendly 6.2-inch display.
However, there are some issues with both forms of the display. When unfolded, a conspicuous crease is visible at the bottom of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. Personally, I've learned to ignore it during daily use, but it's a frequent conversation starter among friends and colleagues. The crease is most apparent when the device is open on the home screen, but it tends to blend into the background during leisure activities like reading comics or watching videos. Nevertheless, having such a glaring display issue in a phone with a price tag of nearly two thousand dollars is a significant drawback.
One notable drawback is the aspect ratio of the outer screen, especially for gaming. Many times, I've taken out this phone to play games like Star Wars: Heroes of the Galaxy (no judgment, please), only to find that the game appears squished and nearly unreadable on the outer display.
The outer screen is primarily suited for tasks like scrolling through social media or checking notifications during downtime. Even texting can be challenging on this smaller keyboard, making accurate typing a bit of a struggle.
One positive change is the new hinge design. Unlike previous Fold models, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 boasts a hinge with fewer moving parts that allows the device to fold completely flat. This innovation eliminates the gap between the two halves when folded, reducing the risk of dirt and dust damaging the screens.
Another improvement is the use of new glass, with the outside screen featuring Gorilla Glass Victus 2, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S23. Despite my initial concerns, the phone's durability has pleasantly surprised me. Even without a case and after a few drops, the device still appears flawless. Given the fragility of foldable inner displays, this resilience is impressive, with no visible scratches.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 offers three color options: Icy Blue, Phantom Black, and Cream. I've been using the Phantom Black variant for this review, and while I initially found it a bit plain, it has grown on me. It manages to look good in various settings.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 - Camera
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 boasts a powerful three-camera setup on its rear, with the star of the show being a 50MP wide-angle camera. Let me emphasize that this camera delivers outstanding performance. During a photo walk through Midtown New York, the results were nothing short of incredible.
Regardless of the subject matter, the photos turned out to be exceptional. They even stood up admirably when compared to the shots my partner was capturing with a mirrorless camera. The images are vibrant, bright, and bursting with colors, regardless of what I aimed my lens at. Whether it was capturing macro shots of flowers with their vivid, eye-popping colors or photographing the skyscrapers near Bryant Park, the results were absolutely stunning.
Samsung's flagship phones have always been known for their exceptional cameras, but the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 takes it to a whole new level that makes me want to capture images of everything in sight.
Even the zoom capabilities are remarkable. While you can digitally zoom up to 60x, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 camera features a 3x optical zoom that captures incredibly detailed photos even from a considerable distance. As someone who has used the iPhone 14 – a formidable competitor in the photography department – I can confidently say that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 represents a significant improvement in every aspect of photography.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 – Specs and Performance
Powering the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which represents a slight improvement over the Gen 1 chip found in last year's model. This upgrade translates to improved gaming performance and better battery life. However, what truly stands out with the Fold 5 is its prowess in multitasking.
As soon as I had access to a review unit that allowed me to put it to the test, I loaded it up with a multitude of apps and games to see how it would handle the workload. Remarkably, even with a multitude of apps open simultaneously, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 remains responsive and doesn't slow down. What's more, Samsung has implemented native support for side-by-side apps, allowing you to have Twitter open while texting or Slack running alongside your email. This functionality elevates the Fold 5 to a multitasking powerhouse, outperforming even the Microsoft Surface Duo 2, which is dedicated to multitasking.
The battery life is another standout feature. One of my shortcomings is often forgetting to charge my phone, but more often than not, when I pick up the Fold 5, there's still some juice left in it, even after a few days off the charger. The AMOLED display plays a significant role here. While the screen is sizable and bright, it only illuminates the pixels that aren't black at any given moment, resulting in both a superior picture quality and extended battery life. There's a reason why more and more phones are adopting this display technology.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 – Gaming
With the substantial horsepower at its disposal, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is naturally excellent for gaming. Even though the aspect ratio may seem a bit unusual in any configuration, the large screen proves to be a game-changer when playing the best mobile games.
In titles like Diablo Immortal and Magic Arena, the expansive screen makes it easier to discern game details and enhances the overall gaming experience. Furthermore, the high-resolution display and potent GPU ensure that games run smoothly. While Magic Arena does encounter occasional crashes, it's worth noting that this issue is not unique to the Fold 5 – blame Wizards of the Coast for that one.
The generous screen size also makes the phone perfect for game streaming. If your internet connection can handle it, this is a fantastic way to enjoy games without monopolizing your living room screen. Personally, I haven't connected my Xbox in months, mostly because I'm using a PC in my living room. However, through Xbox cloud streaming, I can still access all the Game Pass titles that aren't available on PC without dealing with a tangle of cords behind my TV. The large screen offers an experience akin to the Steam Deck, especially when paired with accessories like the Razer Kishi.