What’s old can be new again. While Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip series didn’t have the smoothest growth in its quest to reinvent the past, it served as a bold ode to the good old days of flip phones and slowly, consumers embraced it. Even as each iteration continued to have its fair share of shortcomings, the raw potential of foldables piqued the interest of other brands, setting the Korean tech giant up as a trailblazer in the field. Five generations on, it seems the formula is one step closer to being perfected.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 isn’t a drastic upgrade over its predecessor but rather more of a modest step-up, complete with a larger cover screen, a slender, flatter cut, and a more lightweight frame. The significantly larger cover screen – referred to as the Flex Window – is the show-stealer, measuring in at a hard-to-miss 3.4 inches. That may not sound like much, but it’s way bigger than the 1.9-inch cover screen on its predecessor, allowing users to do more with it when the device is snapped shut.
For starters, the spacious viewing estate comes in handy for glancing at information. Glancing, not reading, as one usually would on a smartphone display, because this secondary screen is tailored primarily for widgets rather than full apps. Swiping right to left cycles through the various widgets, while doing so from left to right will pull up notifications. Checking the weather forecast, daily schedule, alarms, messages and the like proves to be a pleasant, intuitive experience – tapping on a calendar event reveals all the details, whereas opening chat pop-ups now shows a text box for users to type in a response.
Essentially, quick-hit tasks, such as tracking bus arrival times, eyeballing information, or translating signs in a foreign language are the best use of the front screen. The widgets can also be enabled, disabled, or rearranged to suit one’s preference, but adding anything outside of messaging apps, Google Maps, or YouTube can be quite the chore, but not impossible. To do so, simply download Good Lock via the Samsung App Store, tap the Life option on the bottom, install MultiStar, tap I ♡ Galaxy Foldable within MultiStar, and choose Launcher Widget.
Even then, not all apps will work on the cover screen. Where some simply lack compatibility, others will have their text covered by various user interface (UI) elements. The limited app support dulls the shine that the Galaxy Z Flip 5 offers – the appeal of a flip-style phone lies in its ability to run certain apps on the cover screen, after all – and it’s a shame that users aren’t able to fully unleash their individuality with it.
The always-on display is admittedly a nice touch, though. The 720 x 748 60Hz panel may not be as sharp as one might expect, but it shows the time, date, and battery life without needing owners to tap on the screen. It should be noted this comes at the expense of battery performance, which leans into a shorter duration with a 3,700mAh capacity. Based on real world tests, the device clocked around 10 hours of use with heavy texting and emailing, so expect it to deplete faster when other tasks, such as watching YouTube or surfing TikTok, are involved.
Another welcome improvement to Samsung’s latest is its new hinge design. Unlike its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 can now close completely with no gap between both halves, sporting a sleeker, flatter profile that sits easily into the pocket and makes for a snug fit in the palm. The device feels a little sturdier than before and still has some heft to it; the aluminum side rails are topped off with a polished look.
On the left is where a SIM slot resides. Meanwhile, the volume rocker and power button, which doubles as a fingerprint sensor, are housed on the right side. The latter’s position makes it too easy to trigger the sensor with accidental taps, though changing the activation method to a press (Settings > Fingerprint Always On) resolves this issue. As usual, a USB-C port is located at the base of the phone.
Unfolded, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 measures 85.1 x 71.9 x 151 mm and boasts a 6.7-inch main screen. A visible crease along the fold still runs through the AMOLED display, resulting in a tactile bump when a finger smooths over, but it’s a marked improvement from its predecessor. One slight change is that the new hinge design produces a much tighter clamping force, with increased resistance, so while flipping it open isn’t difficult per se, it’s not recommended to do so with only one hand.
Despite Samsung’s claims of a more durable hinge, it’s worth nothing that foldables come with a higher risk of damage as compared to their traditional counterparts. While the flipper receives protection from splash and slight water damage with an IPX8 rating, it isn’t dust-resistant, which calls for more frequent maintenance and careful use.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 makes for a good fit in one’s grip, even if it may be a little too big for smaller hands, especially when held in landscape. Armed with an 1080p resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, its main screen works as intended, delivering decent colour, contrast, and detail. Viewing experience proves to be pleasant, although the continuity between the cover screen and primary display could be smoother and more consistent.
It’s a bit of a weird flow. Where some apps transition naturally from the inner to outer display, others require a relaunch when switching between them, which breaks immersion and only adds to the limitations of the cover screen. Credit should be given to the updated flex mode panel (enabled when the device is in an L-shaped form), however – the thumbnail image, customisable controls, and quick-tap feature to move a video to the top-half of the screen give off a more polished touch.
Under the hood, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 packs nearly the same punch. Apart from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset upgrade, everything else stays pretty much identical – 8GB RAM, 3,700mAh battery life, and all. It runs on the Android 13 operating system, and is more than capable of performing day-to-day tasks; texting, listening to music, watching videos, surfing social media apps, and the like felt snappy and responsive.
As the device doesn’t have much room for cooling mechanisms, it has a tendency to warm up after a period of continuous use, with heat emanating from the side rails. Playing games, especially more GPU-intensive titles like Genshin Impact, exacerbates the issue, but it never got to the point of being uncomfortable.
On the photography front, the camera clocks fairly mediocre performance. Samsung’s latest flipper comes equipped with the same 12-megapixel ultra-wide sensor and 12MP wide-angle shooter on the Z Flip 4, as well as a 10MP selfie camera. This lack of improved hardware means the heavy-lifting is left to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, which works enough to satisfy casual users.
In well-lit environments or under natural sunlight, the main camera produces rosy hues, sharp detail, and impressive, albeit aggressive, bokeh in portrait mode. The pictures can be oversaturated at times, and they aren’t the best in a dim setting, capturing noise, inaccurate colours, and flat contrast.
But let’s be honest: nobody buys a flip phone expecting excellent, class-leading image quality. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is, after all, designed to be a lifestyle device, and it certainly has the features to embrace that way of life. Even if its photography prowess isn’t anything to write home about, the phone will be a competent snapper for most, with its versatile form factor allowing more options for content creation. When folded into an L-shape, it can be held up like a camcorder or turned into a retro twin-lens reflex camera for shoot-from-the-hip videography.
This brand of fun is unique to Samsung’s line of foldables, serving to encourage and reward creative exploration. To up the ante for self-expression, the latest offering also ships with bespoke flipsuit cases, lending an extra touch of individuality to an already stylish, lively phone design.
Starting at S$1,498 for the base model (8GB RAM, 256GB storage), the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 presents the answer to the renewed interest in flip-style phones. The device isn’t the significant generational upgrade that some are expecting, but there’s plenty to love about it, from the capable performance and sleeker design to its versatile nature. The bigger cover screen is easily the standout here, driving the tech giant one step closer to grasping the secret of foldables – if there even is one.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a good entry point for those looking to make the leap from traditional smartphones, and a viable upgrade for previous owners – mainly due to its larger cover screen. Just be ready to live with some compromises.
Aesthetics - 8/10
Build Quality - 8.5/10
Performance - 8/10
Value - 8/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8/10