Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Review

At first glance, and unless you see them next to each other, it’s practically indistinguishable from its predecessor. This is partly a good thing, as last year’s Z Fold has been the best big-screen foldable you can buy since its release. But it’s also potentially bad, as it will make some people question how new it actually is, and that’s a problem for Samsung as the Galaxy Z Fold 5 has a lot more competition this year.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: design

Samsung’s engineering team has worked its magic to reduce the thickness and weight of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 considerably, and it now measures 13.4mm thick when closed, weighs 253 grams, and its new Flex Hinge mechanism allows the phone to close without a gap. It makes a surprising amount of difference, with the Z Fold 5 proving to be more ergonomic, easier and more comfortable to hold, and less bulky than its predecessor.

There’s a significant difference between them, with the Z Fold 5 being 2.4mm thinner and 10 grams lighter than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and it’s even 0.2mm thinner unfolded too. These are small changes on paper, but they alter the phone a lot. I’ve carried the Z Fold 5 around for more than a week, it has been less noticeable in my pocket, and unlike the Z Fold 4, I’ve not had any scary, potentially expensive moments where I juggle the phone because it’s too heavy and a little unbalanced.

The new Flex Hinge is absolutely silent and perfectly dampened. It gives the entire phone a fantastic, high-quality, luxurious feel. It holds itself open at various angles — which is great for watching video — and has bedded itself in quicker than the Z Fold 4 too. Within a day of use, the initial stiffness had disappeared, leaving a confidence-inspiring, superbly engineered motion. There’s no longer a gap between the sections, so there is less danger of debris getting in-between them. It blows every other foldable hinge on a smartphone today out of the water.

The 6.2-inch, 2316 x 904 cover screen and 7.6-inch, 2176 x 1812 inner screen are both the same size and resolution as on the Z Fold 4, with the same variable refresh rate too. The chassis is made of Samsung’s Armor Aluminum material, and the Z Fold 5 has an IPX8 water resistance rating as well. There are some subtle upgrades, with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 glass and higher peak levels of brightness. This is genuinely noticeable, with better white balance and sharper text when viewed in direct sunlight, and the screen also adapts automatically when it recognizes difficult lighting.

Yes, the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s overall design is basically the same as that of the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Galaxy Z Fold 3, and even the Galaxy Z Fold 2. But the tall, thin cover screen makes a lot of sense now that the chassis is thinner and lighter, and it’s actually far more usable when closed than wider folding smartphones that promise “normal” phone ergonomics. Samsung could change the design, but it doesn’t need to change it. A big-screen foldable phone is always going to take on this basic design unless it chooses to adopt the outward folding design of the Huawei Mate Xs 2.

If you are craving a radical redesign, I understand. But now that I’ve lived with the phone, the evolutionary alterations are far more meaningful than I expected. They’ve improved the Galaxy Z Fold 5 in crucial ways that will appeal to people who didn’t like the size and bulk of previous versions, and that’s going to bring it another step closer to mainstream acceptance. Add this to the incredible high-quality engineering and build quality, and you’ve got hardware that fully backs up its massive asking price.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: watching video, playing games, and reading

I don’t play that many games, but I do watch quite a lot of videos, and I read books. I’ve already talked about how the Z Fold 5’s lower weight and thinner chassis change the way you hold and use the phone, but I want to expand on why I love to use it. The open screen is glorious; matched to the solid hinge and huge power, it’s fantastic to watch videos, read books, and play games.

Samsung has placed the volume controls on the same edge as the camera module, so the phone has a flat panel to rest on a desk, yet still remains perfectly usable. The hinge holds the screen at different viewing angles, and it’s perfect for casual viewing. I’ve used the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to catch up on long YouTube videos I’ve not had time to watch, as it can stand up on its own, and I can move around the room and still pay some attention. I have even used it in portrait orientation, not just landscape, and it works surprisingly well.

Use the Z Fold 5 on a flat surface, partially folded, and Samsung’s Flex Mode shows media controls on the lower half of the screen. Watching videos on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is fun and quite unlike doing so on any regular phone. It’s the same story (no pun intended) with reading books. The larger screen is bright enough to read outside, but also dim enough to comfortably use in darker rooms. Although you can see the crease with a dark background, change it to cream or white, and it mostly disappears. Reading on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is more like reading on an Amazon Kindle or a small tablet than doing so on a non-folding phone, and far more relaxing and natural.

While I don’t play games as much, it’s impossible to ignore the joy of gaming on the Z Fold 5’s massive screen. I’ve been used to playing Pocket City on a normal phone screen, so seeing it large scale and with so much detail has been amazing. It really made the game more immersive, fun, and playable for longer.

Videos on the main screen are gorgeous, and the versatility of the design facilitates watching them. Reading books comes close to doing so on a Kindle, and don’t underestimate the Z Fold 5’s gaming ability either. This big-screen foldable is made for media, and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the best you can get.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: camera

Where the Galaxy Z Fold 5 differs from Samsung’s other top phone, the Galaxy S23 Ultra, is the camera. It can’t quite compete, and if you want Samsung’s best camera experience, then the S