Samsung announced their new Galaxy Z Fold5 and Flip5 foldables for the year today at their flipside unpacked event. These two new Samsung foldables, meant to replace the outgoing Samsung Flip 4 and Fold 4 phablet respectively. Also, the Singapore event is timed together with the launch at Samsung’s HQ in South Korea, also graced by local celebrities here.
Samsung had been a leader in this foldable phone space, hence so every foldable manufacturer there is holding Samsung new 5th generation foldable as the industry benchmark to best. Let’s take a look at each of the new devices at the first-look launch.
Lowdown on Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip5 and Fold5
What we like:
- Subtle mechanical hinge upgrades
- Both and Fold5 and Flip5 folds “gapless” flat now
- New Snapdragon Gen 2 CPUs across the board
- Minimum storage bumped to 256GB with speedy UFS4.0
- Support for Wifi-6E for Flip 5 and Wifi-7 for Fold 5
- Flip 5 has a new 3.4″ Flex window cover screen
What we don’t like:
- Same rear and front cameras as last gen
- No improvement in battery capacity
- Same slow 25W wired and 15W wireless charging
- Exact same internal screens from last gen
- Unexciting 2-gen old design
In-hand, the phones do not feel too much different to the outgoing models. The changes, however, are more than skin deep. The unnoticed changes are more subtle mechanical upgrades than chasing hardware specifications numbers this time round. This could set the basis for subsequently incremental upgrades down the road.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
The Z Fold 5 is the larger of the two foldables unveiled here. And tad the least impressive new product of the bunch, which dated design is almost 3 generations old. The Fold 5 spots the same 7.6” internal screen spotting 1812 x 2176 pixels and an external 6.2” cover display screen (904 x 2316 pixels).
The Fold 5 is also slimmer now to the outgoing Z Fold 4, sitting at 6.1mm unfolded and 13.4mm thick folded. This is compared to the Fold 4 dimensions at 6.3 mm unfolded and 15.8mm at the thickest spot when folded.
Hence, this closes the gap to the Google’s new Pixel Fold announced in May which sits at 12.1mm folded and 5.8mm thick unfolded, undeniably one of thinness foldable phablets available on the market today.
Samsung also touts that their new 5th-gen foldables has a much-reduced crease. Both the Flip and Fold folds shut without a gap this time, though the center crease is still noticeable on the Fold 5, especially when swiping across the device center fold.
No camera upgrade
Cameras are pretty much the same story here on the new devices. Featuring the exact same cameras as last year’ s model.
Still, you get a rear 3 lens setup taking on the likes of the current S23 series. You get a 0.6x ultrawide lens, together with the same 1.0x zoom 50 MP f/1.8 main shooter as found on the S23 series and topping up the photographic versatility with a 3.0x zoom telephoto lens.
Notably, despite being a flagship, the Fold 5 is not touting an additional Galaxy Ultra style 10x periscopic lenses, we come to love and adore on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Looks like Samsung is leaving that specially just for the Ultra. Also, I find the omission of the amazing 200MP main lens on the we tested on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, a big miss.
Fold5 S-pen functionality
Speaking of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, now we see bits of Samsung’s Note (aka Ultra) coming to the Fold 5 too. We see compatibility with a “note-like” with an S-pen stylus now “integrated” via a new custom flip cover. No in-device silo to store your pen though. Also, strangely this revised S-pen does not come with the phone, it costs separately and currently at press time is not available for sale in Singapore Samsung stores.
Additionally, the pen only works on the interior display and not on the Fold’s outer display. Also, this S-pen is tiny and is like a throwback to the old Wacom digitizer days, not requiring a battery on-board, humorously a “new” feature Samsung claims.
Also disappointingly, the fold 5 has the same Li-Po 4400 mAh internal battery with slow 25W wired charging. Connectivity wise, you get a bump up to Bluetooth 5.3 and now support for Wifi-7 via a tri-band radio. Still absent is a 3.5mm audio jack, suspiciously missing from such a large device.
Samsung Z Flip 5 new Flex Window
Furthermore, the highlight of the show is the Z Flip 5 with a new larger outer screen, notably the device with the more interesting upgrade. This new cover 3.4 inch Super AMOLED screen sits in at 720 x 748 pixels. It is a bump from the two generation-old post box-style 1.9” Super AMOLED screen, sitting at 260 x 512 pixels. Samsung calls this cover screen the “Flex window”.
It takes a hint or two from Motorola Razr Plus/Ultra released a month ago, going in the likes of the Motorola with a larger 3.6 inch front cover screen. Also, I noticed the crease on the Flip 5 internal screen is less pronounced than the Fold 5. Reduced and so is the gap when both devices are closed, making it less of a pocket lint magnet.
No word that if Samsung Singapore offers free screen protector replacements like what they do in North America. The factory-included screen protector is widely reported by customers to delaminate easily, even within a year of use.
The Flip5 spots a familiar layout with all the button on the right size of the device. Also, it maintains similar dimensions and weight (187 g) as the outgoing FLip 4 model, only that the maximum thickness when closed is now reduced to 15.1mm from 17.1mm on the previous model thanks to the new smaller hinge design.
Flex Window widgets
Moreover, the outer screen on the Flip 3 and 4 was an improvement from the Z Flip 2 letterbox display. However, it has always lacked the versatility and screen real estate to do anything useful on it beside consuming widget information limited to weather and appointments. More at times, does not provide all the information you need and invites you to open the phone instead.
Additionally, the flip 5 front facing screen has grown considerably from the 3rd and 4th generations Flips. This generation, you get a larger 3.4-inch “always-on” outer screen, a more powerful CPU. This is still powered by the same Li-Po 3700 mAh non-removable internal battery, which does not spell any good for battery life. Hence, I am hoping the presence of the more efficient Snapdragon Gen 2 chip might be a boon to battery life, or at least put it on far with the outgoing Flip 4. In comparison, the Motorola Razr Plus has a slightly larger 3,800mah battery onboard.
However, “unpacked” out of the box, unlike the Fold5, the Samsung Z Flip5 can’t run any app on the cover flex window. In comparison, you can access your App drawer and run any apps on the Motorola RAZR+/40 Ultra cover screen. This allows you to use most of your phone’s features with the calm shell closed.
Only Samsung flex window widgets for now
Still, Samsung’s use of proprietary widgets is also similar to Oppo’s N2 Flip 5G where you can only run specifically-developed widgets on the front cover screen via a widget manager. This limit on specific apps will drastically reduce the functionality of the outer display. Though Samsung tell us to stay tuned for “good lock” widget store allowing you to run more widgets on the external cover screen when developers add more support down the road.
I was not able to test this functionality in person during the launch. In my quick tests, you get some app continuity only on Samsung apps. For example, opening the camera on the Flex display expands out to a full screen camera on the interior display when opened. However, I noticed that while you can compose messages on the flex window, you can only use Samsung’s cramped soft mini keyboard.
Moreover, camera-wise, the Flip 5 retains its same dual camera main shooters from the outgoing model. You find the same 12 MP f/1.8 aperture main “wide” 1.0x lens and a 0.5x 12MP F/2.2 ultra-wide lens. Disappointingly, there is no telephoto lens here, which would be the standout feature to distinguish the Flip 5 over the competition of other clamshell flip phones like the OPPO Find N2, and the Motor Razr+.
The Flip 5 also sees a bump of minimum storage to 256GB on the faster UFS 4.0 (from 128GB minimum on UFS3.1). This is coupled with 8GB RAM. You also get support for newer Bluetooth 5.3 and Wifi-6E via tri band radios.
A CPU bump on a familiar layout
Exterior-wise, you get the same rocker volume switch on the right, with the fingerprint (side-mounted) integrated sensor into the recessed power button. Both phones maintain its PX8 water resistant and Android 13 out of the box with Samsung’s speedy, One UI 5.1.1
Moreover, both the Flip5 and Fold5 phones spot Qualcomm’s current SM8550-AB Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, up from the previous SM8475 Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. The minimum on-board flash storage also takes a bump up, both starting from 256GB. The CPU will be the least noticeable upgrade in raw performance, as the Gen 1 is already a solid mobile performer. Still, we come to a time now where CPU is less of a bottleneck in phones today. The phone feels zippy in-hand, thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate screen, which is the same from last year. I reckon we can find biggest improvements on the Gen 2 chips are its energy efficiency, considering Samsung did not improve on the battery capacities this time round.
Wrapping up on pricing
On value and pricing, both the Z Flip5 and Fold5 take on the same retail prices as last year’s unpacked release. The Fold 5 starts from S$2,398 for 256GB storage variant, S$2,578 for 512GB, and a wallet-blistering S$2,938 for 1TB. The flip 5 costs S$1,498 for 256GB, and S$1,678 for the 512GB. That is very much into laptop, personal computer price range.
Still, for both phones priced well above the thousand-dollar mark, the phones are not quite the value proposition, especially with only a 1 year warranty included. Still, if you demand the newest device out there, Samsung got you covered with a $250 early bird discount voucher if you pre-order your device now.
Also, this year’s bump is more mechanical than features, with a redesigned hinge to put the Flip and fold series on-par with the foldable competition. Hence, you might find it hard pressed forking out for a minor upgrade, also considering last year’s foldables are going at a steep discount now.
Alternative, there are cheaper competition options like the Oppo N2 find and N2 Flip with a more useable cover screen. Also, you can snag pretty good upfront discounts on the flip 4 even on Samsung official website. Flip 4 holds it value well, even in today’s resale market.
That wraps up our first impression of the refresh of both the Samsung flagship foldables, the Z Flip5 and Fold5 at unpacked in the flesh, now, both in their 5th generation. The devices are available for pre-order now and expected to ship early next month. Stay tuned for the in-depth reviews of these new devices to come.