Samsung today announced the 5th generation of its foldable phones, the Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold 5. As with previous devices, the Z Flip is a clamshell-style vertical folder, and the Z Fold is a horizontal “book-style” foldable. These are very clearly evolutionary devices compared to their predecessors, but that’s not the worst thing, let’s check them out.
Starting with the Galaxy Z Flip 5, the most important change that Samsung has made is likely to be the larger cover display. Gone is the measly 1.9” cover display of the Z Flip 3 and 4, now replaced with a much larger and higher resolution 3.4” panel. This new screen, much like Motorola, is a bit of a funky shape, the screen on the Z Flip 5 is shaped almost like a folder or a binder with a raised portion in the bottom left that goes around the camera lenses. What this does is gets rid of the two-tone of the previous versions and make the entire top half when closed a screen, so when off the “top” is black glass, which then comes to life when powered on. The new cover screen doesn’t let you run any app you want as Motorola does, however, there is a lot more functionality than there was before, and the most important one to me, is that there is now a full-sized QWERTY keyboard so that i can respond to messages from the outer screen without having to use canned replies or voice to text, this is huge and a nice welcome change. Samsung says that downloadable widgets are coming in the future, including a Google Finance one, a Spotify one and potentially some games, so we shall have to wait and see.
Before you even flip open the Z Flip 5 you notice something has changed, Samsung has decided to attempt a waterdrop style hinge, which means that the Z Flip 5 (and Fold) now actually shut flush without a wedge gap! Huzzah, took them long enough. The Armor Aluminum frame (yes, that is the actual trademarked name, not armour aluminium) is back, and the front and rear are covered with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 from Corning. There is a USB-C port on the bottom and the power and volume buttons on the right-hand side. Flipping this little guy open shows us the same size screen inside that has gotten some nice spec bumps to brightness and durability (including a new Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel) one of the things that hasn’t changed unfortunately, is the display crease. Despite Samsung going to a waterdrop style design, the Galaxy GutterTm is still here, just as visible to the eye and the fingertip as on the Flip 4,3,2 and the original models. Though Samsung has decreased the size of the bezels in the XY plane, but also in Z height, they’re a bit closer to the frame, hopefully, this doesn’t allow for some Pixel Fold-like issues with debris, but only time will tell.
Inside the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the new Snapdragon 8 Gen2 for Galaxy, and from the numbers that Samsung is giving us, double-digit gains for CPU, GPU and NPU, with the latter two in the high 30%, I feel like this is a Snapdragon 8+ Gen2 in all but name, a mid-cycle refresh with higher clocks, more performance and lower power consumption. In fact, Samsung says that despite the larger external screen and higher performance SoC with the same size battery, the Z Flip 5 gets a better battery than the Z Flip 4 which is nice to see as in my experience the battery life on the Z Flip 4 was passable, but not amazing, what I’m hoping to see is improved charging speed, because for a near £1000 phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 charged ungodly slow, with a claimed peak of 25w, but I never saw higher than 19w in my 9 months with it.
Lastly, the cameras. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 still has a duo of cameras on the outside, and they both remain 12MP, the main 12MP camera has an aperture of F1.8 and a rather large 1.8µm pixel pitch, as well as dual pixel Autofocus and OIS but we know nothing of the sensor size itself. The Ultrawide camera is another 12MP unit but with no OIS, an aperture of f2.2 a pixel pitch of just 1.12µm but a nice 123-degree field of view. I felt like Samsung either should have added a tele camera here, or made the main camera larger to allow for a lossless 2x crop, and used the AI grunt of the Snapdragon 8 Gen2 to improve the quality as when I was using the very similar set-up on the Z Flip 4, i felt it lacking. Internally we have what I think is the same 10MP selfie camera, with an aperture of F2.2 and a 1.22µm pixel pitch, decent but not mind-blowing.
The Z Flip 5 is going to come with 8GB of LPDDR5X DRAM and either 256GB or 512GB of UFS storage, no MicroSD expansion, and only Single SIM, but there will be an eSIM option of course. The colours available are incredibly pastel, with Mint, Lavender, Graphite, and Cream with prices being £1049 and £1149, so a £50 increase over last year.
Moving on to the Galaxy Z Fold 5, this is an even more incremental improvement over the Z Fold 4, but a welcome one at that. First off, they have decreased the mass by 10g, now at 253g, when folded the device is 13.4mm shaving 2.4mm off of the thickness, making it easier to hold and nicer in the pocket. The screen sizes of 6.2” (cover screen) and 7.6” (internal screen) and resolutions are the same (2316×904 for the cover screen, 2176×1812 internal screen), even the refresh rates are the same, 48-120Hz for the cover screen and 1-120Hz for the internal screen, what’s really changed screen wise is the brightness, specifically for the internal screen, wherein the HBM (high brightness mode) is now up to 1200 Nits and the absolute peak is now 1750 Nits, whereas before it was 100 and 1200 respectively, so it should be a very noticeable change using the internal screen in broad daylight.
The SoC inside the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the same as the Z Flip 5, a Snapdragon 8 Gen2 for Galaxy, which once again is an 8+ Gen2 in all but name, but what is neat about the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the new vapour chamber, which is now 38% larger, a significantly larger vapour chamber enables significantly better-sustained performance for gaming or SoC intensive workloads such as LumaFusion (Video editing). The Galaxy Z Fold 5 gets the same 256GB and 512GB storage options as the Z Flip 5, however, there is an online-only 1TB option, and paired with those storage options is 12GB of LPDDR5X DRAM.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 also inherits the new waterdrop hinge as the Z Flip 5, but also brings forward the Galaxy GutterTm from the original almost 5 years ago, le sigh. But this does mean that there is no gap in the device when folded, which is nice, it is a little thing but it makes it feel better and more cohesively designed, but that might just be me. The battery stays the same at 4400mAh, but much like with the Z Flip 5, the more efficient SoC makes for a better battery experience, even with the brighter screen and more performant SoC. Samsung once again didn’t tell us the charging speeds, but it is likely the same 25w wired and 15w wireless as the Z Fold 4, which, truly is just not enough in 2023, it wasn’t enough in 2022, but it is certainly not now.
The camera setup for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is, from the specs we were given, identical to the Galaxy Fold 4. This means a 50MP main camera, with an aperture of F1.8 and a 1.0µm pixel pitch as well as dual pixel autofocus and OIS. The Ultrawide camera is a 12MP unit with a 1.12µm pixel pitch and an aperture of F2.2. The 3x Telephoto zoom is a 10MP sensor with OIS, an Aperture of F2.4 and a pixel pitch of 1.0µm. The cover display (the outside screen) has the same 10MP sensor, with an F2.2 aperture and 1.22µm pixel pitch, and the Internal UDC (Under display Camera) is the same 4MP 2.0µm pitch with an Aperture of F1.8. all this means is that the camera hardware is likely going to act the same as last year with better processing this year, so a smidge faster, with some better algorithmic stuff fixing the focus, some blurriness and more, but I wouldn’t expect night and day differences on the camera front, especially for the under-display 4MP unit on the inner screen.
Samsung has three options for the Galaxy Z Flip 5, the 12GB+256GB, the 12GB+512GB and the online exclusive 12GB+1TB, as well as three colours Icy Blue, Cream, and Phantom Black. With the 256GB model costing £1749, the 512GB costing £1849 and the 1TB costing £2049, which means these practically stay the same as last year, for better or for worse these are practically the same phones.
Both models go on pre-order today July 26th, and are on general availability sale on August 11th, we will be hopefully getting one or both models in for future testing.