Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4 was a big upgrade over the Galaxy Z Flip 3. It managed to turn, what was a more fashion-forward foldable, into a very useful and practical smartphone with major improvements to its cameras and battery life. With the new Galaxy Z Flip 5, Samsung has added even more features to the mix. There’s now a bigger cover display with its own widget-based interface, a new processor and improvements to the cameras. I got to spend some time with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 at the Galaxy Unpacked launch event, and here are my first impressions.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5’s overall design has not changed by much and it still offers an IPX8 rating for water proofing. However, look closely and you’ll quickly notice the expanded glass on the front that manages to hide a large 3.4-inch, Super AMOLED 60Hz display underneath. This new larger display has a resolution of 720 x 748 pixels (306ppi). Tapping on it wakes up the oddly shaped display which resembles a folder icon from Windows or Mac OS.
Samsung’s approach to the cover display’s design on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is very different compared to Motorola’s more radical design for the same. The cover display on the Flip 5 has some really thick bezels on the top, left and right sides with a cutout at the bottom which completely avoids the LED flash and the two cameras.
The inner display on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 has not seen much of an upgrade. It seems to be the same 6.7-inch full-HD+ Dynamic AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate in a 22:9 aspect ratio. It still feels a bit cramped when browsing through content vertically. However, the aspect ratio of this main display keeps its footprint quite compact compared to other foldables such as the Oppo Find N2 Flip. The phone’s weight is the same as before (187g) but is slimmer when folded (by 2mm) thanks to the new hinge mechanism.
According to Samsung, the new hinge is more durable when subjected to drops or shocks and also allows for the zero-gap design between the two halves of the clamshell when folded shut (apart from reducing the display’s crease).
Samsung has gone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy in the Galaxy Z Flip 5, which is a customised version of the standard chipset just like on the Galaxy S23 series which launched earlier this year. Samsung claims that the new chipset brings improvements to image quality and battery life.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 will be offered in two storage variants. The first with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage and the second with 512GB of storage, which is an improvement over last year’s model which had a 128GB base variant.
The phone follows Samsung’s recent trend with the standard Galaxy S23 series and offers the same camera hardware as on the previous Galaxy Z Flip 4. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a 12-megapixel primary camera with dual pixel PDAF and OIS with an 83-degree field of view (FOV). The ultra-wide camera offers a 12-megapixel sensor with a 123-degree FOV. Selfies are handled by a 10-megapixel camera.
The phone’s battery capacity also remains the same at 3,700mAh, along with 25W wired charging and 15W wireless charging as before.
The software is where things have changed, but primarily for the cover display. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 runs One UI 5.1.1 with Android 13. The Galaxy Z Flip 5’s Flex Window is basically a bigger version of its previous display, but it comes with a lot of added functionality.
As observed from previous leaks, it is indeed a widget-based interface. There’s a widget for most native apps, but I could not spot any from Google during my brief hands-on time. One can place calls from the call log widget, check the weather, and even reply to notifications with a full keyboard, which is a big leap from the previous implementation, which used voice input for sending out replies.
The cover display cannot run full apps like on the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra (Review) which seems like a big missed opportunity for Samsung, but we will reserve our final opinion for the full review. The Flex Window also has quick toggles (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc) and comes with Samsung Pay support. Samsung has also added the ability to show one’s boarding pass at the airport from the outer display itself, thus reducing the need to open the phone. A neat trick which Samsung has included is Multi-Widget view, which basically uses the pinch gesture to give a zoomed-out view of all the active widgets in the cover display.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5’s success depends heavily on the practicality of its new cover display and how frequently it reduces the need to unfold the main display. Our eyes are also on the new chipset which gives Samsung a natural edge in terms of performance over the competition, but we have to use it more to see if there is any improvement with imaging quality and battery life as well. There’s more to come in the full review.
Disclosure: Samsung sponsored the correspondent’s flights and hotel for the trip to Seoul, South Korea.