The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the latest iteration of Samsung’s compact foldable phone line. Folding vertically like a clamshell, the Z Flip 5 brings upgrades like a larger cover display, a more durable design, and boosted performance while retaining the slick style of its predecessors.
At Ksh107,990, the Z Flip 5 is pricey but offers unique advantages over slab phones thanks to its folding form factor. The small size when closed, coupled with a large internal screen, make it a one-of-a-kind device. Let’s take a closer look at what the phone brings to the table.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 effortlessly combines style and elegance with a reassuring sturdiness, all within the remarkably lightweight frame of just 6.6 ounces. Its smooth surface, though occasionally verging on slippery, offers a tactile experience that is both refined and enjoyable.
However, it’s worth noting that the phone’s sleek design may present a challenge, as I found myself grappling with the phone almost slipping from my hands on numerous occasions. To mitigate this, I strongly recommend considering a protective case from day one to prevent any inadvertent slips.
In its closed state, the Z Flip 5 boasts dimensions of 3.4 by 2.8 by 0.6 inches (HWD), making it taller yet thinner compared to its predecessor, the Z Flip 4 (3.3 by 2.8 by 0.7 inches). Notably, the absence of a wedge shape when closed distinguishes the Flip 5, contributing to its impressively sleek and slender form.
Upon unfolding, the Flip 5 extends to 6.5 by 2.3 by 0.3 inches, revealing a 6.7-inch inner screen with a resolution of 2,640 by 1,080 pixels, a pixel density of 426ppi, and a 120Hz refresh rate. While these specifications remain unchanged from the Z Flip 4, they continue to deliver a crisp and smooth display experience. The folding crease, although still perceptible, is inconspicuous in most scenarios, becoming most apparent against a completely black background.
Both the inner and outer screens exhibit impressive brightness, with the inner screen reaching a peak brightness of 1,200 nits and the outer screen maxing out at 1,600 nits. Despite the visible folding crease, the Z Flip 5’s screens excel in various lighting conditions, ensuring optimal visibility even in direct sunlight.
Maintaining the IPX8 rating from its predecessor, the Z Flip 5 is fully water-resistant, although not officially dustproof. Protected by Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and back panels, the phone can withstand drops of up to 6.5 feet on surfaces like asphalt, offering enhanced durability compared to the previous-generation Flip.
The device’s physical features include a SIM slot on the left side, complemented by a volume rocker and a power button/fingerprint sensor on the right. The slightly recessed combo button facilitates easy fingerprint sensor activation.
However, there may be instances of accidental taps when gripping the closed Z Flip 5. To address this, an option in the settings allows users to require a press (rather than a touch) to activate the fingerprint sensor, mitigating inadvertent touches and potential security concerns.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5’s stereo speakers deliver solid sound quality that defies expectations. In a phone crammed with so much folding technology, audio can easily become an afterthought. But the dual speakers produce impressive output, especially considering the compact design.
Also Read: Oppo Reno10 5G Review: Stylish mid-ranger
The bottom speaker unsurprisingly provides fuller sound, handling the low-end frequencies. The earpiece speaker lacks the same bass punch but provides the necessary treble for a balanced profile. Together, the two speakers create a surprisingly wide soundstage with minimal distortion even at high volumes.
While serious audiophiles may still desire a Bluetooth speaker, the Z Flip 5 speakers output highly listenable, immersive sound. The stereo separation adds a sense of spaciousness while retaining clear vocals and crisp treble.
The Quirky Cover Screen is Limited By Design
The Flip 5’s outer display, termed the “flex window” by Samsung, spans 3.4 inches with a resolution of 748 by 720 pixels, marking a significant improvement over the Flip 4’s smaller 1.9-inch, 512-by-260-pixel display. While it operates at a decent 60Hz refresh rate, it falls short of matching the Flip 5’s inner screen, which boasts a smoother 120Hz rate, a feature I personally wished the outer display mirrored.
When the Flip is closed, Samsung presumes a desire to conclude phone activity, consequently closing the active app. The default display showcases an always-on view, necessitating unlocking to resume interaction.
Initially, the cover screen features interactive widgets but lacks apps. To enable app functionality, you need to navigate to Settings > Advanced Features > Labs, toggling on “Apps allowed on cover screen.” However, this setup restricts app choices to a mere six selections within the cover-screen apps widget.
App behavior exhibits limited continuity between screens. For instance, opening a text on the cover screen seamlessly transitions to the same text thread when the phone is opened. However, if the user navigates to a different text thread on the inner screen and returns to the outer screen, the app closes, requiring relaunching.
A similar pattern emerges with YouTube: watching on the outer screen continues on the inner screen, but browsing sections on the outer screen resets when transitioning to the inner screen, presenting a fresh app instance.
Samsung’s Good Lock, unfortunately unavailable in certain regions (including Kenya), permits users to place any app within its widget. However, the multistep process involving downloads from the Galaxy App Store and specific configurations via MultiStar suggests this functionality might not align with Samsung’s widespread intention.
By using Good Lock, users must download it, access the Life Up option, install MultiStar, engage with I ♡ Galaxy Foldable, and select the Launcher Widget. This hectic process allows one to use almost all apps on the cover display. However, certain apps might not be compatible with the cover screen, prompting a message to open the phone instead.
Performance and Software
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 runs Samsung’s One UI 5.1.1, based on Android 13. This interface is familiar at this point, and I’m a fan of Samsung’s extensive customization options for personalizing the experience.
The base model offers 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, but you can double the latter for more. Both use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip seen in the Galaxy S23 line. The Fold 5 has the same processor but with 12GB RAM and a 1TB storage option.
The Flip 5 ships with Android 13 and should receive four years of OS updates and five years of security patches. The experience isn’t stock Android like Google Pixels, but it’s close.
In testing, app loading was fast, responsiveness snappy, and no lag occurred even with heavy multitasking. The Flip 5 scored 1,940 (single-core) and 4,895 (multi-core) on Geekbench 6. For comparison, the Flip 4 with Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 scored 917 and 2,916. Note Geekbench focuses on the CPU.
Gaming was solid, with Call of Duty Mobile playing smoothly on medium at 120fps. A 20-minute session caused mild warmth but nothing uncomfortable.
The 3,700mAh battery retains last year’s capacity and 25W wired charging speed. I averaged around 6.5 hours of mixed usage, often needing a top-up to get through the day – an area I’d hoped for improvement. Battery life varies considerably, though, based on usage. Light social media and email should provide a full day of power.
No charger is included, but with a powerful one, the Flip 5 can charge from 0-100% in 1 hour 45 minutes. A 15-minute quick charge provided 19% juice in testing. The phone also supports 15W wireless and 5W reverse wireless charging.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 comes equipped with a pair of 12MP main cameras: a primary wide-angle lens with an 83° field of view, optical image stabilization (OIS), and f/1.8 aperture, along with an ultra-wide angle 123° FOV lens with an f/2.2 aperture. At first glance, the image quality from both lenses is decent and delivers the rich, saturated look that Samsung phones are known for.
However, upon closer inspection, there are some limitations. Low light performance is just okay – expect to see some bloom and flare effects from light sources outside of the frame. Photos taken with night mode also came out a bit too soft for my taste, with finer details getting smoothed over.
But the biggest omission here is the lack of any kind of telephoto lens. Without optical zoom capabilities, the phone has to rely on digital zoom, which just doesn’t measure up. Cropped and digitally zoomed images end up looking pixelated, losing sharpness quickly.
For a premium foldable phone in 2023, I would have hoped for a dedicated telephoto lens to allow for true optical zoom. Other competitively priced phones, like the recently announced Oppo Find N3 Flip offer 2x optical zoom, so the Flip 5 feels a bit behind in this regard.
The front-facing 10MP selfie camera does a decent job of capturing clear photos, though skin tones tend to look a bit washed out and pale. I do appreciate that Samsung avoided any kind of under-display selfie camera on the Flip 5 and went with a straight-forward punch-hole notch instead. But the real strengths for selfie shooting come from the foldable form factor itself.
Having the ability to prop the phone up half-open on any flat surface and use the main cameras for self-portraits is a game-changer. Even better is using the cover display as a massive viewfinder that allows you to perfectly frame yourself in the shot.
You can enable the selfie viewfinder mode whether the phone is opened up or closed – just double tap the power button. There’s also an option to toggle between showing the full sensor view or a cropped zoomed-in view.
My only gripe is that I wish Samsung included a dedicated physical shutter button on the Galaxy Flip 5 to make shooting easier. The volume rocker is just too close to the main camera module, and I kept accidentally getting my fingers in the shots. The palm gesture to trigger the shutter feels unnatural too. A shutter button on the bottom half of the phone below the hinge would have been perfect.
So in summary – the Flip 5’s cameras are decent for casual shooting, but lack the optical zoom capabilities I’d hope for in a premium foldable. The selfie versatility enabled by the folding form factor is great, but a telephoto lens and physical shutter button would have taken the camera experience to the next level. There’s room for improvement, but it gets the basics done.
Should You Get the Galaxy Z Flip 5?
As a smartphone reviewer, I get to test out a lot of devices, but the Galaxy Z Flip 5 stands out as one I genuinely enjoyed using daily. Sure, the battery life could be better, and the cameras need work. However, flipping it open and closed gave me a nostalgic thrill, taking me back to early 2000s phone design.
However, nostalgia alone shouldn’t warrant dropping Ksh 100,000+ on a phone, but the Flip 5 is more than a one-trick pony. Samsung’s foldable tech has matured remarkably, making this feel like a top-tier flagship that happens to fold. The Flex Window notifications and messaging are immensely satisfying, realizing the potential of two-way pagers.
My main hesitation in recommending one is that the Flip 5 feels more like an incremental update than a revolutionary one. Lingering issues remain unaddressed, like the lack of fast charging, limited battery capacity, and dated cameras. The Flip 6 could finally step up and resolve these, but there’s no guarantee. Another year could pass with minimal improvement.
For anyone seeking a foldable now, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the best choice. The value is strong, software support is excellent, and the hardware competes with any 2023 flagship. When you find a good deal, this is the foldable to grab. It just falls short of being the absolute must-have foldable until key weaknesses get addressed. But for a tantalizing glimpse into the future, the Flip 5 delivers.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
With its playful folding design, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 offers a refreshing alternative to the sea of sleek glass slabs. The compact size when folded makes it ultra-portable. However, the compromises are clear - not so good battery life to unexceptional cameras. Fun and portable, yes, but also flawed.
- Excellent performance
- Premium and sturdy build quality
- It’s fun to have a flip phone
- Poor app continuity between screens
- Battery life could be better
- Cameras are solid but same as Z Flip 4