With a larger cover display, boosted performance and new fold-friendly features, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has seriously kicked things up a notch
- Large cover display
- Thinner and lighter than Z Flip 4
- Improved performance
- No 128GB model
- Prominent crease in flexible display
- Same cameras as Z Flip 4
With the foldable market becoming increasingly crowded with each passing year, the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 has its work cut out for it to stay ahead of the curve. Rivals such as Oppo and Motorola joined the fray in recent months, putting out some impressive flip-to-open clamshell handsets, so it’s no surprise that all eyes have been on the Korean electronics giant in the hope that it might launch something everyone needs to pay attention to.
Thankfully, that’s precisely what the company has done here. While last year’s foldable might have turned a few heads, 2023’s Z Flip 5 has improved things by a significant degree, and there’s a good chance that this will be the folding smartphone to beat from here on.
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: What you need to know
Refinement is the name of the game with the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Samsung’s clamshell smartphone for 2023 is not only thinner and lighter than its predecessor, but it also incorporates a new gapless fold and a bigger 3.4in cover display. This display comes with a variety of new widgets, as well as the option to reply to messages using a full-size QWERTY keyboard, all without having to open the phone.
Performance has been improved, courtesy of a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and the phone launches with 8GB of RAM and a choice of either 256GB or 512GB of non-expandable storage. Camera-wise, you’re looking at a pair of 12-megapixel lenses on the back – an f1/8 main sensor and a 123-degree f/2.2 ultrawide – as well as a 10-megapixel selfie snapper embedded in a hole punch notch on the inside.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Price and competition
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 arrived in shops on 11 August, with the 256GB model costing £1,049, or £1,149 for 512GB of storage. All purchases also receive a free 12-month subscription to Disney Plus as part of Samsung’s “Boost” rewards programme.
You might notice there’s no 128GB option this year, which is unfortunate since the 128GB Z Flip 4 brought the asking price below the £1,000 mark last year; however, this year’s base 256GB model is slightly cheaper than the launch price of the equivalent version last year, if only by £20.
Of course, the days of Samsung standing unopposed in the folding market are long gone, with the Z Flip 5 squaring up against even more rivals in 2023. The most obvious being the recently launched Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, also costing £1,050. Like the Z Flip 5, the Razr 40 Ultra has a massive cover screen, but it uses the slightly older Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset, which means substantially weaker performance for the same money.
Then there’s the Oppo Find N2 Flip. And it’s here that Samsung’s market dominance is really under threat, because Oppo’s first-gen clamshell foldable costs a good chunk less than the Z Flip 5 at £849. It might be lacking in some areas – performance and battery life could be better – but, with a potential saving of £200, a lot of people are going to struggle to justify the extra cost.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Design and key features
Standing apart from its bigger (and much more expensive) Z Fold 5 counterpart, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a clamshell flip phone – in the same vein as the Oppo Find N2 Flip and Motorola Razr 40 Ultra – using the same tried-and-tested formula we’ve come to know from the company, now that we’re five generations deep. However, where this year’s iteration impresses, at least initially, is in Samsung’s refining of the overall design.
The dimensions have been trimmed down quite a bit and the phone is now just 15.1mm thick when fully closed, compared to the chunkier 17.1mm of the previous model. In order to achieve this, Samsung has managed to remove the gap, when folded, between the top and bottom halves of the phone – a design quirk that plagued all prior generations. This also has the added bonus of a tighter seal when closed, so there’s less chance of dust and detritus getting inside when it’s in your pocket or rattling around inside a handbag.
But before even picking it up, the first thing you’ll notice is the absolutely huge exterior cover display. By going from a slim 1.9in horizontal strip to a square 3.4in panel – one that pretty much fills the outside surface of the phone – Samsung is giving you a 278% larger screen this year, with more space to display your notifications and your widgets, view your calendar entries, and more. In fact, you can now reply to messages with the use of a full QWERTY keyboard directly from the cover display itself, although this does feel a little fiddly in comparison to the regular keyboard on the internal 6.7in screen.
There are 13 different widgets to choose from, including the full Spotify experience and even the option to watch a Netflix show or a YouTube video in its entirety without ever having to open your phone, although I can’t imagine why you’d want to do this when opening the phone is so little effort.
However, I do like the new multi-widget view – it allows you to briefly display all of your widgets on-screen by pinching to zoom, and you’re then able to tap which widget you’d like to display, rather than labouriously swiping between them. The look of the cover screen is customisable, too, with a wide selection of clocks to choose from, as well as various frames and even the option to display animated images or video. The colour of the various widgets and icons on the cover display and interior wallpaper can also be matched with the eight handset paint jobs on offer: Mint (pictured here), Lavender, Graphite, Cream, Blue, Green, Platinum and Yellow.
You also still get IPX8 waterproofing, as well as a protective layer of Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on both halves of the phone.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Displays
As for the technical specifics, the cover display itself is a Super AMOLED 2X panel with a resolution of 748 x 720 and a 60Hz refresh rate. Open the handset and you’re presented with a 6.7in 2,640 x 1,080 Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel that has a 120Hz refresh rate and a slim-tall aspect ratio of 22:9 – while this is exactly the same as the previous model, I’ve been impressed with its performance so far.
There are two colour profiles to choose from: Vivid and Natural. The former is the default, reproducing 105.2% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut and an average Delta E colour accuracy figure of 1.41, and that’s the best mode for watching HDR video. In Natural mode, which you’ll want to use for general web browsing and the like, you’re looking at colour reproduction that hits 99% of the sRGB gamut and 1.22 average Delta E colour accuracy.
I do need to mention the display crease before we continue. Sadly, it’s still quite prominent here and is very noticeable when you catch it in the light. It does feel slightly smaller than last year’s version, but Samsung should look to reduce the thickness with the next iteration if it wants to keep up with its rivals. The Razr 40 Ultra’s crease, for instance, is barely visible.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Performance and battery life
Inside, Samsung has added the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip to handle all of the phone’s processing duties. This is the same, slightly tweaked, version of Qualcomm’s flagship chipset that we saw in the Galaxy S23 series, with a boosted clock speed of 3.6GHz versus the usual 3.3GHz. There’s also 8GB of LPDDR5X RAM as well as a 3,700mAh battery, which is the same as the Flip 4.
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So, as expected, performance compared last year’s model has improved, especially when it comes to CPU-related tasks. Running the Geekbench 5 test, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 achieved 18% faster speeds in the single-core portion of the test, with a 21% improvement in multicore processing.
Gaming is also faster, with the improvements here just as stark. When running the GFXBench Car Chase benchmark, the Z Flip 5 achieved an average frame rate score of 93fps, compared to the Z Flip 4’s 79fps.
Sadly, the 128GB model is no more, and the Z Flip 5 is only available with 256GB or 512GB of storage. Technically, this means we’re getting a price increase on what counts as the base model, with the 2023 phone launching at £1,049 compared to 2022’s £999 – while you might be getting double the storage, it would have been nice to at least have the option of a cheaper model with less storage.
In our battery benchmark tests, the Z Flip 5 had stamina that was about what you’d expect. Thanks to the more efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the battery life is now a little longer – 22hrs 17mins in our video playback test, which was 1hr 6mins more than the Z Flip 4 achieved last year. Unfortunately, charging is still on the slow side, topping out at 25W when plugged in or 15W if you charge wirelessly, and there’s no charger in the box either.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Cameras
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5’s camera offerings remain unchanged: you’re getting a 12-megapixel (f/1.8) main camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS) alongside another 12-megapixel (f/2.2) 123-degree ultrawide unit, or flip the phone open and you have the same 10-megapixel (f/2.2) selfie camera as before, housed within a central hole punch notch.
It’s no surprise then, that image quality is the same as before – not the best around, but, broadly speaking, you can still capture some lovely pictures with loads of detail and rich, bold colours. In fact, I was most impressed with the Z Flip 5’s use of HDR, which effectively softened highlights without dropping the overall brightness of the image.
I also really liked the quality of the Z Flip 5’s portrait images. My subject was well defined and nicely separated from the blurred background. Night mode shots are rather good, too, with minimal visual noise and natural-looking lighting.
However, the 12-megapixel ultrawide camera continues to be the weakest aspect – while it’s nice to have the option to squeeze more stuff into the frame, there’s a noticeable drop in quality, especially if lighting conditions aren’t ideal. Some of the wide images were a little too soft for my liking, and the lack of OIS made for some rather shaky shots.
As before, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 can record video up to 4K resolution at 60fps but, unlike with Samsung’s S23 series, there’s no 8K recording, though its absence isn’t really an issue. The footage looks great and is rock steady even during fast movement.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Verdict
Yet again, I’m impressed with Samsung’s latest flip-tastic smartphone. While last year’s model was the first foldable to really dip its toe into the mainstream, this updated 2023 version has been refined to such a degree that I’m now confident to say that foldables are finally worth considering, especially if it’s something you had initially dismissed.
The Z Flip 5’s price might still be a bit out of reach for the majority of prospective buyers – and some small improvements could still be made to enhance things further, particularly in the software – but, if you’re patient enough to wait for the inevitable sale, or you’re flush with cash on release day, this is a must-buy.