Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Review

Here My goal is to help you determine whether the Galaxy Z Fold 5 deserves the title of the best foldable phone in 2023. Additionally, I’ll assist you in comparing the Samsung Z Fold 5 with other options, such as the Pixel Fold and the Galaxy S23 Ultra?

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Design and Durability

Design and Build Quality

In terms of design, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is noticeably slimmer compared to last year’s Z Fold 4, making it more pocket-friendly. However, like other large foldable phones, I did notice that the Z-Fold 5 tended to slip out of shallow pockets during spontaneous movements, like squatting.

On the positive side, the ‘Icy Blue’ color option is quite impressive. It exudes elegance without any distracting branding, as the Samsung logo is subtly placed on the reflective surface.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve put the Galaxy Z Fold 5 through its paces. I’ve carried in bags and backpacks alongside other phones and various items, some of which had sharp edges. I haven’t used any covers or cases for protection, and so far, the front glass of the Victor 2 display has only the tiniest of scratches.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Backend Design

The rear of the phone remains in perfect condition, and the sturdy Armour aluminum frame has only a minor fray in one corner, possibly from a pocket mishap when it fell about a foot onto the pavement during one of those squatting episodes.

It’s worth noting that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 boasts IPX8 water resistance, and it has endured some wet conditions over the past couple of weeks without any issues.

Software Features

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Software

On the software side, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 comes equipped with Android 13 and promises five years of software updates. While it’s not a budget-friendly option, this should ensure longevity. And offers a generous 256GB storage but it lacks microSD memory card support, which is a standard feature in most flagships.

I did notice that the fingerprint sensor can be a bit finicky at times, requiring a couple of extra taps to register compared to regular phones. However, there’s also a reliable face unlock option.

In terms of the user interface (UI), it closely resembles Samsung’s non-foldable devices. If you’ve used recent Samsung devices like the Galaxy S23, you’ll find it familiar.

For Google enthusiasts who rely on services like Google Wallet and Google Home, you might be frustrated by Samsung’s efforts to promote its own versions of these services, especially Bixby, which can be a bit of a nuisance.

External Display

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 External Display Quality

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 retains a very similar screen technology to last year’s model on its external display. It’s a 6.2-inch screen using Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED 2x technology, just like its predecessor. The visuals are impressively sharp, thanks to the 2316 by 904 pixel resolution. The refresh rate is adjustable, ranging from 48 to 120 hertz, delivering the high-quality performance you’d expect from a Samsung display.

Despite its unique elongated shape, the screen is sharp, vibrant, and offers stunning contrast. It’s also bright enough to ensure visibility, even in less-than-ideal lighting conditions, unless you happen to be in a place with particularly poor weather. However, it’s worth noting that the screen isn’t wide enough to comfortably type on, especially for extended use.

I often find myself accidentally hitting the wrong things on the screen and eventually give up, opting to open the phone to type properly. Fortunately, most apps seem to adapt well to the slim aspect ratio of the external display, although it can be a bit challenging for typing. The stretched design works perfectly for enjoying cinematic videos but for most other tasks, you’ll prefer to unfold the device. Personally, I have a preference for the more compact front display on the Pixel Fold.

Read Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Review

Internal Display and Audio

Internal Display Screen

Inside the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, you’ll find a spacious 7.6-inch internal display panel, once again featuring Samsung’s beloved Dynamic AMOLED 2x technology. The visuals are delightfully crisp, thanks to the 2176 by 1812 pixel resolution. This display is truly exceptional, boasting sharp contrast and vibrant colors. The Z Fold 5 offers full HDR 10+ support, and unlike the Pixel Fold, it features slim bezels around the screen. Additionally, Samsung cleverly hides the selfie camera beneath the display, although it becomes noticeable when the screen brightness is cranked up.

The internal panel is now even brighter than before, allowing me to comfortably write these review notes in broad daylight while wearing sunglasses. It remained clear, whether I was taking poolside photos or watching videos, despite the screen’s shiny, super-reflective surface.

The stereo speakers on the Z Fold 5 are impressively loud, making it a joy for media consumption. Even at high volumes, they maintain crisp and clear audio quality, whether you’re watching content on the front screen or the larger internal display.

Multi-tasking

Multi tasking

I believe Samsung has done an excellent job on the software side of the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Using the unique square-shaped internal display feels natural, fluid, and user-friendly. When you’re in an app, all you need to do is a long press at the bottom edge of the display, and a nifty taskbar appears.

This taskbar allows you to quickly open one of your favorite apps. On the right-hand side, you’ll find up to four of your most recent apps displayed. You can simply tap one to open it or long-press and drag it onto the display to instantly enter split-screen mode.

You can have three apps running side by side on the screen, and you can even use pop-up windows on top of that, although three apps are typically more than enough. For example, you can catch up on your YouTube playlist while handling emails and browsing the web simultaneously.

You can also keep apps tucked to the side of the screen for easy access, which is especially handy for apps like Deezer and Audible.

Full Screen App Support

I’ve found it remarkably easy to copy and move content between apps using just two fingers. Once you’ve spent more than a day using this large screen, it all becomes incredibly intuitive. Even my somewhat tired adult brain adapted quickly.

Most apps perform impressively well on the spacious screen, including all of Google’s offerings. However, there are still some apps that don’t fully utilize all that available space, resulting in empty areas. Thankfully, apps like Audible behave better here compared to the Pixel Fold.

Occasionally, when you close the Galaxy Z Fold 5, you might encounter a message indicating that the app you were using needs to be restarted due to the sudden change in aspect ratio. However, this isn’t a major issue, and overall, it’s the best experience I’ve had on such a large smartphone display.

As usual, Samsung offers full support for the S Pen stylus. Unfortunately, there’s still no built-in slot to store the S Pen when not in use, so you’ll need a special case with a dedicated compartment for it.

Performance and Gaming

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, just like the Galaxy S23 series, and it comes with a substantial 12GB of RAM. I did experience some subtle issues when running three apps side by side, but the Snapdragon processor manages the load without any performance hiccups. Gaming is exceptionally smooth, as you’d expect. However, for fans of fast-action titles like Call of Duty, it’s not the ideal device. The cover screen is a bit too narrow, and the internal panel’s boxy shape limits your peripheral vision.

Unlike Google’s Pixel Fold, it boasts a significantly larger vapor chamber, an improvement over the older Galaxy Z Fold 4. Combined with the efficient Snapdragon platform, the Z Fold 5 never gets too hot, even when used in direct sunlight or during extended gaming sessions. However, it’s worth mentioning that I would appreciate more comprehensive gaming features similar to what Sony offers on its recent smartphones. Samsung’s foldables still lack some of these gaming enhancements.

The Z Fold 5 naturally supports 5G, a standard feature in most smartphones today, especially in a premium device like this one that costs nearly two grand. It also offers eSIM support in addition to physical SIM support, and I encountered very few connectivity issues. However, there was an occasional quirk where Z Fold 5 would decide that the Wi-Fi connection wasn’t up to par and disconnect without notifying me. This led to unexpected data usage while streaming high-resolution videos or downloading large files until I manually reconnected to Wi-Fi. It’s a minor inconvenience that pops up now and then.

Battery life

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Battery Life

When it comes to the battery, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 houses a 4,400 milliamp-hour cell, which is the same as its predecessor, the Z Fold 4, and falls short compared to competitors like the Pixel Fold. I must say that the battery life on this foldable phone has been inconsistent.

On many evenings over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had to activate power-saving mode by the end of the day, which dims the screen and limits performance. I typically get around five to six hours of screen-on time from a full charge, depending on usage. The more you use the camera, the quicker the battery drains. This includes a mix of using the external and internal displays.

If you primarily use the internal screen outdoors in bright sunlight, you’ll notice a significant drop in battery life, even for activities like web browsing or reading comics. In such cases, I’ve seen as little as four hours of screen-on time, at most. So, if you live in a sunny location, carrying a portable charger might be a good idea to ensure you stay charged throughout the day.

When it’s time to recharge the Z Fold 5, it offers what Samsung calls ‘super-fast charging.’ However, I wouldn’t describe it as particularly fast, especially when compared to some Chinese rivals. The term ‘super’ might be a bit of a stretch unless you consider tortoises to be incredibly speedy. It also supports wireless charging, though it’s not particularly quick either.

Camera Test

5 Primary lens Image Test
Image: Tech Spurt

Now, let’s talk about the camera on the Galaxy Z Fold 5. If you’re familiar with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, you’ll find these specs quite familiar, although there have been some improvements this year.

The autofocus was quick, and even when photographing fast-moving subjects, I encountered very few blurry or flawed shots.

You can expect plenty of sharp details and slightly enhanced colors, typical of what you’d anticipate from a Samsung foldable device.

50Mega-pixel Primary lens Image Test
Image: Tech Spurt

When you’re dealing with ample ambient light or challenging contrast situations, the Z Fold 5 may not always perform as well as some of its competitors like the Pixel and iPhone series. I noticed that it tends to produce photos with lens flares when dealing with strong lighting conditions.

In softer lighting, you might see some graining, and if your subject is moving, there could be a slight blur. The device does offer a night mode for low-light photography, but it’s less effective when there’s movement involved.

In well-lit, stationary conditions, you can expect bright and detailed shots relatively quickly. Overall, I found that the photo quality wasn’t as consistently impressive as what you’d get from the Galaxy S23 series smartphones. While the Z Fold 5’s photos are still decent, they might be a bit underwhelming considering its high price tag.

Camera Image
Image: Tech Spurt

Samsung includes a 12-megapixel ultrawide-angle camera, which is fairly standard. It tends to oversaturate colors in brighter lighting and isn’t as great at capturing vibrant tones, but it does a decent job overall. More valuable is the 10-megapixel telephoto camera with a three-fold optical zoom and built-in image stabilization. It can zoom up to 30 times, although I rarely found the need to go beyond 20 times zoom, as image quality starts to degrade significantly beyond that point, becoming quite grainy. The zoom function performs well even in low-light conditions, thanks to the stabilization, as long as your subject isn’t moving too much. As usual, Samsung provides a comprehensive camera setup.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 offers a plethora of bonus camera modes. You’ll find the usual suspects like night mode, portrait mode, and even the obligatory food mode. There’s also a Pro mode for those who like to tinker with settings, and fan favorites like Single Take for creating short movies. The camera quality is impressive, allowing you to record videos in up to 8K resolution with smooth image stabilization, even when you’re on the move. The audio capture is clear, even from a distance, making it great for various shooting scenarios, including family videos.

While picture quality may suffer in challenging lighting conditions, you can still expect serviceable results. Samsung smartphones, along with iPhones, are among my favorites for shooting video, and the Z Fold 5 lives up to that reputation.

On the cover screen, there’s a simple 10-megapixel selfie camera, but it’s better to use the rear camera for selfies, despite the somewhat awkward handling due to the phone’s square shape. Fortunately, the hand recognition feature helps avoid tapping the shutter button. Over the past few weeks, I’ve used the Galaxy Z Fold 5 for Skype, Zoom, and basic video chats with its internal 4-megapixel selfie camera. Surprisingly, the picture quality was decent and not as hazy or low-quality as I had expected.

Final Thought

Having using Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 as my primary smartphone for a few weeks now, I must admit that while I’m not a huge fan of these large foldable phones, I do lean towards the flip-style ones, which are more compact. However, I did genuinely enjoy my time with this substantial device, and much of the credit goes to Samsung’s software and the excellent support for the internal display, which is an absolute delight to use.

Unfortunately, the external display is still a bit too narrow and inconvenient for most tasks. It’s also disappointing that Samsung didn’t equip this expensive phone with its best camera. In my ideal massive foldable phone, I’d combine the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s internal display with the more practical external screen of the Pixel Fold, which offers a great aspect ratio and usability. However, it’s worth noting that the Pixel Fold can be quite bulky at times.

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