Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 Is a Bigger Upgrade Than It Appears

In its fifth generation, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 changes just enough and not enough at the same time.

Originally Published: 
The fifth-generation Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 flip-style foldable phone starts at $999.99
Photograph by Raymond Wong
Gear Reviews

Foldable phones are in a very strange place right now, especially for Samsung. Five generations in, the company's newest flip-style foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 5, still simultaneously feels new and old.

If you've never owned a flip-style foldable before, everything about the Z Flip 5 is refreshing. That it folds in half; the various "Flex" modes for doing a task or using an app; the unavoidable crease. And if you're already a Z Flip owner or have one from a different brand, the Z Flip 5 is familiar and evolutionary; the larger "Flex Window" cover screen is an iterative upgrade; the cameras could be improved.

That's the reality with foldables right now. Flip-style or book-style like the Z Fold 5, foldables have been perpetually cutting-edge phones for the past few years, but still not yet the norm. Unless something changes soon — like Apple makes a foldable iPhone — I think that might remain the case for a while.

I can find no major faults to Z Flip 5, and I've tried every generation of them. Sure, there are little things to nitpick and the price could stand to drop below $999 for a change, but as a whole, the Z Flip 5 is the most reliable and durable flip-style foldable experience there is — for the fourth year in a row.

Quality-of-Life Upgrades

If you only compare features on a specs table, the Z Flip 5 is not going to sound like much of an upgrade over the Z Flip 4. The body's made from the same Armor Aluminum; there's a faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip under the hood; the same chip also has a better image signal processor (ISP) for processing photos taken with the camera sensors that are identical to the ones on the Z Flip 4; and battery capacity (3,700 mAh) is unchanged. You'd be missing the forest for the trees.

Galaxy Z Flip 5 Tech Specs

  • Foldable display: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (2,640 x 1,080) / 120Hz
  • Cover display: 3.4-inch Super AMOLED (720 x 748) / 60Hz
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB or 512GB
  • Battery: 3,700 mAh with 25W wired charging / fast wireless charging / Wireless PowerShare reverse wireless charging
  • Rear cameras: 12-megapixel main f/1.8 + 12-megapixel ultra-wide f/2.2 (123-degree FOV)
  • Inner/selfie camera: 10-megapixel f/2.2
  • Software: One UI 5.1.1 (Android 13)
  • IP rating: IPX8
  • Biometrics: Fingerprint sensor (power button)
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6E / Bluetooth 5.3
  • Colors: Mint, Graphite, Cream, Lavender / exclusives: Gray, Blue, Green, Yellow

Having tested every Z Flip, the experience, especially long term, is ultimately the only thing that matters, and is the determinant of value. While I've only been testing the Z Flip 5 for about two weeks, I can say the quality-of-life upgrades are more substantial than they appear at first.

The gap when folded is gone.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Take the redesigned hinge — it now allows the Z Flip 5 to fold gap-free. That has two immediate upsides I greatly appreciate: a thinner profile when closed and less lint collected on the flexible inner screen (particularly near the crease) every time I shove it into my pockets. On a chart, the new gap-free hinge is measured by a thickness reduction of two millimeters, which is barely much you say! But let me tell you, it is a lot because I feel that thickness every day, hundreds of times a day — the same way I dislike how heavy or thick an iPhone 14 Pro feels in my hand even though we're talking about an increase of millimeters and a few grams year over year. I would have loved to see an official IP-rated dust resistance instead of the same IPX8 water resistance again. But the zero gap design has reduced the amount of particles that get trapped on the foldable display, so I’ll take it.

The new hinge also makes the crease a little less visible because the screen folds with a gentler "waterdrop" bend, though not less tangible whenever my fingertips swiped over it. At this point, the crease is something unlikely to ever disappear from foldables. That means content will remain slightly warped around that area and the pre-installed screen protector will continue to have a rainbowing effect with polarized sunglasses, but they're known tradeoffs that come with the form factor.

The “Flex Window” cover screen is noticeably larger on the Z Flip 5 than on any previous Z Flip foldable.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Another big improvement on the Z Flip 5 is the 3.4-inch "Flex Window" cover display. It's significantly larger than the 1.9-inch one on the Z Flip 3 and Flip 4, or the tiny 1.1-inch screen on the original Z Flip and Flip 5G (technically, the Flip "2"), and that jump in size makes it more useful, too. Now you can see way more information, shown in widget-style screens that you swipe across. Notifications are more visible without having to unfold the phone, quick setting buttons are easier to tap on, and you can even pull up a keyboard to type replies to messages. The bigger cover display is also more handy for taking selfies with the better main camera or shooting a vlog without fear of dropping the phone. You could do some of these things on the Z Flip 3 or 4, but doing so on their smaller cover screens wasn't exactly the most enjoyable.

Some people don't like the shape of the Flex Window, saying it's not as big as the 3.6-inch cover display on the Motorola Razr+, and because of that it can't run any Android app natively on it. It's personal preference; I think the shape is cool and makes the Z Flip 5 recognizable. I agree on the limited app support for the Flex Window. There are only five apps that work on it (Google Maps, Messages, Samsung Messages, Netflix, and YouTube) and they're part of an experimental "Labs" feature meaning it may be a buggy experience. That being said, I never found myself upset that I couldn't use more apps on the Flex Window. Maybe it's just how I use the cover screen — like a smartwatch for showing me important information so I can get back to what I'm doing, not for doomscrolling. I can always unfold the Z Flip 5 for a proper app experience.

Samsung also doubled the storage in the Z Flip 5 without charging more. The device comes with 256GB of storage instead of the 128GB that the Z Flip 4 did. Yet another quality-of-life upgrade that’s welcome.

Familiar Everything Else

The crease is still visible on the Z Flip 5. Even Samsung admits reducing its visibility is a challenge.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Beyond the quality-of-life upgrades that I do think add up to a more enjoyable flip-style foldable experience compared to the Z Flip 3 or 4, the Z Flip 5 pretty much works as well as any other flagship Android phone released this year.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip provides plenty of power. Samsung has fine-tuned Android 13 with One UI 5.1.1 to the point where I rarely saw a bug or crash. The software is fast and responsive — it’s just good!

Having used the Nothing Phone 2 as my daily driver right before the Z Flip 5, it did make me wonder if Samsung could have gotten away with using the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip with really great performance optimization. So many people are upset Nothing is using a last-gen chip to save on build costs, but seeing how fluid the Nothing OS 2.0 software runs on it, I think we've reached a point of diminishing returns when it comes to going with a faster chip in a new phone just for the sake of it. I bet a lot of people would take a more affordable Z Flip 5 if it meant using a slightly less powerful "last-gen" chip that, by all accounts, is more than powerful enough. Unfortunately, that's also not how consumerism works — people demand the latest and greatest technologies even if they'll never benefit from them.

Samsung could have added more “Flex” modes to really sell the foldable experience a little harder.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

The way I used the Z Flip — with as minimal interaction with the Flex Window as possible — the battery always lasted a full day with enough in the tank before bedtime. A larger battery would have been a plus, but I recall Won-Joon Choi, Samsung's Executive Vice President, Head of Mobile R&D, Mobile eXperience Business, explaining the challenges of splitting a battery into two on the Z Flip form factor. Basically, a larger battery would have come with tradeoffs elsewhere — thinness, weight, components, etc. — and Samsung chose not to make those compromises this time around.

The cameras on the Z Flip 5 are also "last-gen" which is kind of a ridiculous assessment because the photos still look great IMO. Certainly, newer, larger, and higher-resolution image sensors can capture better photos, but that doesn't mean that's always the case. Samsung copied and pasted the cameras on the Z Flip 4 right onto the Z Flip 5 and instead focused on using the improved image signal processor and AI in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip to give photos a boost in clarity.

Photograph by Raymond Wong
Photograph by Raymond Wong
Photograph by Raymond Wong
Photograph by Raymond Wong
Photograph by Raymond Wong
Photograph by Raymond Wong
Photograph by Raymond Wong
Photograph by Raymond Wong
Photograph by Raymond Wong
1 / 9

Whether you notice subtleties in image quality is a different story and I wouldn't say suddenly these cameras are bad because they're not. Colors are punchy and details are sharp enough; selfies look good. Google Pixel image "aesthetic" this is not, nor are they as neutral as iPhone shots — just very Samsung, but not like old Samsung cameras where the pictures were too saturated. The Z Flip 5’s camera system is solid and reliable for capturing moments, which is sufficient for everyone except for the real pixel peepers.

The Best Flip-Style Foldable

How much more can Samsung really improve on the Galaxy Z Flip 5?

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Echoing what I said at the beginning of this review, the Z Flip 5 — and all Samsung foldables past and likely in the near future — is a new and different experience if you've never owned a flip-style foldable. At the same time, it's naturally going to feel like an iterative upgrade if you already own an older Z Flip, and the degree to which that upgrade is going to be will depend on which model you own. The jump from an original Z Flip 1 or 2 to the Z Flip 5 is going to be a much larger upgrade than a Z Flip 4 to 5.

On its own, however, the Z Flip 5 is unmatched. Other foldables might have a feature or two that are better, but Samsung's been refining this form factor for four years and it shows in the hardware and the software. It shows in the durability and reliability; watch this video of YouTubers folding different flip-style foldables and Samsung's Z Flip 5 exceeding everything else including its own 200,000 folds. It also shows in Samsung’s commitment to repairing its foldables should they break.

"We believe we will be able to make foldables mainstream," Choi told me during a media roundtable after Samsung Unpacked last month. "We created this category so we feel more responsible."

Yes, I'd love to see a more affordable Z Flip and, yes, Samsung could have redesigned the form factor and added in a bunch of potentially very gimmicky features to the Z Flip 5. But what we have also feels closer to complete. Like regular smartphones, it may be time to accept that it’s all going to be incremental annual updates from here.

This article was originally published on

Related Tags