Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 review: Holding strong, Samsung is still the foldables king

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Foldables were once made fun of and many said there was no future for such devices. But here we are, the fifth generation of Samsung’s foldables are here. While there are still many hurdles to jump, the foldables market is growing and Samsung is still king in this market. The new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 is the next iteration of the company’s largest foldable smartphone. It has come a long way since 2019, and it is not perfect, but what smartphone is?

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

I’ve been bullish on foldables and I think the future of foldables is bright. I don’t think non-foldables are going away, but I do think that foldables are here to stay. Samsung has been the leader in this vertical since the start, and they have the biggest lead over the industry. Apple will soon join the market, once it feels it has a handle on the technology, and it feels they can provide the level of quality they demand. Let’s get into the full review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5.

Of Note: The photos of the Z Fold5 in this review show it with the Caseology Parallax case on it. The Z Fold5 does not come with a case but you can purchase this case on Amazon here.

The Quick Take

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 review: Holding strong, Samsung is still the foldables king

All the best bits have been thrown at the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, making it the best large foldable smartphone on the market. We don’t often have these units for long-term review, so longevity is difficult to measure. But I suspect if users are careful with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, it should last as long as most other smartphones.

But that is the crux of purchasing any foldable, there are still risks to them. The extra moving parts, the evolving display technology, and the overall technology is still in motion. I still believe that Samsung is doing the best at foldables and if you’re considering a foldable, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 is one of your best bets. Along with its little brother, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5.

Specifications

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 has the following features and specifications:

  • Battery: 4,400mAh
  • PowerShare: Yes
  • Storage Options: 256 GB/512 GB/1 TB
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
  • GPU: Adreno 740
  • RAM: 12 GB
  • S Pen: Compatible but not included
  • Wireless: 5G
  • Cameras:
    • Rear:
      • 50MP Wide
      • 12MP Ultra-Wide
      • 10MP Telephoto 3X Optical Zoom
      • 30X Space Zoom
    • Front:
      • 10MP Cover Screen
      • 4MP Under Display Main Screen
  • Aperture:
    • Rear:
      • 50MP Wide(f/1.8)
      • 12MP Ultra-wide(f/2.2)
      • 10MP Telephoto (f/2.4)
    • Front:
      • 10MP Cover Screen (f/2.2)
      • 4MP Under Display Main Screen (f/1.8)
  • Flaw Detection: Yes
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Ultrasonic
  • Displays:
    • Inner: 7.6” Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display QXGA+, 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate, 374ppi, 1,750 nits (Outdoor Peak)
    • Outer: 6.2” Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display HD+, 120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate, 402ppi, 1,750 nits (Outdoor Peak)
  • Scene Optimizer: Intelligently recognizes scenes and optimizes colors

What’s In The Box

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5
  • USB-C Data Cable
  • Ejection Pin
  • Quick Start Guide

Design

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 review: Holding strong, Samsung is still the foldables king

The good news in the design department for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 is that there are some welcomed and much needed design changes. The bad news, if you consider it bad news, is that the design hasn’t changed that significantly.

Smartphones rarely change design year over year. Major design changes come four, five, sometimes six years or more past the initial design. But while the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 looks similar to its predecessors, there are some distinct changes to talk about. Before we go over the device as a whole, these are the key changes to the design.

  • Redesigned hinge: The new hinge allows the Samsung Galaxy Fold5 to fold nearly flat, eliminating the gap previous models had.
  • Weight & Size: Samsung has reduced the weight by 10 grams and made the Fold5 2.4 mm thinner than last year’s model.
  • Speakers: The speaker grill has been redesigned, and the speakers upgraded, more on those in the sound section.
  • Samsung Logo on Hinge: The logo on the Fold5 is now laser etched instead of embossed as previous models were.
  • Cooling: The internal cooling chamber has been made bigger by 38% which should help to cool the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 better.
  • Bezels: The bezels are a bit thinner than the previous year’s Z Fold, nothing not expected there.
  • Display Crease: The crease has always been a point of contention among Z Fold fans. Some hate it and some don’t mind it. Samsung has made improvements over the years, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 further improves the crease’s invisibility. The crease is still noticeable but less so than the Z Fold4.
Z Fold5

Those are really the design change highlights of the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5. But we are still going to go over the basics all around this device, starting on the front. The front houses the 6.2″ AMOLED display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2. The left side houses the special Samsung foldables hinge and has the Samsung logo laser etched on the aluminum.

The back is made of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and houses the triple camera array and flash. The top houses three microphones, antennas, and one set of speakers. The bottom houses one microphone, more antennas, and the other set of speakers.

The right side houses the SIM tray, more antennas, the 5G antenna, volume rocker, and power/fingerprint sensor button. Opening the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 up reveals the expansive 7.6″, 91.1% screen-to-body ratio, AMOLED display. The bezels are thin, and the front facing camera is under the display and it appears that Samsung may have improved that over the Z Fold4.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 design has several updates and upgrades but remains mostly the same. You would have to look very closely to see the difference between the 4 and 5.

Display

Inner Display

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 review: Holding strong, Samsung is still the foldables king

The display on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 returns to be the best of all foldables. I will admit there have been issues with the Fold displays, but year over year, Samsung keeps improving these displays. This year is no different, and only minor changes have been made here. These are some changes you can expect, and all for the better.

  • Brightness: The Z Fold5 display is 350 nits brighter than the Fold4.
  • Bezels: The bezels are slightly thinner than Z Fold4 and the screen to body ratio has increased to 91.1% from 90.79%.
  • HDR: HDR 10+ support is on the Fold5.
  • Crease: The crease in the display is slightly less noticeable

The same Samsung vibrancy and color saturation is here, I mean, this is Samsung we’re talking about. This company is known for making fantastic AMOLED panels and they even make panels for the competition. The brightness, colors, sharpness, and looks are all spot on and consuming content on this expansive inner display is a joy.

Other than those minor changes, the Z Fold5 display is very similar to its older brother, but much improved over the Z Fold3 and older. I would call Samsung’s foldable displays still in the improving stage. The foldable tech is evolving and each year these get better. Overall, the inner display is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed using it on the daily.

Outer Display

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 review: Holding strong, Samsung is still the foldables king

The story for the outer display is about the same as it was for the inner display. Most of the specifications remain the same, with maybe the bezels being slightly thinner. The familiar long aspect ratio is still here and while I have not used the Google Pixel Fold, I think the wider Pixel outer display might be a better aspect ratio. But don’t quote me on that, since I haven’t had my hands on the Pixel Fold, but I digress.

Most everything remains the same with the outer display, but that’s not a bad thing. This display is made of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 and remains vibrant, sharp, and very saturated. You can, of course, change the saturation levels within the settings app.

My only beef with the outer display is its narrowness. While it is miles better than the first and second Z Fold, it is still weirdly narrow. It’s not a major beef, it’s just something it takes some getting used to. The S23 Ultra is wider than this front display, and that is what you get used to. Still, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 outer display is the best display on any Z Fold, and that’s impressive.

Overall, this is a great display. It does take some getting used to the narrower look and feel but I found myself using the inner display more than the outer display. I used the outer display for quick tasks, but used the inner display for everything else. So the narrow issue isn’t really that big of a deal.

Software/UI

The Galaxy Z Fold5 runs Android 13 (upgradeable to 14) with Samsung’s One UI 6.0 overlay. There’s nothing new with the software, and One UI is still (in my opinion) the best Android overlay on the market. Flex Mode is the big difference between Samsung’s S23 line and the Z Fold5.

Flex Mode allows you to see apps, type notes, watch videos, take photos, and use different orientations. Whether relaxing on the sofa or cooking in your kitchen, you can prop up your Galaxy Z phone to interact with the screen’s content. But you should be aware that most apps are only supported in landscape view when using Flex Mode.

To use Flex Mode, you must open an app and partially fold your device into an L shape. For example, you can open the Camera app, partially fold your phone, and then place it on a table to take a hands-free selfie with your friends. On the bottom portion of the screen, you can control the camera’s features and tap the Gallery preview to view your recent photos and videos. You can switch to the app’s normal mode by unfolding the phone.

Alternatively, you can use Cover View by placing the phone on a flat surface and then lifting the cover screen towards you. Or, prop up the device while it’s still folded to use Tent View when diving into your favorite game. When in Flex Mode, you can use Camera, Video calling, Gallery, Video player, Clock, Calendar, YouTube, Google Meet, and more!

The rest of the software is standard Samsung and Google fare. Wallpapers, themes, Always On Display, Android Auto, and Quick Share. The most significant difference for foldables is using multiple apps in split-screen mode with more screen real estate and Flex Mode. The software makes it a much better experience to multitask and do more with your mobile.

Almost everything here will be familiar if you’ve used Samsung devices or even most Android devices. A few foldable-centric software points are easy to handle and give a better user experience. Seasoned Fold users will know what to expect from the software on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5.

Performance and AT&T

AT&T was kind enough to supply this Samsung Galaxy Fold5 review unit and we used it on AT&T’s 5G network here in Missouri. Our location is further out from large cities, so cellular coverage in general is not as expansive. It doesn’t matter which carrier is being used, our location does not get us 5G nor the best LTE signals. But we do go into larger cities around us, occasionally, and my experience with AT&T’s 5G network was excellent. It is certainly faster than anything we can get out in our rural setting and speed tests clocked in, depending on location, between 300Mbps and 550Mbps. Probably not as fast as some locations in major cities, but this is exceptional where we live. Overall, AT&T service seemed to be very solid.

Now, on to the performance of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy is paired with a hefty 12 GB of RAM and the Adreno 740 GPU. These specifications are fairly close to the previous year, just with the latest hardware. So performance will be better, due to the new CPU and GPU, but fairly similar.

Everything felt snappy and fluid on both phones. I had no issues with scrolling, pinch-to-zoom, multitasking, moving from app to app, or gaming. I think having 12 GB of RAM on the Fold5 is a good idea. Given that this display is more prominent and better suited to multitasking, giving it extra RAM will help heavy users have the best experience.

Gaming and multi-window performance was excellent, I am surprised that Samsung doesn’t give a 16 GB of RAM option, seems more RAM may even make this smoother than it already is.

Overall, I had no issues with either device in day-to-day use. Nothing felt slow or difficult to use. The apps were responsive. The display was fluid, and moving between tasks did not give me any issues. The cameras were responsive, and everything I wanted and needed this device to do was done promptly and with no problems.

Speakers/Sound

The Z Fold series of phones has always had fantastic speakers, and that continues in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5. Because of how big this phone is, there is plenty of room for speakers. I will say that the difference between the Z Fold3 and Z Fold4 speakers was noticeable. But this year, the speakers are great, but do not seem that much better than the Z Fold4. That’s not to say these are bad speakers, they’re not, they’re excellent, though I will say Apple has the edge in the speaker department over any other smartphone. But I digress.

Overall, the speakers are really exceptional. Games and movies especially sound rich and immersive when you have Dolby Atmos active.

Camera

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 review: Holding strong, Samsung is still the foldables king

We have spent a lot of time on the camera sections of reviews in the past. However, cameras on mobile phones have gotten so good that it really comes down to a visual preference for each user. Samsung tunes its cameras differently than Google or Apple, and they each have their pros and cons.

The cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold5 have improved over the previous generation; there is no question.

The colors are bright and punchy, and photos taken in good lighting are always great. Low-light performance is better than before but still not the best in class, but Night Mode does a reasonably decent job; I still think the Pixel and iPhone do better with Night Mode.

Samsung’s camera software is choked full of features, many of those features most users will never use. But they are there, and if you are willing to poke around, you can do an awful lot with these cameras. One thing I do LOVE is using the inner display to frame and compose a shot. The extra-large screen really gives you a better canvas for setting up a shot and seeing what it will look like.

Overall, the Fold5 has flagship cameras that will not disappoint most users. Camera results are subjective, and viewing a photo taken on the Fold5 on an iPhone will look different. There are so many factors that it has become difficult to really pick a true winner in the camera department. The photos coming out of these cameras are excellent, and they look fantastic when viewed on the inner display.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 Camera Samples

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 Camera Samples

Reception/Call Quality

There’s not much to say here; Bluetooth and cell reception were exceptional, which should be the case for a flagship phone. The call quality was also splendid, and the speaker calls were outstanding. The Galaxy Z Fold5 is the star for speaker calls; clear and loud.

Battery Life

Battery life is subjective and a very hard thing to review. My situation will be vastly different from yours, so gauging how well the battery will perform for others is difficult. For me, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 is a two-day battery beast.

But I also don’t use my phones a lot due to the fact I am behind a computer most of the day. So I can go two and almost three days without charging. But I usually always plug my devices in every night, so I never worry about battery.

I think most people will get a minimum of one day of battery life with moderate use. This does not include heavy gaming or video consumption. However, most users will be happy with the battery.

Price/Value

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 starts at $1,799.99, that’s a big chunk of money. Samsung is offering a bevy of deals and trade-in offers so you could bring that price down. Samsung has brought the price down from previous years, so that is a good thing. I do think the value is here for those that have the funds to afford this device.

Wrap Up

Samsung is still killing the foldable market; they are the undisputed leader in this tech. Other brands make foldable devices, but not at this scale or this level. Samsung continues improving with the Galaxy Z Fold5 and Galaxy Z Flip5. Even with Google and OnePlus nipping at the company’s heels, if you want a serious foldable, Samsung is your best choice.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5

Starting at $1,799

Design

9.5/10

Display

9.5/10

Software

9.5/10

Performance

10.0/10

Speakers/Sound

10.0/10

Camera

9.5/10

Reception?Call Quality

10.0/10

Battery Life

10.0/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • Samsung is still the king of foldables, Google and OnePlus are trying but are far behind
  • Samsung continues making big durability and design improvements. The Fold5 has some of the best improvements of all the Fold model years.
  • Foldable design is great for multi-taskers
  • Premium build, look, and feel
  • Samsung makes the best AMOLED displays on the market
  • Still sporting some of the best cameras of any flagship
  • Very good battery life
  • One UI and Android pair well together, One UI is still the best Andorid skin

Needs work

  • Very expensive
  • While the improvements in durability are evident, these may last less time than a traditional smartphone design
  • The hinge is improved greatly, but debris could still find its way in. It's part of the risk of any foldable
  • No wall charger. I understand cutting e-waste but the option should be there on phones this expensive. Even if the customer was given the choice of with or without charger
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