Samsung's clamshell foldables series is about to see its latest entrant, in the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. It's one part of a smartphone line which has been turning heads thanks to their folding form factors and playful twists on long-forgotten elements of the mobile experience; we've been huge fans. No smartphone is perfect, however, though it’s certainly one of the best foldables, and there've been some little things we've seen in the Galaxy Z Flip 4 that we're hoping Samsung will address in the expected Z Flip 5.
1. A camera worth the cost
Samsung makes some of the best smartphone cameras with the Galaxy S-line, and its foldables have never quite managed to live up to the same standard. They aren't bad; they just aren't up to snuff for many reasons (mostly reasons of space for hardware). At the same time, we've seen rival foldables – like the Oppo Find N2 Flip – which have well-tuned, competent cameras. Even the form factor of foldables and clamshells makes things like selfies much better, a use-case that marketers have not left unmentioned.
Conversely, It would be a little much to hope for a periscope camera on something like this, but if Samsung could shoot for a non-periscope telephoto lens that's reminiscent of the smaller Samsung Galaxy S23, it'd be pleasant; even if it’s main purpose as better portrait shooting.
2. Make it shorter, make it wider
Clamshell foldables are big on being paradoxical little things. Although the Galaxy Z Flip's compact form factor is part of its charm, that gets away when unfolded. It's still thin enough to play with, but the length goes some way in making it feel a tad unwieldy even compared to something that's a certified Big Phone such as either the iPhone Pro 14 Max or iPhone 14 Plus.
A slightly shorter and wider display would enhance the overall viewing experience for multimedia content, gaming, and multitasking. It would make it feel more like a regular big phone and not an extra-long big phone. It would also make it a little more comfortable to hold and improve the typing experience. Striking the right balance between portability and usability is essential for a device like the Galaxy Z Flip 5, and a shorter, wider form factor is certainly one way to address that.
3. Now make it thinner, make it lighter
As technology progresses, manufacturers often find ways to slim down their devices without compromising on performance and durability. Though “thinner and lighter” had become somewhat of a joke in the techsphere – seeing them perceived as being used as a substitute for true hardware innovation – being thinner and lighter becomes immensely useful when a smartphone essentially doubles in thickness to preserve its compactness.
We’ve already seen something like the Honor Magic V2 impress by being almost as thin as an iPhone 14 Pro when folded, so seeing a more mainstream brand like Samsung achieve the same would be great. Samsung has already made supportive noises in this direction, releasing the following statement before Unpacked.
"We’ve raised the standards for foldable smartphone ergonomics. A difference of a millimeter in a device’s thickness may not sound like a big change, but every gram and millimeter in a foldable device requires an engineering breakthrough," Samsung’s mobile chief, Dr. TM Roh said, "It demands craftsmanship with passion. When done well, the benefit to users is huge. That’s why we’ve innovated to make our latest foldables slimmer and lighter than our previous generations." A thinner and lighter Z Flip 5? We’re here for it!
4. All-day battery life
I've always been one who advocates for the “most battery” and the fastest charging speeds in a phone. All the best features in the world mean nothing if you're spending your time plugged into a wall because your mobile phone can't handle being, well… mobile. Battery life has been a weakness of clamshell foldables, though they’re steadily getting better with the march of time. The Flip 4 had some good (though not great) battery life, and hopefully the Flip 5 sees this trend continue upwards. As the novelty effect of foldables and their glossy sheen wears off, it is crucial that smartphone makers nail this fundamental, otherwise there’s no guarantee they’ll stick around, at least not in their current guise. Battery is more than just the milliampere/hour count , and we'll definitely see the power efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy as well as Samsung’s OneUI optimizations lift the Flip 5, without a doubt.
At the same time, Samsung has been overlooking quick charging for its Galaxy line for numerous generations now. Looking at the Moto Razr 2023 and the Oppo Find N2 Flip, it’s more than feasible for the form factor. If Samsung can’t give us the best battery, hopefully it’s, at least, working on a way to trim down the charging times.
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A UK-based tech journalist for TechRadar, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a primary focus on mobile phones, tablets, and wearables.
When not writing on TechRadar, I can often be found reading fiction, writing for fun, or working out.