The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a worthy successor to the Z Fold 4, bringing a flatter and lighter profile to an otherwise-familiar foldable formula. It's got ample power, versatility, and high-quality components and materials. But the same-as-last-year photography and narrow cover screen don't hold up well against the much wider Pixel Fold.
It folds flat
Lighter and thinner
A better mobile chipset means even snappier performance
The cover screen now feels too narrow
The cameras are good but unchanged from the last model
It's expensive and should include the S Pen in the price
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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Two-minute review
I'm pleased with virtually everything Samsung has done with the latest edition of its premiere foldable, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, to make it a better mobile productivity companion than its predecessor.
A device that folds perfectly flat when closed, and which is noticeably thinner and lighter than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, is the kind of progress in foldable development that we want to see. Sure, the Google Pixel Fold (not to mention a handful of the other best foldable phones out there) beat it to the punch, but at least the Z Fold 5 is 30 grams lighter than its chief adversary.
We wanted faster and we got it, courtesy of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Samsung, the premium chip that Samsung is using across all of its new top-tier phones.
On the other hand, what frustrates me are the omissions and tough, but probably necessary, design decisions. Samsung left the camera hardware from the Z Fold 4 untouched; even that lackluster 4MP under-display camera on the main display is still there. I understand that the main camera array is an above-average collection of sensors, but they're now falling behind the competition, because that competition is primarily from the Google Pixel Fold.
I don't understand why Samsung didn't just take the powerful rear camera array from the Galaxy S23 Ultra and slap it on here. Okay, okay, I probably do know. That 10x periscopic optical zoom camera would almost certainly have increased the thickness of one side of this folding handset, just when Samsung had managed to slim it down.
Samsung is charging $1,799.99 / £1,749 / AU$2,599 for the Galaxy Z Fold 5, and will tout its ability to work with the custom (and now thinner) S Pen, but the pen is not included in that substantial price. That, as far as I'm concerned, is a mistake.
Finally, as much as I love the flexible 7.6-inch display, and appreciated the widening of the cover screen on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, I'm realizing that the narrow 6.2-inch display on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is insufficient for real-world productivity. Again, I came to this realization after using the Google Pixel Fold's much wider-aspect ratio 5.8-inch cover display. Samsung considered making the Z Fold 5 wider but ultimately did nothing to the screen aspect ratio or display technology between generations.
I don't discount this screen as a camera viewfinder, a content browser, and social media reader, but typing on it is not a great experience. The keys are too cramped, and I often mistyped. Worse, in some apps the keyboard sits right on top of the on-screen home button, and more than once I popped out of an app because I hit that instead of a key.
Despite all this, I'm still a Galaxy Z Fold 5 fan. It's fun to hold and use, it takes nice, if over-vibrant photos, and it's about as fast and responsive as a handset can get. If this is your first Fold, it's a winning choice; if you already own a Galaxy Z Fold 4, hold onto it and wait for the Z Fold 6.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Price and availability
- Starts at $1,799.99 / £1,749 / AU$2,599
- No price increase in the US
- Shame the price doesn't include the compatible S Pen
- A narrow smartphone and mini tablet for the price of one device
Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, along with the Galaxy Z Flip 5, Galaxy Watch 6, Watch 6 Classic, and a collection of Galaxy Tab S9 tablets, on July 26 during its South Korea-based Samsung Unpacked event. It's available for pre-order now, and ships from August 11. You'll find the best prices and offers in our Galaxy Z Fold 5 deals roundup.
At $1,799.99 / £1,749 / AU$2,599, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is among the most expensive smartphones on the market. Even a 1TB iPhone 14 Pro Max will cost you less at $1,599 / £1,740 / AU$2,769. But then that's just one phone with one excellent screen. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a two-in-one device, with a lovely 6.2-inch screen on the outside and a precision-engineered 7.6-inch flexible screen on the inside. And if that doesn't scream 'premium' to you, then maybe its five cameras will convince you.
If that US price sounds familiar to US readers, it's because it's the same as last year, and that's good news. This is not the exact same phone; it's flatter and faster, so it's essentially a free upgrade.
It's a shame that Samsung can't manage to bundle the compatible S Pen into that price though. It's a lot of fun to use on the Z Fold 5's main display and elevates the utility, so why not include it and instantly broaden the phones appeal?
In any case, those prices will ultimately be only a suggestion; there are deals and trade-ins that cut the price by as much as half. Essentially, no one should be paying full price for this smartphone.
- Value score: 4 / 5
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Design
- Thinner and noticeably lighter
- No gap, folds flat
- Quality materials
- A good size mini-tablet when open but too narrow a phone when closed
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 design has all the earmarks of an iterative update. At a glance, it looks quite similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 but there are important and, to my mind, welcome differences.
This is a much lighter phone, dropping roughly 11 grams over the previous model. It's also (at 252 grams) 30 grams lighter than the hefty but excellent Google Pixel Fold (282 grams). More importantly, the polished aluminum and Gorilla Glass Victus 2 (reportedly 25% strong than the Fold 4's Victus Plus) glass-covered frame now folds flat. That, in combination with the millimeter of thickness Samsung carved off the body gives you – when folded – a much thinner and lighter device. It is a pleasure to hold.
To make the tighter fold possible, Samsung reengineered the hinge and how the flexible display is curved inside it when you close the phone. The hinge mechanism's sweeping technology introduced a few years ago to keep out dust and crumbs is still there, though.
That new hinge appears to have made the flexible display crease ever-so-slightly less noticeable. You can still see and feel it but I'd swear it's a bit less pronounced.
Button and port placement are mostly the same. There are speaker grills on the top and bottom edge of the phone that are slightly smaller than they were on the Z Fold 4, and a USB-C port on the bottom next to a microphone port. On the top are a pair of microphones and one air vent. There's a physical SIM slot on the left edge (if the handset is open with the Main screen facing you), and power/fingerprint reader and volume rocker buttons on the right.
The fingerprint reader, by the way, is one of a pair of effective biometric security options. You can register your face to unlock or use the fingerprint reader. I had no trouble registering a digit and my face to unlock the phone.
Even though the cameras – all five of them – are unchanged in terms of hardware from the Z Fold 4, there is a subtle visual tweak to the rear camera array. It looks like Samsung shaved off some metal from the aluminum island surrounding the three rear lenses. In addition, they've moved the LED flash out of the island and placed it next to the lens array.
Otherwise, everything is the same. I liked the last design and appreciated that Samsung managed to make the cover screen slightly wider without enlarging the phone chassis, compared to the Fold 3. But that was before I used the Google Pixel Fold. Even though Google also has a 7.6-inch flexible main screen, when opened flat, it's wider than it is tall. As a result, the Pixel Fold's 5.8-inch cover screen adopts a far more squat aspect ratio compared to the Fold's, which is is arguably far more functional and better suited to modern smartphone apps and interface design.
However, when I open up the Z Fold 5, I quickly notice the edge-to-edge screen. It seems larger than what I find on the Pixel Fold, where Google chose to leave a significant bezel to accommodate its internal front-facing camera. Samsung's main camera is craftily hidden underneath the main folding display and only appears as a cut-out when you use it.
Samsung's overall flexible screen protection appears better thought out than Google's. On the Pixel, there's a noticeable space between the protective cover and the flat, black plastic edge surrounding the flexible display. Samsung keeps that dust-catcher tighter and also includes a raised black plastic edge around the screen, plus a couple of rubber bumpers to prevent you from slamming the phone shut and damaging the display.
As for the hinge function, it's smooth and solid. I opened and closed the phone hundreds of times and it felt just as sure at the start as it does now, while I write this review. This is a well-built Android phone. In fact, having seen how Samsung builds its Galaxy products first-hand, I can say they are meticulous and do not suffer imperfections gladly.
From an aesthetic perspective, this is an attractive device, no question; the polished color-matched frame evoking the clasp of a designer handbag or briefcase. I have the Icy Blue colorway (my favorite and the signature finish of the Fold 5) but you can also get it in Phantom Black, Cream (from Samsung.com only), Gray, and Blue. When it's folded closed, you're looking at sandwiched, polished aluminum, colored glass on the rear, and a tall cover screen. It feels solid but not overbearing and fits neatly in almost any pocket, despite the addition thickness over a conventional candy bar smartphone.
It's also one of the more durable foldables, with its IPX8-certification meaning taking a drop in water for 30 minutes isn't a death sentence. But that's just for fresh water and not beach-side salt water. It's also not particularly dust resistant, so if you do take it to the beach, try not to drop it in the sand, those moving parts won't appreciate that.
While I didn't fully submerge the phone, I did subject my Galaxy Z Fold 5 to the faucet. I dried it off and found it completely unharmed.
- Design score: 4 / 5
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Sustainability
Small bits and pieces of the Z Fold 5 are made of recycled and recovered ocean plastic (even the box is largely recycled), and the glass includes some recycled material too. This is all part of Samsung's sustainability drive.
It's good to know, but until one of Samsung's phones is 50% or more recycled, it probably won't move the needle. To be fair, Samsung is doing as much as, and maybe more than, many competitors, but no one has yet figured out how to make an entire device out of 45 recycled tin cans and a few plastic bottles.