It may have taken some time, but the dream of the modern flip phone has finally taken shape. With the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5, there is now a compelling foldable flip smartphone that users can make use of as a daily driver.
As the fourth iteration of the Galaxy Z Flip series, in addition to equipping the phone with the latest specs, Samsung has brought a significant change to the cover screen — aiding the phone’s usability further compared to its predecessor.
Still, this is a smartphone with a foldable screen, which brings its own set of quirks that some may not fancy. But for those intrigued by the folding phones by Samsung, the Galaxy Z Flip5 looks to be the most appealing one yet for most.
It’s hard to talk about the Galaxy Z Flip5 without first mentioning the new cover screen. Now dubbed the “Flex Window,”, it is 3.78 times larger than the one on the Flip4, where it is evident in the design, taking up a majority of the top half of the phone.
That also means that the phone sports a more contrasted look. Previously, the Flip4 had a small area of the coloured cover etched on the phone’s top half, but now that the outside screen occupies the entire portion, the back cover is only seen on the bottom.
The Flip series has always been the most stylish out of Samsung’s smartphone line, and the Flip5 looks good here as well, but it lacks a little bit of the playfulness of the Flip4’s design. A big part of what makes Samsung phones so aesthetically pleasing is the cool colour options, and you’re not able to see them when using the phone folded, which I find to be quite a shame.
Besides the updated cover screen, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 is dimensionally similar to its predecessor. The changes are instead seen in how the phone is built.
A new hinge system is equipped within the Flip5, which means the phone can fold itself flat for the first time. It’s been a long time coming since the gap has always been a sore point to the overall look. Now, it looks as sleek as it can be.
The new hinge also brings other benefits. There are fewer moving parts inside the system, which should help with the long-term durability of the phone. However, the Flip5 is still only IPX8-rated, which means that it still isn’t dust resistant and may prove to be a problem if you aren’t careful. There’s some talk that the hinge brings a less pronounced crease on the screen, but I didn’t glean any obvious improvement on that front; it is still fairly noticeable.
Another updated aspect of the phone’s durability is the change to Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for the glass back. The phone otherwise held up well during my time trying it. It is a sturdily-built device with premium materials and fits in line with Samsung’s other flagship smartphones.
Likewise, the folding experience is largely similar. A few new apps like Twitch now support “Flex Mode” on the phone, but there is still a gap in the number of apps utilising the feature. Multitasking is also possible on the Flip5 but isn’t as good as the Fold series.
The cover screen is where you’ll see the most change. Since it is a larger display, there are more things you can do with it, both from an aesthetic and usability perspective. Customisation is relatively in-depth, letting you choose from a multitude of fonts and colours, placement of the clock positions, and even the pick UI elements; you can personalise your lock screen to be something truly unique.
Functionality is where the cover screen shines too. Widgets return, but they operate more like apps given that the screen allows for much more stuff to be shown — the calendar and weather widgets are beneficiaries of this, letting you scroll through to see more information. Samsung also lets you enable apps to use on the screen, like Netflix and Spotify. Basically, there is lots of flexibility in choosing how you want to use the Flip5 when it is closed, and that’s very neat.
However, the one thing to keep in mind is that the cover screen has a lower resolution 720p display and only has a 60Hz refresh rate. So, while watching the newest Netflix series on the outside display is tempting, it is hardly the optimal experience.
Within the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 is the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor chip, and the performance is typically fast and reliable. Apps start up consistently quickly, and it handles tons of background programs without lag when using the phone. Similarly, I’ve not experienced issues when utilising the flex features; everything runs super smoothly. I don’t particularly game on the go, but the Flip5 runs well enough for titles like Genshin Impact, though it isn’t the best phone to use for gaming, given the apparent crease.
There are no changes to the rear camera system, so the Flip5 still uses a dual 12MP primary sensor and ultrawide sensor on the phone.
There’s not much to really say; it does decent enough photos in good lighting — images still get that vivid Samsung look — but things like the zoom typically show off some not-so-nice grain on pictures.
Like the Flip4, the main draw of photography on the Galaxy Z Flip5 is how you can take shots. You still get the same benefits of its folding capabilities, like being able to prop the phone by itself or using the rear camera for selfies by using the cover screen as the viewfinder. In fact, the latter aspect is now better; the bigger outside display is simply a better and more accurate experience to take selfies compared to the previous editions.
The only nitpick I can give is that there aren’t any new features or software for photography that Samsung has added to take advantage of the bigger cover screen. It’s simply keeping the status quo, which is fine but a little disappointing considering how much improved the widget system is.
As with the camera system, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 retains the same 3,700mAh battery as its predecessor. Generally, despite the low capacity, the phone can last a day’s worth of use, just like the Flip4, though the more energy-efficient Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip does improve the battery life a little overall.
You can get the Flip5 to half its battery capacity with just a 30-minute charge, but you’ll need to find your own 25W charger since it does not come packaged in. 15W wireless charging is also supported here, as well as reverse charging if you need to charge your earbuds in a pinch.
If you are looking for a flip-style foldable phone, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 is, bar none, the best option you can get right now. It provides the best user experience with its improved cover screen and “Flex Mode” features, alongside a solid build and the latest chipset for performance.
Transitioning over from a regular phone will be a tough ask though, since it lacks a flagship camera system and bigger battery capacity, even if it can last a day.
Regardless, there are a lot of good things about the Flip5. I’m not quite sure whether it is the right starting device to begin using a foldable flip phone, but it no doubt helps take a big step forward.
Photos by Russell Loh of the DANAMIC Team.