Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Review: Striving for Perfection

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Review: Striving for Perfection
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Samsung is currently at peak innovation with its foldables and the iterative updates we’ve been getting since the past year is proof of it. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it does mean there’s little to get excited about. This year was no different with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, which launched in July. Apart from the usual upgrades such as a newer processor, Samsung has used a revised hinge mechanism which has helped bring down the weight and thickness of the phone by a bit. This doesn’t change the game in anyway, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Needless to say, current owners of a Galaxy Z Fold 4 can easily skip this generation and wait for next year’s model.

But if you have an older Fold phone, is the Galaxy Z Fold 5 worth upgrading to? Here’s our review after spending a good month with it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 price in India

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 surprisingly starts at the same price as last year’s model (which is still officially being sold in India). Rs. 1,54,999 gets you 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM. There are two more variants with the same amount of RAM but higher storage. The 512GB variant is priced at Rs. 1,64,999, while the 1TB variant is priced at Rs. 1,84,999. Considering you cannot expand the storage, it’s nice to have such options. For most users, I think the base variant should suffice. It’s available in Icy Blue, Phantom Black, and Cream.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 doesn’t come with Samsung’s S Pen, and will have to be purchased separately. If you’ll be doing that, then it’s best to get the S Pen case which has a little docking station for the stylus on the back.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 design

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor but if you look closely, small changes like the placement of the LED flash and the colours are some of the ways to tell the two apart. It’s still one of the best-built horizontally-folding phones thanks to the shatter resistant glass on the front and back and the aluminium frame. The new hinge also allows the two halves to sit nearly flush with each other when folded, thereby reducing the gap. The phone is IPX8 rated for water resistance.

Both displays on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 are very similar to the Fold 4 with the exception of the peak brightness of the folding display, which is now 1,750 nits compared to 1,200 nits. The display dimensions on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 are the same as before, which includes a 6.2-inch HD+ AMOLED outer display with a 120Hz refresh rate, and a 7.6-inch QXGA+ main display with a 120Hz refresh rate.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 comes in a new Icy Blue colour

 

Both displays have good legibility under direct sunlight and produce punchy colours. The outer display is very useful for getting simple tasks done quickly, but it’s still a bit narrow to type comfortably. The inner folding display is best suited for using multiple apps at once or leisure activities such as gaming and watching videos. The crease is still very much present and can be seen at off angles, but it’s hard to tell when you’re looking at the display dead-on.

You don’t get much in terms of bundled accessories with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, except for a SIM eject tool and a USB Type-C cable. For such a smartphone, it does make sense to splurge a bit more and get the S Pen cover case which gets you added protection along with the stylus.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 specifications and software

Just like the S23 series, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 also uses the custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 ‘Mobile Platform for Galaxy’ SoC. It’s a powerful and power-efficient processor that delivers good performance. The battery capacity is the same as last year which is 4,400mAh, and it still supports just 25W wired charging and 15W wireless charging.

In terms of software, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 runs One UI 5.1.1 based on Android 13, and Samsung has committed to delivering four major Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates. Many of the software tricks from the Fold 4 are carried over here such as Flex mode in apps like Google Meet or YouTube, and the ability to use three apps at once. There are some new additions however, such as the ability to show up to four recently used apps in the taskbar. This will have to be enabled manually from the Settings app as the default is still two apps.

samsung galaxy z fold 5 review case gadgets360 ww

The S Pen cover for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a must-buy accessory

 

There’s also two-handed drag and drop for times when you don’t have two apps open in split-screen mode. The way it works is you long-press an image or item that you wish to copy to another app and while that item is pressed, you can open a full-sized version of the second app using your other hand and finally drop the selected item there.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 performance and battery life

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a true-blue flagship and doesn’t skip a beat even when you push it. The ample RAM and powerful SoC ensures there’s always enough power to go around no matter what apps you use. The half of the phone which has the SoC gets warn during gaming or any stressful tasks, but the other half stays cool always. Performance is quite excellent, be it multitasking or gaming.

The S Pen works well too but it’s a shame that the outer screen doesn’t support it, which means you’re forced to open the phone in order to take notes or do anything with it. Also worth keeping in mind is that the S Pen for regular S series phones (like the S23 Ultra) won’t work here as the Z Fold 5 only supports a special ‘S Pen for Fold’ edition of the stylus. 

samsung galaxy z fold 5 review flex gadgets360 hh

Flex mode is useful in supported apps when you have the phone folded half way

 

Benchmark numbers are solid as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 scored 14,13,684 points in AnTuTu and maxed out some of the graphics tests in GFXBench, returning 120fps in the T-Rex test suite.

Despite having the same battery capacity as last year’s model, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is capable of delivering more than a days worth of battery life, even with moderate to heavy use. Running our battery loop test on the main folding display, it lasted a solid 19 hours, 53 minutes, which is very good.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 cameras

There has been no change to the camera hardware. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 features three rear cameras: a 50-megapixel wide, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, and a 10-megapixel telephoto with 3X optical zoom (up to 30X total zoom). There’s a 10-megapixel selfie camera on the outer screen and a 4-megapixel under-display camera in the folding display. The latter is best used for video calls only as the quality is below average for capturing photos. Samsung could have gone with larger sensors and better optical zoom like it has on the S23 Ultra, but that would probably have led to a thicker phone which is not something you want on a foldable.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 daylight camera samples (tap to see larger image)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 telephoto camera samples (tap to see larger image)

 

Given the hardware, I think the Galaxy Z Fold 5 does an excellent job with stills and videos. Photos have good clarity and colours in daytime shots, and HDR is handled well. Telephoto performance is pretty good too, although at zoom levels above 20X, finer details begin to fall apart. There are the usual shooting modes to play with, and subjects shot in Portrait mode have good separation from the background. Even in low light, the phone does a very good job of balancing the shadows and highlights. Night mode is very effective when it matters.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 camera samples (tap to see larger image)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 low-light selfie using the main camera (tap to see larger image)

 

The ultra-wide and outer selfie cameras are good too. During the day, the ultra-wide does a great job of eliminating barrel distortion but in low light, edges of images can look grainy even with Night mode. The quality of the selfie camera is decent when you’re in a hurry but for best results, I would recommend taking the effort of using the rear cameras for selfies. Recorded videos look good and have smooth stabilisation when shooting in daytime. Low-light videos are decent too as long as there’s decent amount of ambient light.

Verdict

1.5 lakh rupees is a lot of money for a smartphone, which is why you should take a moment to think about the practicality aspect before jumping on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. It is undoubtedly the best phone for a productivity junkie or a mobile gaming enthusiast, and if you know for sure that you will be taking advantage of this form factor and accept the quirks of living with such a smartphone, then I wholly recommend it.

But for many users, it might not be the easiest to live with. Folding and unfolding the phone can become a chore very quickly and for those buying it just for the novelty or bragging rights might regret their decision a few months down the line. If you still wish to spend this sort of money but want something that’s easier to live with, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the next best thing. It too supports the S Pen and has much better cameras. Alternately, you can also look at the new iPhone 15 Pro Max. We’re in the middle of testing it and should have a verdict on it very soon.

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