Galaxy Z Flip 5 Review: One big step forward
Let's cut to the chase: Foldable phones have been around for a bit now, and while they've improved, they're still straddling the line between gimmicks and game-changers. Samsung has pioneered the space and its foldable devices are now polished products. Enter Samsung's newest, the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Samsung seems to be coasting rather than pioneering, but that doesn't mean there aren't updates worth discussing. Let's dive in.
The Outside Story
Yeah, you read it right—Samsung's newest flip phone comes with a 3.4-inch "Flex Window". A major bump up from the 1.9-inch screen of last year’s model, this external display is a canvas of newfound utility. It’s a Super AMOLED panel with a 60Hz refresh rate and a 720 x 748 resolution. The term "Flex Window" might sound like marketing puffery, but there's no denying that Samsung's made improvements here. The Weather and Calendar widgets have matured like fine wine; they now offer a multi-day forecast and monthly view respectively. You still cannot expect the full Android experience here but what you can expect does make tangible changes to how you go about interacting with your phone. For someone like me who tends to spend a large amount of time on their phone, the Z Flip 5’s external screen helped me reduce my screen time.
Flip it Open
Inside the flip, you're looking at a familiar 6.7-inch Full HD AMOLED panel. Crease? Yes, it’s there. Annoying? Not really. Like a cozy, well-worn couch, you get used to it, maybe even grow fond of it. Samsung’s prowess when it comes to displays translates to the foldable screen of the Z Flip 5 as well. It gets very bright, has vibrant colours, and is a treat to watch videos on. More than the quality of the display itself, the form factor made a big difference in how I used it. The Flip has always been very pocketable, but now there’s added utility with the larger external screen.
Performance & Battery Life
With the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of base storage, the Flip 5 is no slouch. Its Geekbench 6 scores are flagship-level, and during my test, the phone handled everything like a champ. Battery life, though? Not great. It has the same 3,700mAh battery as its predecessor, and it performs similarly, which is to say, just about okay. It does get through the day with average use but we have come to expect so much more from flagship grade smartphones. For the form factor though, I might just be willing to live with the battery life.
Let’s be honest. If you’re looking for a phone to replace your DSLR, this isn’t it. The 12-megapixel external cameras are competent but not ground-breaking. Against other clamshell smartphones though, the Flip 5’s cameras are significantly better. In most lighting scenarios, the main camera and the ultrawide produce good-quality images with Samung’s colour science coming in handy. The selfie camera does a good job as well, but there is a key UX improvement that the Z Flip 5 offers. The external display doubles as a large viewfinder to help you frame and capture selfies with the main camera.
The Flex Hinge and Durability
The new Flex Hinge is what you'd call an unsung hero. With its gapless closure, it minimizes the chance that debris will sneak into the delicate internal screen, something that was a concern for buyers of the Z Flip 4. The Z Flip 5 also has an IPX8 rating which means it will easily handle a dip in some water.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 builds on the Z Flip 4 from last year to be the most accomplished clamshell smartphone there is. The large external display adds massively to the user experience and makes you want to open up your smartphone fewer times during the course of a day. It gets a reliable camera system with a very good main sensor that can also double up as a selfie camera. And like all other Samsung flagships, it is built well with premium materials. However, the asking price (starting at Rs. 99,999) pits it against Samsung’s non-foldable flagships for most people. And that is a hard battle to win.