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The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the Tesla of smartphones

Samsung's competition is catching up. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
4 out of 5 stars
4
Processor
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Display
3.4-inch + 6.7-inch
Storage
Starts at 256GB
Alex Choros
Aug 25, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read
Quick verdict: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is naturally Samsung's best flip-style foldable to date, but other manufacturers are starting to best Samsung at is own game. 

pro
Pros
pro Larger Cover Display is great
pro Zero-gap hinge
pro Lovely design
con
Cons
con Subpar cameras
con Shortish battery
con Still has a prominent display crease

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the Tesla of the phone world. No, not because of an unhinged CEO who's been accused of fraud. Not because of any exploding battery debacles. But because Samsung, much like Tesla, was a pioneer in a new space and now the competition is starting to catch up.

Samsung's foldable phones get every year, as you'd hope. The problem is the competition is getting better too, and in some cases, are doing things better than Samsung. It puts would-be foldable buyers in a tricky position - do you go with the manufacturer that's been doing this for the longest, or the one that's innovating the fastest?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

How much does the Galaxy Z Flip 5 cost?

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 starts at $1,649 for a 256GB model. You can also buy it on a plan from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. Here are the cheapest 36-month Galaxy Z Flip 5 plans

Playing catch-up

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

The larger Cover Display is the Z Flip 5's most meaningful change. Following OPPO and Motorola's lead, Samsung has grown the external display from 1.9-inch to 3.4-inch. This, unsurprisingly, makes it a lot more useful. It's not just for checking notifications anymore.

The Cover Display has a sort of smartwatch logic to it. Out of the box, you're limited to notifications and widgets like weather and a calendar. The large screen makes checking notifications a whole lot easier, however, and you can even reply to messages without opening the phone.

It's a more streamlined approach than Motorola's, where you can run any app you want on the Razr 40 Ultra's external display. Of course, not every app is suited to such a small screen, so you can understand Samsung's process.

Experimental features let you run a select few apps like Google Maps on the Z Flip 5's Cover Display, but you have to go out of your way to enable them. If you want to run anything else, it involves a whole lot of legwork. It's pretty clear Samsung would rather you didn't, but it's an odd decision when apps like Spotify run perfectly well on the Cover Display and have use cases suited to it.

The other big change this year is the zero-gap hinge. The Z Flip 5 can fold entirely flat - a feat some rivals achieved as early as 2021. That being said, the Z Flip 5 is a very elegant phone. It's my favourite foldable from an industrial design perspective. From how the Cover Display blends into the bezel to the subtle curves on the frame, it's just nice.

Samsung is still playing catch-up when it comes to the crease, however. While Samsung reduced the amount of crease on the internal display thanks to the new hinge design, it's a lot more noticeable than on phones like the Find N2 Flip and Razr 40 Ultra.

A crease isn't the end of the world, but I'd still prefer less crease than more crease. It's one of those elements that reduce the overall level of polish - especially when you know it can be better.

The phone part

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

When it comes to more conventional specs, the Z Flip 5 doesn't quite meet what you'd expect from a traditional phone with this kind of price tag.

In terms of battery, you'll get around four hours of screen time per charge. That's roughly a full day of moderate usage with almost no buffer. Not only is this shorter than the 4.5 hours of screen time on offer from the Razr 40 Ultra and the Find N2 Flip, you'll get a longer-lasting charge from any of Samsung's Galaxy S23 models.

The Z Flip 5 does however benefit from the fastest process in a foldable phone. It's powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset you'll find in the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and it's certainly no slouch. It's also a step ahead of the competition, which are all still using Gen 1 chips, so Samsung gets points here.

Camera is easily the Z Flip 5's biggest weakness. You can get nice enough photos in good lighting or with a bit of luck, but low light and motion both challenge the phone. Images shot in dark environments tend to be grainy and lack detail, and the Z Flip 5 flat out struggles with moving subjects - especially ones as energetic as a kelpie cross border collie.

To be fair to Samsung, no flip-style foldable has amazing cameras. It's a weakness across the board, but I'd say the Razr 40 Ultra edges out the Samsung in low light. It's the area I'd most like to see improvement, because you shouldn't have to compromise on photo quality if you're spending $1,500 and up on a phone.

Not without perks

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Samsung still has its strengths, however. To start, no one has been able to match its foldables on water resistance. Like last year's models, both the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5 are rated IPX8. This means it can survive being dunked as deep as 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.

For comparison, OPPO's foldables have no IP rating, while the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra is rated IP52. As such, the Razr 40 Ultra is only protected from splashes - not submersion.

Samsung has some of the best software update policies from any Android phone manufacturer. The Z Flip 5 will get four years of major operating system updates, and five years of security updates.

OPPO has however matched this with the Find N2 Flip, which will also see same level of support. Motorola is a step behind, offering three years of software updates and four years of security.

Is the Galaxy Z Flip 5 worth it?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a really fun phone, but Samsung hasn't been innovating as fast as its rivals. It's still a good buy if you're after a flip-style foldable, as long as you're aware of the inherent compromises associated with the form factor. The camera and battery aren't as good as they should be for a phone this expensive.

The Motorola Razr 40 Ultra is a little cheaper, a bit better when it comes to battery life and photographic prowess, and has a less noticeable crease. The overall design doesn't feel as polished, but it's certainly worth considering as an alternative.

In previous years, Samsung was the only meaningful choice if you wanted a flip-style foldable, but that's no longer the case. In the same way that most car makers are now making electric vehicles, it's inevitable more phone manufacturers will make foldable phones.

Samsung's most interesting point of difference as a phone manufacturer is on the precipice of being taken away. It can differentiate on being the folding phone brand if everyone is making folding phones. Samsung can however still differentiate by being the best at folding phones, but given how polished its rivals are, that's a hard claim to make.

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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