Samsung’s foldable smartphones have year-on-year built upon its successes, and some failures, to provide consumers with the best of what this technology has to offer. Its fifth-generation foldables, which were launched at the Galaxy Unpacked 2023 on July 26, aim to do the same. It is clear that lessons have been learnt and taken to heart too. While the more expensive Galaxy Z Fold 5 was expected to steal all the headlines, it is the Z Flip 5 that has captured the limelight, headlined by its new Flex Window.
In our first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, we highlighted that while the new Flex Window and Flex Hinge are welcome additions, the rest of the smartphone still leaves something to be desired. But after spending a few weeks with it, is it still the case?
At first glance, there is a very notable difference between the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Flip 5. Samsung has (finally) got rid of the tiny 1.9-inch cover display which barely could do anything meaningful, and replaced it with the bigger 3.4-inch AMOLED display called the Flex Window, and this opens up all sorts of possibilities. However, unlike the recently-launched Moto Razr 40 Ultra, the cover display does not wrap around the camera bump but is packed in a folder-like shape.
There’s a carousel of other widgets that you can scroll through such as weather, quick dialer, alarm, health, and more. The Flex Window is a one-stop shop for basic device settings such as Wi-Fi Bluetooth, sound modes, torch, and volume, and all of them can be adjusted without having to actually open, or rather, flip the smartphone.
While only a handful of first-party widgets are natively supported, Samsung’s Good Lock app comes in handy as it allows you to run any and all apps from the Flex Window. One of the most welcome additions to the cover display is a full-sized keyboard which now allows you to reply to messages without having to flip the Flip 5 open.
Moving on to the inner 6.7-inch full-HD+ AMOLED display, Samsung seems to have gone down the path of ‘if it ain't broke, don't fix it’ with the Galaxy Z Flip 5. It gets an identical display to its predecessor, and while it still is one of the nicest displays on any foldable device, the crease is still as prominent as ever. At a time when companies such as Oppo have managed to hide it on their devices in the first attempt, it is disappointing to see Samsung go down the already-trodden path.
The biggest complaint of yesteryears has been the hinge of Samsung’s foldables, which did not let the smartphone fold completely shut. The infamous gap was always there, but things have changed now. With the introduction of the Flex Hinge, Samsung has rectified this and the Z Flip 5 now closes without any noticeable gaps. It has affected the smartphone’s overall design as well and the Z Flip 5 is now a bit thinner although it weighs the same. Samsung claims that the Flex Hinge has fewer moving parts which should make it more durable. While it has not presented any problems so far, the reality will only be known after months of rigorous use.
The rest of the design remains unchanged with the same side-mounted fingerprint scanner and volume buttons, and the under-display camera on the inside. It gets an IPX8 water resistance rating which gives it an upper hand and puts the mere IP52-rated Razr 40 Ultra to shame.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset under the hood which is paired with 8GB RAM across all storage variants. As expected, Samsung has brought its A-game into play when it comes to performance, and the Z Flip 5 breezes through any and all tasks imaginable. 30 minutes of playing graphic-intensive games like Genshin Impact did not cause it to stutter, although it gets a bit warm. Still, there are not any noticeable frame-rate drops or lags. We put the phone through its paces with regular calls, emails, clicking pictures, browsing social media and even occasionally watching a few YouTube videos, and the Z Flip 5 passed all the tests.
Samsung has been perfecting its UI for foldable devices for almost 5 years now and the progress made is evident as the Z Flip 5 offers one of the most refined UI experiences that you can get on a foldable smartphone (bar the Google Pixel Fold).
But this does not mean that all is perfect. In fact, there is one aspect where the Galaxy Z Flip 5 lags behind even some of the mid-range smartphones - charging speed. At a time when 60W+ charging speeds are becoming the norm, Samsung is still stuck with 25W wired and 15W wireless charging, which is a disappointment. Having said that, even though the battery is identical to the Z Flip 4, it now lasts a bit longer, courtesy of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which is a more power-efficient chip. However, it still did not last a full day when used rigorously, which is concerning. But if you’re a light user, you’re likely to manage with it.
The cameras on the Z Flip 5 are the same as its predecessors, therefore there’s nothing new to talk about. It is still an excellent dual camera system with a 12MP primary and 12MP ultra-wide sensor. Photos captured by the Z Flip 5 are well-detailed with good color reproduction and exposure, although they’re still not as good as the S23 series.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 doesn’t suffer from the over-balancing problem that has plagued iPhone 12 and newer devices. The Scene Optimiser option only makes subtle adjustments to saturation and color tones, and it is a great tool to use for snapping social media-ready pictures. One of the rare instances where the camera struggles is portrait photography. While the edge detection is decent in most cases, shots often turn out to be over-exposed. The 12MP ultra-wide shooter isn’t a world-beater by any means as it snaps average-looking pictures with low detail even in decent lighting conditions.
Although the Z Flip 5 gets a decent enough 10MP selfie shooter, we did not use it in most cases as the smartphone can be folded to capture selfies with the front camera itself, which is vastly superior. The Flex Window provides a preview of the selfie which helps capture great shots.
Night photography is also decent, but it struggles to capture details. We used both the Scene optimizer and the native Night mode, and shots were nearly identical in both situations. It struggles to recreate blacks and can soften shots.
All in all, as long as you don’t use it to capture the Moon at night, the Z Flip 5’s cameras perform well in most cases. Check out a few snapshots below.
All-in-all, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is once again the one to beat in the flip smartphone segment. The new Flex Window is the highlight of the smartphone which allows you to more than just take a peek at notifications. With a carousel of apps at your disposal, it is comfortably the best cover display on a flip phone. This is matched by an equally good UI experience where Samsung’s Good Lock app allows you to run just about any app on the cover display. With Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 under the hood, the Z Flip 5 is one of the fastest smartphones in the market and passes through most performance tests with flying colors. The phone gets the same camera system as the Z Flip 4 and it clicks great social media-ready shots in most cases, except in low-light situations.
While the Flex Window is a welcome addition, the inner display is nearly identical to its predecessor with the same prominent crease in the middle. The smartphone still gets a 25W wired charging support which is a letdown and the battery won’t last a whole day if you’re a rigorous user.
If you’re in the market for a flip smartphone and want a premium experience, then the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the one to go for. Despite a hefty price of Rs. 99999, it offers the most refined foldable smartphone experience that you can get and it is still the benchmark setter when it comes to clamshell devices.
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