The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the other foldable released by Samsung in 2023. While the Z Flip 5 clamshell received all the attention through activations and pop-ups to promote it (you can read my Z Flip 5 review here), it felt like the Z Fold 5 took a back seat. But make no mistake, it is no back seat device.
We’ve been testing the Z Fold 5 over the last couple of months, and due to a bunch of travel, the review of this device took a bit longer to publish.
The Z Fold 5 is almost identical to last year’s device, it has the same screens and camera set-up with updates to its design and multitasking capabilities.
Samsung Z Fold 5 Quick Look
- 7.6-inch main display; 6.2-inch cover display
- Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
- 12GB of RAM; 256GB storage
- 50MP wide-angle, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto
- 10MP selfie-cam; and 4MP under-display cam
- 4400mAh battery
What’s new on the Z Fold 5?
The biggest update on the Z Fold 5 is the hinge – it now folds completely flat. The redesign makes it about 10g lighter at 253g but more importantly, there is no longer a large gap that may attract more dust. That said, it is IPX8 rated for water resistance only, and not dust. I appreciate the symmetry of the design.
The dimensions when folded is 154.9mm x 67.1mm x 13.4mm, and when open is 154.9mm x 129.9mm x 6.1mm. It has support for an S-Pen stylus, which is available separately.
The hinge lets the device sit open in any angle, and when it comes to the crease, I eventually didn’t notice it. Yes, if you only look it, then you won’t notice on what’s on screen, but if you are looking at your screen and its contents, you’re not noticing the crease.
In terms of durability, it has been tested for 200 000 folds. Of course, I can’t speak for that as my review period is only for a couple of months, so I don’t know how it will hold up after 24 months, but I found it sturdy when opening and closing. I liked that it felt like it has a solid build.
Getting accustomed to the Z Fold 5
The Z Fold 5 is a large device and knowing how expensive it is, I was afraid to carry it around without a protective cover. I requested one before using it properly. This isn’t a device that fits in your pocket, it’s going to sit in your bag.
Thus, I needed to be aware of the device scratching against things in my bag if I didn’t have a dedicated slot for it – speaking from experience. So as you can tell, it felt quite stressful taking on this review because a lot of it was around me trying not to damage or scratch it accidentally.
The cover supplied came with a built-in stylus as the Z Fold 5 has S-Pen support. But if you’ve read my previous reviews, you know that it’s not something I reach for by default. But the cover did give me peace of mind.
The device is more bulky with the cover, which means I’m not using it the same way I do my smartphone. I used it as an entertainment and productivity device – the way I use my iPad when I’m not at my laptop.
Better on the big screen
The folding tablet is best viewed on its large 7.6-inch screen when opened. I found myself using it a lot more than the 6.2-inch cover display when closed. In fact every time I pulled it out, I opened it by default.
The display is brighter than the previous-gen at 1750 nits, and the display is high-resolution. Samsung’s vivid screens make you want to consume more content. I loved watching videos on it (YouTube), which I think a lot of us do on devices now. It’s also great for browsing websites, and scrolling on social media.
Even when I used the S-Pen to play around, it was responsive, and feels nice to scribble on but I didn’t use it much for my day-to-day testing. Though when I dragged it across the crease, it affected the continuity of the line I drew. That said, if you’re doing some intricate editing work, you may appreciate using a stylus more.
I like the customising options for font size, adaptive brightness, light/dark modes, full screen apps, and sensitivity. Things like screen layout for multi-view window, edge panels, taskbar, and navigation bar can be toggled in the settings. I highly recommend you do this initially so you set it up to your preference and know what’s available.
The cover display is narrow and has a weird aspect ratio that’s atypical at 23:1:9, when compared to my iPhone (15 Pro) at 19.5:9. Even the keyboard on the cover display was tricky to type on, which I struggled with despite my small fingers. What I did enjoy on the cover display the most was scrolling through TikTok – it filled up the screen properly.
Multi-tasking and multi-window support
As mentioned, I used the Z Fold 5 for work or productivity tools, so I dedicated time to set it up to my liking. I set up shortcuts to open two favourite apps at once; this is accessible on the edge panels. And once you have that set-up, you can have floating windows over it.
You can pair two apps like YouTube and a browser; or Gmail and Chrome to open together, and then have floating windows that you can go into at any time, like Instagram or Whatsapp, etc. You can even have Gmail as your floating window. Multi-window usage is next level if set it up correctly.
Additionally, the taskbar shows up to eight apps, with a bunch that you want to have in there, and others show as recent. Between the multi-window support, and taskbar, you really can have it set up for your most used apps to enhance productivity.
I loved playing around with these based on being productive or using it for entertainment. You can view paired apps horizontally or vertically and turn one into a floating one. The more you play around, the better you understand it.
The phone didn’t lag or stutter when I did any of this, opening a bunch of apps to keep it easily accessible to pair, etc. If there is one thing consistent with Samsung flagships, it’s performance. It can handle most things you throw at it – it is also optimised for gaming but I didn’t use it for that.
Cameras on all screens, front and rear
The camera system may confuse you because there are three different types: a triple rear (50MP wide-angle, 12MP ultra-wide and 10MP telephoto); a selfie-cam (10MP); and an under-display cam (4MP). If this is your main device, then you will use it a lot more than I did. It’s just not something I reached for, given the way I opted to use it.
The main rear camera can be used to take selfies if you open up the screen fully; you just need to look into the rear lens and not the screen. The same works if you’re taking a photo of someone, you can turn the cover screen on so they can see their photo in real-time.
The selfie-cam at 10MP is decent but once you know you can use the 50MP rear, you probably want to stick to it. The under-display camera can be used for video calls while keeping the device folded open.
The Z Fold 5 has the usual features you’d expect from Samsung: portrait shots, adjustable depth of field, super steady videos, director’s view, spruced up night photos, and 8K videos (30fps). You can also shoot in RAW, super-slow mo, do portrait videos, etc.
While this is Samsung’s most expensive device as a foldable, it is not equipped with their best camera. That is reserved for the S Series, specifically the Galaxy S23 Ultra. But, I’ve always maintained, you’re not buying a foldable for the camera. The Z Fold 5 has a decent camera though, suitable for content creators.
Battery life and rest of the specs
The Z Fold 5 has a 4400mAh battery, but things like a brighter screen may impact it, so best to use adaptive brightness and screen refresh rates as default. I found the battery life to be good – even standby; there’s no way you need to top it up during the day.
There is support for 25W wired charging, though you only get a USB-C cable in the box, no plug; and 15W wireless charging, just like its predecessor. If you have a plugs that support faster speeds, it charges really quickly – you can be fully charged in about an hour and a half. I used an EcoFlow to charge it a lot and was amazed at how fast it charged.
The Z Fold 5 is powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset optimised for Galaxy, has 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Given how large files you will shoot with still and videos, it should have been 512GB minimum, but if you have fibre and cloud storage, it shouldn’t be a train smash.
The device naturally supports 5G, eSIM, Bluetooth, NFC, and Ultra-Wide Band (if you’re pairing it with a SmartTag 2 for precision tracking). You can tether wirelessly, over USB and Ethernet.
Final thoughts and should you get one
The Z Fold 5 does not disappoint when it comes to performance you’d expect from a Samsung flagship. The tablet will handle a lot of things you throw at it. It has a solid feel to it and premium build quality. I can’t compare it to many other folding tablets in South Africa because there isn’t much competition, unless you count the Huawei Mate X3 that I reviewed in June with its limitations.
If you’ve never considered a foldable before or don’t have a tablet, this may be a good time to look at the Z Fold 5’s contract options or trade-in deals. It’s also worth considering if you use an older phablet or want a smartphone and tablet but don’t want two devices.
The Z Fold 5 should have come with minimum 512GB of storage because there is currently a R1000 difference between a 265GB version at R41 999 and 512GB at R42 999, making the latter a no-brainer. While the price is steep, Samsung has the edge here with it fours year Android upgrades and five year security updates promise.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org