Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5: Why Samsung has chosen to play favorites

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Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5: Why Samsung has chosen to play favorites
This year is shaping up to be a very interesting one for foldable smartphones. While the novel technology has come a long way since the original Galaxy Fold, the foldable market is still considered a largely one-horse race, at least outside of China.

In 2023 this could finally change as many manufacturers enter the fray and launch foldables of their own in many parts of the world. This includes OnePlus (i.e. the OnePlus V Fold and the OnePlus V Flip) and potentially Google (i.e. the Pixel Fold).



This is why Samsung’s next Z series lineup might be its most important one yet. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 and the Galaxy Z Flip 5 could be the first Samsung foldables to face some sort of meaningful competition in Western markets. In order for the Korean tech giant to retain its crown, the Flip 5 and Fold 5 must deliver. The question is whether they will be able to do so.

Over the last couple of weeks many leaks concerning the two smartphones have surfaced, some of which from highly credible sources. Unfortunately, I cannot help but feel (partially) disappointed as it seems Samsung might end up resting on its laurels.

In the following paragraphs, I will take a look at Samsung’s upcoming Z lineup and what it could mean for the company’s position and for the foldable market as a whole. Now would be the time for a small disclaimer: this article will be based on credible, but preliminary information that remains subject to change. With that out of the way, let us get right to it.


The Galaxy Z Flip 5: The upgrade we have all been waiting for


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I will start with the good, before proceeding to the bad and the ugly. Firstly, I want to applaud Samsung for finally listening to its consumers and addressing a number of crucial flaws of its foldable lineup.

Both the Z Flip 5 and the Z Fold 5 will adopt new hinge mechanisms which will enable them to be slimmer, lighter, and gapless for the first time. The new Samsung foldables will also feature much less prominent creases than their predecessors. All of this, in addition to an IP certification, is a truly remarkable feat.

We will also be getting slimmer bezels on both devices and, for the first time, a functional cover screen on the Galaxy Z Flip 5. We have heard contradictory reports about the final design of the secondary display, but the latter is set to become much bigger. Such a change will bring the Z Flip in line with foldables like the Motorola Razr 2022 and the Oppo Find N2 Flip.


In short, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 will be vastly superior to its predecessors because users will now have the ability to adequately interact with their device and do a lot more with it when the smartphone is folded. Which brings me to the next point.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5: A little less worse, but not much different



The whole idea of the foldable form factor is to facilitate two different ‘modes’ of operation: users should be able to execute certain tasks when the device is folded, and others - when it is unfolded. If a foldable can only work in one mode, this defeats much of the purpose of a flexible screen in the first place. In my view, the ideal foldable would be used half of the time folded, and the other half - unfolded.

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This has been my biggest problem with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. The cover screen is simply not all that enjoyable to use, because of the very unnatural aspect ratio. And when I have to open the device every time I need to use it, I start pondering why I should spend $1799 on a glorified 7.6” tablet. After all, for that money you can buy a tablet and a smartphone.

In short, I cannot understand why Samsung refuses to give the Galaxy Z Fold 5 a more functional cover screen. In previous articles I have expressed my desire to see the Fold adopt dimensions similar to the ones of the Oppo Find N2. I have since realized that many Fold fans are not too keen on the smaller footprint of the latter. Still, a cover screen with an adequate aspect ratio does not necessarily translate to less screen real estate - just take a look at the Huawei Mate X2.



It should be noted that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will likely still be a very decent upgrade over its predecessors, purely because of the new hinge design. But Samsung’s unwillingness to (1) fix the narrow cover screen and (2) to bring features which many fans have wanted for years, like a built-in S Pen tray, still leaves much to be desired.

Why is the Galaxy Z Flip 5 getting all the love?


Now is the time for the ugly part. The biggest question is why Samsung has decided to prioritize the Galaxy Z Flip 5, while the Z Fold 5 is stuck with a sub-optimal design. The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting. Samsung is fully aware of the fact that clamshell foldables tend to sell better than their notepad counterparts, in part due to the price difference between the two.

 

Hence, retaining a bigger market share in the cheaper, more mainstream foldable segment is more important than refining the device that paved the way for foldables as a whole. This is a shame because the Z Fold has a much grander ambition than the Z Flip. Namely, the former aspires to fulfill a 2-in-1 fantasy and to eventually become the single mobile device on which a user can rely entirely for everything.

Ultimately, Samsung has once again proven that it is comfortable with releasing incremental upgrades of its flagship products for multiple generations in a row. This is something almost every tech giant is guilty of. However, such a business strategy does not befit the company that pioneered the form factor that seeks to be the new frontier in mobile technology. Leading is not always simply a game of profits.

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