Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Review: does evolution stop here?

19comments
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Intro


The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is currently the latest and best from Samsung's top-tier foldable line. It launched in late July of 2023 and came with an improved hinge, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Made for Galaxy — the first time we saw Qualcomm launch chips specifically overclocked for Samsung's phones. Thus far, we've seen that partnership blossom with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy — the chips in the Galaxy S24 line, and possibly the one that will move on to the next Fold.


Yes, if you are a proud Z Fold 4 owner, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is barely something that should be in your shopping wishlist, as its minor upgrades don't add all that much. But, if you are just now jumping in the foldable lifestyle, the Z Fold 5 can be a very solid experience and a great starting point.

So, let's explore the Galaxy Z Fold 5 — battery, camera, displays and performance, here is our full review:

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
What we like
  • Improved hinge feels better
  • Fast and solid performance
  • Sharp, colorful screen with smooth refresh rate
What we don't like
  • Battery life is ok at best
  • External screen can be too narrow for comfortable typing
  • The crease is shallower, but still very much present
6.3
PhoneArena Rating
6.5
Price Class Average
Battery Life
4.7
5.6
Photo Quality
6.7
6.8
Video Quality
6.3
5.9
Charging
6.2
7
Performance Peak
5.6
5.5
Performance Daily
6.6
6.6
Display Quality
8
7.8
Design
5
7.2
Wireless Charging
5.9
5.9
Biometrics
7
7.4
Audio
8
7.4
Software
6
6
Why the score?
This device scores 3.1% worse than the average for this price class, which includes devices like the vivo X Fold 3 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 and OnePlus Open
User Score
Be the first to review this phone
We may receive a small affiliate commission if you purchase from these offers.
Sim-free
Amazon
$1390

As you can see above, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 total review score is lower than you might expect. That is not because the phone is flawed in some unexpected ways, but because we have implemented a new rating system at PhoneArena that gives readers a better idea of the performance of a phone across different categories. Remember to look at the scores and compare them to the average for the class, and we believe you will find these scores tremendously useful. Learn more about the new PhoneArena Smartphone Review Rating system here.

Galaxy Z Fold 5 what's new:
  • Improved hinge design — feels better, flaps now close snug and parallel to each other
  • Crease is shallower, but still visible
  • Stronger adhesive on main screen protector — shouldn't peel off or bubble up
  • Overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, LPDDR5X, UFS 4.0 — cutting edge, super-fast hardware
  • Same screen sizes and specs
  • Camera modules are the same, image processing slightly touched up
  • New S Pen case is slimmer and actually pocketable

Table of Contents:

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Unboxing




Keeping with the times, we have a minimalistic box with the phone, a USB C cable, and intro booklets. That's pretty much it. If you want to charge your Galaxy Z Fold 5 optimally, it supports 25 W fast chargers. For wireless pads — your best bet is grabbing a Samsung Fast Charger, just to be sure it will unlock the fastest possible wireless charging. But regular Qi pads will work just fine, just slower.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Specs

Staying on top

In 2023, we saw the partnership between Samsung and Qualcomm deepen, with a special edition of the latest Snapdragon — the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Made for Galaxy chip is specifically tuner for Samsung phones. That is to say it's slightly overclocked. Also, Samsung continuously develops memory chips, and this time we have upgrades in that area as well. Here are the full Galaxy Z Fold 5 specs:


Yes, we get UFS 4.0, which is twice as fast as UFS 3.1! Great upgrade to add tons of headroom, but that doesn't really mean that the old Galaxy Z Fold 4 is unbearably slow. Also, LPDDR5X RAM is a small upgrade in speed and energy efficiency.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Design & Colors

As pretty as it has been for the past couple of years


The Galaxy Z Fold 5 looks a lot like its predecessor, but has a hinge that has been notably improved. Where previous models felt a bit creaky and left a gap when the flaps were closed, the new model feels much nicer. The new hinge does not make a weird noise and, more importantly, feels smooth throughout the motion of unfolding or folding. And, when closed, the two flaps of the Z Fold 5 are completely parallel, instead of being slightly skewed with a gap on one side — that's a signature "smirk" that all previous Folds had.

If you are here for a major redesign or a much wider external display (a-la Google Pixel Fold) — this isn't going to be it.

Thanks to that hinge, the crease down the middle of the main screen is also slightly shallower. The difference is felt by touch, but it's too small to capture on camera — yes that crease is still fully visible.

Another invisible upgrade — Samsung claims that the adhesive of the internal screen's screen protector is much stronger, so it shouldn't bubble up or peel off by itself (older Folds suffered from this). Of course... we can't say if that's going to be true until some months have passed.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5's ratios have been mulled over numerous times. But still, Samsung prefers to stick with a design where the external screen is super-narrow, while the internal screen is square-ish. The point is to have a very strong differentiation between one-handed and two-handed modes, and the company wants a closed Z Fold to feel like a narrow object that's easy to stow.

That said, the external screen isn't the most comfortable thing to dual-thumb type on. And if you slap a case on it, letters near the edge of the screen require concentrated effort to hit correctly. The problem is further emphasized if you choose to use gestures for navigation — trying to swipe in from the side of the screen for a "back" command while you have a case on can feel jarring. Perhaps this is why Samsung insists to default to virtual nav buttons on its phones.


Speaking of the case — yes, we do believe that you get the full Z Fold 5 experience if you pair it with the S Pen case, which has this sleek new design. It's kind of a letdown that you need to put a thick plastic case on your premium metal-and-glass foldable phone to get its full functionality but oh well... If you don't care about the S Pen, you can skip it and either get a sleeker protector or risk it and go without a case. "I, too, like to live dangerously".


We get water-resistance again — the Z Fold 5 is rated IPX8, which means surviving 30 minutes in up to 1.5 meters of fresh water. No particle resistance, so maybe don't take it to the beach.

As for colors, Samsung will stick to more mature, neutral color options, which are often chosen for premium phones. In the case of the Z Fold 5 colors, we have Cream, Phantom Black, and Icy Blue. Orders on Samsung.com will have access to exclusive colors — Gray and Blue (which is a darker shade than Icy Blue). They don't sound special, but we did really like the Gray one in person — it looks more like an off-white than a dark gray. Also, the exclusive color models have matte frames, whereas the "regular" ones have a shiny finish. In any case, all variants have a matte glass back.


The fingerprint scanner is still embedded in the power button and it's super fast and accurate. We actually prefer the response time of this scanner to the under-screen ones Samsung uses on the Galaxy S models. But its positioning on the side of the frame makes for awkward interactions when the phone is on a stand, carmount, or laid flat on a table. Oh well...

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Display



Samsung is at the peak of its AMOLED game — its screens are bright, vibrant, and realistic-looking. And on the Z Fold series, we have two AMOLED panels — a narrow 6.2-inch screen on the outside and the foldable 7.2-incher inside.

Both have a dynamic refresh rate — 1 to 120 Hz for the main display and 48 to 120 Hz for the external one. A dynamic refresh rate helps save battery and that 1 Hz drop is specifically useful when using an Always On Display. The one thing that's odd — we typically use the AOD on the external screen, right? Then why does the internal screen go all the way down to 1 Hz, whereas the external one still bottoms out at 48 Hz? We are pretty sure there are technical difficulties involved, but it's still worth to question.

We have pretty high resolutions — 2176 x 1812 pixels (373 PPI) on the internal screen, and 2316 x 904 pixels (401 PPI) on the cover panel. Same as before and just as sharp as we would expect, and with color calibration options where you can go for punchy, vibrant, aggressive colors, or pick a basic mode that's more toned down, realistic, and easy on the eyes.

Display Measurements:




The Galaxy Z Fold 5 gave us slightly brighter peak brightness but a slightly cooler overall display tone on our measurements. In real life, the screen is perfectly usable under direct sunlight, no worries there. As for colors and viewing comfort — upon enabling Eye comfort shield, the phone dynamically adjusts color temperature throughout the day, and we have no complaints. This screen is soft on the eyes and looks gorgeous, but no surprises there.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Camera

Just enough to stay in the category


The Samsung foldables are not really camera centric phones. For one, there are room issues to consider, secondly there's the price — the whole foldable tech already costs a lot and that's without tacking on a super-advanced camera module.

That's not to say that we wouldn't have been happy to see some upgrades for the Z Fold 5's camera. However, it appears to stay the same: 

Recommended Stories
  • 50 MP main camera
  • 10 MP 3x zoom camera
  • 12 MP ultra-wide camera

Of course, Samsung said that it has worked to tweak the software further, and the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 does have upgrades to its image processing.

For the front, we have a 10 MP selfie snapper on the outside shell, and a lower-res 4 MP selfie camera hidden under the main screen inside. The latter is typically not great for selfies and it hasn't really evolved much over the past few years... With the Z Fold 4, Samsung tried to improved the density of the pixels that are "hiding" it under the main screen. But it looks and acts the same on the Z Fold 5 — no improvements. It's not great for selfies, it kind of does the job for video calls.

Main Camera - Day



We have an aggressive HDR that tames highlights and boosts shadows very adequately, unless there's a super-challenging scene to deal with. It doesn't flatten the dynamics as much as, say, a Pixel would, and we find the photos accurately convey the lighting conditions we were in.

Colors are, in typical Samsung fashion, boosted, with greens getting a bit skewed. Interestingly enough, we found the Flip 5 to saturate colors a bit more, but we are not calling the Galaxy Z Fold 5 "realistic" here — it's a typical "more vibrant more good" type of approach, which you can love or hate. To our eyes, it doesn't look "over the top" but it can definitely do with some taming.

Sharpening can be toned down a bit. Small decals and edges look nice, sure, but we can spot a bit of oversharpening going on, making some details look jagged or unnatural.

Main Camera - Low-light



When the sun goes down, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 can get challenged by certain light sources, all depending on the scene. That said, it is still perfectly capable of producing some striking photos, especially with those amped colors. We also don't notice it giving a pronounced yellow tinting to pictures taken in the dark, which is much appreciated.

Its noise reduction is working double shifts here and you can spot it washing out details, especially when faces are involved. But, in general, it takes great snaps at night, instantly ready for social media. #nofilter gang!

Zoom Quality



The Z Fold 5 has a 3x telephoto lens, which helps for zooms and for great portraits. From then on, it uses digital wizardry to amp up magnification to 30x maximum — much like the Galaxy S23 (not Ultra). We'd say that up to 10x zoom, it holds it together pretty well. You can definitely see details getting softer and image degradation creeping in, but the 10x zoom is still perfectly usable if you need to capture something that you just can't get closer to.

From then on, the image gets worse and worse, but even at 30x you can get a snap that you can use for a reference — just not one that you can brag to your friends with.

Portrait Mode



The Portrait Mode does allow you to use the wide camera and the telephoto camera. We here are fans of the zoomed-in portrait that doesn't distort facial features and really isolates subject from background. And the Z Fold 5 pulls it off really well. The software does a fantastic job at separating subject from background, though it's not perfect (check out the tiny spots of unblurred background around the hairline on sample 1).

Ultra-wide Camera



The ultra-wide camera has weaker dynamics and softer details than the main one — that's usually par for the course with wider lenses. You can certainly see things getting washed out towards the edges of an ultra-wide photo, which is caused by a mix of the lens itself and then the software working to straighten out the "fisheye" effect it causes.

So, while it's not the best ultra-wide we've tested — it's certainly usable when you are aiming to take some epic wide shots of landscapes or creative subject shots. The colors seem to be calibrated to match the main camera, so it's not jarring if you take multiple angle shots of the same scene, too.

Selfies



The main "selfie camera" of the Fold 5 is located on the outside, just above the cover screen. That has a 10 MP sensor, which does decently well at capturing a quick selfie. However details and unflattering wrinkles in our faces get a bit washed out, presumably due to noise reduction in the software. Skin tones seem to be fine, though, but sharpening is a bit overtuned, which is noticeable with beards and, we would imagine, — long hair.

Video Quality


Video Thumbnail

Naturally, the amped colors and sharpness translate to the video recording, too — so, love it or hate it, this is what you can expect here. But what we wanted to look at is the stabilization. We'd say that the Z Fold 5 can produce smooth clips when recording handheld. No, the bobbing effect is not entirely gone, but you can notice that it's super smooth and you can't get the footage to jitter unless you really try. Safe to say, you can record your memories on the Z Fold 5 no problem.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
PhoneArena Camera Score
BEST 154
140
PhoneArena Photo Score
BEST 160
144
Main (wide)
BEST 85
78
Zoom
BEST 27
21
Ultra-wide
BEST 25
20
Selfie
BEST 30
25
PhoneArena Video Score
BEST 149
135
Main (wide)
BEST 79
72
Zoom
BEST 24
18
Ultra-wide
BEST 23
21
Selfie
BEST 28
24

We have rigorously tested the camera on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and above you can see the results of those tests. We carefully measure the performance of all cameras in various test scenes, ranking the performance across important metrics like exposure, subject exposure, color accuracy, detail, artifacts and more. We do these tests for both photos and videos. 

You can learn more about our PhoneArena Camera Score testing protocol here.
 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Performance & Benchmarks

Another Made for Galaxy moment

There is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Made for Galaxy beating inside the Z Fold 5. That's the same processor that powers the Galaxy S23 line. It's clocked to 3.36 GHz, as opposed to the 3.2 GHz of "regular" Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 models. That's not a whole lot of a bump, sure, but the fact that Samsung worked in partnership with Qualcomm to develop the hardware that powers the phones kind of inspires confidence.

As for RAM, Z Fold phones rely heavily on their multitasking capabilities with that large display they have. Which is why 12 GB here is a must and the Z Fold 5 delivers — in every storage tier, we get 12 GB of RAM of the LPDDR5X variety — slightly more energy-efficient than LPDDR5.

For storage, we have UFS 4.0, which is twice as fast as the previously used UFS 3.1. With storage options as follows:

  • 256 GB
  • 512 GB
  • 1 TB (Samsung.com exclusive option)

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 52062
Google Pixel Fold1483
OPPO Find N21360
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 41388
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 55531
Google Pixel Fold3568
OPPO Find N23860
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 43950
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 53886
Google Pixel Fold1641
OPPO Find N22819
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 42105
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 52158
Google Pixel Fold1203
OPPO Find N21703
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 41524

During the pre-order phase, Samsung is giving you the 512 GB model for the price of the 256 GB one. And, we assume, that offer is going to pop up now and again during special sales events throughout the year — Black Friday comes to mind.

However, even if you don't manage to snag a deal and end up with the 256 GB model instead, we imagine it will still be plenty enough in the modern age. Unless you use the Z Fold 5 for non-stop 4K video capture, but we imagine most users of this specific phone won't, because it's not a camera-centric device.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 One UI / Android version



The Galaxy phones have their own interface, dubbed One UI, laid on top of the Android operating system. So, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 comes with Samsung OneUI 5.1.1 on top of Android 13.

It's a distinctive interface with lots of bright colors, rounded corners, and transparent elements. Also, a lot of drawers and docks that make it easy — in fact invite you — to multi-task. It supports the S Pen, which is an excellent stylus, and it has the DeX desktop experience — hook the Galaxy up to a dock and a monitor and you get an Android-powered desktop environment.

We've used DeX over the years and we'd say it's definitely a workable option. It still has its quirks that you have to get used to, and they are kind of hard to get into — like how selecting text with a mouse feels awkward on Android. But this reviewer has had multiple days where he traveled to the office with just a Z Fold 4 in hand, and used it hooked up to a dock to write articles. And it works out just fine.

Recently, Samsung started promising 4 years of software updates and 5 years of security patches for the midrange and premium Galaxy phones. This means we expect:

  • 2023: Galaxy Z Fold 5 launches with Android 13
  • Late 2023: Galaxy Z Fold 5 gets Android 14
  • Late 2024: Galaxy Z Fold 5 gets Android 15
  • Late 2025: Galaxy Z Fold 5 gets Android 16
  • Late 2026: Galaxy Z Fold 5 gets Android 17
  • Mid 2027: 4-year update promise expires. We may or may not get Android 18
  • Mid 2028: Final security patches, end of support

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Battery

Can't fit anything bigger than that...

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
( 4400 mAh )
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Battery Life Estimate
4h 41m
Ranks #58 for phones tested in the past 2 years
Average is 6h 39m
Browsing
9h 22m
Average is 14h 59m
Video
6h 30m
Average is 10h 8m
Gaming
9h 27m
Average is 7h 59m
Charging speed
25W
Charger
56%
30 min
1h 20m
Full charge
Ranks #62 for phones released in the past 2 years
Wireless Charging
15W
Charger
27%
30 min
2h 13m
Full charge
Ranks #13 for phones released in the past 2 years

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 has a 4,400 mAh cell, same as its predecessor. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and the LPDDR5X should offer slightly better energy-efficiency, but we get battery performance in the range of the Z Fold 4. It's definitely not a marathon runner — we can depend on it for a day, but if we delve into gaming or massive stretches of screen-on time for productivity, then we'd better have a charger nearby.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 59h 22 min
Google Pixel Fold13h 38 min
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 412h 43 min
Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 56h 30 min
Google Pixel Fold7h 22 min
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 48h 47 min
OPPO Find N29h 31 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 59h 27 min
Google Pixel Fold6h
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 47h 31 min

Galaxy Z Fold 5 Charging Speeds


The Samsung flagships give us all the charging options of modern phones — wired, wireless, and reverse wireless charging which lets you charge your smartwatch or earbuds by plopping them on the phone. Not the best way of charging, but it helps when we are in a pinch.

Samsung is still in no hurry to join the super-fast-charging race. The Z Fold 5 supports 25 W wired charging, and 15 W wireless with Samsung's own Fast Wireless chargers. Other Qi chargers also work, but supposedly limit the speed. We tested all of this, so here are the Galaxy Z Fold 5 charging speeds, wired and wireless:

Charging Test Results:


  • 15 minutes - 29%
  • 30 minutes - 56%
  • 80 minutes - full

Wireless Charging Test Results:


  • 15 minutes - 14%
  • 30 minutes - 27%
  • 133 minutes - full

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Audio Quality



While the speakers of Galaxy S units feel like they can sound better than they do, the Galaxy Z Fold models have sounded great for a couple of years now. We assume it's thanks to the room the speakers have, as they reside in the flap that doesn't hold the battery and motherboard of the phone.

So, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 sounds wide, chimey, detailed, with a pleasant amount of bass. Our only complaint is that it doesn't get very loud, but on the good side — it doesn't distort at maximum volume either.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Competitors


Samsung's main competitor for foldables is the Google Pixel Fold, it seems. It has the resources and presence to sell in the same markets and it is an alternative to the foldable design that actually presents you with a slightly different experience. Though the Pixel Fold does not have the option to add a stylus, so S Pen fans don't have a lot of options.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 still wins out in terms of how much work and thought Samsung put into the multitasking aspect. Especially when it comes to DeX, which we already covered — it's a pretty good added value that moves you closer to that "digital nomad" dream.

Then, there is the Oppo Find N2, which is also a foldable with a wider external screen. This one can be bought in Europe, not so much in the States. And it's a pretty solid phone, but it does have some question marks around it regarding software support and the ability to obtain the compatible stylus — many retailers only import the phone and not the pen.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Summary and Final Verdict



So, is the Galaxy Z Fold 5 a good foldable phone? Yes. If you are looking for a premium foldable experience, it delivers in speed, style, quality, and functionality. But so does the Galaxy Z Fold 4 — if you have the 2022 model, you can skip this one for sure. 

If you are looking for your first foldable phone — this is definitely an option, but we can't fully commit to recommending it due to the external screen. At the office, we are torn — some hate how narrow it is, and consider it is crippling the overall experience. Others have learned to use it or didn't mind it in the first place. So, that's something you need to experience to be able to evaluate — maybe hands-on in a store.

Assuming the external display is not an issue for you, and that you don't currently have a deal offer on the older Galaxy Z Fold 4 to take advantage of — yes, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is excellent. The new S Pen case is also an absolute must pickup for those that enjoy writing notes by hand. We wouldn't dabble in drawing with the tablet since the crease down the middle is still not optimal.

 *Disclaimer: You may notice review scores have changed on PhoneArena! Since September 20th, we have started using a new scoring system. Learn more about the new PhoneArena Smartphone Review Rating system here.

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless