The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a very good folding phone but it’s still a niche, expensive device. Samsung’s foldable software impresses, but the cameras are disappointing.
Best Prices Today: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
The new Samsung phone folds in half, again. We’ve been here before.
I am spoiled as I have access to a lot of new phones (it’s my job), but the Z Fold 5 is the fifth book-style folding phone from Samsung since 2019 – and things are feeling rather familiar.
This is a device that looks and feels like the Z Fold 4 and even the Z Fold 3, but it remains the best book-style folding phone you can get despite the increased competition from the likes of the Google Pixel Fold, Huawei Mate X3, and Vivo X Fold 2.
Samsung’s software is the key. It’s the best on the market thanks to app formatting, useful flexibility, and S-Pen input compatibility.
You should still ask yourself if you really need a foldable like this though, as the Z Fold 5 remains eye-wateringly expensive. But if you want to be on the cutting edge of mobile tech and also want a genuinely excellent phone, this is the one to buy.
Design & build
First Z Fold to shut flat
Sturdy hinge mechanism
Matt glass back
The Z Fold 5 is a refined take on the Z Fold 3 from 2021, as 2022’s Z Fold 4 barely changed anything. The newest design changes here are the fact the Z Fold 5 shuts completely flat, a feat achieved by Samsung’s rivals recently and so one it had to match. It meant that less dust collected in the crease when it was in my pocket.
It’s the thinnest Fold yet at 13.4mm when shut but still a paperweight at 253g, dense and shaped like a bar of gold bullion.
My attractive ‘Icy Blue’ review device looks great with a matt glass back that hides all fingerprints that the aluminium sides unfortunately don’t. You can also get it in black or cream, or a lesser-spotted blue and grey if you buy from Samsung’s website.
The hinge feels incredibly solid too, able to stay open at any angle. This solidity adds to the very premium feel of the phone, which – incredibly – is IPX8 water resistant so could take a dunk in the pool and live to tell the tale.
Thanks to the tall-and-thin design that takes in a skinny outer display, this is a foldable that even I with my small hands can comfortably use and type on one-handed. I can’t type on most regular smartphones with one hand, and definitely not on wider folding phones such as the Pixel Fold.
A right-side-mounted fingerprint sensor means I can unlock the phone easily when closed with a thumb in one hand. This phone is, weirdly, easier to use in one mitt than any Galaxy S23 or iPhone 14!
The haptics are also top notch – punchy and clipped when they need to be with the keyboard, and strong enough to feel in a bag or pocket. No cheap buzzing sounds here, just quality.
Screen & speakers
7.6in LTPO 120Hz inner AMOLED screen
6.2in 120Hz outer AMOLED screen
Dual stereo speakers
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is all about its inner folding display. Thankfully it is a very good panel that I enjoyed despite the noticeable crease right down the centre.
Other foldable manufacturers such as Motorola and Huawei have managed to smooth out this crease on their devices, but Samsung’s is still very evident. It’s bang in the middle of a 7.6in AMOLED panel that otherwise looks great. Samsung also has a display business, after all, and it seemingly saves its best for its own products.
The 2176 x 1812 screen has LTPO tech that lets it dynamically refresh between 1- and 120Hz depending on the app or what you’re doing, mainly to save battery life. Apps looks bold and bright on a display where colours pop in an almost cartoonish fashion in ‘Vivid’ mode out the box. You can change this to ‘Natural’, and fiddle with both to get the feel you want.
Samsung’s ‘Eye comfort shield’ setting makes the screen look far worse in its attempt to balance blue light depending on the ambient light. It’s nowhere near as good as Apple’s True Tone tech that does much better on iPhones.
Because of its 21.6:18 aspect ratio, the Z Fold 5’s inner screen is great for full-screen apps, or looking at two apps side by side. It’s less enjoyable for full-screen video, as you get black bar letterboxing whether you hold it portrait or landscape. Apps like YouTube or Twitch are better as there’s room for the video window and all the comment or chat boxes.
The inner screen is also compatible with Samsung’s S-Pen styluses, which I was able to test with the new Slim S-Pen Case accessory. It’s a case for the phone that clips on and holds a newly flat and thin S-Pen Fold Edition in the back so you can carry it more easily with you. It’s far better than the bad, chunky cases for previous Folds that had a full size S-Pen in them.
It feels easy to write on the screen thanks to its plastic layers, but it’s a far cry from paper. I wrote a fair few notes for this review on the large screen using Samsung Notes, and Samsung also has worked closely with popular iPad app GoodNotes to bring S-Pen compatibility to its upcoming Android app.
If you write a lot of notes then you’ll love being able to do that on your phone on a screen size that isn’t cramped – this is a better bet for the S-Pen than the S23 Ultra that comes with one inside the actual phone. It’s also handy if you need to frequently sign documents, but you also might just want to send your friends daft drawings.
Henry Burrell / Foundry
On the front of the phone when it’s closed is a 6.2in AMOLED screen that can refresh between a more limited range of 48-120Hz when in adaptive mode, but still looks great. I happen to like the gangly 23.1:9 aspect ratio as I have small hands, so it’s a book style foldable I can actually use one handed when closed. I can’t even type one handed with a thumb on most regular phones because they’re too wide for me, but it’s easy to do that on the Z Fold 5’s outer display.
If you have larger hands you will struggle with typos and everything being too small.
Stereo speakers are on the top and bottom of the left half of the phone as you hold it unfolded. They sound full and surprisingly detailed and do great with YouTube and games.
Specs & performance
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset
12GB RAM in all models
256GB, 512GB, or 1TB storage
The Z Fold 5 has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chipset that’s in the Galaxy S23 Ultra and the other S23 phones. In benchmarking it clocked slightly under the power of the Ultra on Geekbench, but the Galaxy Z Fold 5 has near flawless performance.
Apps open and load instantly thanks to 12GB across all models, and you can get up to 1TB non-expandable storage if you really want to spend over $2,000/£2,000 on a phone.
Connectivity is sorted with 5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3. There’s also a dual nano-SIM slot, or you can run an eSIM.
Camera & video
The cameras on the Z Fold 5 are bad for a phone of this price. They’re the worst thing about it.
I wouldn’t say the same if they were on a $500/£500 phone, but considering the Fold costs at least $1,799.99/£1,749, they are just not acceptable. Colours are wildly oversaturated, particularly greens and blues of sky and grass, leaving most photos I took with a neon splash of Barbie movie proportions.
The main rear lens is a 50Mp f/1.8 sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS). It produced crisp, clear images that are ready to post to social media, but their bright tones are not usually true to life.
I prefer the images from Samsung’s more mature tuning on the Galaxy S23 Ultra, or better still from the Google Pixel 7 Pro, which has richer contrast and better high dynamic range.
The portrait mode is a bit iffy, too.
Henry Burrell / Foundry
A 10Mp f/2.2 ultra-wide lens is also good in a pinch for capturing landscapes or busy scenes when you’re up close, but it’s below the best smartphone cameras out there.
The 10Mp f/2.4 telephoto camera has 3x optical zoom and OIS and is good for punching into scenes and maintaining acceptable picture quality. But in reality, these cameras are no great improvement over a very similar set up on 2021’s Z Fold 3. Here’s three shots of the same scene through each rear lens:
You also get a fine 10Mp selfie camera in a cut out in the outer display, and thanks to the front screen you can open the phone fully and use it as a viewfinder to take a selfie with the rear cameras. Here’s one from the front 10Mp one though:
Henry Burrell / Foundry
Samsung’s insistence on the 4Mp under display camera in the inner screen is still slightly odd. It uses pixels to cover it when you’re not in use, but selfies on it are terrible, and it should only be used for video calls.
I quite enjoyed shooting and watching video on the Fold thanks to the large viewfinder, and it can capture 8K footage at 30fps (not that either of its screens can play it back at that resolution). In standard full HD at 30fps things still look good, stabilisation is decent, and colours aren’t as wildly saturated as they are with photos.
Battery & charging
25W charging is ‘slow’
Wireless and reverse wireless charging
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is one of Qualcomm’s most balanced chips ever, with great power efficiency. This makes the Z Fold 5 a phone you can use all day away from the mains, though it won’t stretch to two full days. Fair enough when there’s two honking great screens.
In the PC Mark battery test, it scored a respectable 11 hours and 10 minutes, over an hour less than the S23 Ultra. The Z Fold 5 only squeezes in a 4,400mAh battery compared to that phone’s 5,000mAh.
There’s only a USB-C cable in the box, so you’ll have to buy a 25W power brick if you want to charge at full speed. That’s slow by modern standards, and it only charged to 28% in 15 minutes and 56% in 30 minutes for me.
You also get Qi wireless charging built in, and you can wirelessly charge earbuds or other compatible devices with reverse charging.
The Z Fold 5’s software is excellent, the best out there for a folding phone. You get an optional but great taskbar that displays your chosen and recent apps for quickly launching them or going into split screen mode.
Two apps is about the max you want, though you can also open apps in pop up windows if you need to. I used the phone to watch videos while texting, and also to have a video call while keeping a work chat open.
Useful as this can be, it is these times when I most feel like book-style foldable phones are finding solutions to problems that only exist because of their own limitations.
Samsung’s One UI is good, and you can keep things as simple or as customised as you want. The Fold ships with Android 13, but will get up to Android 17 in 2027. It will receive security patches till 2028, too, and when you’re spending this much, that’s nice to know.
The system will put apps into ‘deep sleep’ that stops updates and notifications unless you turn off this feature, something Chinese manufacturers often get slated for, but Samsung is doing it too.
Better are things like the Game Booster mode that turns on automatically when gaming to control functions and performance. It’s good to see Samsung recognise the Z Fold 5 can and will be used for more than productivity and work.
Price & availability
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 costs from $1,799.99/£1,748 with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage.
A 256GB model costs $1,919.99/$1,849 and a 1TB model can be got for $2,159.99/£2,049 from Samsung’s website.
You can pre-order all models globally direct from Samsung. It goes on full sale worldwide on 11 August.
This is a supremely expensive phone. The price is one of the main reasons not to buy it – unless you will keep it for some time and genuinely use and enjoy all its features. Otherwise, you can get a normal – and better – smartphone for hundreds less.
In the US, the only real alternative to the Z Fold 5 is the Google Pixel Fold, which costs about the same but has a wider design and less impressive software. The cameras are better, though.
In the UK you could go for the Pixel Fold or the Honor Magic Vs.
It’s worth noting that for the price of the cheapest Z Fold 5 you could buy the top spec 1TB iPhone 14 Pro Max – a better all-round device by far.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the best book-style foldable still despite competition from Google, Huawei, Vivo, and Xiaomi. Those companies might have bested Samsung on hardware, but the joy here is the software. One UI is much better and more useful than any of its rivals.
If you can stomach the sky high asking price, you’ll be rewarded by a phone with excellent performance, all-day battery life, great speakers, and oh yeah, a huge folding display that’s great to use.
But if you dislike the outer screen’s thinness or the device’s unavoidable bulk, think about whether a folding phone like this is really for you.