The Galaxy Z Flip 5 spearheads South Korean electronics maker Samsung’s 2023 foldable lineup. The clamshell foldable smartphone brings major improvements over the previous model, but perhaps most importantly, a bigger display on the cover for more fun sans flips. It is a 3.4-inch super AMOLED display of 720p resolution and 60Hz refresh rate that gets its own interface, called Flex Window.
The cover display interface is customisable, supports widgets, and works with gesture navigation similar to Wear OS-based Galaxy Watch series – swipe right for notifications, left for widgets, down for quick settings, and up for return to home screen. Since the display is of unconventional aspect ratio, not all but select apps are optimised for it – Samsung Wallet, WhatsApp, Google Maps, YouTube, and Messages. However, there is a way to get any app on the cover screen, which you can read about here.
The Flex Window interface is good, but it is not perfect. For example, the cover display supports pinch gesture to show all enabled widgets at once but there is no way to rearrange their order. Moreover, there is no provision to add widgets from the cover display, despite the availability of ‘+’ icon. Likewise, the quick setting menu shows options to enable/disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but a long press on their respective icons does nothing. It essentially means you can turn on/off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth from quick setting on the cover display, but cannot get in to the list of available wireless networks and Bluetooth devices. Similarly, the cover display shows an upcoming alarm notification but does not let you disable it for one time. Nevertheless, the Flex Window interface is feature-packed and lets you do more on the cover display. Therefore, it significantly reduces the need to unfold the smartphone.
Improvement in hinge mechanism is another apparent upgrade that comes to notice once you shift focus from the cover display. Called Flex Hinge, it enables smooth flip and fold movements, and lets the smartphone fold flat without leaving any gap in between the two equal halves of the smartphone. This is an important upgrade since the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is IPX8 rated, which essentially means resistance against water ingress but no such protection against dust ingress. However, the new hinge mechanism does not iron out the horizontal crease that remains visible on the main bendable display.
Speaking of the main bendable display, it is a 6.7-inch fullHD+ AMOLED panel of adaptive refresh rate that dynamically switches between 1Hz-120Hz. It is a tall panel, stretched in 22:9 aspect ratio, which requires effort to access the top side. Like the predecessor, the panel is made of flexible plastic with ultra-thin glass layered on top for longevity. However, the touch feel of the panel is that of plastic and not glass like. Therefore, it does not feel conducive for playing games and anything else that requires constant tapping, sometimes hard ones, out of necessity or mere adrenaline rush.
Aside to the larger cover display and new hinge, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 brings seasonal upgrades with regard to design, imaging, performance, and software. The smartphone is a tad thinner and lighter than previous models. Though the phone is comfortable to hold and operate, its smooth aluminium frame makes it prone to accidental drops. Thankfully, there is Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection on the back and cover display.
Imaging is covered by twin 12-megapixel camera sensors on the back, and a 10MP sensor on the front. Though the set-up is identical to the last generation model, Samsung has optimised the sensors for better colour coverage, improved HDR performance, natural portraits, and enhanced performance in low-light conditions. Of the three sensors, the front camera disappoints with below average image quality. However, selfies are better with the closed shell and so are videos. And, with a large display on the cover, it is now convenient to use the back cameras for front-facing photos and videos.
Rounding off the package is top-tier performance, smooth interface, and a full day on-battery time. Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy system-on-chip, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 punches well above its weight in terms of performance, thermals, and power efficiency. The phone is generally snappy to use, irrespective of the task you put it at. Importantly, it delivers a daylong battery time despite featuring a not so big capacity battery (3,700 mAh). Charging the battery, however, is still a time-consuming process and certainly not one of phone’s strengths. Like other Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 does not come with the charging adaptor. It ships with a two-side USB type-C cable.
Starting at Rs 99,999 (8GB RAM + 256GB internal storage), the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 may seem to be on the expensive side of the price spectrum for a smartphone but not for a foldable device packed with features that enable use cases not otherwise possible with conventional bar-shaped form factor devices. It has a big personality in a new form factor, which unfolds new possibilities without digressing from smartphone roots.