Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Which phone should you buy?

Foldable smartphones are here to stay, so the obvious question is how do they stack up against the established brands? A Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 versus Galaxy S23 Ultra face-off should help with your decision. After all, it's all well and good having a top contender as one of the best foldable phones around, but if it is at the sacrifice of a feature you use a lot, it may not be the right purchase for you.

While we can't draw closer comparisons with other brands at the moment, our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review showed us it's capable of delivering flagship results with functionality you won't find in standard smartphone slates. However, it's going to need a lot more if it has a chance at finding a spot in our best phones list — which is exactly what the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra did in our review

Naturally there may be differences in design and user experience, but the way we use our smartphones and the apps we have on them won't change very much. So with that, let's see how the latest foldable from Samsung compares with its top-of-the-line flagship device.

We've also covered Samsung's new foldable in complete detail with our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 versus Motorola Razr+ face-off, should you be curious how these two best foldable phones stack up against each other.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Starting price$999 / £1,049$1,199 / £1,249
Inner screen size6.7-inch FHD+ (2640 x 1080) Dynamic AMOLED 2X6.8-inch QHD+ (3088 x 1440) Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Outer screen size3.4-inch Super AMOLED (720 x 748)N/A
Refresh rate120 Hz (inner)120 Hz
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
Storage256GB/512GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear cameras12MP main + 12MP ultra-wide200MP main +12MP ultrawide + 10MP 3x telephoto + 10MP 10x telephoto
Battery size3,700 mAh5,000 mAh

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Price

Z Flip 5 and S23 comparison

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung's newest flagship smartphones come at flagship prices. After all, the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy Z Flip 5 represent the cutting edge of Samsung's technology and have prices to match. 

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 provides the closest comparison to the Galaxy S23 Ultra when it comes to prices at launch. Starting at $999/£1,049 the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is only $200/£200 less than the Galaxy S23 Ultra when comparing the 256GB devices, which cost $1,199 / £1,249 at launch for the same memory. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Display

Z Flip 5 and S23 comparison

(Image credit: Future)

Obviously the key difference between the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Galaxy S23 is the display technology. The foldable device contains two AMOLED displays, one on the outside of the device, and another on the inside. The outer screen is a 3.4-inch display and users can unfold the device to reveal a 6.7-inch display.

On the other hand, Galaxy S23 Ultra has a single 6.8-inch QHD+ (3088 x 1400) Dynamic AMOLED 2X curved display, a marked upgrade over the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 in terms of size and pixel depth, and it doesn't run the risk of a crease in the middle of the screen.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Galaxy Z Flip 5Galaxy S23 Ultra
Display size6.7-inch FHD+ (2640 x 1080) Dynamic AMOLED 2x6.8-inch QHD+ (3088 x 1440) Dynamic AMOLED 2X
sRGB (%)181.6 (Vivid) / 114 (Natural)218.9 (Saturated) / 101.5% (Natural)
DCI-P3 (%)128.7 (Vivid) / 80.8 (Natural)112.2 (Natural) / 193 (Vivid)
Delta-E (lower is better)0.08 (Vivid) / 0.28 (Natural) 0 (Vivid) / 0.3 (Natural)
Peak brightness (nits)1,5041,225

Both phones use Samsung's latest Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel technology with adaptive refresh rates up to 120Hz for smooth scrolling and animations for the main display. The differentiation comes when considering all you can do on the front screen of the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

With a larger screen than any of the Galaxy Z Flip devices, users can now scroll through functioning widgets, interact with notifications better, and even type out responses.

Although these can all be achieved on the front (and only) screen of the Galaxy S23 Ultra, users do need to unlock the device to get this information a lot of the time, adding another layer of complexity.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Design

Z Flip 5 and S23 comparison

(Image credit: Future)

The most obvious design difference between these two flagship phones is their form factor. The Galaxy S23 Ultra features a conventional candy bar smartphone shape with a curved rear design that is easier to grip in one hand.

The foldable Galaxy Z Flip 5 on the other hand, is more pocketable when its not in use, it's broadest size being 71.9 mm and measuring 15.1mm thick when folded. There is also a smaller camera bump on the Galaxy Z Flip 5, meaning the device doesn't rock when on a flat surface and won't get caught on anything in your pocket.

In comparison the Galaxy S23 Ultra measures 163.4 x 78.1 x 8.9 mm making it a much larger device to fit in your pocket. On top of this pocketable size, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is almost 50 grams lighter, weighing in at 187g rather than 233g of the Galaxy S23 Ultra.

Both devices have a premium finish on the back of the device and around the camera lenses, and come in eight unique colors.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Cameras

Z Flip 5 and S23 comparison

(Image credit: Future)

With a flagship device comes a flagship camera and the Galaxy S23 Ultra is no different. The flagship device features a more advanced rear camera setup with a huge 200MP wide camera paired with 12MP ultra-wide and two 10MP telephoto lenses. This results in a device capable of a 3x and 10x optical zoom, and provides more detail, zoom range, and shooting flexibility like dual optical zoom levels. 

The Galaxy Z Flip 5, on the other hand, has a highly capable camera, but not at the same level as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. On the rear you'll find the same 12MP ultra wide angle rear camera, along with another 12MP wide angle lens capable of a 10x optical zoom.

The same downgrade in camera capability can be found in the cinematography capabilities, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra capable of recording in 8K quality at 30fps, however the much more useful 4K at 60fps can be found on both devices.

While the Galaxy S23 Ultra has the more versatile set of cameras, it's hard to overlook how the Z Flip 5's foldable design makes it more ideal for content creators because of its large Flex Window. You'll be better equipped at recording vlogs and other self-capture content with the Z Flip 5.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Performance

Z Flip 5 and S23 comparison

(Image credit: Future)

Performance may be another area in where you expect the Galaxy 23 Ultra out to outperform the Galaxy Z Flip 5, but you'd be wrong. Both devices are powered by the SnapDragon 8 Gen 2 processor and 8GB of RAM at their basic model along with the Adreno 740 GPU.

Although the Galaxy S23 Ultra can be configured with up to 1TB of storage and 16GB of RAM, which gives the S23 Ultra an edge for rigorous workloads, both phones are powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 4nm chip which provides cutting-edge performance capabilities. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU uses one ultra-core Cortex-X3 running at 3.36GHz, four performance cores at 2.8GHz, and three efficiency cores at 2.0GHz for optimal processing power.

For graphics, the processor is paired with an Adreno 740 GPU which delivers up to 41% faster rendering compared to the previous generation for immersive gaming. As a result, again, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy S23 Ultra will have similar graphics performance.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Galaxy Z Flip 5+Galaxy S23 Ultra
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for GalaxySnapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
Geekbench 5 (single core/multicore)1,354 / 4,2881,578 / 5,081
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (fps)18.03 22.7
Adobe Premiere Rush (Mins:Secs)0:420:39

In running our barrage of synthetic benchmark tests, the S23 Ultra flexed it muscle power and achieved scores of 1,578 and 5,081 respectively in Geekbench 5's single-core and multi-core tests. That's a much better mark than the Z Flip 5's scores of 1,354 and 4,288.

When it comes to graphics processing, it's the S23 Ultra yet again producing the better results. It achieve a 22.7 FPS (frames per second) rate in the 3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited test, which beat out the Z Flip 5's rate of 18.03 FPS.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Battery and charging

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Battery and charging

Z Flip 5 and S23 comparison

(Image credit: Future)

Possibly the most important part of your device: how long will it last! Although your phone might be more pocketable, it should not be at the expense of battery life.

The newly Galaxy Z Flip 5 is equipped with a 3,700 mAh battery that Samsung says is capable of 20 hours of video streaming and 57 hours of music playback. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has a larger 5,000 mAh battery, among the largest in a Samsung flagship. Likewise, the battery life is rated at over a day.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Battery sizeBattery life (Hrs:Mins)Charging rate
Z Flip 53,700 mAh9:5325W (wired), 15W (wireless
S23 Ultra5,000 mAh13:0945W (wired), 10W (wireless)

In terms of charging, it is a similar story where the Galaxy Z Flip 5 supports 25W wired charging but the Galaxy S23 Ultra bumps up the wired charging speed to 45W. As a result, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a quicker charge time from 0 to 50%, completing the job in 20 minutes compared to around 30 minutes for the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Both phones support fast wireless charging 2.0 up to 10W. 

Due to its much larger battery, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra achieved a longer battery life of 13 hours and 9 minutes — while the Z Flip 5 topped out at 9 hours and 53 minutes.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Software and special features

Z Flip 5 and S23 comparison

(Image credit: Future)

While the devices have a similar form factor, unfolded that is, the way in which you interact with them is incredibly different. That difference revolves around the front screen on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

With the larger 3.4 inch screen when the device is folded, users can now interact with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 using widgets. Applications like the calendar, weather and alarms are capable of showing detailed information across the day as well as an overview of a longer period of time. Plus, there are some full apps you can run.

The larger screen has also meant there is room for a keyboard and keypad, so users can type responses to notifications they get, and dial a number to call. On top of this, users can customize the smaller screen so show information at a glance, and toggle things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or airplane mode, as well as scroll through notifications.

Unfolded, the devices have similar software features. Users can take advantage of split screen multitasking with two apps open at once but no more like the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Users can add pop up windows and watch some media picture in picture but it can get crowded on a display that is just over three inches wide. 

One point in favor of the Galaxy S23 Ultra is support for the use of S Pen too which are integrated into apps like OneNote, PenUp, and Freeform. The S Pen can be used for drawing, writing, and remote shutter control, and is built into the Galaxy S23 Ultra. There's also the Samsung DeX experience of the S23 Ultra, which turns the smartphone into a mini desktop-PC of sorts when connected to a monitor.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Outlook

Z Flip 5 and S23 comparison

(Image credit: Future)

Now we come to the reason you're here, which one is best? A question that is tough to answer, just because of how different these devices are. On one hand you have a best in breed flagship, the other, a great piece of innovation. 

What is important is whether you're really interested in your phone folding! Of course it's satisfying to close the clamshell when you're done with an app, or slam it shut when you're done with a call, and the improved screen on the front of the device means interacting with the device doesn't have to mean opening the device. But this does come with sacrifices.

Ultimately for a lot of people this will come down to camera quality. The Galaxy S23 Ultra 200MP camera is no comparison to the 12MP main sensor on the Galaxy Z Flip 5, but that's not to say this is the only differentiation. In terms of performance, battery life, display, and even the price, the comparison is largely the same. It comes down to a choice between photography or fold-ography.

More from Tom's Guide

Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne
Phones Writer

Elliot MulleyGoodbarne is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide covering news, reviews, buying guides with wit and charm. He has had a keen interest in mobile, tablets, laptops, and everything in between since his first phone, the Samsung U600. Starting at Mobile News, Elliot has been writing about mobile and the business of technology since 2016, and has edited four trade magazines in that time, attending award shows for three of them. He has attended a range of industry events including 5G launches, device announcements, and trade events, where he developed a nose for picking up on trends, interviewing executives, and networking with the tech community. In his spare time, Elliot can usually be found watching, playing, or attending sporting events. With season tickets to West Ham United and Surrey County Cricket Club he often spends weekends in winter in a foul mood and evenings in the summer with a smile on his face. Outside of sport Elliot enjoys cooking, pubs next to rivers, and chilling out with a G&T, Whiskey, or Port after a solid week of excellence.