Choosing a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra winner means going for one of Samsung's most expensive phones. But despite sitting at the top of the Galaxy phone hierarchy, these are two very different devices.
We're currently only working with rumors about the Galaxy Z Fold 5, but it seems there will only be small changes from the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which currently tops our best foldable phones rankings. Combining that with our time using the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which has been available for a few months already, we can get a pretty decent idea of how these phones will stack up.
We're anticipating the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will lead on literal and figurative flexibility, allowing users greater multi-tasking potential over its two displays. But it's likely to cost a lot more than the Galaxy S23 Ultra, while possibly being no better in terms of performance, and likely offering worse photography and battery life.
Read on for more Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy S23 Ultra details, and also take a look at our Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Pixel Fold face-off for an early comparison of what could be this year's two biggest foldables.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Release date and price
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 should arrive in August 2023, if Samsung's previous Z Fold release dates are anything to go by. We'd expect a $1,800 / £1,600 / AU$2,500 starting price, just like the Galaxy Z Fold 4, but we've heard rumors for both a price hike and a price drop for the phone.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra went on sale in February 2023, so you can buy it right now if you like. It's cheaper than Samsung's usual Z Fold pricing, starting at $1,199 / £1,249 / AU$1,949, although it's hardly a cheap phone. See our Galaxy S23 deals page for the latest discounts.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Design and display
We're expecting the same displays inside and out on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 had, those being a 6.2-inch outer display and a 7.2-inch inner display, both using AMOLED tech and 120Hz refresh rates. This could be updated with a new waterdrop hinge that'll provide a smaller crease and a more compact frame when folded, plus lighter materials to help offset the phone's bulk.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra didn't change all that much from the Galaxy S22 Ultra in terms of design. Its squared-off face, curved (but slightly flattened) edges and separated rear cameras are still unmistakably Samsung though.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra's display is also unchanged from last year, which is a 6.8-inch, QHD AMOLED screen with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate. It's not really comparable to the large inner display of the rumored Galaxy Z Fold 5, but compared to the outer display it should be a bit taller and noticeably wider, making it much easier to type on.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Cameras
Samsung is believed to be equipping the Galaxy Z Fold 5 with the cameras it's using right now on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which are a 50MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide camera, 10MP 3x zoom camera, 10MP selfie camera and a 4MP inner under-display selfie camera.
A 108MP main camera upgrade was rumored, which would give the Z Fold 5 a considerable megapixel advantage over any rival foldable, but this feels unlikely now.
Compare that to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It's equipped with Samsung's first 200MP main camera along with still capable 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x and 10x dual telephoto and 12MP selfie cameras. It's currently the best camera phone of any we've tested, and will unlikely be beaten by the Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Performance
As the rumors stand right now, both the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy S23 Ultra will be sharing the same chipset, and therefore likely offer near-identical performance.
The Galaxy S23 Ultra uses the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, a slightly boosted version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip other Android flagship phones are using. We'd be happy to see this in the Galaxy Z Fold 5, but since the Galaxy Z Fold 4 was equipped with the Plus variant of that year's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, it'll be a shame if the new foldable misses out on some extra performance as a result.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 should at least come with a RAM advantage. Samsung has given previous Z Folds 12GB RAM by default, whereas you have to spec a higher storage variant of the Galaxy S23 Ultra to get 12GB RAM instead of the standard 8GB.
Speaking of storage, we should see identical options for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy S23 Ultra: 256GB by default, with 512GB and 1TB also on offer.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Battery and charging
Nobody's tipped changes to the Galaxy Z Fold 5's battery and charging system from the Galaxy Z Fold 4 so far. If Samsung does indeed hold off on making changes, then we'll end up with a 4,400 mAh total battery capacity and 25W fast charging.
Even if we do get a surprise upgrade, we don't expect it to beat the Galaxy S23 Ultra's 5,000 mAh battery, or its 45W charging speed. The S23 Ultra will most likely be the longer-lasting phone too, since it only has to power one normal-sized display rather than one smaller and one larger screen like the Z Fold.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Special features
We're expecting the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to offer S Pen compatibility like previous Galaxy Z Folds, but in a different way to the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
The S23 Ultra has its S Pen included in the box, and it can be conveniently stored within the phone. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 currently requires a sold-separately S Pen Fold Edition that can be mounted on the phone with a specially designed case, but not stored inside.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 should make good use of its size with some unique software features that you don't get on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. We expect things like the Galaxy Z Fold 4's taskbar and split-pane apps to get some improvements or new abilities with the arrival of the Z Fold 5 to further add value to the folding display.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra: Outlook
There seem to be several similarities between the rumored Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy S23 Ultra, like the chipset powering them, their S Pen abilities, and the One UI 5.1 software. But the differences are really big ones.
A lot of that comes down to the Galaxy Z Fold 5's folding abilities, which will give it dual displays and additional multitasking features. But its foldability also leads to a much larger body, a smaller battery, lower-quality main and selfie cameras and of course a higher price than the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
Assuming the Galaxy Z Fold 5 turns out as the rumors are suggesting, then it'll remain a niche product for users with the biggest budgets. While the Galaxy S23 Ultra is hardly a phone for every user with its 200MP camera and still high price, its more conventional design and features will likely mean it's the phone to go for unless you're certain you'll make use of the Z Fold 5's folding powers.
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Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.