As much as I might say I'm ready for a foldable iPhone, I’ve never spent enough time with a foldable phone to find out whether I’m a true believer. So, when I got my hands on the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, I was eager to see if I’d find that foldable form-factor is right for me.
One week later, my experience using a foldable phone for the first time wasn’t quite what I expected. Positioned as a $1,800 productivity device, I worried the Galaxy Z Fold 5 wouldn’t be the versatile daily driver I need for work and fun. Yet for better — and a bit for worse — Samsung’s latest flagship foldable surprised me.
Here are my biggest takeaways from my first week with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, and how it shaped my feeling towards foldable phones in general.
It’s surprisingly portable
While a huge selling point of foldables is pocket-ability, I thought that the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s width would cause trouble in terms of portability. Having seen previous generation models such as the Galaxy Z Fold 4, I was under the impression that the thick frame would prevent me from stowing it in my handbag with ease.
Yet slimmed down from 0.62 to 0.53 inches when folded, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is covertly sleek. Plus, compared to the 8.47-ounce weight of my iPhone 14 Pro Max, the Z Fold 5’s only slightly heavier 8.92-ounce weight didn’t drag me down. I toted the phone around with me practically everywhere I went for the week with no complaint. I kept it folded on the go, only unfolding it for an intentional purpose once settled in a bus seat or at a destination.
Game-changer for mobile gaming
One of the first things I did when I set up my Galaxy Z Fold 5 was download Stardew Valley from the Google Play Store. I felt a bit bitter knowing that the farming sim is free on my iPhone via Apple Arcade, but I hoped the $4.99 would prove a worthwhile investment for traffic-riddled bus rides and a transatlantic flight home from Seoul, where I attended Samsung Unpacked.
Given, Stardew Valley isn’t the most demanding game you could play on a smartphone, but the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor was up to the task. Playing with the device unfolded to a 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen, I planted seeds, upgraded my farmhouse and mingled with the people of Pelican Town with ease. Needless to say, my big-screen standard for mobile gaming has been raised.
Not the most convenient camera
While the Galaxy Z Fold 5 packs premium camera specs, I didn’t enjoy it as a camera phone. I certainly found the flex mode camera tricks a big advantage compared to slab phones, but I think the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is better suited for hands-free content capture — especially with the new 3.4-inch exterior display, which can act as a viewfinder when you want to use the rear cameras.
I felt like I could only frame my photo and images properly with the phone unfolded. I think that has to do with the somewhat-awkward 23.1:9 outer display aspect ratio. I want to be able to whip my phone out to capture a moment without hesitation. Having spent a bit of time hands-on with the Google Pixel Fold, I think the 17.4:9 outer display aspect ratio is a bit more welcoming to taking quick pictures with the phone folded.
Durability still has me worried
Despite the Galaxy Z Fold 5 being rated IPX8 water resistant, which means it can survive 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes, I’m not convinced of its overall durability. As my insurance bills can validate, I can be a little tough on my phones. Unless my phone is literally strapped to me, I’ll drop it at least once a day.
I’ve found myself being extra gentle with the Galaxy Z Fold 5. The interior display still seems fragile enough that an accidental scratch would cause its demise. Since the phone isn’t dust-proof, I won’t dare to bring it to the beach with me, either. That’s kind of a bummer, considering I would love to game or read on the Fold 5’s big screen while relaxing in the sand.
One week with the Galaxy Z Fold 5: Has it made me a believer?
My week with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 went much better than I expected. It made a fun companion for commuting thanks to its portability and big-screen gaming capabilities. I’m not convinced it can be roughed around or that it makes the best camera for avid content creators like myself, though.
I think there are pros and cons I’d need to consider for the long-term, but at the very least, I don’t see foldables as much of a gimmick as I did before trying one for myself. It’s safe to say I’m on standby for an iPhone Fold or iPhone Flip, but I imagine I’ll spend more time with Android foldables in the interim.