I spent a month with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 — what I love (and hate)

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 mid fold
(Image credit: Future)

You really don’t get to know a device until you’ve used it for an extended period of time. That became abundantly clear after my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review, especially after a reader notified me about a hidden feature that unlocks the Flex Window outer screen to run full apps. It almost made me rethink its position amongst the best foldable phones out right now.

So far, I have been most impressed by the marked improvements with the Motorola Razr+ — showing me that it was a significant leap over its predecessor. After my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs. Motorola Razr+ face-off, it became evident how Motorola made a more aggressive push with its foldable phone.

Despite what could’ve been perceived as a lax effort by Samsung, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 still beats out its rivals in many areas. Now that I’ve spent a month using the Galaxy Z Flip 5, I have a better appreciation for the flip style foldable. Yet, there are still things I don’t like about it. Here’s what they are.

Love: for a foldable, it has a solid construction

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung did well to update the design of its flip style foldable phone. While I was never bothered by the ‘gap’ with the Galaxy Z Flip 3, Samsung did right by doing exactly what other foldables were doing — and that was to bring a gapless design.

Motorola did it, so did Google, and even Oppo managed to beat Samsung to the punch with gapless designs. However, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 feels solidly constructed with its glass meets metal trim package. Adding to its meticulous design, I love how it has that 'just right' amount of resistance when closing the phone. In fact, there’s a satisfying click sound whenever the two halves meet each other.

Beyond the superb construction of the phone, it’s also worth pointing out that it handedly beats its rivals with its IPX8 rating. That protects it from minor water splashes, which I get nervous about because the hinges in all foldable phones are susceptible.

Hate: make full apps standard with the outer screen

GIF animation of full apps running on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Flex Window cover screen.

(Image credit: Future)

Alright, this one’s tough because it irks me that Samsung chose to limit what apps could run on the Flex Window outer display. While I did eventually find out a hidden way to get it to run full apps, I feel like this is something that should be available by default.

The average person is unlikely to go through the additional steps, which is the main reason why I haven’t changed my review rating for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. I understand how some apps may not scale correctly with the outer display, but at least provide the option to try them out of the box — rather than going out of the way to download the Good Lock app to achieve this function.

Love: outstanding camera performance

Samsung’s foldable phones take excellent photos, and the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is no exception. It’s worthy enough in my opinion to make our best camera phones list, especially given the engineering challenges around adding large camera sensors into foldable phones.

The photos and videos it captures are gorgeous, accompanied by sharp details, punchy colors, and great dynamic range. I was also surprised by how well its wide angle camera maintained the same level of dynamic range as the main camera. Under low light conditions, it was noticeably better than its main rival in the Motorola Razr+. The photo I captured above proves why Samsung’s foldable is better in low light.

Hate: battery life could be better

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review photos.

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung didn’t change the battery capacity in the Galaxy Z Flip 5, but it still nonetheless lasted nearly an hour longer than its predecessor at 9 hours and 53 minutes in our web surfing battery test. A lot of that’s attributed to the power efficiency of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that’s powering the phone. However, I wish it were much longer.

What’s shocking is that the Motorola Razr+ outlasted the Z Flip 5 by 16 minutes on Tom’s Guide’s battery benchmark test — and that’s despite using the older Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor. Overall, the battery life of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is marginal at best. I was expecting a longer result from our battery test.

Love: double the starting storage

Good Lock app showing off full apps on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Flex Window cover screen.

(Image credit: Future)

It may not be a priority for people, especially in this cloud storage area, but I will admit that I was happy to see Samsung doubling the storage capacity of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 to 256GB. As a videographer that uses smartphones as b-roll video cameras, I appreciate larger storage capacities because of the crushing file sizes of today’s 4K and slow motion capture.

Hate: no telephoto lens

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review photos.

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung could’ve easily kept the spotlight all to itself if they did one thing — adding a telephoto lens. Yes, I know it’s a tough challenge to achieve, but Oppo just proved to everyone it’s possible with the Oppo Find N3 Flip.

Samsung kept the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s configuration to a dual-camera setup that pairs its main 12MP camera with a 12MP wide angle one. By introducing a telephoto camera, it could’ve had a substantial leg up over its competition, or at least set the bar high for everyone else.

Love: Full manual controls with camera

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review photos.

(Image credit: Future)

I shoot a lot of video professionally and oftentimes rely on a smartphone as a b-roll camera, the kind that’s there for backup to my main, a-roll camera. What I love about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is that it’s the only flip style foldable phone with full manual controls.

Most people wouldn’t care much about this, since today’s automatic mode can yield slick looking results. However, when you want to match the cinematic look of cinema cameras, I found it extremely convenient to match the shutter speed and color temperature of my mirrorless camera. Samsung’s one of the few phone makers to offer manual controls for photos and video out of the box, rather than forcing users to download (or buy) third party apps.

Bottom line

Overall, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is one of the best foldable phones around, and I appreciate the solid design, larger cover display and quality cameras. However, I'd like to see Samsung add a telephoto lens and let owners run apps on the outer screen without having to resort to a third-party app. 

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John Velasco
Senior Channel Editor for Phones

John’s a senior editor covering phones for Tom’s Guide. He’s no stranger in this area having covered mobile phones and gadgets since 2008 when he started his career. On top of his editor duties, he’s a seasoned videographer being in front and behind the camera producing YouTube videos. Previously, he held editor roles with PhoneArena, Android Authority, Digital Trends, and SPY. Outside of tech, he enjoys producing mini documentaries and fun social clips for small businesses, enjoying the beach life at the Jersey Shore, and recently becoming a first time homeowner.