The Google Pixel Fold has finally been unveiled, with Google spilling all the details about its first foldable at Google I/O 2023. Naturally, it invites comparisons to Samsung, which is expected to unveil the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 at its Unpacked event this summer.
Samsung has dominated the foldable market in the United States since its inception, and has been pretty much unchallenged. While we’ve yet to fully test the Pixel Fold, it could potentially claim Samsung’s crown as the maker of the best foldable phone. However, it might not hold the title for long.
A bunch of the current Galaxy Z Fold 5 rumors point towards the phone being similar to its predecessor in a number of ways. That strategy isn’t going to ensure Samsung remains at the top for much longer, but here are seven ways the phone could stand out and beat the Pixel Fold to the top spot among foldable phones.
A less prominent crease
While foldables from the likes of Oppo and Huawei have reduced the display crease to the point it’s barely noticeable, the same can’t be said for the Pixel Fold or Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. The crease is one of the major drawbacks to using a foldable, and Samsung would do well to eliminate that crease as much as it can. At the very least, the phone will look much better for it.
The good news is that rumors point towards the Galaxy Z Fold 5 getting a new hinge design. The new “waterdrop” hinge is larger and shallower than previous models, and could see the screen sliding into the phone itself when closed. That design could help reduce the crease or, depending on its effectiveness, eliminate it completely.
Streamline the design
While rumors point towards the Galaxy Z Fold 5 retaining the same kind of design as the Z Fold 4, there are still ways to streamline that design for the better. In particular, Samsung needs to mimic Google (and others) by making the Z Fold 5 thinner and eliminating any noticeable gaps when the phone is closed.
A foldable is essentially two phones together when it’s closed, so thickness matters. Making the phone too thick makes it harder to keep in your pocket, while the increased size and weight makes it a lot less comfortable to carry around. Having a gap by the hinge also adds extra unnecessary thickness to the phone, while also offering space for dirt and debris to access the internal display when it’s not in use.
Plus, a flush-closed phone looks much, much nicer than one with a huge gap in the design.
Keep the bezels slim
One of the Pixel Fold’s biggest disappointments is its bezel, especially around the internal display. Fortunately this is where Samsung already has a key advantage, because the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s bezels were already incredibly thin. So thin, in fact, that they’re practically invisible compared to the bezel on the Pixel Fold.
But there’s always room for improvement, and the more space Samsung can shave off the bezel, the better. That’s true of both the interior display and the cover display. Not only does it improve the design, it also means the phone can be slightly smaller and more compact than the previous model. Whether it would be noticeable or not is debatable, but it’s worth doing nonetheless.
A bigger and better battery
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a 4,400 mAh battery that lasts 8 hours and 19 minutes with adaptive refresh rate switched on with the Tom's Guide battery test. That’s better than the Z Fold 3, but it’s a far cry from the devices on our best phone battery life list. We haven’t put the Pixel Fold through that same testing regiment yet, but it does have a larger battery than the Z Fold 4. A 4,821 mAh battery, to be precise.
Needless to say, Samsung is going to need to step up its game in regard to the Z Fold 5’s battery life. We haven’t heard rumors about what sort of battery to expect, though our experience with the Galaxy S23 makes us hopeful for a better battery on the foldable. The Galaxy S23 is 200 mAh larger than the S22, but lasted over two and a half hours longer during battery testing.
We suspect that this leap in efficiency may come from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, a chip we expect to see in the Z Fold 5. Google doesn’t have a great track record with battery life, and an S23-level improvement could be what the Z Fold 5 needs to clinch a victory.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is currently at the top of our list of best camera phones, whereas the Galaxy Z Fold 4 doesn’t even make an appearance. Clearly an improvement is needed, especially given Google’s photography prowess.
The Pixel Fold may not have the same hardware as the Pixel 7 Pro, or even the Pixel 7a, but it’s not all about the lenses. Google, like Apple, has shown time and again that software is an integral part of making a good camera phone — and that same software is no doubt available on the Pixel Fold. That could be enough to give Samsung a run for its money.
Samsung has shown it’s capable of producing great camera phones, especially the ones with high-end camera hardware. But recent Z Fold 5 rumors suggest that we may be getting the same camera as the Z Fold 4 — which would be a massive disappointment. Samsung’s going to need a noticeable upgrade to compete with Google or, at the very least, some high-quality software to boost the camera’s capabilities.
A lower price tag
It was rumored that the Pixel Fold could undercut the Z Fold 4 by as much as $500, but this turned out not to be the case. Instead the two phones cost exactly the same amount — an eye-watering $1,799. If Samsung really wanted to get the upper hand on Google, it would be as simple as lowering the Z Fold 5’s starting price, even by as little as $100.
We don’t know much about the Z Fold 5’s price just yet, but so far we’ve assumed that it would start with the same $1,799 price tag. There’s always a chance the price could increase, especially outside the U.S., but with foldable prices already sky high we can’t see any hypothetical price increase going down well. Samsung has been in this business for nearly four years, it’s about time it found some more ways to help reduce costs.
A wider cover display
It’s pretty likely that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will have the same general shape as the Z Fold 4. That’s what rumors and leaks have been saying, with one of the most confident claiming that Samsung won’t be changing the Z Fold design until the launch of the Galaxy Z Fold 6. But that’s not to say the Galaxy Z Fold 5 could benefit from a design change.
As we noted in our Pixel Fold hands-on, the wider cover screen is a lot more comfortable to use than the one on existing Z Fold devices. Samsung’s narrow screen makes it seem a little claustrophobic, and means the Z Fold 5 could benefit from widening out that front screen — even if the current height is kept the same size.
Samsung has a big head start where the foldable phone industry is concerned, but sometimes we can’t help but feel like it’s become complacent. It’s not clear whether the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will be prepared to take on the Pixel Fold, especially if the Z Fold 5 is as similar to its predecessor as some rumors claim
But the Pixel Fold does have a few potentially fatal weaknesses, which could give Samsung the upper hand it needs to remain on top of the pile for another year. Or at least until the OnePlus V Fold launches later this year. But for now we’ll just have to wait and see, and in the meantime you can check out our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hub to keep on top of all the latest rumors and news.