I’ve been testing the Galaxy Z Fold 5 — and it's the ultimate gaming phone

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 running mobile games.
(Image credit: Future)

There are tons of benefits of owning the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. From its expansive 7.6-inch AMOLED display, to its excellent camera performance, it’s proven to be the best foldable phone money can buy right now. But after spending a week with the herculean foldable, I realized that it’s also a great gaming device.

Given how competitive gaming has expanded beyond traditional PC and console gaming, it’s no wonder why mobile esports games are increasingly becoming popular — and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is ripe for the opportunity.

Sure, there are dedicated gaming phones engineered to handle today’s graphically intensive games, but even despite not being classified as a gaming phone, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 certainly has the appeal to be one. There are several factors that phones need to prioritize to make them good gaming devices, and it’s something I'll dial into below with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 in particular.

Large screen to see more of the action

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 running mobile games.

(Image credit: Future)

If there’s one reason more than any other as to why the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a great gaming device, it’s none other than its sizable 7.6-inch QXGA+ (2176 x 1812) Dynamic AMOLED 2x display. This results in a 21.6:18 screen aspect ratio with its main inner screen, which I feel is more ideal than the 23.1:9 aspect ratio of its external 6.2-inch cover display. That’s because the extra real estate is more suitable for mobile games.

IFor first-person action shooters like Modern Combat 5, I'm able to better see enemies hiding in the background because of the larger screen.

The Samsung Z Fold 5 is a sight to behold when playing games. For first-person action shooters like Modern Combat 5, I'm able to better see enemies hiding in the background because of the larger screen. In pay to win strategy games like Age of Origins, I'm able to see much more of the world map than on traditional slates — all while rendering the cities and troops smoothly. Even when there’s heavy action on the screen, it manages to keep a steady frame rate to make it playable.

Once you experience gaming on a smartphone with this size screen, you’ll be spoiled that you may never go back to an ordinary one.

It has knock out graphics processing power

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 running mobile games.

(Image credit: Future)

Running behind the scenes, the Galaxy Z Fold is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and with that calling the shots, it’s no surprise why it’s an excellent gaming phone based on its performance. In fact, it held its ground against top contenders like the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max, and Google Pixel Fold.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Galaxy Z Fold 5 benchmarks
Row 0 - Cell 0 Geekbench 3DMark Unlimited Video transcoding
Galaxy Z Fold 51,995 / 5,342 13,579 / 81.3 fps 41.7 seconds
Google Pixel Fold 1,390 / 3,291 6,755 / 40.4 fps 1 min
Galaxy S23 Ultra 2,008 / 5,00014,611 / 87.5 39 seconds
iPhone 14 Pro Max 2,636 / 6,88512,366 / 74 fps 30.25 seconds

In fact, the synthetic benchmark tests we ran on the phone indicated it’s no slouch when it comes to graphics processing. Amazingly, it manhandled its closest rival in the Google Pixel Fold by achieving a steady 81.3 fps (frames per second) rate with the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited test — versus the Pixel Fold’s rate of 40.4 fps. It also held up nicely against the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s mark of 87.5 fps. This is the kind of score that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 needs to be considered among the greats.

Oh-so smooth 120Hz screen glory

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 running mobile games.

(Image credit: Future)

If you want the best gaming experience on the Galaxy Z Fold 5, I’d suggest keeping the display settings to adaptive mode. This results in the refresh rate staying at its peak level of 120Hz, which gives games their buttery smooth look. The last thing you need is a few skipped animations with the on-screen action, so keeping it in adaptive mode will ensure that.

Of course, it’ll impact the battery life of the phone, but I think it’s a tradeoff that’s worth it — more so when the phone also tops the chart as the foldable phone with the longest battery life. You’ll probably need to recharge at some point throughout the day because of the demands with 120Hz gaming, especially for hardcore gamers.

Nevertheless, the 120Hz refresh rate of the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s display makes a big difference to the experience. This is probably one of the hardest things to appreciate unless you see it for yourself while scrolling through a world map is silky smooth.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 worth it as a gaming phone?

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 running mobile games.

(Image credit: Future)

The short answer is yes. There’s something to be said about gaming on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. I didn’t think about how a larger screen would make it more suitable, but it’s hard to overlook its cost too. At a whopping $1,799, it hits hard in the pockets, but this foldable phone justifies its hefty cost.

For example, its inclusion of Samsung DeX can make it feel like you’re using a desktop PC when you connect the phone to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Interestingly, there are some mobile games that offer support for keyboard controls rather than the usual touch interactions. I tried out SuperTuxKart, a Mario Kart clone racer, and managed to control our kart with a keyboard. While it worked for this, the vast majority of games still don’t offer mouse and keyboard controls. But I'm hoping developers get on board because the gap is closing.

There’s also Game Booster, which is a hub for the most relevant tools for gaming — such as screen recording and turning priority mode on to mute incoming calls and notifications while gaming. There are also other plugins to install that add more tools for gaming, like the Aim Assist plugin that basically will enhance your aiming in shooting games.

When you factor in everything I mentioned, it’s hard to overlook the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s reputation for being an excellent gaming phone. Not only does is open an entirely different experience, but it's also future proof at handling whatever new titles come out.

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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.