Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5 could face more pressure than usual to deliver big improvements over its predecessor when it arrives later this year. Up until now, Samsung has pretty much had the market for best foldable phones all to itself. But that could soon change, with OnePlus promising to release its own foldable in the second half of the year and rumors of a foldable phone from Google heating up.
Should rumored devices like the OnePlus V Fold and Pixel Fold materialize, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will need more than the usual iterative changes to keep ahead of the competition. And so far rumors about Samsung's plans for its upcoming foldable suggest some significant changes from the Galaxy Z Fold 4 that's currently available.
We're not expecting to see the Galaxy Z Fold 5 until August at the earliest, but we already have some idea about the possible changes coming to the foldable. Here's how the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is rumored to improve upon the Galaxy Z Fold 4 that came before it.
A lighter foldable
For the Galaxy Z Fold 4, Samsung introduced a slimmer hinge, which helped the foldable shave nearly 0.3 ounces off its predecessor's weight. It was a step in the right direction, but not nearly a bold enough step — the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still tips the scales at a hefty 9.28 ounces.
The Z Fold is never going to be a lightweight phone — that's the trade-off you make when opting for a phone that opens up to reveal a 7.6-inch interior display. But it sounds like Samsung is making a few moves to mitigate some of the weighty issues surrounding its flagship foldable phone. One rumor suggests the phone maker may opt for lighter materials — the rumor doesn't specify which — to lessen the load of toting around the Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Another possible change involves yet another revision to the Galaxy Z Fold's hinge. Reportedly, Samsung is working on what's called a waterdrop hinge, which will bring a number of potential benefits to the Galaxy Z Fold 5. In terms of the phone's design, that would mean decreased thickness — the Galaxy Z Fold 5 would reportedly be 0.55 inches when shut, compared to 0.62 inches for its predecessor. A less bulky Galaxy Z Fold 5 could weigh less, too.
At last, no crease
We mentioned multiple benefits to the waterdorp hinge, with the chief one being that it could finally rid us of the visible crease that appears on the Galaxy Z Fold's interior display, showing where the device folds in half. Samsung had hoped to make the crease less prominent with last year's Galaxy Z Fold 4, but it's still quite noticeable in certain conditions, like when you're using the phone in direct sunlight or running certain apps.
The waterdrop hinge could change that. Reportedly, it would allow part of the display to roll inside main body of the Galaxy Z Fold 5, preventing the display from forming a crease.
The trade-off here is that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 may not prove to be as durable with this kind of hinge. But it's clear Samsung needs to do something. Even before competitors show up in the U.S., Oppo already offers a foldable phone in China that does a much better job of disguising any creased displays that Samsung has managed up until this point.
A better chipset
We know the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is going to get new silicon when it debuts. And while we don't know specifically which chipset that's going to be, we're expecting big gains for this year's foldable over its predecessor.
That's because we've already seen the same thing happen with the Galaxy S23 series, in which all three phones come with an overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy from Qualcomm. Those phones all saw big performance gains over their Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-equipped predecessors, though the more interesting development was how those Galaxy S23 models were able to close the performance gap with the latest iPhones. (In fact, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 actually posts better graphics benchmark scores than the A16 Bionic-powered iPhone 14 Pro.)
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 benefitted the Galaxy S23 phones in other ways. All three models saw their battery life improve over the comparable Galaxy S22 versions, and we'd guess that the improved power efficiency in Qualcomm's latest silicon is a big reason why. That's of particular interest when it comes to the Galaxy Z Fold, as the foldable struggles to post respectable times in our battery test. (After all, it's a challenge keeping one display powered all day, let alone the interior and cover display Samsung uses for the Fold.)
The only mystery is what chip will power the Galaxy Z Fold 5. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 used the Plus variant of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but for that to happen with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, Qualcomm would have to come out with a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2 chipset. That could still occur in the months leading up to the Galaxy Z Fold 5 launch, so stay tuned to see how big of a performance gain we can expect for the new foldable.
Cameras have not been a selling point for Samsung's foldables, though the Galaxy Z Fold 4 took a step toward correcting that. Samsung upgraded the camera setup on last year's foldable with the same array of rear lenses that the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus used, so that the Z Fold was no longer a step or two behind the Galaxy S series when it came to mobile photography.
Cameras continue to progress, though, and these days, the Galaxy S23 Ultra sports a 200MP main camera. That sensor is apparently incompatible with the Galaxy Z Fold, but at least one rumor holds out hope that the 108MP camera found on the S22 Ultra could be headed to the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Other sources have disputed whether there will be any changes to the camera at all this time around, so this is one rumor worth paying attention to in the coming months.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 outlook
A Galaxy Z Fold 5 launch is still months away, meaning we could hear about other ways in which the new foldable will improve upon the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Samsung needs to have some change up its sleeve, though, as the days of being the only player in town when it comes to foldable phones could soon come to an end.