Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 — this is what Samsung needs to improve

Render of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5
(Image credit: Winfuture)

Update: Follow our Samsung Unpacked live blog now for the official Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5 launch news and our Samsung promo codes guide for the best deals).

Even with Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 rumors giving us a pretty complete picture of what Samsung has planned for its next round of foldable phones, we won't know how they measure up to the competition until we have the new devices in our hand. And that's not going to happen until after this week's Galaxy Unpacked event where both phones should make their debut.

Still, we know what areas the latest Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip models will need to improve upon, if they're to grab back the crown for best foldables phones. And that's because we've extensively tested their predecessors, comparing them to rival foldables.

While the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 were both strong phones in their own right, the competition eventually caught up with them. Our Google Pixel Fold vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 face-off had Google's foldable just squeaking ahead of the Fold. The Motorola Razr+ vs. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 verdict was a bit more definitive, with Motorola's flip phone handily coming out on top.

You'd imagine the areas in which Samsung's current foldables came up short would offer opportunities for their successors to improve on the past. Here's a look at the biggest potential areas for improvement for both the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5, and whether the rumor mill thinks Samsung can pull off these changes.

Rumored Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Galaxy Z Flip 5 (rumored)Galaxy Z Fold 5 (rumored)
Starting price$999/£999/AU$1,449$1,799/£1,649/AU$2,499
Inner Display6.7-inches7.6-inches
Outer Display3.4-inches6.2-inches
Refresh rate120Hz (inner display)120Hz (inner display)
ChipsetSnapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Rear cameras12MP main + 12MP ultrawide50MP main + 12MP ultrawide + 10MP telephoto
Selfie cameraN/AN/A
Battery3,700 mAh4,400 mAh
SizeN/A6.1 x 5.11 x 0.25 inches (open), 6.1 x 2.64 x 0.53-inches (closed)
Colors beige, gray, light green and light pinkblue, platinum, beige, black and light blue

Galaxy Z Fold 5

Where the Galaxy Z Fold 4 came up short

When we put the Galaxy Z Fold 4 up against the Google Pixel Fold, the superior cameras on Samsung's foldable kept the overall competition pretty close, and the power of the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 chipset in last year's fold was enough to match the AI capabilities that Google's Tensor G2 brings to the table.

But the Galaxy Z Fold 4 failed to measure up to the Pixel Fold in a few key areas, chiefly when it came to the two phones' designs. While Samsung and Google take similar approaches to their respective foldables — you open up the device to reveal a larger 7.6-inch screen inside — both get there in different ways. The Pixel Fold is thinner than the Galaxy Z Fold 4, and even though Samsung's phone is around three-quarters of an ounce lighter, the Pixel Fold's less bulky frame makes it easier to tote around.

Google Pixel Fold versus Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 comparison face off.

Pixel Fold (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 4 (right) (Image credit: Future)

There's another important design difference between the two phones — the Pixel Fold snaps shut completely when closed, while the unopened Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a gap.

The interior displays on the Pixel Fold and Galaxy Z Fold are similarly sized, though Google manages to pack in slightly more pixels per inch (378 ppi compared to 373 ppi). But the real difference is the outside screens — the Pixel Fold has a wider aspect ratio that makes it easier to use than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's elongated screen. The Pixel Fold's exterior screen is brighter, too.

Finally, the Pixel Fold lasts longer on a charge than the Galaxy Z Fold. In our battery test — continuous web surfing over 5G until the device runs out of power — the Pixel Fold lasted 10 hours and 21 minutes with its screen refresh rate set to 60Hz. Under those same conditions, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 posted a time that was around an hour shorter.

How the Galaxy Z Fold 5 can improve on that

Rumors surrounding the Galaxy Z Fold 5 suggest that Samsung isn't going to adjust the outer display of its new foldable, so look for the Pixel Edge to maintain its lead there. But you should expect some design changes to the Galaxy Z Fold 5, including one that tackles the problem of the phone not being able to shut completely.

Image of Samsung's patented water drop hinge design

(Image credit: Naver)

Reports claim the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is going to use a new waterdrop-style hinge. The design of this hinge would eliminate that gap that exists between Z Fold panels when the phone isn't open. In theory, it could also allow for a thinner frame, and one where the gap along the part of the interior display that folds is a little less noticeable. We'd accept any one of those outcomes.

We're also looking for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to feature a newer chipset — the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in this case. And while that will certainly give Samsung's upcoming phone more processing oomph compared to the Pixel Fold's Tensor G2, we're also hoping that addresses battery life. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is widely known for improving battery life in the phones it runs, thanks to more efficent power management. We hope that pushes the Galaxy Z Fold 5 past the average time for smarphones in our battery test, which would put it in the same region as the Pixel Fold.

Galaxy Z Flip 5

Where the Galaxy Z Flip 4 came up short

When comparing the current Galaxy Z Flip model to the competition, we ran into many of the same complaints we had with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Like its fellow Samsung foldable, the Z Flip 4 suffers from design and display shortcomings when compared to the Motorola Razr+.

Some of those complaints are a matter of personal preference. We like how the Razr+'s rounded bezel feels in the hand, and its use of a metallic frame and vegan leather casing looks more appealing to our eye than the Galaxy Z Flip 4's look.

Image of Motorola Razr+ and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4.

Motorola Razr+ (left) and Galaxy Z Flip 4 (right) (Image credit: Future)

But the real differentiating factor here is the outer display found on each phone. The Motorola Razr+ adopts a relative expansive 3.6-inch screen for its exterior — that gives you enough space to run apps without every having to open your phone. The Galaxy Z Flip 4's cover display is a bit more limited — at 1.9 inches, it's best for notifications and the occasional text message. You can use the Z Flip 4's exterior strip as a view finder should you try to take a selfie with the main camera, but you don't have a lot of space to work with.

We would be remiss if we didn't also mention battery life here. It's worse than the Galaxy Z Fold 4's performance on our battery test, with the current Flip giving up the ghost just shy of 9 hours. The Motorola Razr+ was able to top the 10-hour mark even with its adaptive refresh rate feature turned on.

How the Galaxy Z Flip 5 can improve on that

The biggest rumor surrounding the Galaxy Z Flip 5 tackles our biggest complaint about the Z Flip 4 — namely, that shrunken down cover display. Rumors suggest that Samsung is taking a page out of Motorola's book and increasing the size of the exterior screen, with a 3.4-inch panel deemed to be the most likely result. We've seen leaked renders purporting to show off the Galaxy Z Flip 5, and the outer display now takes up most of the back panel of the phone when it's folded shut.

Galaxy Z Flip 5 renders open and closed

(Image credit: Steven H. McFly / OnLeaks)

There's one caveat to this potential improvement, though. Some reports claim you won't be able to run actual apps on the Galaxy Z Flip 5's outer screen — just widgets that have been optimized for the display. If true, that would still keep the Galaxy Z Flip 5 at a disadvantage to the Motorola Razr+.

Battery life could also see an improvement, though like the Galaxy Z Fold 5, this could come down to the chipset powering the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Again, Samsung is expected to turn to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which could give the Galaxy Z Flip 5 a boost in staying power, thanks to its power management features.

In another Galaxy Z Fold 5 feature that could come to Samsung's other foldable, the waterdrop hinge could also make an appearance with the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Whether that makes us revisit our opinion of how this phone's design compares to that of the Motorola Razr+ remains to be seen.

Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 outlook

As good as previous versions of Samsung's foldables are, it's very clear that rival devices are pushing the phone maker to introduce more improvements with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5. We'll find out at Galaxy Unpacked on July 26 if the changes coming to the foldables are significant enough to help Samsung regain its edge.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.

  • Extraneus
    'the Pixel Fold has a wider aspect ratio that makes it easier to use'

    No, it makes the Pixel HARDER to use one-handed, which is how you use the phone when folded. The Galaxy Folds are perfect in that they give you a slim form factor when you use them with one hand, meaning that you don't have to strain your thumb and loosen your grip.