It's taken for granted that foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 aren't as strong or resilient as regular phones. It's the way foldables have been since the original Galaxy Fold. But for the phone's fifth generation, it feels about time Samsung delivered a foldable you don't need to handle with kid gloves.
It's not the only thing Samsung could do with improving on its foldables. There are aspects like battery life, and Samsung's apparent slow pace of change frustrating even its own employees. And of course we'd never say no to more powerful cameras or faster charging. But these are things you can arguably compromise on when buying a foldable. Durability shouldn't be one of them.
It's something that crossed my mind as I learned about a rumor claiming the hinge on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 would be made lighter and more dust-proof at the expense of how well Flex Mode worked. Flex Mode, in case you're unfamiliar, lets the Z Fold and Z Flip open at multiple angles between fully open or closed, letting the phone stand up by itself. It's handy for watching video or setting up a makeshift tripod for photos, and is something I've enjoyed using when I've had time with previous Galaxy Z Folds.
My initial reaction to this was disappointment that Flex Mode wouldn't be as nice to use on Samsung's newest foldables. But after thinking on it a little more, it seems a worthwhile trade-off for Samsung to focus on making the Z Fold dust resistant.
Samsung has already pioneered durability features with its foldable phones. It managed to introduce IPX8 water resistance onto the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 in 2021, and before that its Ultra-Thin Glass material on the original Galaxy Z Flip from 2020. Offering the world's first certified dust-resistant folding phone would fit nicely with these previous achievements.
Not only would it add to Samsung's trophy cabinet, it's also something that foldable phone buyers deserve for the amount of money they have to spend. If you dropped $1,600 on a normal phone, you'd hope it would stand up to a trip to the beach. That should be the case with foldables too, even if Samsung promises the brushes built into its current foldables' hinges help keep particles out of the phones' innards.
Samsung shouldn't forget about Flex Mode of course, especially since it's now something of a standard feature across other leading foldable phones, like the Oppo Find N2 and Find N2 Flip, the Google Pixel Fold and the Honor Magic Vs. Foldables need to continue to find new ways to justify their existence beyond being a tablet and a phone in one device. But innovation here could perhaps be left to the software team, or put on pause while Samsung gives users confidence their folding phones will hold up over the long term.
All of this is still based on an unconfirmed rumor, so all we can do is wait and see what happens at the now-confirmed launch event in late July. I really hope Samsung does what's right for the ongoing life of its foldable phones. Other improvements can come once the phone-buying public understands that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and all its future versions isn't going to die on them because of a few specs of dust.