Has Samsung phoned things in with the Galaxy Z Fold 5? After all, there are few big changes between this foldable phone and the previous Galaxy Z Fold 4. And this device faces real competition from the Google Pixel Fold, which has a wider front display and great cameras.
Let's take a step back, though. The Samsung Z Fold 5 wasn't made for Z Fold 4 owners. It's mostly for people who have never tried a foldable and are intrigued by owning a phone and mini tablet in one device. The whole point of doing a full Galaxy Z Fold 5 review is to dig deeper and see the true impact of the upgrades Samsung has made.
Now that I've been using the Z Fold 5, I can say there are some welcome changes, including a new Flex hinge that enables the device to fold fully flat. The Z Fold 5 is also thinner and lighter; the main display is brighter; and there are some multitasking upgrades along with a faster and more efficient new chip.
Based on my testing, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 has done enough to nab the top spot on our best foldable phone list. But the high $1,799 price remains an obstacle, and I wish Samsung had widened the front display and included the S Pen. Here are the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself if this foldable is right for you, and check out our Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Google Pixel Fold face-off and video below to see which foldable phone wins.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Row 0 - Cell 1|
|Starting price||$1,799 / £1,749|
|Inner Display||7.6-inch QXGA+ (2176 x 1812) Dynamic AMOLED, 21.6:18 aspect ratio|
|Outer Display||6.2-inch HD+ (2316 x 904) Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 23.1:9 aspect ratio|
|Refresh rate||Up to 120Hz (Inner), 120Hz (Outer)|
|Chipset||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2|
|Rear cameras||50MP main wide-angle, f/1.8,85 ̊ FOV + 12MP ultra-wide F2.2, 123 ̊ FOV + 10MP telephoto f/2.4, 36 ̊ FOV, 3X optical zoom|
|Selfie camera||10MP f/2.2 85 ̊ FOV (outer) 4MP f/1.8 80 ̊ FOV (inner)|
|Size||6.1 x 2.64 x .53-inches (folded) and 6.1 x 5.11 x .24-inches (unfolded) / 67.1 x 154.9 x 13.4mm (folded) and 129.9 x 154.9 x6.1mm (unfolded)|
|Weight||8.92oz (253 grams)|
|Colors||Icy Blue, Phantom Black, Cream, Gray, Blue|
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Price and release date
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 has a release date of August 11, and pre-orders are available now. The price starts at a steep $1,799 / £1,749 for 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and you can upgrade to 512GB for $1,919 and 1TB for $2,159. For those who think these prices are too steep may be in luck as Samsung's first cheaper foldable phone could arrive next year.
Samsung also offers an optional S Pen carrying case for the Z Fold 5, which costs $99, or you could buy the S Pen by itself for $54. See our Galaxy Z Fold 5 deals page for the biggest discounts. (For more ways to save, check out our guide to today's best Samsung promo codes.)
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Design and colors
I have good news to report about the Z Fold 5's design. It feels lighter carrying it around in my front pocket. This thing is less of a brick, so much so that it's close in weight to the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is definitely sleeker than the Z Fold 4, and that’s thanks to a new Flex hinge that has a streamlined construction with fewer moving parts. The result is a design that folds all the way flat with no gap between the two halves. And that’s good because there’s less of a chance of debris getting stuck in there.
Another plus is that the Z Fold 5 is thinner and lighter than the Z Fold 4, weighing 8.9 ounces vs 9.2 ounces. When folded, the Z Fold 5 measures 0.53 inches thick and 0.24 inches when unfolded, compared to 0.62 and 0.25 inches for the previous model.
By comparison, the Google Pixel Fold is even thinner, but it weighs a heftier 10 ounces. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is 8.47 ounces.
The Z Fold 5 is IPX8 water resistant, which means it can survive 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes. But it’s not dust resistant.
I do like how the Z Fold 5’s camera bump is a bit less prominent, as the flash is now positioned to the right of the three lenses. But it’s still big enough to make the phone wobble on a table. The Z Fold 5 comes in three colors: my favorite is Icy Blue, and there’s also Phantom Black and Cream. The black model I tested is more businessy and therefore boring.
The Z Fold 5 still doesn’t have a place to put the S Pen, but the S Pen itself is smaller this time around and the case is slimmer. I just wish it wasn’t still an optional accessory.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Displays
Just like the Z Fold 4, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 packs the same size displays with a 6.2-inch OLED panel on the front and a 7.6-inch screen on the inside. But the inside panel now has a rated brightness of 1,750 nits, which is 30% higher than the Z Fold 4.
The Barbie trailer looked brilliant on the larger display with vivid colors and fairly wide viewing angles. Yes, the crease is still very much present, but you'll notice it more in direct sunlight than you will indoors.
The front display is crisp and supports the same smooth 120Hz refresh rate as the inner screen, but it’s fairly narrow compared to the Pixel Fold’s wider cover display.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Brightness||DCI-P3 (color gamut)||Delta-E (accuracy)|
|Galaxy Z Fold 5||1,346||140.6%||0.09|
|Galaxy Z Fold 4||1,131 nits||158.7%||0.34|
|Google Pixel Fold||900||88.4%||0.05|
In our lab tests, Galaxy Z Fold 5 registered a max of 1,346 nits when displaying HDR content, which beats both the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Google Pixel Fold. It's also worth noting that the Samsung's Z Fold 5 display outshined the Pixel Fold when we put both phones in direct sunlight. The Pixel Fold's screen dimmed much faster, even with adaptive brightness on.
I'm not a big fan of the Galaxy Z Fold 5's 6.2-inch cover display. It's fine for running apps like TikTok and Chrome but feels a bit cramped when typing due to its odd 23.1:9 aspect ratio. It's not as roomy as the Pixel Fold's wider but smaller 5.8-inch front panel.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Brightness||DCI-P3 (color gamut)||Delta-E (accuracy)|
|Galaxy Z Fold 5||703 nits||128%||0.1|
|Galaxy Z Fold 4||870 nits||146.7%||0.33|
|Google Pixel Fold||1,172 nits||124.8%||0.06|
Oddly, the Galaxy Z Fold 5's cover display turned in lower numbers than the Z Fold 4 and Pixel Fold in our brightness testing, and the panel was also less colorful than its predecessor. We will retest to confirm. The Pixel Fold's front screen was the brightest and more accurate of the three.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Multitasking and Flex mode
One of the key reasons to buy the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is its ability to run multiple apps at once. You can have up to three apps on screen simultaneously, while the Pixel Fold can only do two.
And Samsung is making it easier to multitask by adding new gestures. You can swipe in from the left side of the display with two fingers or up from the bottom at any time to start running a second app, though you can continue to drag apps onto the screen from the taskbar. Another plus: the taskbar shows your four most recently used apps in addition to your favorites you pin, up from two faves.
There are some other new multitasking tricks as well, including the ability to create a floating window from any app by swiping diagonally down from the top right of the main screen. I found this handy for YouTube and Spotify.
You can even perform two-handed drag and drops. So, for example, you can select an object in a photo and press and hold with one hand, then open the messaging app with the other hand and just attach the image.
One of the best Galaxy Z Fold 5 features remains Flex mode, which lets you position the phone as a mini laptop using the hinge. In this mode, the main content appears up top and controls and menu options appear on the bottom. This came in handy when performing a Google Meet call. I could tap on emojis for reactions or even share my screen.
If you want to use this foldable as a full-flown PC, you can plug the Z Fold 5 into a monitor and engage DeX mode. This allows you to run apps at full screen. Think of it as a mini Chromebook.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Cameras
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 has the same camera specs as the Z Fold 4, but the image quality has improved in certain cases and it more than holds its own against the Pixel Fold — except in low light.
The triple rear camera system includes a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide and a 10MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom. You also get a 10MP selfie camera up front and a low-res under-display camera on the inner display.
While it would be nice to see a $1,799 flagship pack the same 200MP camera as the $1,199 Galaxy S23 Ultra and the same dual telephoto zoom, this could be a very capable camera phone.
In this photo of a globe amaranth flower, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 delivers sharp details in the pink petals and even the bee that happened to land while I was taking the shot. The Pixel Fold delivers a paler pink and an even sharper details at the edge of the petals, but I slightly prefer the more saturated colors in the Samsung shot.
I put the Z Fold 5 up against the iPhone 14 Pro Max in this shot of the Bryant Park Fountain, and the Z Fold 5 wins when it comes to its brighter exposure of the areas in shadow. However, the water looks crisper through the iPhone.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 shows a modest improvement versus the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in this image of a fruit tart, as the strawberries look sharper. The Pixel Fold's photo is dimmer and less appetizing, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max wins overall by keeping all the fruit and tart in focus.
I'm torn when it comes to this portrait taken with the Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold. The blue checkered shirt my colleague Mike is wearing pops more through the Samsung and it's a brighter overall pic. But the Pixel Fold offers a more dramatic bokeh effect and handles the sun a bit better.
It's no contest with the zoom photo taken at 20x. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 can go all the way to 30x, but with these results, I wouldn't want to. The top of the Chrysler building looks way sharper through the Pixel Fold.
This time the Galaxy Z Fold 5 delivers a much better selfie than the Pixel Fold. My face and eyes are brighter and my shirt pops more too. The Pixel shot looks dull.
Next, I put the ultrawide cameras on the Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold to the test. The blue sky, grass and surrounding trees look much more vibrant through the Samsung, even if it's not as realistic as the Pixel Fold's image. I prefer the Samsung's pic because there's more contrast.
In low light, I give the edge to the Pixel Fold. Yes, the lantern looks more colorful through the Z Fold 5, but the rest of the image is brighter with the Pixel, including the concrete in front of the pool and the egg chairs in the background.
Indoors the Galaxy Z Fold 5 takes a brighter image of this bar, but when you look closer, all of the labels on the bottles look much clearer through the Pixel Fold. Same thing goes for the shot glasses.
So what about the 4MP under-display camera — is it any better? Not in this shot. My face looks blurrier through the Galaxy Z Fold 5 than Galaxy Z Fold 4 though my shirt is sharper with the new Fold.
To test the video quality of the Z Fold 5 I recorded this clip of a fountain at 4K and 30 fps with both the Samsung and Pixel Fold. The Pixel's footage looked a bit too warm for my tastes, but I appreciate the 5x optical zoom for getting in close vs the 3x zoom for the Z Fold 5.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Performance
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 packs the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, so you would expect this foldable to perform just as well as the fastest Android phones available.
In everyday use, I found the Z Fold 5 snappy and responsive, whether I was surfing the web with multiple tabs open in Chrome or running two apps side by side. This flagship also easily handled intense games like Call of Duty Mobile and Mortal Kombat. Sliding my finger across the crease was a bit distracting, but overall it was an immersive experience.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Geekbench||3DMark Unlimited||Video transcoding|
|Galaxy Z Fold 5||1,995 / 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 / 5,000||14,611 / 87.5||39 seconds|
|iPhone 14 Pro Max||2,636 / 6,885||12,366 / 74 fps||30.25 seconds|
On Geekbench 6, which measures overall performance, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 scored 1,995 on single-core and 5,342 on multi-core, which is similar to the Galaxy S23 scores. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is way faster on this test, but the Pixel Fold is well behind.
When it comes to graphics performance, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 beats the iPhone 14 Pro Max on the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited test, notching 81 frames per second to 74 for the iPhone. Once again the Pixel Fold is not close.
Lastly, we run a video transcoding test using the Adobe Premiere Rush app, and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 finished in 41 seconds, which is just a couple of seconds behind the Galaxy S23. The iPhone is the champ here but the Pixel Fold needed another 20 seconds or so.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Battery life and charging
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 packs the same 4,400 mAh battery as the Galaxy Z Fold 4, but it managed to last over 1.5 hours longer on a charge. And that's likely because the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip is more efficient in this phone.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Hours:Mins|
|Galaxy Z Fold 5||10:55|
|Galaxy Z Fold 4||9:17|
|Google Pixel Fold||10:21|
|Galaxy S23 Ultra||13:09|
|iPhone 14 Pro Max||13:39|
On the Tom's Guide Battery test, which involves continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness, the Z Fold 5 lasted 10 hours and 55 minutes, compared to 9 hours and 17 minutes for the Z Fold 4. That's a remarkable jump in endurance, even if it falls short of some of the longest-lasting handsets on our best phone battery life list.
The Google Pixel Fold lasted for a shorter 10:21, but both the iPhone 14 Pro Max and Galaxy S23 Ultra held out for over 13 hours in our testing.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 sticks with fairly slow 25W charging when the Galaxy S23 Plus and Galaxy S23 Ultra both offer a speedier 45W charging.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Pixel Fold
The fact that it's not an easy call between the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold shows how impressive Google's first foldable phone is. In Google's favor is a wider front display, a slimmer design when open and superior cameras in low-light situations. Plus, you get a more powerful 5x optical zoom compared to 3x for the Z Fold 5.
On the other hand, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 offers stronger performance from its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, longer battery life and much slimmer bezels than the Pixel Fold. And some apps don't fill up the whole screen on the Pixel Fold, such as Facebook and Instagram; you have to turn the phone to avoid unsightly black bars. Plus, the Z Fold 5's main display is way brighter outdoors.
It's also worth noting that some users have had durability issues with the Pixel Fold, such as the screen breaking. Our Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Pixel Fold comparison has more details, and we will declare an overall winner soon.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Bottom line
I'm used to incremental upgrades with phones in general from year to year, but I don't feel like we should be there yet with foldable phones. The category is too young for that. And yet, here we are with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, which is very much an iterative upgrade.
To be clear, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 has meaningful improvements. The new hinge results in a sleeker phone, and the latest Snapdragon chip results in a device that's not only faster, but lasts longer on a charge. The brighter display and multitasking enhancements are great as well.
But I was expecting Samsung to make bolder moves at a time the competition is heating up. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 arguably holds on to the best foldable phone title, but it does so by playing things safe.