Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: the foldable to buy in 2023

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The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 showing off its new cover screen.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

MSRP $1,000.00

“The Galaxy Z Flip 5 keeps everything that worked about the Flip 4, then combines that with a larger cover screen and a nicer hinge. Aside from a few quirks, it’s a lovely package.”

Pros

  • No more gap when folded shut
  • Extremely well-built
  • Hinge feels outstanding
  • Much more useful cover screen
  • Fantastic performance
  • Good and dependable cameras
  • 5 years of updates

Cons

  • The crease is still there
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Cover screen requires lots of tweaking

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 should be a perfect foldable flip phone. Why? The pitch from Samsung is a pretty simple one. It kept everything that worked so well for last year’s Flip, made the cover screen much more useful, added a new processor, and created a hinge that lets the Flip 5 fold completely flat when it’s shut. And, yes, the price is exactly the same.

So, is the Z Flip 5 perfect? It’s really close, but not quite. This is the best Galaxy Z Flip Samsung has ever made, and it’s probably the folding flip phone most people should buy. It’s also a phone I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using — even if a couple of things about it have been a bit frustrating along the way.

About our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review

This review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 was published after I (Joe Maring) used the phone for a week in the United States, connected to T-Mobile’s 5G network. The review will be updated in the coming weeks/months with additional battery stats, camera samples, and more. For a closer look at our review process, see our guide on how we test phones.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: design and hinge

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, showing the backside of the phone.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Yes, the cover screen on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a big deal, but there’s another important update that’s not quite as obvious — and that’s Samsung’s new hinge.

Samsung calls it the “Flex Hinge,” and compared to hinges on previous Z Flips, the Flip 5 is able to fold completely flat when it’s folded shut (aka, no more unsightly gap). Not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, but it also makes the Flip 5 a bit thinner than the Flip 4 when shut — going from 17.1mm at its thickest to just 15.1mm.

Although the gap on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 never bothered me personally, having the Flip 5 eliminate it is still great to see. It makes the phone feel a bit more complete, and while a difference of 2mm in thickness doesn’t sound drastic, it does make the Z Flip feel more pocketable than ever before.

There’s something else you’ll notice about the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s hinge, and that’s how it feels a bit looser compared to previous generations; Samsung admits as much on its website! But don’t take this to be a bad thing. The Z Flip 4 always felt a bit stiff to open, even after weeks of use. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 feels much smoother from day one, and even without the gap, I find the phone very easy to open and close. And the best part is that the smoother movement doesn’t make the hinge feel any less sturdy. (You can still prop the hinge up at virtually any angle.)

It’s also worth mentioning that the Z Flip 5’s hinge feels noticeably better designed than the one on the Motorola Razr Plus. Motorola’s flip phone makes more noise when being opened, and if you gently rub the two halves together when closed, you can feel and hear them moving against each other. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 exhibits no such quirks, and while it remains to be seen how either phone holds up after months of regular use, I wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung’s phone withstands the test of time more reliably.

There are so many little things that just feel better on the Z Flip 5.

That consensus also boils down to the rest of the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s design. Coming from the Razr Plus, there are so many little things that just feel better on the Z Flip 5. The power and volume buttons are sturdy and don’t wiggle when you push on them. The vibration motor (while not incredible) feels nicer and doesn’t make an unpleasant sound. The speakers sound louder and fuller. The IPX8 rating, while not useful for dust-proofing, allows the Z Flip 5 to survive water splashes and submersion just as well as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra or iPhone 14 Pro.

These are all little things on their own, but when you add them all up — combined with Samsung’s outstanding new hinge — it results in the Galaxy Z Flip 5 being the most well-constructed flip phone foldable I’ve used to date.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: cover screen

Two Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 phones next to each other.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Okay, okay — now we can talk about the Z Flip 5’s cover screen. The short story is that it’s a very big upgrade and can do just about anything you’d like. The longer story is … well, it’s a bit more complicated.

Specs-wise, the Z Flip 5’s cover screen is a Super AMOLED panel and measures 3.4 inches. The resolution is 720 x 748, it has a 60Hz refresh rate, and it’s covered with Gorilla Glass Victus 2. On a technical level, it pales in comparison to the 1056 x 1066 resolution and 144Hz refresh rate of the Razr Plus cover screen. The Z Flip 5 still looks sharp enough to my eyes, and I don’t notice the 60Hz refresh rate as much as I thought I would. I wouldn’t say I’ve been unhappy with the quality of the cover screen (it’s extremely colorful and gets super bright), but Samsung certainly could have done a lot more here.

Technical stuff aside, the meat of the conversation lies in the software of the Z Flip 5’s cover screen.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 resting on top of succulents, with its cover display on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Galaxy Z Flip 5’s cover screen begins with your clock face. There are six categories of faces to choose from, including Featured, Gallery, Informative, Graphical, Simple, and Colors. There are multiple styles for each category, and each one can be customized to your exact liking. I’ve been using one of the Informative styles, which shows me the time, weather, date, battery, and notification icons all at once — it’s fantastic.

From there, you have a few main ways to interact with the cover screen:

  • Swipe down to open your Quick Settings.
  • Swipe up to access your payment cards in Samsung Pay.
  • Swipe right to view all of your notifications.
  • Swipe left to cycle through your widgets.
Weather widget on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

If this sounds similar to how you interact with a Samsung Galaxy Watch, that’s on purpose. Samsung wanted the Flip 5’s cover screen to mimic how you use its smartwatches, and I think that was the right call. This interface is clean, simple, and really easy to grasp after just a few seconds of swiping around.

Widgets are a core part of the Z Flip 5’s cover screen. There’s a lot to choose from right out of the box, including a calendar, weather forecast, timer, alarm, stopwatch, recent calls, direct dial, steps, daily activity, and a finance watchlist. It’s a larger selection than the “panels” you get on the Motorola Razr Plus, and they’re much better designed, too — showing more information and working more reliably, at least in my experience.

Timer running on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Samsung also smartly utilizes the small section of the display that extends further into the bottom-left corner. If you have a timer, stopwatch, or audio ongoing, you’ll see it as a small pop-up there.

But we still haven’t talked about one critical thing: apps on the cover screen. It’s possible to use apps on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen, but getting everything to work how you want to is a chore.

Setting up apps for the cover screen on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Enabling Z Flip 5 cover screen apps via Labs in the Settings app Joe Maring / Digital Trends

You essentially have two ways of using apps on the Flip 5’s cover screen:

The easy way: Tap a toggle in the Labs section of the Settings app, and you get access to six applications Samsung has curated for the cover screen. These include Google Messages, Samsung Messages, WhatsApp, Google Maps, YouTube, and Netflix.

The unnecessarily hard way: If you want to run any app installed on the Flip 5 on the cover screen, you need to install the Good Lock app from the Galaxy Store. Then you have to open Good Lock and install something called “MultiStar”. Then you have to open MultiStar. And then you have to tap three other buttons and select which apps you want to use on the cover screen before it actually works.

Good Lock is an official Samsung application and not some random third-party garbage, but it is horribly designed. Samsung also doesn’t clearly explain this process anywhere when setting up the Z Flip 5 — you just have to know precisely what to download and where to look. It’s not user-friendly, not intuitive, and way more complicated than it needs to be.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen showing Good Lock apps launcher.
App launcher with the Good Lock widget Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The upside? After you go through all of this hassle, apps run quite well on the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s cover screen. Once Good Lock is installed and configured, you get a “Launcher” widget that shows all of the apps you’ve selected to use on the cover screen.

I use apps on the Z Flip 5 for the same things I use the Razr Plus’s cover screen for — replying to Telegram messages, scanning my Starbucks barcode when ordering coffee, catching up on emails in Outlook, etc. Things are slightly more condensed on the Z Flip 5’s cover screen compared to the Razr Plus’s, but the experience is largely the same for the applications I use.

Starbucks app running on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen.
Starbucks app on the Z Flip 5 cover screen Joe Maring / Digital Trends

You can open an app on the cover screen and continue it on the main display if you open the Flip 5, but it doesn’t work in the opposite direction. Similarly, there’s no way to multitask on the Flip 5’s cover screen. On the Razr Plus, you can swipe on the bottom of the screen to cycle between apps you’ve recently used. But thanks to the hacky approach to apps on the Galaxy Z Flip 5, Samsung offers no such option.

After some tweaking and setup, the experience of using apps on the Z Flip 5’s cover screen is quite enjoyable. But getting to that point is far too challenging than it should be — and something that less experienced users will likely be deterred from entirely. I’m glad all of these tools are here and that the cover screen is capable of so much, but the overall user experience needs a lot of work.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: display and crease

Instagram app running on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Although the cover screen is new and exciting, we also need to talk about the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s main display. Thankfully, it’s very good! That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s virtually identical to the display used on the Flip 4 last year. You’re getting a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 2640 x 1080 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate.

In typical Samsung fashion, the display on the Flip 5 is lovely. Colors are very saturated and pop right off the screen, making everything from videos to your Settings app look outstanding. The 120Hz refresh rate is predictably great, too, allowing all of your swiping/scrolling to feel as smooth as possible.

There is one display upgrade this year, and it’s a jump from 1,200 nits of brightness on the Flip 4 to 1,750 nits on the Flip 5. We’ve had a lot of very sunny days in Michigan lately, and the added display brightness has been greatly appreciated. I never had too difficult of a time seeing the Flip 4’s screen outdoors, but the Flip 5 has given me zero issues whatsoever.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 open, showing the crease on the main display.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

If I have one complaint about the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s display, it’s that the crease — at least to my eyes and touch — hasn’t changed much at all compared to the Flip 4. It doesn’t seriously impact day-to-day use, but coming to the Flip 5 immediately after using the Motorola Razr Plus for so long, Samsung’s crease is much more pronounced.

I often don’t even notice the Razr Plus’s crease when touching its main display, but there’s no mistaking it on the Z Flip 5. When companies like Motorola, Oppo, and others have found ways to considerably lessen their crease intensity, it’s disappointing that Samsung doesn’t seem eager to follow suit.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: cameras

Close-up view of the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

If you used a Galaxy Z Flip 4, the camera setup on the Flip 5 will be immediately familiar. The Flip 5 is equipped with a 12MP main camera with f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. There’s also a 12MP ultrawide camera with a 123-degree field of view, plus a 10MP selfie camera on the main display. In other words, it’s virtually identical to the camera system on last year’s Z Flip.

To Samsung’s credit, there are a couple of improvements on the Z Flip 5 over last year’s cameras. An upgraded image signal processor in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 should translate to better color reproduction across the board. The main and ultrawide cameras also have a new “clear lens coating” to prevent lens flares, and the selfie camera has a slightly improved f/2.2 aperture (compared to f/2.4 on the Z Flip 4).

In my testing so far, photos taken with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 have — unsurprisingly — looked very similar to the Flip 4. That’s to say images are colorful, have very good dynamic range, and are just as reliable whether you’re outdoors in bright sunlight or in a dimly lit room.

The Z Flip 5 is a phone I can snap a photo with and feel confident about the end result.

Do photos sometimes look too saturated and not 100% accurate to the real world? Yes, but I think recent Samsung phones have struck a nice balance here. That extra pop translates to more vibrant and interesting images, and more often than not, I’ve been very happy with the shots I’ve taken with the Flip 5. It’s a phone I can snap a photo with and feel confident about the end result — something I absolutely couldn’t say about the Motorola Razr Plus.

I’m still waiting for the day when Samsung finds a way to add a telephoto camera to a Z Flip, and meaningful upgrades to the main and ultrawide cameras are long overdue. But in that same breath, there’s no denying Samsung has a solid pair of cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip 5. They’re easy to shoot with, deliver crowd-pleasing results, and are among the best you can get on a flip phone foldable today.

I’ll update this review with additional photos as I have more time to put the Z Flip 5’s camera through its pace, but right now, I’m feeling very good about it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: performance and software

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 with its main display open.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Performance-wise, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has the same “Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy” chip we saw in the Galaxy S23 family earlier this year — plus 8GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS 4.0 storage. As expected, that translates to fantastic performance on the Z Flip 5.

Nothing slows this phone down. From multiple Google Chrome tabs, streaming 4K videos, or trying to level up in Marvel Snap when I should be working, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has never felt slow to me. The phone can get a touch warm when you’re really pushing it with prolonged gaming sessions or furious multitasking, but it never gets so warm that it’s worrying or uncomfortable.

When it comes to software, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 ships with Android 13 and Samsung’s custom One UI 5.1.1 interface. If you’ve used a Samsung phone within the last couple of years, you’ll be right at home on the Flip 5. One UI is still One UI, for better or worse, and it’s not changed much at all here.

One UI is chock-full of extra features not found in “stock” Android, and some of them can be extremely useful. I love being able to add custom app shortcuts and widgets to the lock screen. Samsung’s always-on display feature is highly customizable, and it even carries over to the cover screen on the Flip 5. I also appreciate how much control Samsung gives you over the power button, allowing you to turn it into a camera launcher or a shortcut to open any app you want. Plus, Samsung’s app optimization continues to be unmatched for folding flip phones. In the YouTube app, for example, half-folding the phone pushes the video to the top portion of the screen while you get optimized video playback controls below.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 playing a YouTube video.
YouTube app optimized for the Galaxy Z Flip 5 Joe Maring / Digital Trends

But for every extra feature I use in One UI, there are half a dozen others that I have zero use for — whether that’s Bixby, running apps in pop-up windows, or the Edge panels menu that I always open when I don’t mean to. I certainly don’t hate Samsung’s approach to Android software, and I appreciate the company offering so many settings/tools to play with. But, at least for me personally, I prefer the simpler software approach we see with Google Pixel and Motorola smartphones.

That said, there’s no denying how excellent Samsung’s software update policy is. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is promised four years of major Android upgrades and five years of security updates. Samsung’s update policy is the best in the business, even outperforming what Google offers for its own Pixel phones. Whether you’re concerned about new features or important security updates, Samsung has you covered.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: battery life

Battery settings on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Just like the Galaxy Z Flip 4 last year, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a 3,700 mAh battery to keep it going throughout the day. Also just like last year, that translates to pretty mediocre battery life.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is firmly a one-day smartphone and never goes beyond that. With 14-15 hours of total uptime — plus a little over three hours of screen-on time (for the main display) — I’ve easily been draining the battery to single digits. In other words, if I take the Flip 5 off the charger at 7 a.m., it’s not uncommon to have less than 10% battery by 9 p.m. that evening.

This is with pretty moderate usage — including 30 to 40 minutes using Twitter, around 10 minutes scrolling through TikTok and Instagram, frequent podcast listening, and a couple of hours spent on a 5G connection. I’ve ended some days with 20% to 30% battery before bedtime, but that was only if I limited my screen time to 2 hours or less. My best day so far included 17 hours and 30 minutes of total use time, 2 hours and 24 minutes of screen-on time, and I still managed to end the day with 26% remaining.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 partially open, sitting on a table.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

This isn’t outstanding battery life, but it does appear to be improving a little bit more with each day that I use the Flip 5. After additional testing over the coming days/weeks, I’ll update this review to let you know how it keeps progressing.

When it comes to charging, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 sports 25W wired charging, 15W wireless charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging if you want to use it to top up your smartwatch, wireless earbuds, or another phone.

These are all fine speeds and fairly standard for this form factor. The Z Flip 5 goes from 0 to 50% in about 30 minutes and takes a little over an hour to get a full recharge. It’s nothing that’ll knock your socks off like the 80W charging on the OnePlus 11, but it gets the job done.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 in mint, cream, pink, and black colors.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 colors Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Despite rumors that Samsung was increasing prices this year, that hasn’t happened. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is available for the same $1,000 starting price as the Flip 4 cost last year, but instead of 128GB of storage, the Flip 5 now comes with 256GB as the default option. If you need more room, you can get the 512GB version for $1,120.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is available for preorder now, and depending on where you get the phone from, you may be able to get the Z Flip 5 for (nearly) free thanks to generous preorder promotions. Regular sales will begin on August 11.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: verdict

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 with its cover screen on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

When I reviewed the Motorola Razr Plus earlier this year, I called it “the folding phone I’ve been waiting for. I also went on to write another article hailing the Razr Plus as my favorite smartphone of 2023.

I’ve mentioned that phone a lot throughout this review, and that’s because it’s the closest — and the only — competitor Samsung faces with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 (at least in the U.S.). For me, the Razr Plus still has charm that Samsung doesn’t quite grasp with the Flip 5. Whether it’s the magenta leather back, the more streamlined cover screen, or Motorola’s simpler software, the Razr Plus is a phone I personally prefer using a bit more.

But when I take a step back and look at the big picture — and think about which folding phone most people should spend their $1,000 on — it’s difficult not to recommend the Galaxy Z Flip 5 over Motorola’s flip phone.

If you’re in the market for a $1,000 folding phone right now, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the one you should buy.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Samsung’s hinge feels much better constructed, and for a folding phone, that’s a big deal. The Z Flip 5 also has a better camera experience, a newer processor, longer software support, and a nicer overall build. Yes, the cover screen is a pain to configure, but once you have it set up the way you want, it does just about everything you could ask for.

I’ll put it this way: If you’re in the market for a $1,000 folding phone right now, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the one you should buy. I have my personal preferences for Motorola’s flip phone, but it’s impossible to deny that Samsung has the objectively better product of the two.

There’s a reason Samsung is seen as the king of folding phones, and the Galaxy Z Flip 5 ensures that won’t change any time soon.

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