Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 early thoughts

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We’ve now had a week with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 and some thoughts have formed. While we’re doing our tests and completing the review, we had a few watercooler thoughts about the new foldable. So here’s our early impressions.

Samsung played it too safe with the Galaxy Z Fold5

Once you get to a certain successful point, you can only do so much to improve without risking alienating your existing customers. Samsung made leaps in the four generations of Galaxy Fold leading up to the Z Fold5 – strengthening the build, adding water resistance, and perfecting the ultra-thin glass. It’s now time for small refinements.

Still, the Galaxy Z Fold5 looks nearly unchanged from its predecessor. Even worse, it feels identical as well. Samsung played it way too safe with the Galaxy Z Fold5.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 hot take

Many people expected a move to a shorter and wider body style, similar to the new Google Pixel Fold, but Samsung stuck to the same formula. And while the Galaxy Z Fold5 is perfectly okay to use, its outer display is undoubtedly worse than competing horizontal foldables.

New hinge will bring more people to the foldable game

It seems like the entire focus for the Galaxy Z Fold5 was the new hinge and it was well worth it. Samsung embraced the teardrop hinge design used by so many of its competitors and the Galaxy Z Fold5 now closes flat.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 hot take

This was a massive bugbear for so many people, who will now surely be able to appreciate the foldable for what it is – the Galaxy Z Fold5 closes flat people, chill out!

Naturally, there’s more to the new hinge than just its superior closing ability. It can support the Fold at more angles for a better Flex mode.

Slimmer and colorful S Pen with a nicer case is a big step forward

Two years back Samsung pioneered the S Pen on the Galaxy Z Fold and many expected the stylus to become a built-in part of the Fold this year. While that didn’t happen, we got the second-best thing – the S Pen is now slimmer and generally more compact than the S Pen Fold Edition of 2022.

The new S Pen for the Galaxy Z Fold5 is almost as compact as the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s S Pen. Samsung made a colorful and compact Slim S Pen Case in three colors for $99/€99 that houses the pen in such a way that it barely adds to the thickness of the package.

This reason alone might convince a bunch of people to buy the new Galaxy Z Fold5.

The new S Pen is compact
The new S Pen is compact

The new S Pen is compact

Not a single upgrade to the cameras, really?

It could be argued that Galaxy Fold users aren’t the keenest photo and video enthusiasts. That’s likely the case and for most of them, the Galaxy Z Fold5’s triple setup is more than up to any task.

You get a quality main cam, a reasonable 3x zoom, the must-have ultrawide, and a tried and tested selfie on the cover screen. But this is far from Samsung’s best setup (here’s looking at the S23 Ultra) and it’s identical to last year’s Galaxy Z Fold4.

That’s probably a solid business move for Samsung and one that’s unlikely to hurt the Galaxy Z Fold5 on the market but it’s bound to disappoint enthusiast phone users.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 hot take

There is a small niche of people that like the potential of a huge folding screen and the best-possible cameras and those people don’t like the Galaxy Z Fold5.

Maybe in 2024, we’ll get a Galaxy Z Fold6 and a Galaxy Z Fold Ultra with nice cameras. Fingers crossed!

The battery is the same and, worse yet, so is the charging!

Like the cameras, Samsung didn’t bother upgrading the battery capacity or the charging speed. The bump to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has the potential to improve the battery life a bit and we’ve found battery life on the Galaxy Z Fold4 to be very good, so we’re not worried about the Fold5.

But waiting for over an hour to charge your phone is such a drag when you’ve experienced a phone that does it in under 30 minutes.

Samsung still has the best software on a foldable by a stretch

Samsung’s rivals in the foldable space look appealing on the hardware side with their smaller creases, thinner bodies, and wider cover screens, but Samsung has been the undisputed leader in foldable software for years now.

Samsung changed objectively very little with the Galaxy Z Fold5 but it did make the permanent taskbar a bit smarter – it now houses up to four recent apps – and you’ll still run laps around other foldables in a test of multitasking.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 hot take

Then there’s Samsung’s superior software support. You can run any two apps side by side and even one app in two instances side by side – case in point, two Chrome browsers. That’s something you can’t do anywhere else and it’s something that elevates the Galaxy Fold from a flexible phone to potent work tool.

The Galaxy Z Fold5 will be the best selling horizontal foldable yet

Combine that class-leading software with Samsung’s marketing prowess and the lack of meaningful competition on the global market, and you get a phone that will sell brilliantly.

Despite the apparent lack of major innovation, the Galaxy Z Fold5 remains ahead of the foldable competition. Apple doesn’t even officially have one, Google’s shipping estimates and high price for the Pixel Fold mean it’s not a viable alternative, and most other manufacturers will only sell you a flip outside of China if even that.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 hot take

But it’s not a good idea to rest on your laurels. There’s upcoming competition in the book-style foldable space and Samsung needs to do better if it wants to keep its lead.

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