Samsung made the right choice of including a flip phone as part of its Galaxy foldables back in 2020. While the book-styled Fold is useful in its own way, the Galaxy Z Flip line-up is what compact handset lovers have been longing for. And to top it off, it features the much missed clamshell form factor that we’ve not seen since we entered the smartphone era.
However, the original Flip didn’t really offer much to the table. Let’s face it, it was basically a souped up Galaxy S10, but with a foldable screen and one less camera. Fortunately, the phone’s successors did up the ante significantly, and even more so with the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5.
Looks And Functionality
There’s lots to love about the Galaxy Z Flip5’s design. The new and larger Cover Screen is a delight when compared to the boring two-tone finish and the tiny display from the phone’s predecessors, while the change to flat-edged frames allows for a more grippier and comfortable hold.
Best yet, thanks to the newly developed hinge mechanism by Samsung, there won’t be a visible gap when you fully close up the Galaxy Z Flip5. Both the hinge and the internal display panel are secured pretty well together, leaving no openings for dust or water from entering the phone. But still, this is only intended to protect the device from typical weather-related risks, so bringing it along with you for a dip in the pool is still a bad idea.
And in case you’re wondering: Yes, the crease is still there, and it is also the only thing that’s holding the Galaxy Z Flip5 back from reaching visual perfection. Thankfully, much like the phone’s predecessors, it is unnoticeable when the inner screen is active. While that helps soften the blow a little, you’ll eventually be reminded of its existence when your thumb touches the middle part of the display.
That aside, let’s move onto the best part of Samsung’s new clamshell smartphone: the Cover Screen. This is where the Galaxy Z Flip5 shines the most, though you’ll need to go through some additional steps if you want to make the best out of the phone’s external display. To learn more, do check out my guide that was published recently on how to utilise the first-party Good Lock app in order to achieve this.
And as I’ve mentioned in that same article, it’s just baffling how Samsung didn’t have these additional Cover Screen features available straight out of the box. Granted, the smaller size of the external display won’t give you the same experience as a full-sized one, but I just love the fact that I can actually reply to WhatsApp or Telegram messages, browse through X, Instagram, Spotify and Apple Music, as well as consult Google Maps without needing to unfold the phone.
Plus, it sits very nicely in the palm of my hand this way, giving me a compact smartphone experience like no other. Well… except for one, the Motorola Razr+, but that’s not available in Malaysia. Also, if you ever wondered what a pager would look like if it somehow made its way into the smart era, then look no further.
Besides that, Flex Mode makes a return on the Galaxy Z Flip5, and it functions more or less the same as before. Always useful is the half-screen layout for video players or video calls, where the upper half of the internal display faces you while the other sits on a flat surface. The FlexCam mode, which has you holding the phone in a camcorder-like position, seemed gimmicky at first but I later learned to appreciate it. Reason being that holding it this way while recording videos feels more secure and, at least in my opinion, seems less awkward than brandishing a full-sized phone around.
Performance And Battery
In keeping with Samsung’s standards for its flagship devices, both the internal and external displays featured on the Galaxy Z Flip5 are remarkable. The former is a 6.7-inch foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X with 120Hz refresh rate and 1080 x 2640 pixels resolution, while the latter is a 3.4-inch Super AMOLED panel with 60Hz, 720 x 748 pixels, and features Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection. Visuals displayed are sharp, crisp and vivid – even on the Cover Screen, which allows you to read your chats or emails clearly while the phone is still in its folded form. Like its predecessors, you have the option to enable the Always On function for the external display.
As for the phone’s performance in pretty much everything app related, rest assured that you won’t be experiencing any hiccups with the equipped Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2 For Galaxy. While it is the same souped up version of the chipset that’s also featured on Samsung’s other flagships, the Galaxy S23 series, benchmark results show that it has been toned down a little to suit the Galaxy Z Flip5 more. Running Genshin Impact on its recommended setting guarantees a 60fps experience throughout, while switching up to Ultra will see frame rates occasionally drop to 40 when things get too busy on screen.
On the interface front, Samsung’s Android 13-powered One UI 5.1.1 is as typical as manufacturer-made platforms can get, and that’s not a bad thing. For the Galaxy Z Flip5 (and also the Fold5), the custom UI now comes with a new side panel where you can drag and drop an app from it onto the screen and launch it in a floating window. These can be arranged anywhere and can also be snapped onto either half of the internal display for a split-screen experience. Meanwhile, the Cover Screen gets a slightly simplified version of the interface, and you can customise the screens and widgets that appear here to your personal liking. By the way, you can also set videos or animated GIFs to be looped on the large external display as a wallpaper alternative.
Next up is the battery life performance of the Galaxy Z Flip5 which, disappointingly, isn’t its strongest suit. With only a capacity of 3,700mAh, the longest I could keep the phone running is slightly over 12 hours after using it heavily an entire day on a single charge. And throughout the entire time, I actively used its camera for photography and video recording, with WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps as my frequently launched apps, and was mostly relying on 5G connectivity. If you have battery anxiety, I can confirm that this phone won’t help you much on that front.
Thankfully, you can stretch the battery life longer under typical use cases, but I would still recommend having a power bank ready just in case. Speaking of juicing up, Samsung’s new compact foldable comes with the same 25W wired and 15W wireless charging rate as before, which are not terrible but still considerably slow when compared to most smartphones in the market.
Again, featured on the Galaxy Z Flip5 is Samsung’s tried-and-tested 12MP sensor that’s equipped on both the primary and ultra-wide cameras. It is also the very same one featured on the phone’s predecessors, by the way. While not new, the veteran sensor still delivers commendable results through both lenses, with shots appearing very natural in terms of saturation regardless of lighting condition. Speaking of which, still images also look great in low-light, though the same can’t be said for video recordings.
Under poor lighting, the onboard algorithms will struggle when you try to record footage, resulting in muddy visuals and less stabilised camera movement. In one of my tests, I had the phone record a video while I was walking from a brightly lit location into a darker one, and the results are amusing. In the footage, the environment was crisply detailed and movements were stabilised, but that soon changed in the second half. In low light, things get blurry and the camera wobbles tremendously – as if you’re looking through a very disoriented person’s point of view. But if it’s any consolation, videos shot in the daytime still look very decent, and you can view one of my recordings from the embedded YouTube player below.
The Galaxy Z Flip5 has also become one of the best phones to snap selfies and groupfies with. This is thanks to the larger Cover Screen, which greatly helps you frame your shots, while also allowing you to utilise both the handset’s primary and ultra-wide cameras. Snapping pictures through this mode only requires you to tap on the screen which is convenient, but you can choose to set the volume rocker to fulfil this purpose if you find that approach more practical.
But what about the 10MP camera on the internal display, you might ask? Well, it’s there if you want to take selfies the traditional way, though where’s the fun in that? Anyway, its inclusion is necessary since you still need a front-facing shooter for video conferencing, especially when you’re utilising the phone in its Flex Mode.
OPPO Find N2 Flip
Perhaps the only true rival for the Galaxy Z Flip5 in Malaysia since the Motorola Razr+ isn’t available. Like Samsung’s own, the Find N2 Flip also features a large external display, though it is nowhere as big as the competition. However, it is worth noting that OPPO’s engineering has allowed its flip phone to feature a creaseless screen, while its primary camera sports a larger 50MP sensor.
Apart from that, the OPPO Find N2 Flip is equipped with a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+ chipset, up to 16GB RAM and up to 512GB storage, as well as a larger 4,300mAh battery. It also has a lower asking price, starting from RM3,999 for the 8GB + 256GB trim.
For every succeeding release, there’s always the few that can finally help a line-up stand out. In Samsung’s case, this time around it is with the Galaxy Z Flip5. Thanks to the new Cover Screen and the features available through it, the phone has shaped up to become one of my favourite devices of 2023, and it is so far the only foldable that can provide me with an ultra-compact smartphone experience.
At a starting price of RM4,499, it is by no means an affordable product, but that’s to be expected from most devices of this class. But if you have the budget to spare and you’re looking to jump onto the foldables bandwagon, then the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 is one that’s worth your consideration.