Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
“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.”
- 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
- 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.
This review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 was first published on August 3, 2023, after I (Joe Maring) used the phone for a week in the U.S., connected to T-Mobile’s 5G network. It was updated on August 12 to account for the Galaxy Z Flip 5 becoming widely available for purchase.
Digital Trends’ senior writer Andy Boxall then revisited the Galaxy Z Flip 5 at the end of October 2023, after using the phone for 10 days in the U.K. to see how the phone had changed and if it was still one we recommend. You can find his comments in a dedicated section directly below. For a closer look at our review process, see our guide on how we test phones.
I bought a Galaxy Z Flip 5 over a Galaxy Z Fold 5 because I felt there was more reason to do so this year in terms of technological advancement and innovation. The bigger, more useful cover screen was the primary reason, and I haven’t been disappointed by it at all — but I also haven’t found it to be transformative. It’s very useful for certain apps, but not for all, despite there being a way to use practically any app on it. It’s perfect for messaging apps and navigation, but I’m never going to watch YouTube on it.
Perhaps the biggest surprise (that shouldn’t have been a surprise) is the joy of living with such a compact phone again. It’s just so convenient to fold it up and pop it in your pocket and then never really notice it again until you need it. I often find myself having to check if it’s there, as I don’t naturally “feel” it like I would any other smartphone with a 6.7-inch screen. This is a huge advantage of the Z Flip 5, and you don’t have to compromise on screen or device performance to get it.
But you do have to compromise on battery life. My phone is running One UI 5.1.1, and with moderate use (approximately three hours of screen time per day), plus a little gaming, the battery is down to around 25% by late evening. It can’t manage two days of use before it needs recharging unless you use it very lightly. It’s not a big deal for me personally, but it does mean the phone lags behind non-folding phones of a similar size and price in this aspect. Regarding the camera, I found it does perform better than the one on the Galaxy Z Flip 4, and I do like the photos it takes, However, it does lack an optical zoom, which is becoming more commonplace, and I do miss it.
The build quality is great, plus the hinge remains quiet and smooth after several months. I chose one of Samsung’s exclusive colors — matte blue — which disappointed me by unexpectedly including legal text on the back and has then gone on to pick up an unsightly scuff as well. I’d recommend just buying one of the standard colors, which don’t have legal text on the back. The glossy finish should avoid scratches and scuffs better too. That said, I’m still pleased I went for the Z Flip 5 over the Z Fold 5, mostly due to how easy it is to live with from both a performance and convenience perspective. It’s an 8/10 phone from me too, even several months into its life.
Our original review of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 continues below.
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, so 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. It also stops dust and lint from collecting underneath the two folded sections quite so easily.
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 15 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.
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 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.
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.
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. 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 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.
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.
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 more 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.
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.
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.
If you used a Galaxy Z Flip 4, the camera setup on the Flip 5 will be immediately familiar, but our separate test comparing the Z Flip 5 and Z Flip 4 cameras does show some genuine improvements. 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, 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.
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.
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 one of the best in the business — second only to the seven years of updates Google offers for the Google Pixel 8 and Google Pixel 8 Pro. Whether you’re concerned about new features or important security updates, Samsung has you covered.
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.
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. 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.
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 that the Flip 4 had 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 immediate purchase. You can get it directly through Samsung.com, retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, or through your wireless carrier.
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 a 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.