Samsung’s 2023 foldable devices are a bit of a mixed bag, in my opinion. Take the Galaxy Z Fold 5: beyond a performance upgrade and a new gapless design, the foldable phone is largely similar to its predecessor. But the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5? Now, this is a much more exciting update.
Just like the Z Fold 5, the Z Flip 5 also features a new gapless design with a nice performance upgrade courtesy of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. But the headline feature of the foldable flip phone has to be the larger, much more functional cover screen now dubbed Flex Window.
This new feature alone makes the Z Flip 5 a compelling flip phone, especially here in Malaysia where options are more limited. Nonetheless, here’s our unboxing and hands-on of (arguably) Samsung’s most exciting foldable phone yet.
Packaging of the Z Flip 5 is, unsurprisingly, very minimalist. No charging brick is bundled with the phone, so the box is nice and slim. The first thing you’ll see when you open the box is the phone itself wrapped in a sheet of paper. It’s good to see Samsung moving away from plastic packaging for the phone itself.
Of course, a USB-C to USB-C cable is also provided with the Z Flip 5 for charging and data transfer purposes. There’s also a SIM pin – Samsung’s pin design is still my favourite one to date – and the usual paper manuals are bundled with the phone too. And…that’s basically the unboxing experience of the Z Flip 5.
The first thing you’ll see once you’ve set up the Galaxy Z Flip 5 are a number of disclaimers. These include not pressing on the screen with a hard or sharp object, making sure nothing is inside the screen when it is folded, and most importantly, not to remove the protective film to avoid damaging the screen.
Speaking of which, the primary screen of the Z Flip 5 still feels nice and slick even with the protective film on. While I wouldn’t say it feels as smooth as glass, it certainly doesn’t feel like a cheap screen protector. Based on what I can tell (so far), the display itself feels quite robust too.
More importantly, the Z Flip 5 doesn’t have any gap now when the device is folded. Not only does this look aesthetically better, it should be able to minimise dust that gets in between the two halves of the screen when the phone is kept in my pocket; an issue that I faced with the Z Flip 4. Unfortunately, the display crease is still quite visible.
While we’re on the topic of display, I absolutely love the new cover screen of the Flip 5. Not only does the 3.4-inch 748 x 720 Super AMOLED display look great – even if the refresh rate is only limited to 60Hz – the sheer size of the panel also allows for a full-size keyboard to be used on this display to reply to messages.
Granted, Samsung is not the first brand to offer this on a foldable flip phone, but the Z Flip 5 is the first device to offer such capability (officially) in Malaysia, so there’s that.
As for the primary screen of the Z Flip 5, it’s great! For the most part, this 6.7-inch 2640 x 1080 Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate is very similar to the panel found on last year’s Z Flip 4, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s still a bright, vibrant screen with wide viewing angles and deep, true blacks. The image quality it offers is certainly befitting of a flagship device.
And because this is a flagship smartphone, the Z Flip 5 naturally has the performance to match its status as a high-end, premium device. In my testing so far, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 under the hood of this phone feels very capable. Given that this is the same chip that powers the majority of flagship devices in the market now, there’s no denying that it is a powerhouse.
When it comes to battery life, the Z Flip 5 retains the previous model’s 3,700mAh battery with 25W charging, which is quite slow by today’s standard. While it would’ve been great to see an improvement in the battery capacity (and charging speed) of the foldable phone, the switch to a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset could translate to better battery life – I’ll keep an eye on this for the full review.
Last but not least is the camera performance of the Z Flip 5, which is…good? After all, there’s no meaningful changes to the camera hardware of the phone. It still has a dual camera system made up of a 12MP f/1.8 main shooter and a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle lens. It also has a 10MP selfie camera.
Based on some quick shots I took with the phone, it does feel quite capable with good dynamic range and detail preservation. The camera system can lock in focus quite quickly too, though this is expected when shooting under ideal lighting.
All in all, I’m excited to put the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 through its paces in the coming weeks. Although some of its hardware are still similar to last year’s model, the improvements it does bring do make for a more compelling device, such as the larger cover screen, gapless design, and improved performance.
For the Malaysian market, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is offered in two variants. The base 8GB + 256GB model is priced at RM4,499, while the more generous 8GB + 512GB configuration costs RM4,999. Compared to last year’s Z Flip 4 with the same storage options, this is (only) a RM100 price hike. Quite reasonable, given the upgrades the new foldable received.