Samsung is sticking to the tried and tested with its latest flagship Galaxy Z Fold 5. It's a more refined version of last year's foldable phone, with incremental improvements to the hardware and software. While I'm disappointed that the new Fold hasn't become more affordable, it remains a game changer for heavy multitaskers juggling multiple apps. And this unique user experience may just be worth paying a premium for.
- 7.6-inch main display (Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 2,176 x 1,812 pixels) and 6.2-inch Cover Screen (Super AMOLED, 2,316 x 904 pixels)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage
- 50MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide camera and 10MP telephoto camera
- 4,400mAh battery (with 25W fast charging)
The Fold 5 looks identical to its predecessor, though it actually uses a new hinge design. Gone is that awkward gap in the middle. The new model folds flat, with the tiniest, practically negligible gap. The device itself is also fractionally thinner and lighter. But more importantly, the new hinge feels sturdy and more durable. The gapless hinge also means the phone is less prone to having debris getting trapped when folded, even if it retains the same IPX8 rating (water, but not dust resistant). The 7.6-inch main display is brighter now (up to 1,750 nits peak brightness), and on a par with the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The crease remains noticeable, but I quickly got used to it. However, I still find the cover screen on the outside too narrow. It feels cramped typing on the virtual keyboard without unfolding the phone.
For the Fold 5, Samsung has reused the same triple rear cameras as the Fold 4's. While they are capable cameras, they are not as good as the S23 Ultra. In good lighting condition, you can expect detailed, albeit saturated images. The 3x optical zoom is not as impressive as the ones found in flagship phones. The same could also be said for its low-light performance: Good but not class-leading. And the Fold's under-display 4MP selfie camera on the main display is middling, at best. But one of the advantages of a foldable phone is being able to use the rear cameras for selfies. And the stiff hinge of the Fold 5 is conducive when you fold the phone halfway for this purpose. I didn't get to test the new, slimmer S Pen, but you'll still need a S Pen case to carry it around.
The Fold sports the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 For Galaxy processor as the Galaxy S23 series. Coupled with its 12GB of memory, it makes for a smooth responsive experience, especially with its 120Hz screens. Samsung has also added a few new UI tricks for manipulating apps, such as swiping from the top corner to switch an app to a floating pop-up view. Note that you have to enable the new gestures in the Lab settings. Drag and drop has also been enhanced — you can now use two hands — while the Taskbar now shows four recent apps, up from two. In other words, the Fold is even better for multitasking, but it was already ahead of the competition. Notably, Samsung has stuck to its own vision for foldables. For instance, the cover screen and the main display are separately customisable, unlike Google's Pixel Fold.
Also unchanged from last year's Fold is the 4,400mAh battery. I typically get around 30% to 40% at the end of the day, depending on my usage of the main display. In PCMark's Work 3.0 battery test, the Fold scored 7hr 18min, while it lasted 16hr 46min in a video playback test. But the wired charging speed remains sluggish at 25W. In summary, the Fold 5 is very much like the previous model. If you weren't convinced by foldable phones before, for whatever reason — durability, visible crease, price — then the new Fold isn't likely to change your mind. But if you have been using an older model (Fold 2 and earlier) and liked it, then the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is sufficiently improved to justify its still-steep price tag (from S$2,398 for 256GB version). Buy it from Samsung, Lazada and Shopee.
Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.
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