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Samsung Z Flip 5 Review: Flip-Style

The original iPhone’s display measured 3.5 inches, tiny compared to today’s smartphones. It’s hard to imagine using modern apps on such a small screen. But as a secondary panel on a folding phone, even 3.4 inches feels roomier. Last year’s Galaxy Z Flip had a 1.9-inch display, much smaller. The new Galaxy Z Flip 5 features a 3.4-inch external display, confusingly named the Flex Window. It doesn’t flex, which is frustrating.

The Flip 5 introduces a new hinge for seamless closure and some software tweaks. Otherwise, it’s similar to its predecessor, with the same cameras, water resistance, and battery size. It maintains last year’s price but doubles the base storage, a nice improvement. With increased competition in the US, Samsung can’t rely on being the sole player anymore.

The Z Flip 5 stands out as the top choice in flip-style foldables, though durability concerns persist.

PROS:

  • The external screen is handy
  • Compact design when folded
  • The new hinge ensures seamless closure

CONS:

  • Some users may find the settings overwhelming
  • Battery life falls short compared to other Android phones

Samsung Z Flip 5 Review: Design

The Flip 5’s design remains largely unchanged, signaling a possible lack of innovation from Samsung. It retains the same dimensions and weight as its predecessor.

However, there are some alterations this year. The external cameras are now arranged horizontally instead of vertically, likely to accommodate the larger screen. Color options have been refreshed, offering pink and mint green alongside the standard choices.

An important enhancement is the Flex Hinge, allowing the device to fold completely flat without any gap between the screens. This improves symmetry and reduces the risk of damage.

Despite its IPX8 waterproof rating, the Flip 5 isn’t dust resistant, making it more vulnerable to particles like sand. Nonetheless, its exterior is fortified with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 for added durability.

Samsung Z Flip 5

Samsung Z Flip 5 Review: External Display

Samsung’s Flex Window is a notable upgrade from last year’s Cover display. It boasts a 3.4-inch Super AMOLED panel with a 60Hz refresh rate and 720 x 748 resolution. The photos selected as wallpapers appear crisp and vibrant on this display. The most significant enhancement is its size.

A larger canvas allows for more content visibility and easier navigation. Widgets like Weather and Calendar can display more information, enhancing user experience.

Unlike Motorola’s Razr+, the Flip 5 runs One UI similar to Samsung’s Tizen OS for older smartwatches on its cover screen. Navigation involves swiping through widgets like Timer, Stopwatch, and more. Rotating through the carousel of up to 13 widgets can be tedious, but a new pinch gesture facilitates quicker access.

Though not all apps are natively supported on the Flex Window, Samsung has optimized select ones, including Google Maps, YouTube, and Netflix. Enabling these requires a trip to Settings.

For broader app compatibility, users can install Good Lock from the Galaxy App Store. This enables running almost any app on the external display, though it requires additional steps for setup.

The Flex Window’s unconventional shape, resembling a document folder, doesn’t hinder app usage. Swiping up brings users back to the home page, and a countdown appears for active timers or playing songs.

While Good Lock enhances the experience, it’s not necessary. However, it does improve tasks like replying to notifications, offering a smoother, non-native experience.

Typing on the Flex 5’s QWERTY keyboard is a delight, with ample space and intuitive design. It offers a more refined experience compared to competitors like the Moto, which occupies the entire screen.

The larger Flex Window also enhances camera functionality, providing a better viewfinder for selfies and videos. Swiping sideways toggles between modes, while pinching adjusts zoom levels, making it a versatile tool for photography.

Samsung Z Flip 5 Review: Camera Performance

Improved External Camera Experience: The Flex Window enhances the usage of the 12-megapixel external cameras on the Z Flip 5.

Consistent Image Quality: Despite using similar sensors as the Flip 4, the Flip 5 maintains good picture quality.

Superior Performance: Compared to its counterpart, the Moto Razr+, the Flip 5 produces better photos with richer colors.

Daylight Photography: Vibrant colors were captured by both the Z Flip 4 and Flip 5, whereas the Razr+ yielded paler results.

Night Photography: While all phones exhibited graininess in cityscapes, Flip 4 and Flip 5 performed slightly better, especially in exposing buildings. The Flip 5’s Night mode was notably faster than its predecessor, resulting in clearer low-light selfies.

Video Quality: The Flip 5 and Razr+ delivered comparable video quality, suitable for casual use such as filming TikTok clips.

Conclusion: The Flip 5’s camera is commendable, although not exceptional. It offers decent performance but doesn’t produce standout photos.

Samsung Z Flip 5

Using the Flip 5 as a Regular Phone

Main Screen Interaction: Most of your time with the Flip 5 will likely be spent on its flexible 6.7-inch Full HD AMOLED panel. I mainly used it for scrolling through Reddit, and Instagram, and playing puzzle games.

Screen Experience: The display quality resembled last year’s Flip, with vibrant colors and sharp graphics. Occasionally, there was slight discoloration at certain angles due to the crease, but it wasn’t bothersome. Running my thumb over the crease remained oddly satisfying.

Durability Considerations: Despite gently pushing my thumb into the screen while closing the phone, I didn’t feel like the panel would break. However, long-term usage might reveal durability issues. Samsung’s repair system is more established compared to Motorola, making it a better choice for accident-prone users.

Flex Mode Updates: Flex Mode, activated when bending the phone slightly, received some software updates. It splits compatible apps’ layouts, showing content on top and controls below. New features include a Flex dashboard with shortcuts like taking screenshots and pulling down notifications. Some features, like the touchpad, seem unnecessary for most users.

Samsung Z Flip 5 Review: Performance and Battery Life

Impressive Processing Power: Equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor, the Flip 5 matches the speed of flagship devices like the Galaxy S23+. It boasts 8GB of RAM and doubled base storage at 256 GB.

Smooth Performance: The Flip 5 handled every task smoothly without any lag, even when running less demanding games. It also maintained a comfortable temperature during use.

Benchmark Scores: Geekbench 6 scores of 2,015 (single-core) and 4,972 (multi-core) place the Flip 5 on par with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 and outperform the Pixel Fold.

Flagship-Level Performance: Choosing the Flip 5 over a traditional handset doesn’t mean sacrificing performance, as it offers flagship-level capabilities.

Battery Life Consistency: With a 3,700mAh battery, the Flip 5 delivers a similar runtime to its predecessor. Despite powering a larger external screen, the Flex Window’s increased utility reduces the need to open the device frequently, resulting in comparable endurance.

Is the Galaxy Z Flip 5 Ready for Mainstream?

Best Candidate Yet: With its larger and more functional external screen, the Flip 5 stands out as the most appealing option in Samsung’s Galaxy Z series for a wider audience. It boasts impressive performance, capable cameras, and the unique ability to fold in half.

Appeal to Various Audiences: The Flip 5’s combination of advanced foldable technology and a nostalgic exterior panel appeals to both tech enthusiasts and those with sentimental attachments to flip phones.

Upgrade Considerations: If you’re currently using an older Flip model, the Flip 5’s Flex Window alone justifies the upgrade. However, for first-time foldable users, it’s important to note potential compromises in camera quality, device handling, and battery life.

Overall Impression: Despite its drawbacks, the Flip 5 offers a very capable smartphone experience, adds a touch of novelty to your tech collection, and serves as an interesting conversation starter.

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