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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Less gap, more screen

Samsung’s clamshell-style folding phone gets a 3.4in outer display and a re-engineered hinge

Steve Hogarty
Monday 07 August 2023 14:16 BST
<p>This year’s Flip gets a little more spenny too. The cheapest model now starts at £1,049 </p>

This year’s Flip gets a little more spenny too. The cheapest model now starts at £1,049

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (£1,049, is a pocket-friendly flip phone that folds down to the size of a Post-it note. Upgraded for 2023 with a new gapless design and a larger outer screen, it’s the best folding phone you can buy right now.

The Korean tech giant effectively paved the way for the flip phone’s unexpected revival, but it’s gained some competition in recent years. Lately, the likes of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra and the Oppo Find N2 Flip have been nipping at Samsung’s heels.

This year’s Flip feels like a response to the rivals. After years of incremental updates, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 shakes things up with a bigger, more interactive cover display and a gapless design. The new hinge means the two halves of the phone now sit squarely against one another when closed, rather than leaving a very slight wedge-shaped space.

It’s a seemingly insignificant change, but the updated design leaves the Galaxy Z Flip 5 looking finished. This year’s phone is neater, more symmetrical and tighter. It’s tailored, pressed and straightened, it’s tucked and cinched, it’s finished its course of Invisalign and it’s ready to hit the town.

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The biggest change is to the cover display, which has been exanded to almost completely fill the front of the phone when closed. The 3.4in screen is now big enough to accommodate larger and more-complex widgets, letting you check the weather, keep an eye on your favourite stocks, skip tracks on Spotify or see your upcoming calendar events, without opening the phone.

The embiggened cover display also means you can quickly reply to messages, using a full-width on-screen keyboard, as comfortably as you would when the phone is unfolded. Meanwhile, integration with Samsung Wallet (previously called Samsung Pay) and Google Wallet lets you show a boarding card or a loyalty card on the front of the phone.

How we tested

We tested the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 ahead of its reveal at Samsung Unpacked, as well as in the weeks leading up to its launch on 11 August. During testing, we paid close attention to the folding phone’s build quality, changes in functionality since the previous model, the performance of the battery throughout the day, and the added features enabled by the form factor.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: From £1,049,

  • Main display: 6.7in AMOLED, 120Hz
  • Cover display: 3.4in AMOLED, 60Hz
  • Dimensions (folded): 71.9mm x 85.1mm x 15.1mm
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 71.9mm x 165.1mm x 6.9mm
  • Weight: 187g
  • Camera (rear): 12MP ultrawide, 12MP wide
  • Camera (front): 10MP
  • Processor: Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB / 512GB

The 3.4in outer display now covers most of the front of the phone when folded, with a notch in one corner for the dual camera lenses. This isn’t quite as big as the outer display on the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, but it’s a massive upgrade over the small outer display on the Flip 4. Whereas last year’s display was useful for media controls and at-a-glance notifications, the roomier display on the Flip 5 means you can now respond to messages using a full-width keyboard.

Typing on a device that’s roughly the size of a Post-it note is a lot more comfortable and intuitive than you might imagine. Most people will be able to use the phone one-handed. It’s especially useful when you’re out and about, walking in the street or sitting on the bus, or anywhere you wouldn’t want to fully unfold your phone.

The cover display works like a smartwatch: swipe right to see different widgets, swipe left to see notifications. Media controls get their own tile, and any music or podcasts you’re listening to will show up as floating notification nestled neatly beside the camera notch. There’s a range of home screen designs and wallpapers to choose from, so you can really customise the phone’s look and feel.

Right now, you can only use a handful of apps with the cover display, though Samsung says it’s adding more. Google Maps, Messages, YouTube and WhatsApp are all designed to take advantage of the screen. Netflix works on it, too, just in case you fancy watching TV shows on something smaller than a credit card.

Elsewhere, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is much the same phone as the Flip 4. There have been a few tweaks under the bonnet to keep things feeling fresh. It runs on the same customised Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 found in the larger Galaxy Z Fold 5, a small step up from the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 found in last year’s device. It’s the chipset you’ll find in the latest and most powerful flagship phones, so it’s no surprise that performance feels fast all-round. RAM stays the same at 8GB.

Samsung hasn’t made the battery any bigger this year. It’s the same 3,700mAh battery found in the Flip 4, which makes sense. The Flip 4’s battery was a decent improvement on the Flip 3, and cramming more capacity into an already tightly engineered device would hardly be worth the effort. Battery life on the Flip 5 is good enough, comfortably powering you from morning to bedtime with heavy use.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, both the Fold and the Flip have kept the same camera hardware found in last year’s models. In the case of the Flip, that’s a capable 12MP ultrawide lens and a main 12MP lens with optical image stabilisation and 4K video recording at 60fps.

While the lenses might be the same, the bigger cover screen changes how you take pictures with the Flip 5’s main camera. Now, when shooting a picture or video with the phone unfolded, your subject can see themselves on the cover screen’s viewfinder. Prop the phone open on a table for a group selfie and you can use the cover screen to more easily get everyone into frame. Software tricks like raising your hand to trigger the shot round off a very polished camera experience.

Then there’s the gap – or, rather, the lack of one. The previous Galaxy Z Flip would leave a tiny wedge-shaped gap on the hinge side when shut, which not only looked a bit wonky but would let pocket dirt find its way to the fragile, flexible inner screen.

Thanks to a redesigned hinge mechanism, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 closes the gap. When shut, both halves of the phone now touch neatly against one another on all sides. Does it make a difference to how the phone performs? No, the phone can survive a dunk in water, but it still isn’t certified dust-resistant.

But does it make the Flip 5 look more like a well-finished, premium folding phone on which you’ve just spent more than £1,000? Absolutely. The change to the design of the hinge makes the Flip 5 look complete. The glossy aluminium trim runs at neat angles, and the straight edges of the chassis form clean, parallel lines.

The verdict: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Samsung’s flip phone is better than ever. The enlarged outer display makes the Galaxy Z Flip 5 a whole lot more useful when closed, and the redesigned hinge gives the phone a neater, more finished appearance. Is that enough to consider upgrading from the Flip 4? Probably not. Samsung’s incremental changes to its foldables makes it hard to justify the upgrade – but anyone who’s been waiting to make the move to a flip phone, or who’s still rocking a Flip 3 or older, will be well served by Samsung’s latest.

The price has gone up by £50, which tips the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 into four-figures for the first time. The 256GB model costs £1,049, and the 512GB model costs £1,149. There’s no 128GB model this year. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is available in mint, lavender, graphite and cream colourways, with four additional colours available exclusively online.

Buy now £1,049,

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