Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 – Let's get flat

Small changes that mean a lot

What is a hands on review?
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

Samsung has made a number of small but important updates to pull the Galaxy Z Fold 5 within shooting distance of its nearest rival, the Google Pixel Fold. It's faster, thinner, lighter – and, yes, flatter.


  • +

    It folds flat

  • +

    Features the latest Snapdragon CPU

  • +

    Thinner and lighter than the Z Fold 4


  • -

    Cameras are virtually unchanged from Z Fold 4

  • -

    Cover screen is narrower and less useful than the Pixel Fold's

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Two-minute preview

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 has been unveiled at Samsung Unpacked 2023, and it represents a collection of small but important changes to Samsung's flagship folding phone, both inside and out, that add up to a device that looks better, feels better and, in my brief time with it, appears to work maybe a little better.

Looked at in the context of the new kid in town, the Google Pixel Fold, Samsung's Fold update might be deemed disappointing. Samsung has not made the cover screen wider, nor given it the more user-friendly form factor of a regular smartphone screen. It hasn't vastly changed the materials, and even the cameras (under-the-screen, cover screen, and rear array) are completely unchanged from last year. I wouldn't suggest that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 was developed in a vacuum but it's also clear to me that Samsung didn't create it with the Pixel Fold in mind.

All of that is fine, though, because as I say in my Galaxy Z Fold 4 review, that phone was a lovely device, and my favorite foldable prior to the emergence of Google's challenger. As such, I didn't think it required a major overhaul, so my disappointment may be more tempered than that of other reviewers – and the changes that Samsung has made are useful, and result in an overall better smartphone.

Let's start with the most obvious change: unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 4, when you close the Galaxy Z Fold 5 it snaps closed perfectly and seamlessly, just like the Google Pixel Fold. The gap is gone. In addition, the Flex Hinge has been somewhat redesigned, and there may even be a less noticeable crease in the flexible display (I say 'maybe' because I haven't yet compared the old and new devices side by side).

Thanks to that improvement, and also to Samsung managing to shave 11 grams off the weight and almost a half-millimeter off the thickness, this is a much more palm-friendly device. Even before I was informed of the weight loss, I could feel it when I first picked up the Z Fold 5. 

The last Fold felt substantial, like a dense candy bar; this one just feels better.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

On the inside, Samsung has performed a brain transplant, upgrading the Z Fold 5 to Qualcomm's 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which brings it in line with Samsung's recently-launched Galaxy S23 lineup. It should make the Z Fold 5 faster – and, based on my short hands-on time, I can report that the phone is responsive.

Design-wise, Samsung has mostly left well enough alone, but I did notice one interesting difference. Even though the rear camera array is the same, the raised island of aluminum that surrounds it is not.

Samsung shaved a millimeter or so off the height, further exposing the three lens shafts, and the LED flash has been moved out of the island and placed flush in the phone body next to the lenses. This means the island is shallower and shorter, making it somewhat less prominent; I'm not sure that it will have any functional impact, but I like the new look.

The two screens– the 7.6-inch main screen and the 6.2-inch cover display – are exactly the same as last year, with the same resolutions and variable refresh rates. The Armor Aluminum body, which is covered in Gorilla Glass Victus 2, has the same IPX8 rating. The cameras appear to all work just the same as last year, which is not to say they aren't good, but Samsung isn't breaking any new ground here in the optics and image-quality department.

Perhaps this is why the price remains the same in the US, at $1,799 and didn't flirt with the $2,000 mark (it goes up from £1,749 to £2,049 in the UK). It's not cheap, but like the Pixel Fold (and as noted in our Google Pixel Fold review), the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is effectively two products in one. You have a not-too-hefty 6.2 smartphone, and a nice, compact tablet that even works with the S Pen (no, you don't get one in the box).

It's too soon to say if this foldable is a winner, but I do believe that Samsung has managed to nudge its premier fungible handset in the right direction.

More from Samsung Unpacked 2023

We've been hands-on with all the new devices Samsung unveiled at Unpacked 2023, and you can also check out our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review for our early impressions of Samsung's other new foldable – and here’s our guide to the best Samsung Z Fold 5 and Flip 5 pre-orders.

We’ve also have our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 review and early Samsung Watch 6 Classic review with our initial verdicts of Samsung's new wearables, plus our hands-on Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 review and initial Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review – and here are the top Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 preorders.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Price and availability

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)
  • Starts at $1,799.99 / £1,749
  • No price increase in the US
  • Shame the price doesn't include the compatible S Pen
  • It is, basically, two devices in one

Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, along with the Galaxy Z Flip 5, Galaxy Watch 6, Watch 6 Classic, and a collection of Galaxy Tab S9 tablets, on July 26. It's available for pre-order now, and ships from August 11. You'll find the best prices and offers in our Galaxy Z Fold 5 deals roundup. 

At $1,799.99 / £1,749, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is among the most expensive smartphones on the market. Even a 1TB iPhone 14 Pro Max will cost you less at $1,599 / £1,740 / AU$2,769. But then that's just one phone with one excellent screen. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a two-in-one device with a lovely 6.2-inch screen on the outside and a 7.6-inch flexible screen that requires some truly precision engineering on the inside. It also has five cameras. 

If that US price sounds familiar to US readers, it's because it's the same as last year, and that's good news. This is not the exact same phone, it's flatter and faster. Basically, you get a little upgrade for free.

It's a shame that Samsung can't manage to bundle the compatible S Pen into that price. It's a lot of fun to use it on the Z Fold 5's main display and really elevates the utility, so why not show people what they're missing by making it part of the price?

In any case, those prices will ultimately be only a suggestion; there will be deals and trade-ins that, based on what we've seen in previous years, could cut the price by as much as half. Whatever deals we see, no one should be paying full price for this smartphone.

  • 12GB RAM / 256GB: $1,799 / £1,649 / AU$2,499
  • 12GB RAM / 512GB: $1,919 / £1,769 / AU$2,699
  • 12GB RAM / 1TB: $2,159 / £2,019 / AU$2,999 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Specs

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 comes in three storage variants – 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB, all with 12GB of RAM. That RAM is supporting the Z Fold 5's more powerful mobile CPU, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy – the same slightly over-clocked bespoke silicon that powers Samsung's Galaxy S23 series. 

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 specs
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5Google Pixel FoldOppo Find N2 Flip specs
Dimensions (folded):154.9 x 67 x 13.5mm139.7 x 79.5 x 12.1mm85.5 x 75.2 x 16.02mm
Dimensions (unfolded):154.9 x 129.7 x 6.1mm139.7 x 158.7 x 5.8mm166.2 x 75.2 x 7.45mm
Main display:7.6 inch (2176 x 1812) AMOLED7.6 inch (2208 x 1840) OLED6.8-inch 21:9 (2520 x 1080) 120Hz LTPO E6 AMOLED, protected by UTG
Cover display::6.2 inch (2316 x 904) AMOLED5.8 inches (2092 x 1080) OLED3.26-inch 17:9 (720 x 382) 60Hz AMOLED, protected by Gorilla Glass 5
Chipset:Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2Google Tensor G2MediaTek Dimensity 9000 Plus
Storage:256GB / 256GB / 1TB256GB / 512GB256GB (UFS 3.1)
OS:Android 13Android 13Android 13 w/ ColorOS 13
Primary camera:50MP f/2.248MP, f/1.750MP, f/1.8, 23mm, 86° FoV (Sony IMX890)
Ultrawide camera:12MP f/2.210.8MP, f/2.28MP, f/2.2, 16mm, 112° FoV (Sony IMX355)
Telephoto10MP f/2.410.8MP f/3.05
Front Camera:10MP f/2.29.5MP f/2.232MP, f/2.4, 21mm, 90° FoV (Sony IMX709)
Inner Camera4MP f/1.88MP f/2.0
Charging:25W (wired)30W (wired)44W (wired)
Colors:Ice Blue, Phantom Black, CreamPorcelain, ObsidianAstral Black, Moonlit Purple

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Design

  • Thinner and noticeably lighter
  • The gap is gone
  • A subtle but welcome change to the camera array

No one would mistake the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 for a redesign. It maintains that relatively tall and narrow folded aspect ratio, one I rather liked in the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 until I started using the Pixel Fold. Google's new phone took the 7.6-inch folding screen and flipped it 90 degrees to give the cover screen a bit more width and a little less height. 

That does not necessarily make Samsung's foldable the lesser device. In fact, while Samsung has left most of the look and feel untouched, it did make some rather significant alterations to the body and the phone's heft.

Let's start with the fact that, at 253 grams, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is not just 11 grams lighter than its predecessor, it's almost 30 grams lighter than the Pixel Fold. Unfolded, the Z Fold 5 is less than millimeter thinner than the Z Fold 4, but the difference is actually far greater because this is the first Z Fold to fold perfectly shut, with no gap between the two sides. The reduced weight and new, flat profile combine to make the phone feel quite different to its predecessor in my hand – it's a real pleasure to both fold and hold.

To achieve the aforementioned feat of foldability, Samsung has redesigned the Flex hinge. It doesn't look remarkably different to the hinge on the Z Fold 4, but the changes are apparently largely internal. I noticed a nice smooth folding action; it's quiet, slightly resistant, and it's almost impossible to slam this phone shut. Unlike the Pixel Fold, the Z Fold 5 has a lightly raised, rubberized lip around the outside edge of the Main Screen, which seems to serve as a buffer against any dramatic snaps.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

The cover screen and matte back are covered in Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which looks and feels lovely.

While I wasn't able to directly compare the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to the Z Fold 4, I can tell you that the button, speaker, USB-C charge port, microphone, and air vent perforations are virtually unchanged. Aside from the improved folding action, the only other visual difference is the changes to the rear camera array.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung hasn't changed the lenses, but the island of aluminum surrounding them has changed. It's shallower, and vertically shorter, which means the lenses now appear to stick out from the body a tiny bit more. The LED flash is now placed next to the lenses and flush with the body.

As before, the phone is IPX8 rated to handle dust and an extended drop in water.


Small bits and pieces of the Z Fold 5 are made of recycled and recovered ocean plastic (even the box is largely recycled), and the glass includes some recycled material. This is all part of Samsung's drive to sustainability, but while it's good to know, until one of Samsung's phones is 50% or more recycled it probably won't move the needle. To be fair, Samsung is doing as much as, and maybe more than, some competitors, but no one has yet figured out how to make an entire device out of 45 recycled tin cans and a few plastic bottles.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Displays

  • If you liked the Z Fold 4's displays, you'll like these
  • No change to the resolution or screen sizes
  • Removal of gap may have lessened the severity of the crease

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung hasn't substantially altered the Galaxy Z Fold screen sizes in a few generations, and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 follows suit. Outside is the attractive 6.2-inch AMOLED display, with only a drill-through selfie camera marring its edge-to-edge reach. It's sharp, bright, and responsive. Like the last Galaxy Z Fold, this cover screen offers a variable refresh rate of 1-120Hz.

At 2316 x 904, the screen resolution is notable for being a lot narrower than a traditional smartphone display. Until the arrival of Google's Pixel Fold, I'd call this the price of admission: If you want a folding phone with a tall-enough tablet inside, you must accept a narrower cover screen. Naturally, Google turned that equation on its head by flipping its 7.6-inch folding display 90 degrees, which gives its cover screen more width and less height. For now, and having not had a lot of time to test the new Galaxy Z Fold 5, I have to say I prefer the wider cover screen.

The inside screen is also the same as the last Galaxy Z Fold display. It's a flexible, 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED with a 2176 x 1812 resolution (374ppi) and 1-120Hz adaptive refresh rate. It also has that same of-questionable-utility under-display 4MP camera. I was a fan of this screen on the last Z Fold, and can already tell I'm going to like this one, too. Everything from maps to photos, and from videos to multiple apps looked great on it. I think, though I cannot confirm, that the flat fold and new hinge may have resulted in a slightly less noticeable crease. Either way, you usually won't notice it while using the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Cameras

  • Camera array on the back is the same as last year
  • In fact, all the cameras are the same
  • Initial impressions seem good enough

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 has an abundance of cameras: three on the rear, one in the cover display, and one more hidden under the main screen. All of these are the same as on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which means any photographic improvements you see are down to the new and more powerful image processing enabled by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

The cameras are:

  • Cover display camera: 10MP selfie camera f/2.2, pixel size: 1.22μm, FOV: 85 degrees 
  • Main display camera: 4MP under-display f/1.8, pixel size: 2.0μm, FOV: 80 degrees 
  • Rear camera: 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2, pixel size: 1.12μm, FOV: 123 degrees
  • Rear camera: 50MP wide-angle with dual-pixel AF and OIS, f/1.8, pixel size: 1.0μm, FOV: 85 degrees 
  • Rear camera: 10MP telephoto f/2.4, OIS, pixel size: 1.0μm, FOV: 36 degrees, 3x optical zoom 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

From a specs perspective, these mostly compare well with the Google Pixel Fold's collection of cameras, with the notable exception of that 4MP main display camera, where the Pixel Fold gives you an ostensibly more usable 8MP.

The Galaxy Z Fold offers just 3x optical zoom compared to the Pixel Fold's 5x optical, but then Samsung has pushed the envelope on digital zoom (it calls this Space Zoom), offering 30x against the Pixel Fold's 20x.

It is, though, far too early to assess the Galaxy Z Fold 5's photographic prowess versus the Pixel Fold; after all, I've only spent a couple of hours with the device. That said, I did work my way through all the cameras. They're fast enough, and the images I grabbed, including optical and Space Zoom shots, selfies, Portrait Mode snaps with the main camera (you can set it so that the cover screen is your viewfinder), wide-angle shots and more all looked good.

There's also one nifty little software upgrade. Now, if you want to use the cover screen as more than just a viewfinder and as more of a fully-functional camera, you can turn on all the photographic controls on the main screen. The feature is not enabled by default and is a bit hidden, but I think it's totally worth using.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Performance and audio

  • Samsung brings the latest Qualcomm CPU to the Fold
  • Nice amount of RAM

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is packing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy, the same CPU you'll find in the Galaxy S23 series. It's a slightly faster (overclocked to 3.36GHz) version of the standard mobile CPU found in, for instance, the OnePlus 11. No matter the storage level you choose, the CPU is backed by 12GB of RAM. That should mean you can open a lot of apps, play games, stream video, and basically stress the phone without compromising performance.

With the new silicon comes the promise of faster performance. I have not yet benchmarked or stress-tested the Galaxy Z Fold 5, but I can tell you that in my brief time with it the phone was responsive, and seems cable of easily handling everything from photography to web browsing, video, and multitasking.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

The phone's performance capabilities are on display when you use an optional (and now thinner) S Pen, one that's designed to not scratch the flexible glass screen's thin, plastic cover. I used it to access the Notes app and then do a couple of fast doodles, and the fast millisecond response that helped the digital ink keep up with my physical pen strokes.

For audio, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 has a pair of stereo speakers that end up on opposite sides of the unfolded phone. I played some YouTube videos and, in my brief experience, I found the sound to be loud and punchy.

The phone supports both a physical SIM and eSIM, and supports WiFi 6e and Bluetooth 5.3; it's also 5G-ready.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Software

Samsung's foldable runs the OneUI Android 13 overlay. It looks by this point familiar, and since I didn't have much time with the phone I focused on testing out the multitasking, which lets you load up to three apps on the large 7.6-inch display. It's super simple to add and swap apps – you open one, and then select and drag in different apps from the dock. You can place one large, full-width app and then two small square apps above it in a grid.

There's a button in the upper left-hand cover that, if you select it, cycles your three apps through the three grid positions. It's fun and might be useful.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Apps that you have running on the large main screen can be switched to the cover display when you close the phone, but only if you dig into your settings. I noticed this when I wanted Google Maps to keep running with my directions when I closed the phone. Initially, there was just a blank screen, but a Samsung representative showed me where to select which apps would continue running on the cover screen.

Samsung is promising four generations of OneUI updates and five years of security updates. Basically, you should be able to hang onto this folding phone without issue for a long time, assuming the folding screen holds up (it should be able to survive 200,000 folds).

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Battery life

In case you hadn't guessed by now, Samsung has not upgraded the battery in the Z Fold 5. It's still 4,400mAh, which is somewhat less than the Pixel Fold's 4,821mAh, but I would not yet venture to say the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will have a shorter battery life. It's not just about the battery capacity, but also about how the phone manages power consumption.

Samsung won't be shipping a charging adapter with the Z Fold 5, but you will get the USB-C cable. The phone supports wired and wireless charging – Samsung says you can get to 50% charge in 30 minutes with a 25W charger – and Powershare reverse charging. These specs are unchanged from the last Z Fold outing.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands on

(Image credit: Future)
Lance Ulanoff
US Editor in Chief

A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.