Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 long-term review: A foldable that grows on you

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the most expensive book-style foldable phone priced starting at Rs 1,54,999. But is it any good? Read to find out.

Edited By: Pranav Sawant

Published: Nov 10, 2023, 01:44 AM IST

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 long-term review: A foldable that grows on you

Highlights

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the most premium foldable smartphone in the Indian market.
  • The Galaxy Z Fold 5 has a gapless display, thanks to the updated hinge mechanism.
  • The Galaxy Z Fold 5 packs a battery that lasts for a day with moderate usage.
TECHLUSIVE Rating :
4/5

Pros: Good In-hand feel, Gapless design, Reader-friendly display.

Cons: Average ultra-wide and selfie cameras, Heating issues, Slow charging.

If there's one thing that sets apart Samsung's mobile product portfolio, it's the brand's extensive offering. The South Korean giant makes phones for all segments, including budget segments like sub-Rs 10,000 to the expensive ones that go over a lakh and beyond Rs 1.50 lakh. It's amongst the rare brands that have a book-style foldable phone in its portfolio and it's constantly improving it. This year as well, the story is similar. We're talking about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.

I managed to use the Galaxy Z Fold 5 for a long time as my daily driver smartphone and I'm convinced that book-style foldables are the future. That said, here's my full review of the latest Samsung foldable.

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Before we get started, it is worth noting that when I gave my first impressions about the phone, back in August, there was almost zero competition to Z Fold 5 in India. Fast-forward to November, things have changed. We now have a well-known player, OnePlus, trying its luck in the foldable space with the OnePlus Open. However, I didn't get a chance to use the Open thoroughly, although I did get some hands-on time with the device last month. With that in mind, let's get started with the review.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Design and Display

Ever since I saw the phone and took it in my hands, I was impressed by the in-hand feel of the smartphone. It leaves an impression that something opulent and costly is in our possession. The narrow width and the tall design make it comfortable to hold.

Image - Pranav Sawant/Techlusive

The metal sides and the matte texture on the back make it more premium, but the latter doesn't help with the grip. Although the matte back does resist fingerprints, the shiny metallic sides attract them. The hinge is more sturdy and does a good job of allowing the phone to fold flat without leaving a gap. And that is a major upgrade from the predecessor. The phone no longer feels flimsy, the folding mechanism is solid and strong.

Moving to the display, it's almost the same, although it is said to be improved by a slight margin. The crease is still visible and for some reason, it started to look more prominently after a month of use. But despite that, it may not bother you if you get used to it.

I was nitpicking, though, an average user may not get bothered by it in daily use. After all, you get a massive panel for doing things. The 7.6-inch screen on the inside is smooth and bright coming at up to 120Hz and 1,750 nits peak. It's a perfect panel for reading articles and books from Kindle or other apps. For videos, though, you either have to watch them with black borders or zoom in, which does cut out some content. It's an enjoyable display regardless.

Image - Pranav Sawant/Techlusive

Coming from a regular smartphone user, this massive screen opens up several opportunities. You can use the device as a portable PC, thanks to the taskbar. It shows up all the recent and some extra apps for you to quickly switch on to them. Moreover, there's an app tray option that lets you open any app without closing the one you are in. This gives a seamless experience. All of this allows for a great multitasking experience.

The outer display is sized 6.2 inches and it has the same 120Hz refresh rate. It's a narrow panel, which you may or may not like. For me, it's a decent size as it lets me do quick tasks like doing a Google search or checking WhatsApp. And when it's time to play some media, I switch to the main 7.6-inch screen.

 

Do note that both the front and the inner display are susceptible to scratches, despite having Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection. So do not keep the device and your house keys together in your pocket.

Overall, the narrow design of the Z Fold 5 has grown on me. It's a pretty good experience for those who haven't tried book-style foldable phones before.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Camera

One area where Samsung needs to improve is the camera. Despite featuring a triple camera setup having both ultra-wide and telephoto lenses, the overall camera performance is not as good as Samsung's flagship Galaxy S23 Ultra. Also, it's the same setup as the predecessor, Z Fold 4.

Don't get me wrong, the cameras do a pretty good job of giving good images with the main 50MP Samsung GN3 lens, but not the best considering the phone's price. The 12MP ultra-wide and 3x telephoto sensors are decent.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/197371101@N05/53320211575/in/dateposted-public/

Let's break it down. The main lens is a capable lens that does work like it should. However, Samsung's processing turns the images too vibrant for my liking. People might like the vibrant shots, but it's a little too much I feel. The sharpness in the photos is on point and portrait shots are also pretty good. In low light as well, the sensor takes likable shots. The white balance, though, sometimes is out of place.

The ultra-wide images look decent but sometimes lack sharpness. Unlike the images from the main lens, the ultra-wide shots are less punchy. The telephoto is pretty good but needs some light to offer good results. The skies look good in the pictures but sometimes there's no consistency in the colors. The 10MP selfie camera is just average and the internal 4MP under-display camera appears to be a placeholder.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/197371101@N05/53318872997/in/dateposted-public/

You are free to judge the phone's camera by seeing all the uploaded images. Holistically, the camera system is good but, my question to Samsung is that if a phone costs way over Rs 1.50 lakh, why doesn't it get a camera system like the S23 Ultra? I am not talking about the same sensors, but at least on par with it.

Of course, there needs to be some space to accommodate for the hardware and it will take the price even up. But If it's the costliest Samsung phone, I feel Samsung shouldn't compromise with its cameras.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review: Performance

Coming to performance, the smartphone does almost everything that you throw at it, whether it be basic scrolling through social media feeds, watching videos, or even playing heavy games, it does it all. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset inside can do almost every task. Pair it with 12GB of LPDDR5x RAM and 256GB of UFS 4.0 and the phone handles background apps with ease and offers faster app and game launch timings.

Although it does offer a smooth performance, the phone heats up a lot. I played Pokemon Go on the device for only 30 minutes and the device was a heater. And, this wasn't just initially, but even after a couple of weeks.

Now playing games outdoors in the sun and then the device getting heated in minutes is still fine, but even using social media for about sometime made the phone warm. Indoors, as well, it does get a little warmer depending on the area you live in. In Mumbai, the temperature was all over the place in August.

Thankfully, all that heating doesn't translate into performance loss, so that's great.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to use the phone with Android 14-based One UI 6. Although the update is in beta, I hope Samsung has addressed the heating issue. The main culprit for this heating I feel is the slimmer chassis.

Coming to the battery, the Z Fold 5 packs the same battery as the Z Fold 4, i.e. a 4,400mAh cell. While it may look smaller for a phone that has two displays, it can offer you a day's battery with moderate usage. My usage involved scrolling through social media apps, jumping from Instagram to X (formerly Twitter), watching YouTube videos, and reading books or articles on the Kindle app/web. For such a usage, it may offer a day of battery life when using Wi-Fi and mobile data, both as per the availability.

However, if you are a gamer or a heavy user, who is always on your phone, get ready to charge the device in the afternoon. The 25W charging speed is terribly slow. Samsung should at least give 45W charging as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The 15W wireless charging works but it's only usage I felt was to reverse charge my Galaxy Buds 2.

Apart from this, the connectivity on the device was seamless. I faced no call-related issues and the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth performance was solid. The device has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner and facial unlock support for security. Both work perfectly well and I found myself using the former most of the time as it's quick and reliable.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 has an IPX8 rating, so it still doesn't have dust resistant, but can handle some fresh water for up to 1.5 meters. As for speakers, the dual setup gets pretty loud on the device allowing you to get an immersive video-watching and music-liseting experience.

Software-wise, Samsung has done a great job of tweaking the software for a foldable layout. The taskbar made me use it like a PC by allowing me to switch between apps one by one. The multitasking experience is also pretty good. It also has the advantage of Samsung Dex.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5?

Of course, you should buy the Galaxy Z Fold 5 if you have the money. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a solid book-style foldable phone that may grow on you as you continue using it. The narrow design offers a great in-hand feel, its camera system is decent, and the performance is top-notch.

However, there are some caveats here. The Z Fold 5's slim design makes it run hot and I wish Samsung fixes that. The other reason to think before buying the Z Fold 5 is OnePlus.

As I said above, while doing my first impressions, there was no competition to the Samsung foldable. Now, things have changed. There's now the OnePlus Open in the Indian market, which I used for some time, and its design and creasless screen are the two things to look out for.

If that design doesn't bother you and you like the narrow form factor of Fold 5, then you can go with the Z Fold 5. Or else, you can always read my first impressions of the OnePlus Open here.

Now, for Samsung, there are four takeaways. First is that it should improve the thermals on the phone via update. The second takeaway is that a better or equal camera system to the S flagship is a must, considering the foldable's price.

The third takeaway is that - Samsung, please upgrade the sluggish fast charging speed, and make it at least 45W like the S23 Ultra. Lastly, Samsung, it's time that you revamp the design. It's working but it's the same for the third year in a row.

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Author Name | Pranav Sawant

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