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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: two things I hate (and two I love)

Main display on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Samsung is in its fifth generation of selling foldables. While the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is its biggest upgrade to the clamshell form factor, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is an experiential upgrade this year – which might cause some problems for Samsung.

The year is 2023, and more smartphone manufacturers are joining the foldable bandwagon. With the Google Pixel Fold and the upcoming OnePlus folding phone, Samsung finally has some competition in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 doesn’t seem like a device that I would instantly buy over others.

Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Fold 5 features a lighter and thinner design, a new coating over the main and ultrawide cameras, sits flush when closed, and gets the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor. I consider all of these meaningful upgrades, but I was hoping for more — especially after using a bunch of foldables from the competition.

Two major misses for the Galaxy Z Fold 5

The main display on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

I wrote a wishlist for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 earlier this year that included improvements to two major pain points with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Samsung delivered.

First, the crease situation. In short, the crease on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the same as it was on the Z Fold 4. This means the bend in the middle of the inner display is more noticeable than any other book-style foldable at this point. I mostly never have a problem viewing things on the display when indoors, but it’s an issue when light falls at a specific angle, and I’m reminded of the crease.

I only feel it when I graze my thumb across the middle of the display, which isn’t often. But I’ve had readers email me and friends tell me that the one thing that’s keeping them away from buying a Galaxy Z Fold device is the bend in the middle of the display. And Galaxy Z Fold 5 featuring the same crease doesn’t help that situation. It could have been a big improvement over the Fold 4 — but it’s not.

Someone using the Camera app on the Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Secondly, no foldable sports a flagship-grade camera system when compared to the flagship slab phones. The Pixel Fold features Google Pixel 7a’s camera hardware; the Honor Magic VS, Vivo Fold, and the Oppo Find N2 don’t have the same camera system as their respective flagship slab siblings.

Samsung could have been the first company to offer true flagship cameras on the Fold 5, but instead, it is sticking with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 hardware with a new coating on top. The Fold 4 still had one of the best foldable cameras, but I expect better cameras on an $1,800 phone. With the Pixel Fold offering better-looking shots than the Fold 4 and OnePlus’s folding phone rumored to have an impressive camera setup, it’s going to be tough for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to stand out with its 12MP primary, 50MP ultrawide, and 10MP telephoto (with 3x optical zoom) cameras.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 still does two things right

Someone using the main display on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

First, I like my book-style foldables with a taller aspect ratio (like the Galaxy Z Fold and Honor Magic V series) rather than a wider aspect ratio (like the Pixel Fold and Oppo Find N2). While I would have preferred a wider cover display, I’m OK (but not comfortable) using the narrow cover screen of the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

In my time with the Oppo Find N and N2, every time I opened the phone, I was reminded that the web is built for taller phones and not wider phones. You need to rotate foldables with wider form factors to the taller side to get a better experience on the web. Although I still consider the Honor Magic VS, Magic V2, and Vivo Fold to be the ideal form factors for me because of the wide cover display and a tall aspect ratio, the Samsung software on Galaxy Z Fold is unparalleled … at least for now.

Second, I loved using the Galaxy Z Fold 4 when open because of how intuitive it is. And I’m not talking about the software, but the under-display camera.

A person holding the open Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I like the fullscreen experience on the Galaxy Z Fold series, which is the only foldable phone lineup to offer this feature. I’d have liked the 4MP under-display camera to be upgraded, but I still prefer having a fullscreen design over a good video-calling camera because my use cases involve more fullscreen interaction with browsing and reading rather than taking calls. To be clear, having a hole-punch camera cutout on the foldable screen isn’t a deal breaker or unintuitive but the fullscreen experience on the Galaxy Z Fold series is much more satisfying.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 remains an experiential upgrade, which means I’ll have to use it to get to know how much better it actually is from the predecessor because the specs sheet often doesn’t tell the whole story. There are things I love, things I hate, and I’m looking forward to putting the whole package through its paces soon.

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Prakhar Khanna
Prakhar writes news, reviews and features for Digital Trends. He is an independent tech journalist who has been a part of the…
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