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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 4: worth the upgrade?

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (back) and Galaxy Z Fold 5 (front) Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Last year’s release of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 was a watershed moment in the evolution of foldable smartphones, bringing Samsung’s foldable out of the more experimental stages of the early generations and into a mature and well-rounded product.

Naturally, Samsung is following that up this year with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, a successor that brings some interesting refinements to what’s now proven to be a successful foldable design. However, the bigger question is exactly what else Samsung can bring to the table and whether the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a worthy upgrade over the Galaxy Z Fold 4 or just more of the same.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Z Fold 4: specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Size Unfolded: 6.1 x 5.11 x 0.24 inches
Folded: 6.1 x 2.64 x 0.53 inches
Unfolded: 6.11 x 5.12 x 0.25 inches

Folded: 6.11 x 2.64 x 0.62 inches

Weight 8.92 ounces 9.28 ounces
Screen size Main: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Cover: 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Main: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X

Cover: 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X

Screen resolution Main: 2176 x 1812 pixels (374 pixels per inch)

Cover screen: 2316 x 904 pixels (402 ppi)

Main: 2176 x 1812 pixels (372 pixels per inch)

Cover screen: 2316 x 904 pixels (402 ppi)

Operating system Android 13 with One UI 5.1.1 Android 13 with One UI 5.1
Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay, Samsung Pay Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
RAM 12GB 12GB
Camera Rear main: 50-megapixel (MP) primary, 12MP ultrawide, and 10MP telephoto

Front main screen: 4MP under-display

Cover screen: 10MP

Rear main: 50-megapixel (MP) primary, 12MP ultrawide, and 10MP telephoto

Front main screen: 4MP under-display

Cover screen: 10MP

Video 8K at 24 frames per second

4K UHD at 30/60 fps

1080p FHD at 30/60 fps

720p HD at 30 fps

Super Slow-mo 720p at 960 fps

Slow motion 1080p at 240 fps

8K at 24 frames per second

4K UHD at 30/60 fps

1080p FHD at 30/60 fps

720p HD at 30 fps

Super Slow-mo 720p at 960 fps

Slow motion 1080p at 240 fps

Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.2
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes (side-mounted) Yes (side-mounted)
Water resistance IPX8 IPX8
Battery 4,400mAh

25W wired charging

10W wireless charging

4.5W reverse wireless charging

4,400mAh

25W wired charging

10W wireless charging

4.5W reverse wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Icy Blue, Phantom Black, cream

gray, blue (Samsung Exclusives)

Graygreen, Phantom Black, beige, burgundy (Samsung Exclusive)
Price Starts at $1,800 Starts at $1,800
Buy from Samsung Samsung
Review Galaxy Z Fold 5 review Galaxy Z Fold 4 review

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Z Fold 4: design and display

If you’ve followed the saga of Samsung’s foldable family, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will have a very familiar design. Last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 didn’t differ much on the outside from the Galaxy Z Fold 3 that preceded it, and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 changes even less.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Firstly, there’s only so much you can do with foldable technology right now, and the Z Fold design has been a winning formula so far, so why argue with success?

What you are getting is a thinner and lighter version of last year’s Z Fold 4. Samsung is calling it the “thinnest and lightest Fold yet,” at 2.4mm (0.09 inches) thinner when folded and 10 grams lighter (0.36 ounces). That may not sound like much, but every little bit helps with a device like this, and it makes a noticeable difference in ergonomics; it’s less bulky in the pocket and more balanced and comfortable in the hand.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 5's open screens.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 5 (right) Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

To help accomplish this slimming down of the Z Fold 5, Samsung has introduced a new Flex Hinge design that allows the foldable to close fully shut. The overall thickness when open has only dropped by a hundredth of an inch (from 0.25 to 0.24 inches), and it’s this hinge design that makes up the difference. In addition to the improved closure, the new Flex Hinge is also much quieter — almost perfectly so — and does a better job of holding the phone open at any angle of your choice.

The screen specs on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 also remain mostly the same as the previous model, with the 7.6-inch main screen joined by a 6.2-inch cover screen. Both are AMOLED 2X with refresh rates that can hit 120Hz. However, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 inner screen can now hit 1,750 nits of peak brightness, making the display much more useable outdoors.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 also retains the same IPX8 water-resistance rating, offering solid protection against liquids, but no rated protection from dust and other small particles.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5's colors, and S Pen case.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

When it comes right down to it, what sets the Galaxy Z Fold 5 apart the most visually from its predecessor are the new color options that Samsung is offering up this year: Icy Blue, Phantom Black, and cream, with gray and blue as Samsung exclusives. If you think these seem a bit more pedestrian than last year’s Graygreen and the Samsung-exclusive burgundy, we can’t disagree. Overall, 2023 has been a strange and far less colorful year for Samsung, with muted darks and pastel lights coming in as a stark contrast to the much richer, bolder, and more saturated colors that adorned its 2022 lineups.

While the design remains mostly unchanged, the improved hinge, thinner profile, and brighter screen all add up to give the Galaxy Z Fold 5 a slight edge here, even if the color options are slightly less inspired this time around.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Z Fold 4: performance and battery

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, showing three apps running.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

As you might expect, the most significant improvement in the Galaxy Z Fold 5 over last year’s model is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip that powers it. While the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 found in the Galaxy Z Fold 4 was certainly no slouch, the Gen 2 should help you eke out a little more performance when it comes to multitasking, which is one of the Z Fold family’s core competencies.

While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 isn’t remarkably faster than the 8+ Gen 1 when it comes to CPU performance, the newer chip boasts a much more dramatic increase on the GPU side, which could be enough to tilt the scales if you’re looking to use the Z Fold 5 for gaming.

However, all that extra performance comes with a trade-off. The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 offered one of the best balances of performance and power consumption that we’ve seen in a Qualcomm flagship chip in recent years. While most benchmarks suggest that its successor will use less power when operating at equivalent performance levels, you’ll consume significantly more if you take full advantage of its capabilities.

The dual-cell 4,400 mAh battery in the Galaxy Z Fold 4 sometimes struggled to keep up under more demanding usage, which is disappointing in such a powerful and versatile device. The Z Fold 5 packs in the same battery, along with the same middling 25-watt wired charging speeds. Thankfully, Samsung still offers a “Light” performance mode that can help balance things out when long run times are more important than peak performance. Nevertheless, while the Z Fold 5 seems to last a bit longer than its predecessor, the improvements aren’t dramatic.

It’s a slim win, but with its extra GPU performance and better battery efficiency, the Z Fold 5 takes this round.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Z Fold 4: cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 5's camera modules.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (front) and Galaxy Z Fold 5 (back) Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If you’re hoping this will be the year the Galaxy Z Fold 5 catches up to the Galaxy S23 Ultra in camera performance, we have some disappointing news. The camera sensors on the new model are identical in every way to those of the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

That’s not to say they’re bad cameras; they’re very capable, just not necessarily what you’d expect from a device in this price range. It remains clear that with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, you’re paying for the large foldable screen and productivity features more than anything else.

Specifically, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 sports the 50-megapixel (MP) primary camera that was last year’s big upgrade over the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The other cameras have stayed the same over the past couple of years. They include a 12MP wide-angle camera, a 10MP telephoto with 3x optical and 30x digital zoom, a 10MP cover screen camera, and a 4MP under-display camera for video calls when the Z Fold 5 is open.

The new image signal processor (ISP) in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 offers some general photography improvements. Combined with new lenses, the ISP delivers some noticeable improvements overall, particularly in the 3X optical zoom. Sadly, though it retains some of the smaller quirks from the Galaxy Z Fold 4  when it comes to focusing on close-up shots. You can see a full breakdown of the cameras in our Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Fold 4 camera test.

It’s a very close call, but the camera has improved just enough to tilt it in the Z Fold 5’s favor.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Z Fold 4: software and updates

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5's cover screen.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 ships with Android 13 with Samsung’s OneUI 5.1.1 layered on top. That’s roughly on par with where the Galaxy Z Fold 4 stands now since it received Android 13 and OneUI 5.1 upgrades over the Android 12L it shipped with last year.

The improvements in Android 12L helped make the Galaxy Z Fold 4 ready for prime time last year, and these have continued into Android 13, with some extra polish added by One UI 5 to provide the tailoring needed for the unique smartphone platform.

Samsung has promised four major Android updates and five years of security patches for its recent Galaxy Z Fold series phones, but since the Z Fold 5 is a year newer, that will take it to at least Android 17, whereas the Z Fold 4 will likely stop at Android 16. It’s a small perk, but it’s the only real differentiator between the two phones’ software experiences. This one is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Z Fold 4: special features

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 5 with the screens open.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 5 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Samsung has snuck a few useful new software features into One UI 5.1.1 on the Galaxy Z Fold 5, including a “two-handed drag-and-drop” multitasking feature, plus a new taskbar that shows up to four of your most recent apps. If you can wait a little while, these features are heading to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 soon.

While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip offers some more headroom for multitasking, it shouldn’t make that much of a difference over the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, so we’ll have to wait and see whether these eventually make their way to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 via a One UI update, or if Samsung is reserving them as an exclusive feature for its latest model.

Nevertheless, it’s the Galaxy Z Fold’s multitasking features that set it apart from other smartphones in its class. Samsung did a fantastic job with this on the Galaxy Z Fold 4 in both user interface design and performance, so there’s every reason to believe the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will do this just as elegantly — and likely even better in some ways.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is also debuting with a new Color-matched S Pen design, although sadly, you still don’t get a place to store it — at least not without purchasing a separate case. The Fold 5’s S Pen is also slimmer and more compact, though, so bringing it with you should be a bit easier than before, and it’s been upgraded with a thinner tip, 4,096 pressure levels, and IP68 dust and water resistance.

It’s a close one, but with extra multitasking features out of the box and an upgraded S Pen experience, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 wins this round

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Z Fold 4: price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 5's cover screens.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 5 (right) Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is available now from Samsung, starting at the same $1,800 price tag as last year, which still gets you 256GB of storage and 12GB RAM, with 512GB and 1TB models available as upgrades. The classic Phantom Black is joined this year by Icy Blue and cream as standard colors, while Samsung offers a blue and gray finish exclusively from its online store. For a limited time, Samsung is also offering double the storage when you order directly from the Samsung store — 512GB for the price of 256GB.

Despite the release of its successor, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 remains on sale, now with a lower MSRP of $1,600, although you’ll likely find even better deals at major retailers and carrier stores as they make way for the newer Galaxy Z Fold 5. It’s available in Graygreen, Phantom Black, and beige colors, plus the Samsung-exclusive burgundy, while supplies last.

Overall winner: Galaxy Z Fold 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 half folded on a showcase.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

There’s very little in the Galaxy Z Fold 5 that would compel anybody to trade in the Galaxy Z Fold 4 for it. But if you’ve been on the fence about taking the plunge into foldables, this could be the one that tips the scales.

There are enough small quality-of-life improvements here to make it worth picking up the Galaxy Z Fold 5 over last year’s model, and that’s even more true if you’re already a foldable convert toting an older model of the Z Fold. It sports a much nicer hinge design that makes it feel more like a true foldable, as well as a more powerful processor and a longer run of Android updates.

Of course, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 still doesn’t come cheap, although if last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is any indication, you should be able to find some good carrier deals on Samsung’s latest foldable that could help dispel some of the sticker shock. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to jump into the foldable world without breaking the bank, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 remains a worthwhile pick if you can find some deep discounts. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 isn’t a massive upgrade over last year’s model; we doubt anybody will be disappointed with the Galaxy Z Fold 4, but if you have the money to spend, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the better investment.

Jesse Hollington
Jesse has been a technology enthusiast for his entire life — he probably would have been born with an iPhone in his hand…
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