Introduction, Crease, Flex Window
Note: This review was first published on 10 August 2023.
Making a star out of the flip side
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip5 embodies what a reimagined clamshell foldable smartphone is while keeping what works (and what doesn’t).
We’ve already seen what the phone offers during our hands-on session in Seoul, South Korea. But dig deeper, and you’d realise that the Galaxy Z Flip5 is Samsung’s best attempt at getting the stylish ones among us to switch to this clamshell ASAP.
The TL;DR verdict:The crease hasn't left, but the new Flex Window offers plenty of practicality, making this a true premium flagship phone that's fun to use.
Let’s take stock of the changes. The biggest update is obviously the 3.4-inch Flex Window, which revamps what the device offers in its folded state. The Galaxy Z Flip5’s secondary screen is no longer a token display but shows far more customisation, practical use, and comfort by going beyond selfie-loving users. We’ll dive deeper into the Flex Window later.
There are also other upgrades, some of which are expected. You’re getting a true 2023 flagship-grade processor (a Samsung-customised Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2for Galaxy) designed to power every possible app you throw at it. Complementing that is UFS4.0 storage, which has faster storage speeds than the previous generation’s UFS 3.1 variant.
The hinge has also been improved, reducing the gap between the two halves. Galaxy Z Flip5’s folded state looks more uniform now, and it still keeps its IPX8-rated water resistance (the “X” means it lacksdust resistance).
They’ve also upgraded the glass type to Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which supposedly has better drop and scratch resistance than previous iterations (like the ones found on the preceding Galaxy Z Flip4 and Flip3).
Unfortunately, that’s where the hardware changes end. You get the same camera combo (12MP main + 12MP ultrawide),3,700mAhbattery capacity, and25W wired fast charging with Fast Wireless Charging 2.0. We’ll need to test its battery lifeto see if staying with a 3,700mAh capacity battery with a more powerful chipset is a wise choice.
Does Flex Window truly give users a reason to upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 (S$1,498, 256GB)? Do the lack of changes elsewhere prevent you from getting this foldable phone? Let’s find out.
|Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5|
|Launch SRP||From S$1498|
|Operating system||Android 13 (Samsung One UI 5.1.1)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy|
|Built-in Memory||8GB RAM|
|Display||Main Screen:6.7-inch / Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex / 2,640 x 1,080 pixels / 22:9 aspect ratio / 1 to 120Hz adaptive refresh rateCover Screen: 3.4-inch / Super AMOLED / 512 x 260 pixels / 60Hz|
|Camera||Rear: 12MP main, f/1.8 aperture, 1.8μm pixel size, 83 ̊ FOV, Dual Pixel AF, OIS12MP ultra-wide, f/2.2 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size, 123 ̊ FOVFront: 10MP, f/2.2 aperture,1.22μm pixel size, 85 ̊ FOV|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6, mmWave), 4G (LTE) , Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, USB-C|
|Storage Type||256GB internal storage512GB internal storageUFS 4.0|
|Battery||3,700mAh25W Fast ChargingFast Wireless Charging 2.0Wireless PowerShare|
|Dimensions||Unfolded: 165.1 x 71.9 x 6.9mmFolded: 71.9 x 71.9 x 15.1mm|
Bad news first: the crease stays
While the new hinge allows the display to fold completely flat with barely any perceptible gap, the rest of the phone's design is more or less the same, which also means it has the similar handling perks and flaws of its predecessor. When putting it away, you fold it like a compact blusher, and unfurl the main screen for day-to-day communication.
When unfolded, the clamshell has the same 6.7-inch Full HD+ Dynamic AMOLED Main Display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Our only gripe is Samsung not getting rid of the crease when its main clamshell foldable competitor in Singapore managed to. Your content still gets mild warping around the crease area. Some users don't mind it, while others find it an absolute eyesore. I'd say it's amatter of personal preference. Readers new to foldable phones should definitely head down to a store and handle the phones in person to decide for yourselves.
Our other minor pain point with its display is the little raised “nook” where the phone bends. If you prefer Android’s Swipe Gestures instead of its default three-button navigation bar (with shortcuts like All Apps, Home Screen, and Return), these bumps on the edges of Flip5’s crease can trip you up when you’re trying to return to a previous menu. We thought Samsung might’ve fixed this with its 2023 clamshell foldable, but it looks like that’s two main display weaknesses that Samsung needs to look at for future models.
Beyond those minor handling hiccups, the Galaxy Z Flip5 offers the same use cases in unfolded and half-folded states. Samsung might say they’ve added Media Control Playback, but that matters less for people who prefer watching content with the entire display.
Flex Window changes how you use the Flip
Here’s where the real upgrade comes on the Galaxy Z Flip5. The new Flex Window is a 3.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a 60Hz refresh rate. Ithas aresolution of720 x 748 pixels, which gives it an impressive pixel density count of 306 PPI. This is 3.78 times larger than the Galaxy Z Flip4’s secondary display, with an almost 1:1 aspect ratio.
By default, Flex Window comes with a full QWERTY keyboard;13 full-screen Samsung-made widgets; and up to four notifications at a glance.
You can use the keyboard to quickly reply messages in default messaging app widgets. You can also conduct searches on other widgets (more about that below). The display is also good for checking notifications (by swiping left-to-right from its wallpaper) and seeing if any urgent emails are worth unfolding for.
Five widgets are available by default. You must go through the Settings app to make any changes, which wasn’t a big deal.
We liked Flex Window much better than its old 1.9-inch Cover Screen. It’s far less claustrophobic, making our customised clock and animated wallpapers look more appealing. It also incentivises you to utilise both displays.
We couldn’t say the same about the older Flip models since their screens were too tiny for practical viewing and lacked keyboard input. Flex Window’s changes gave the Galaxy Z Flip5’s secondary display a real purpose, so it’s no longer fair to say that the folding phone only offers vanity points.
Using Galaxy Z Flip5’s Flex Window with third-party apps (YouTube, Netflix, etc.)
During our hands-on with the foldable, we were told Flex Window could work with certain third-party apps. We’ve tried that out to great success. In fact, it’s so good, we actually want to see more apps supported on the display.
To use third-party apps on Flex Window, you need to go into Samsung Labs, an advanced feature hidden in its Settings app. “Apps allowed on cover screen” shows you all the options available — you toggle them on or off and they’ll appear inside one widget on your Flex Window.
At the time of publishing this review, Flex Window supports Netflix, YouTube, and Google Maps, along with two default SMS messaging apps by Samsung and Google. We’ve tried the first three to see the app’s Flex Window limits, and we’re glad to say it works perfectly fine.
For example, all three apps use the full-sized Flex Window keyboard for their search functions, and the core features you expect from the regular app versions are accessible. You can key in and follow directions given by Google Maps. Scrubbing and resolution change for YouTube is available too. Netflix is — well — Netflix, but smaller. Flex Window apps are a miniaturised version of your favourite software on a tiny little screen. Using it feels like navigating on a portable videogame console, so the learning curve is gentle too.
The apps also work fine when you stand the Galaxy Z Flip5 in a reverse V-shape on the table. It’s perfect for skiving discreetly at work: plug in your wireless earbuds, play a YouTube or Netflix clip, and none would be the wiser.
Flex Window is a little thin on supported third-party apps at launch, but we believe Samsung will eventually bring more app compatibility to the Galaxy Z Flip5’s display — it’d be a waste not to. HavingGrab (the transport and delivery app), TikTok, X/Twitter, or Threads are obvious starting choices. It also has no third-party texting apps (Telegram, FB Messenger, WhatsApp) or emailwidgets yet, but we doubt it’ll stay that way for long.
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