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First Impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Elevating the Foldable ExperienceFirst Impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: Elevating the Foldable Experience

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 was not designed with you in mind.

Publish – 29 july,2023

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the original Galaxy Fold next year, it’s astonishing to witness the rapid evolution of foldable smartphones from being ultra-expensive and niche to becoming slightly less niche but equally pricey. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold series, while still starting at a hefty $1,800 (excluding occasional sales on older models), has managed to appeal to the average Android user looking for a new phone.

However, this transformation from a luxury status symbol to an enthusiast workhorse has not been without its challenges. After a rocky start, Samsung has gradually refined the foldable concept with each generation, striving to iron out the kinks. In 2021, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 was deemed “perilously close to being ready for prime time” by former AP editor Ryan Whitwam. One year later, its successor was hailed by former AP editor Ryne Hager as “the future of mobile productivity.”

Now, with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 on the horizon, it’s intriguing to revisit the journey of its predecessors. The Z Fold 3 marked significant progress by offering features like a genuine IP-rating for water resistance and S Pen support, making it a contender to replace the standard Galaxy S-series device. The Z Fold 4 further built on this success, enhancing photo quality, refining the under-display camera, prolonging battery life, and introducing a wider, more comfortable outer screen.

However, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 takes a different approach. In a year of heightened competition, particularly from Chinese rivals and Google’s first-gen Pixel Fold with the same price tag, Samsung’s latest foldable doesn’t innovate as much as its predecessors did. Changes are few and far between, making it hard to distinguish from the Z Fold 4 when held in hand. It weighs around ten grams less, a welcome but hardly noticeable improvement in everyday usage. There are a few new color options, but nothing groundbreaking. One notable advancement is its ability to fold completely shut, a first for the series.

As we look forward to 2023, with OnePlus likely to introduce its foldable smartphone and greater choices available to US-based buyers, it prompts us to contemplate what we truly desire from our annual smartphone updates.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 was not designed with you in mind.

 

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 was not designed with you in mind.

 

Samsung’s redesign of its hinge is hard to applaud considering it comes after years of stagnation, with many of its rivals like Google, Motorola, Oppo, and Honor adopting similar design styles. When closed, the Z Fold 5 still measures 13.4mm in thickness, thicker than the Pixel Fold, but it is significantly lighter than Google’s foldable, weighing in at 283g. While it is a couple of millimeters thinner than its predecessor, it falls short compared to Honor’s Magic V2.

The other changes to the phone are rather predictable and somewhat mundane. The main display now matches the brightness of the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s excellent panel. The Z Fold 5 is powered by Samsung’s exclusive variant of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, though the performance leap from the Z Fold 4’s Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 to this chipset is not as significant as the one seen in the S23 series earlier this year. In essence, the upgrades this year are quite meager.

Interestingly, the most significant change for foldable enthusiasts might not lie in the phone itself but its accessories. Samsung has once again chosen not to integrate the S Pen into the actual frame of the Galaxy Z Fold 5, but the new stylus-equipped case represents a considerable improvement over the previous generation. The S Pen now folds flat into the back of the cover, eliminating the bulge when the phone is laid on a table. Although this brings us closer to the dream of incorporating the S Pen into the phone like the Note series, that reality is probably at least a year away.

The question arises: who is the Galaxy Z Fold 5 targeted at this year? While previous Z-series devices catered to early adopters and enthusiasts primarily, it appears that Samsung is now attempting to attract a new audience. Although general consumers might be charmed by the fun and attention-grabbing front display of the Galaxy Z Flip 5, the company seems determined to reach beyond existing foldable users with this year’s model. Whether this endeavor will succeed remains uncertain, and it is a question worth addressing in upcoming reviews.

Overall, the smartphone industry has experienced a year of iterations, and it’s challenging to get overly excited about such minor updates. However, it’s important to note that this phone might not be designed for the average Android Police reader. Samsung seems to be targeting friends and family who have heard about the foldable craze and are intrigued enough to try it for themselves. The $1,800 price tag, though, might be a considerable barrier for many. With carrier deals and trade-in options, only a few shoppers may be willing to invest such a sum in the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

As for early adopters, if you’re currently using a Galaxy Z Fold 4 or even a Z Fold 3 and are content with its performance and battery life, it might be wise to wait for a more substantial upgrade in the future. Given the intensified competition, it wouldn’t be surprising if Samsung is holding back a full Z Fold redesign planned for launch in 2024.

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