A couple of months ago, Motorola showcased its latest foldable, the Razr 40 Ultra. It had a radical-looking, futuristic design with floating cameras embedded into its near-bezelless cover display. The premium foldable instantly reinstated Motorola as a serious contender and became the challenger to Samsung’s year-old Galaxy Z Flip 4.
Despite years of having an upper hand in India, it appears that Samsung is now playing catch up this year by launching the Galaxy Z Flip 5 with a bigger outer display, which the company now calls ‘Flex Window’. But sporting a bigger cover display is only half the war won unless it’s backed up by a rock-solid software experience, which Motorola’s foldable did deliver.
So, does the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 have what it takes to retain its supremacy in the vertically folding smartphone segment in India? Let’s find out.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 price in India
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 has received a noticeable price hike over the Galaxy Z Flip 4, which was launched at Rs. 89,999. However, all of this seems justifiable given that it has the latest processor and starts with a base 256GB storage variant which is priced at Rs. 99,999. There’s a 512GB storage variant as well and it’s priced at Rs. 1,09,999.
The phone is available in four main colours – Mint, Graphite, Cream and Lavender. It is also available in three special edition finishes – gray, blue and green – which sport a matte-black frame. I received the 256GB variant in the Mint finish for review.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 design
As pointed out in our first impressions article, not much has changed in terms of visual appeal between the new Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the previous Galaxy Z Flip 4 models. The new device feels slimmer and more compact when folded thanks to its new hinge. The gap closer to the hinge which used to let in dust on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 no longer exists and it also makes the phone appear aesthetically pleasing, with both halves folding flat against one another.
A major visual change is on the front half of the clamshell. The smaller window which hid the cover display of the previous model has now been expanded to accommodate a much bigger cover display. When folded and with the display powered down, it makes the phone appear like a short, chunky slab of black glass with a flattened metal border around it.
But power on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the cool-looking aesthetics disappear as you are greeted by some abnormally chunky borders on all sides with a weird folder-like cutout at the bottom to avoid the cameras and the accompanying LED flash unit. Indeed, this is quite the contrast compared to the radical cover display design of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra.
The placement of the rest of the components on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 hasn’t changed and remain the same as on the Galaxy Z Flip 4. Thankfully, Samsung’s new hinge does not deprive it of its IPX8 rating which gives the phone credible water resistance against splashes of water, and is far better than the Razr’s IP53 rating that’s better with dust but offers basic protection against water.
So, does this new hinge in the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 reduce the crease on the main folding display? Not really. According to Samsung, the new hinge is supposed to be less prone to damage from drops and that it allows the device to appear slimmer when folded. The crease seems to be as intrusive as on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and the resulting groove still feels out of place.
Motorola and Oppo have done a better job with their hinge designs reducing the groove on their respective folding displays, but this comes at the cost of a lesser IP rating. As for the sturdiness of the inner display, it remains as robust and damage resistant as the previous one, which is best in class. Samsung’s display aspect ratio also remains as narrow as its recent models, so typing still feels a bit cramped when compared to the broader display of the Oppo Find N2 Flip.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 specifications and software
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 follows a formula which is very similar to its Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23+ models launched earlier this year. This means that its core hardware changes are limited to a new processor which is expected to bring qualitative improvements in performance, battery life, and imaging. This year, that processor would be the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy (a tweaked version of the standard processor), which fortunately for Samsung, has not been utilised in any of the clamshell foldable devices launched in India this year.
Communication standards include Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth version 5.3, NFC, support for the usual global positioning systems and a Type-C USB port with USB 3.2 (Gen 1) support. The device is powered by a 3,700mAh battery with 25W wired charging support, but Samsung does not include a charger in the box. The device also offers wireless charging at 15W.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 ships with One UI 5.1.1 which is based on Android 13. At the time of writing this review, the phone was running the slightly outdated May 1 2023 security patch. The software is typically Samsung and One UI, with plenty of customisation options on the main screen and the new Flex Window as well.
Samsung has a number of card-like cover screen layouts (like a watchface on a smartwatch) that are quite customisable. You just have to remember that none of these cover screen designs (and respective buttons or indicators in them), save for the camera button, are interactive. For example, tapping on the pending notifications icon or a battery icon will not take you to the notifications area or the battery section. I found most of these designs to be purely cosmetic and not practical, requiring you to swipe through the long list of native widgets or just open up the main display to get what you seek.
The core idea behind the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra’s practical cover display is not the fact that it can run full apps on it, but because it has a full-blown phone on the outside as well. Upon receiving a notification, you can simply swipe to expand it. This shows additional content and a set of action buttons (delete, reply, archive etc. for email apps) which lets you deal with a notification without getting into the app itself.
Samsung’s Flex Window misses out on this really important aspect. Swiping downwards or long-pressing a notification does absolutely nothing. Your only means of dealing with a notification is to either swipe it to dismiss it or tap to open it, which opens up a small card with truncated information depending on the app and whether it’s supported by Samsung.
Just like the Galaxy Z Flip 4, if you receive a notification from a messaging app, tapping on it reveals the whole message in a small card with a ‘reply’ and a ‘clear’ button at the bottom, followed by a list of predefined quick replies. However, you now have a pop-up keyboard on the cover display to type out custom replies if you tap on the ‘reply’ button on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.
If you receive a notification from any other app category, tapping on the notification will expand to show a card with truncated information (part of the email in plain text), below which will be a ‘clear’ button to dismiss the notification. This is basically a dead end and all you can do next is open the phone to read or glance through what’s actually present in that notification, which can get very annoying.
Now there is a third category of notifications which are to do with supported third-party apps. These would include the ones available in the Labs feature (which is still in beta) and lets you launch and view a handful of apps on the cover display itself. The problem with this is that tapping on a notification from this supported app will directly open the app.
WhatsApp for example will bypass the standard ‘reply’ and ‘clear’ buttons treatment and directly open the chat window of the related conversation on the cover display itself. While this sounds exciting and fun, it does get quite tiring, because you have to keep jumping in and out of apps from the notifications area when dealing with such notifications.
To a casual user, these three categories of notifications can get extremely irritating because you have to keep in mind which app can reveal usable information (card with a reply button) and which cannot (a simple card). After dealing with this for a few days, I decided to just open up the main display to handle notifications from the drop-down tray like on a regular candybar smartphone.
Currently, the cover display only lets you launch a handful of apps. It isn’t enabled by default and has to be enabled in the Labs section. This includes Google Maps, Messages, Netflix, WhatsApp and YouTube. According to Samsung, these apps have been optimised to run on the outer display, claiming that more apps will be added in the future.
The implementation works just fine for these supported apps and can help with getting things done without opening the main display. The cover display also supports app transitions from cover display to the main display, letting apps adapt on the fly to the tall aspect ratio of the main display.
However, unlike the Razr, this cannot work the other way around as apps can only transition from the cover display to the main one and not vice versa (or when you fold the phone).
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 performance
While the cover display’s interface is disappointing in its current state, the main display’s software interface of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 performs quite well. There is no sign of stuttering or lag with One UI running flawlessly despite packing in some bloatware and third-party apps. Thankfully all of these third-party apps can be uninstalled, but it is a bit disappointing that a phone this expensive comes with them out of the box.
As for benchmarks, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 performed as expected. The phone managed a score of 12,87,359 points in AnTuTu and 1,998 and 5,176 points in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests respectively. These scores are easily the highest figures we have seen coming from a clamshell foldable smartphone till date.
Gaming performance was quite good and better than expected. While I wasn’t satisfied by the Galaxy Z Flip 4’s touch sampling rate when playing games like Call of Duty Mobile, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 does a lot better in this area. Yes, the phone does heat up a bit when running it at ‘Very High’ graphics and ‘Max’ framerate, but performance did not take a hit even after 30 minutes of competitive gaming.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5’s 3.4-inch outer Super AMOLED display has a standard 60Hz refresh rate but feels smooth in terms of operation. There’s a 6.7-inch full-HD+ AMOLED folding panel inside with a 120Hz refresh rate and its of the LTPO variety, so it can drop its refresh rate down to 1Hz when required to save battery life. Both displays produced saturated colours at default settings, but showed excellent sunlight legibility when viewed outdoors. The main display also supports HDR10+ playback and the dual speakers make for an immersive multimedia experience when watching movies or playing games.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 lasted a good 16 hours and 45 minutes when put through our video loop battery test, but daily usage figures are a bit concerning. With regular use which involved scrolling through several social media apps, two email accounts on sync, about 30 minutes of camera usage, 30 minutes of gaming and an hour of video streaming and a few calls, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 was down to nine percent at six in the evening after being unplugged from the charger at 7am, which isn’t great even for a foldable.
The main reason could be down to my reduced cover screen usage (mentioned in the software section), which would have been a great way to save on battery life, if done right.
When plugged into a 61W USB PD charger, the phone managed a 26 percent charge in 30 minutes and took a good 2 hours and 14 minutes to complete the charge, which is very slow compared to the competition. Thankfully, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 still retains its wireless charging capability, which is good for trickle charging when the phone is not being used.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 cameras
With the Galaxy Z Flip 5, Samsung has for the third year in a row, maintained a similar camera system as its predecessor, bringing no new upgrades save for what the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC’s ISP can deliver. The camera hardware remains unchanged over last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 4, which was not too bad to begin with.
There’s a 12-megapixel primary camera with OIS, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and a 10-megapixel selfie camera which is embedded into the main folding display. The camera interface is similar to what one can find on any Samsung smartphone, save for the fact that the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s primary camera can also be used as a selfie camera. While this is possible on the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s larger cover display makes using this mode and framing photos a lot easier. The bigger cover display also makes it possible to snap photos using the rear cameras in tent mode.
Overall image quality remains very similar when compared to the previous model. The primary camera captures sharp-looking photos in daylight with the typically saturated colours we are used to from Samsung’s smartphones. Details, although sufficient, are still on the lower side and far from the superior imaging capability of the similarly priced Galaxy S23.
Samsung’s Scene Optimiser is switched on by default and I kept it on for most of this review as the images weren’t drastically enhanced (slightly saturated colours and warmer tones) when compared to the standard photos. Portrait photos captured using the same camera also came out just fine with decent edge detection, but the subjects often came out a bit overexposed and at times with clipped highlights.
The ultra-wide camera captures average photos in daylight but these images are low on resolved detail, especially in the shadows.
Selfies captured in daylight come out sharp and clear with good edge detection in Portrait mode. However, the primary camera does a far better job at this with much better details and definition, which is why I would strongly recommend using it instead of the selfie camera.
In low light, the primary camera manages good details when using the auto-night mode (enabled by Scene Optimiser) or the dedicated Night mode. Just like the daylight photos, dynamic range comes up a bit short especially in the shadows. Street-lit scenes have average details and appear a bit oversharpened with crushed blacks in the shadows. The primary camera also has trouble locking focus in dimly-lit scenes, so the resulting photos come out soft, especially when using the Night mode.
Unlike the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5’s camera setup does not include a macro mode. However, the primary camera can focus on objects as close as 10-15cm and the results look just fine.
4K 30fps recorded videos appears average in terms of details, with decent colour saturation but underexposed shadows. Stabilisation is not a problem when shooting at these settings either. 4K 60fps videos showcase a steady framerate but come out shaky. HDR10+ videos recorded at 4K 30fps did not look great even though it managed better detail in the shadows. Low-light video lacked noise, but this led to flattened or blotched textures.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 manages better image and video capability than the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra. But neither should be purchased for this reason alone as both are quite average compared to the competition. If you seek good camera and video quality, the Samsung Galaxy S23 is a much better choice, minus the folding tricks.
Between the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, I would pick the Razr because of its well-optimised cover display experience, which is currently second to none. Motorola’s MyUX software experience also remains unmatched in terms of minimal bloatware and additional apps, and is also closer to a Google Pixel-like software user experience. Then, there’s the fact that the Razr 40 Ultra also looks so much better with its slick design and that radical-looking cover display.
Where Samsung does stand out is when it comes to overall performance, optimisation and image quality. We’ve compared the Oppo Find N2 Flip with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 previously and Samsung did come out on top back then as well. However, its main standout feature isn’t as useful as I expected it to be. If you own a Galaxy Z Flip 4, I’d recommend sticking with it for now.