An iterative upgrade, yet the best foldable you can buy
The pre-launch build up to Samsung’s big Galaxy Unpacked event that ‘unfolded’ in Seoul in July was a clear indication that it was the Z Flip 5 that was going to see a major overhaul. Flip form foldables have outsold the bigger book-type Fold format foldables even as foldable sales continue to soar. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is Samsung’s top-of-the-line smartphone. It’s for those who love the large-screen tablet display and don’t mind paying a stiff premium. By now you know that the Z Fold 5 is an iterative upgrade, not a radical overhaul. But the key question is whether this is the best foldable you can buy, especially if you’re all set to take a plunge into the world of foldables. The short answer is yes. Here’s why:
Closing the gap
Probably the biggest change that you won’t notice (unless you hold both the Z Fold 4 and the Z Fold 5 in your hand) is the new ‘Flex Hinge’. It allows the Fold 5 to close completely flat without any gap whatsoever. It’s better designed to repel dirt that might slip through the gap. Samsung has also reduced the heft by an additional 10 gm. That might not seem much unless you’ve used last year’s Z Fold 4. At 253 gm the new Z Fold 5 feels much lighter in your hand; it’s just marginally heavier than the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The redesigned rear camera set up looks better and we dig the cool new Icy Blue colour option that’s probably the best we’ve seen on the Fold line thus far.
Just Fold things
Our favourite feature is the primary display. Samsung has bumped up the peak brightness to 1750 nits (30% brighter than its predecessor) that adds to its appeal. You get a 7.6-inch foldable, Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate. I’ve always enjoyed catching videos, gaming and reading eBooks on the Z Fold. It’s the same reason we’d recommend this device for users who are looking for the functionality of a small tablet. Samsung hasn’t expanded the cover display. At 6.2-inches, it’s still slightly cramped. But would we prefer a wider cover display (like the Google Pixel Fold that hasn’t been launched in India) that adds to the bulk of the device? We’re still undecided.
There was a lot of pre-launch speculation that the Z Fold 5 would feature a built-in stylus akin to the S23 Ultra. Samsung has opted not to add the stylus, yet again. You can buy it as an optional accessory with a carry case and I think it’s a smart design decision. There are quite a few users who might never use a stylus and there’s no need to add to the heft of the device for this reason. One of the key enhancements over last year’s Z Fold 4 is the all-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. No surprises here. We checked out the 12GB/256 variant. You also get 512GB and 1TB storage options. The Z Fold 5 aced all our gaming and benchmark tests. We also noticed marginal improvements in the camera and battery performance over the Z Fold 4 that could be attributed to the newer processor. You get a triple rear cam that shoots up to 3X optical zoom and does a stellar job in lowlight. Just like last year, it’s not the best Samsung camera. The S23 Ultra owns that spot and should be your choice if camera performance is your key purchase driver.
If you already own a Z Fold 4, there is no compelling reason to upgrade to the 2023 Fold. But if you’re considering a foldable smartphone that can double up as an entertainment powerhouse and a productivity tool, the Z Fold 5 ought to be on your radar. Samsung makes all the right moves with its new ‘no-gap’ design and a foldable smartphone that almost feels as light in your hand as a conventional smartphone with excellent weight distribution. We would have liked a faster charging speed (the Z Fold 5 offers 25W charging) and a bigger camera upgrade but some of these decisions might have altered the form factor of the Z Fold 5. Samsung’s head-start in this space with more iterations has helped it refine the Z Fold 5. Even as it closes the gap with the Flex hinge, it widens the gap over its rivals in the premium foldables space.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 starts at Rs 1,54,999.
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