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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 Review, Software And Experience

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 Review, Software And Experience

We have been waiting impatiently for it: the best foldable smartphone of 2023, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, has arrived to demonstrate how a foldable should be made for the competition! Wait a minute, does that mean it’s not that simple anymore!? After affirming last year that Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 was an excellent foldable with somewhat stagnant characteristics but still ” waiting for someone able to challenge it “, this year, the competition has arrived and has highlighted even more the slowdown in the innovation of a product that can only be defined as exceptional. 

Samsung’s foldable book is again the premium smartphone to recommend in the category, the one you choose to be on the safe side, but the fiercer and more agile competition has made this product less exciting.

A Fundamental Tank, The Innovation Is Oriented Towards Durability

What’s new? Only a little, if we are to be honest. Samsung has again opted for an iterative rather than innovative approach, slowly ironing out some of the flaws of its most expensive smartphone while improving some of its specifications without overdoing it. At first glance, an inexperienced eye could struggle to distinguish a Galaxy Z Fold5 from a Galaxy Z Fold4 (which, in turn, was very similar to Galaxy Z Fold3 ). 

The main novelty, which anyone who has owned or tried the previous models will immediately identify, is to be found in the opening/closing mechanism. Finally, Samsung made the smartphone of uniform thickness along its entire width, almost eliminating the gap between the two halves of the device when closed.

 I say ” almost ” because, in reality, putting the smartphone against the light, it is noted that the edges surrounding the internal display do not match perfectly. They remain separated by a thickness of almost a millimeter, resting only on the two rubber feet that Samsung has inserted to cushion the impact of the closure.

If, therefore, the larger dirt debris can now no longer reach the delicate internal display. Unfortunately, the same does not apply to the dust that continues undaunted to creep inside the Z Fold5. The IPX8 certification against the ingress of water has yet to be abandoned, and the tests carried out with large quantities of earth and dust carried out by Zack of 

JerryRigEverything still shows an incredible resistance to debris in the terminal. The hinge is one of the critical elements for successfully creating a foldable, and here, Samsung still has a lot to teach the competition. There is no other foldable with a hinge that is so smooth yet so firm when positioned anywhere in its wide range of angles available for Flex Mode. Even trying to forcefully fold Fold5 upside down, as always tried by YouTuber Zack, it is complicated to damage the device.

 In terms of display curvature technology, Samsung has lagged behind its opponents. Suppose the competition has used a teardrop closure mechanism for at least two generations, limiting the Fold visible on the internal display. In that case, Samsung does it for the first time and with a narrow bending radius, resulting in a more visual and, at times, almost annoying hollow.

After experiencing the surreal Huawei Mate X3 with its IPX8-certified slim body, almost non-existent Fold and high-quality hinge with a significantly larger battery, picking up the latest Galaxy Z Fold again feels like returning at least a couple of product generations. Motorola with the Razr 40 Ultra and Razr 40, Honor with the Magic Vs and even Tecno with the Phantom V Fold all have internal displays with virtually non-existent folds when compared directly to Samsung’s panel. 

Understand me; Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 is a beautiful smartphone. The Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protective cover and the polished Armor Aluminum structure give this product an excellent feel. Without losing points in elegance, Samsung has made its leaflet a real tank, a device that shouldn’t be treated with pliers but can easily be used without too many thoughts about its fragility. 

The coupling tolerances of the components are minimal, there are no unwanted movements or strange creaks, there is never the feeling of doing something wrong, and that could damage the smartphone. Honor Magic Vs, to date, is the only other direct opponent available for purchase in Italy if we exclude the Huawei solution; however, it is only in its first iteration and is already frighteningly close to this Fold5 in terms of hardware. 

Indeed, as regards fold on the display, thickness and weight, it is even a tiny step further. Meanwhile, Honor Magic V2 has already been announced in China (and is probably coming to Europe ) with hardware that should scare Samsung. Samsung has worked hard to give its customers a solid, durable smartphone they can rely on for years, with an extensive network of service centers developed over the years to offer the best possible assistance.

A Technical Sheet Retouched Upwards

Dimensions and main specifications of the two displays remain unchanged (6.2″ with 904 x 2316 pixel resolution and 7.6″ with 1812 x 2176 pixel resolution) but increase the peak brightness of the flexible panel, which now reaches 1750 nits for better visibility on the outside and better reflection suppression at the crease. 

The elongated format of the external display has never bothered me too much. Still, it must be admitted that having a screen that is always accessible with a classic size and format is undoubtedly more comfortable.  I prefer the “passport” form factor of Google Pixel Fold or Oppo Find N2, but the latter is unavailable in our country. The chip under the hood has been updated; we now find the excellent Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy that we have come to appreciate on board the Galaxy 

S23 Ultra, making the Galaxy Z Fold5 the most powerful foldable in our market. Regarding brute force, it seems the Galaxy Z Fold5 has more wiggle room than Galaxy S23 Ultra. However, if we look at the results obtained in the 3DMark stress test, we observe that the foldable tends to heat up and slow down a little faster when pushed to the limit.

The modem and antenna system is one of the best, thanks to Qualcomm. We found the Wi-Fi 6E, which in my tests managed to exceed 3Gbps, connected to my home Iliad Box easily. Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, dual SIM 5G, an eSIM, a UWB chip … any convenience and connectivity solution is present here.

As usual, we applaud the company for using a USB Type-C 3.2 port (many opponents still have USB 2.0 ports), which allows swift data exchange with the PC, probably a necessary addition for using the feature DeX even on high-resolution displays. The stereo speakers are okay, not exceptional and don’t rival those of Asus’ ROG Phones.

However, they are better than many other classically designed products. Being positioned in half equipped with the front display, it is easy to plug them with your hands when operating the smartphone horizontally. This problem is solved by rotating the Fold with the main buttons and cameras facing downwards. When making a call, the audio from the ear capsule comes out slightly from the holes dedicated to the upper speaker. 

Not too much, but people around you can hear the other party quite clearly in a quiet room. We are speaking of the battery and charging system.  Unfortunately, we don’t find any significant news. The battery has a total capacity of 4400mAh, far from the 5000mAh standard flagships and competing foldable offers. 

The 25W charging system (15W wireless) on such an expensive product seems unsuitable, especially considering that smartphones are costing around 400.00 euros that charge almost ten times faster. Quoting our Galaxy Z Fold4 review from last year: The autonomy, which can be improved by taking advantage of the consumption management integrated into the Samsung software, is still excellent as far as I’m concerned. 

It’s not a battery phone and can hardly achieve two full days of everyday use, but I never had low battery anxiety during my time in its company.  Using the slightly more conservative performance profile, the smartphone remains fluid and fast, keeps the screens at 120Hz but increases its autonomy considerably. Not that I ever felt the need, to be honest.

 In general, it does not have lousy independence; we are only sorry to note that it could have been even better if only Samsung had tried to find space for a larger battery on par with the competition. In our open screen test with PCMark Work 3.0 Battery, Galaxy Z Fold5 achieved a result of 10:14 hours, less than its predecessor (12:07 hours), although, in daily use, this difference is not reflected. 

Indeed, Galaxy Z Fold5 lasts slightly longer than the past model despite having more incredible performance. The cameras see such marginal improvements that, as far as we’re concerned, there may very well be none. All sensors have the exact resolution and specifications, and all lenses have the same aperture and stabilization as last year.

Galaxy Z Fold4 had a capable photographic sector, thanks to the excellent image processing studied by Samsung, and this year, the story does not change. However, the gap between the Galaxy S series models and the competing flagships is getting bigger and bigger. The minor visible improvements can be attributed to the latest ISP of the Snapdragon chip and the continuous improvement in the processing algorithms that Samsung is constantly working on.

The internal 4MP camera, hidden under the display, has not seen its quality improved, nor the UDC technology that should serve to camouflage it. If we compare the camera hidden under the production of Z Fold5 with that of RedMagic 8 Pro (but also Red Magic 8S Pro, RedMagic 7S Pro, ZTE Axon 40 Ultra and, in general, all the products of the ZTE/Nubia group), that of the Samsung device is decidedly more visible, a bit like the comparisons made on the crease. 

The 10MP telephoto lens is still great for portraits, but it only does a little for getting close to distant subjects. Here Huawei does much better with its periscope lens. The Chinese house has also managed to mount an excellent primary camera on its Mate X3, which unfortunately lies in the shade of the otherwise excellent results of the Z Fold5. Generally, you will never feel at fault using Galaxy Z Fold5 for photography but don’t expect one of the best camera phones ever (or even in this category).

The User Experience Is What Makes The Difference

Samsung’s excellence can be found in knowing how to give users access to a series of curated software experiences, to an avalanche of features (for some users even more than they will ever use) capable of making everyday life easier and, above all, in making everything extremely customizable.

Galaxy Z Fold5 is a great smartphone, a more than decent compact tablet, an advanced eBook reader, a good camera and even a mighty pocket PC. All wrapped up in a single product that alone could replace many other technological devices people rely on daily.  

DeX, the ability to use more than two apps in a floating window or split screen, wireless projection to compatible displays or TVs, the side panel for quick access to your favorite applications, the ability to launch groups of apps with a touch, dock for quick system navigation and unrivaled multitasking experience, an operating system that adapts to the usage scenario (Flex Mode), support for the advanced features of the S Pen (and so much more): these are all features that are difficult to appreciate until you get used to having them and then miss them if you don’t have them available.

Android 13-based One UI 5.1.1 is a minor change on the surface, but that’s simply because it’s another refinement of solid-based software with nearly endless features. In reality, as you can read from the various changelogs that the company sent us on the occasion of the release of the update on other terminals, the news is there, and they are substantial.

While waiting for the Android 14-based One UI 6.0 that this foldable will be among the first to receive, we remind you that Samsung currently promises four years of main updates (up to Android 17!) and five years of security patches, effectively surpassing even Google itself. If you want a smartphone, you will enjoy using it every time you unlock it for years; this is undoubtedly a perfect option.

Conclusions

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, as we wrote at the beginning, is once again the premium smartphone to recommend in the folding category. From its solid performance, a technical data sheet improves what we saw on the already excellent previous model but, above all, the best user experience for a foldable model thanks to the superb software carefully developed over the years. And this is what makes the real difference.

Using Galaxy Z Fold5, you never get the feeling of having in your hands a product ” in development ” or ” not ready for the general public ” and ” suitable only for the more adventurous “. Everything works correctly; the smartphone is solid and has all the functions one expects to find on the small and the large screen from a software point of view. The only flaw found is the need to optimize several applications for its form factor. However, this is neither the fault of the Seoul brand nor the company can do much about it.

 Google is pushing developers to support the new leaflet category better, and consequently, the future can only be better. Would we have liked to see a bolder design change? Certain. Would we have selected Samsung to improve other aspects of the product to maintain its status as a leader in the sector that others are inspired by? The fact remains that Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 is a fantastic smartphone that embodies a lot of technology and is a pleasure for multimedia, leisure and demanding work.

The natural strengths of Galaxy Z Fold5 are its reliability, wide global diffusion and software with which, to date, no one can compete. And that’s Samsung’s actual secret formula for success. It has a cost that only suits some budgets, and we hope that the company will be able to contain more and more final selling prices in the future. If you already own a Galaxy Z Fold4 and a Galaxy Z Fold3, the upgrade might seem optional, and you’d be right. 

But look at the excellent trade-in offers offered directly by Samsung, which wants to push upgrades from older folding models with attractive second-hand valuations. If you want to change your “old” foldable, Galaxy Z Fold5 is undoubtedly up to its task, as it is also perfect for those who wish to enter this new universe for the first time and intend to invest in a device capable of last.

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