First look: The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5

Samsung’s newest folding phone makes some good changes – but is it enough to make it stand out?

It’s getting harder and harder for phones to stand out these days. If you’ve seen one slab of glass and metal, it feels like you’ve seen them all, bar a few tweaks to chips and cameras.

When Samsung launched the original Galaxy Fold in 2019, it was something different. Here was a phone that turned into a small tablet when you needed it, but still folded up small enough to fit in your pocket – sort of.

That original Fold needed a bit of work, not least when it came to the screen, which some reviewers accidentally damaged by peeling off the top layer.

So here we are now with the Fold5. And we are back again, in a way, to struggling to see the difference between the phones. Samsung no longer has the market to itself – Oppo, Google and others have all unveiled folding phones since, but not all are available in the Irish market. Its greatest competition at the moment appears to be itself – namely the Fold4.


Looking at the Fold5, it is hard to see any major differences between it and its predecessor. But there are some changes. It is slightly thinner and lighter, for a start. And while the outer screen is still a little long for some users’ liking, it works well as a standard phone screen if you don’t need a tablet.

The hinge that Samsung has refined over the years is now flatter, although you’d be hard pressed to notice unless you had the devices side by side. The phone is IPX8 rated though, which means it will take some exposure to water, but Samsung still can’t guarantee it against dust, sand and other grit that might work its way in there.

It’s also still a bit too thick to pass as a normal smartphone, but that is the price you pay for the second, expanded screen. You can use the phone one-handed in its folded form, but unfolding it will take both hands.

Still, it comes in handy for working, online shopping and watching Netflix on a larger screen. And the ability to fold the phone partially and use it as a stand comes in very handy at times. Cooking videos, for example, work particularly well, without the need for an additional stand for the phone taking up space.

The battery life lasted well, although the period of this review was reasonably short. I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve put it through its paces on a more typical work day.

Spec-wise, the Fold5 has the usual upgrades in terms of power. Although the battery life is similar to the Fold4- 4400 mAh battery – and 12GB of memory, the Snapdragon chip has been upgraded to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

The camera set-up is fairly similar to the Fold4 too, with a 50 megapixel wide angle lens, a 12 megapixel ultra wide camera and 10 megapixel telephoto lens. You’ll get some good photos out of it, as you will with the front facing camera.

The user interface is cleaner and easier to use, which is probably the most useful upgrade newer users will see.

A new phone also brings new accessories, including a much improved case that integrates the S Pen and doesn’t feel like it will fall off.

But with price starting at just short of €2,000, the Fold5 will face its toughest competition from the outgoing Fold4.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist