My Galaxy Z Flip 5 Impressions After Using It for a Day [wafact]

The new Galaxy Z Flip 5 feels like the biggest upgrade to Samsung’s flip phone in years. And it’s all because of the clamshell phone’s giant new cover screen.

This story is part of Samsung Event, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Samsung’s most popular products.

It’s only my first day using the Galaxy Z Flip 5, but it already feels like a major departure from the Galaxy Z Flip 4. The Z Flip 5’s spacious cover screen makes the foldable more purposeful when it’s closed. The external screen is no longer just for quick checks of your calendar or the weather; you can actually interact with apps and reply to messages from it.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a step forward for the Z Flip line, though Samsung isn’t the first to explore new uses for the cover screen. Motorola did the same with its new Razr Plus, which just launched in June. It’s difficult to tell which flip phone is better after such a limited amount of time with the Z Flip 5. But right off the bat, I can see how Samsung’s and Motorola’s approaches differ. 

Here’s a closer look at my first impressions of the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen

The new Z Flip is defined by its large cover screen.

Amy Kim/CNET

The new cover screen has a lot of potential

The larger cover screen, which Samsung calls the Flex Window, feels intuitive and useful so far. It’s primarily designed for showing widgets, but you can also access a select number of apps. This felt limiting at first, considering you can run just about any app on the Razr Plus’ external display.

But after a little time with the Z Flip 5, I’m starting to see why this makes sense. Samsung is going for a curated experience that relies more heavily on widgets and notifications rather than full apps. 

While I enjoy having the option to open any app on the Razr Plus’ front screen, apps can look squished on a display that small. This applies to the Z Flip as well, which is likely why Samsung limits which apps are supported. However, Samsung says you’ll be able to use Samsung’s Good Lock launcher to run additional apps on the Z Flip 5’s cover screen.

Even though the cover screen doesn’t support every app, you can still reply to notifications from unsupported apps. For example, tapping a notification for a direct message I received on Instagram gave me the option to type a response. 

So far, I’ve been using the cover screen for basic tasks like scrolling through notifications, setting alarms and reading WhatsApp messages. As was the case with the Razr Plus, I had to go into the settings menu to grant apps access to the cover screen. 

At the time of writing, I didn’t see Spotify listed as an option for the external display, which is a shame since I loved propping up the Razr Plus with its front screen facing outward to quickly cycle between tracks. Since I’m traveling in South Korea right now, I’d also appreciate the option to access Google Translate on the external display. 

I’m interested to see what Samsung does with the new Flex Window cover screen. Right now both Samsung and Motorola provide a straightforward experience that involves cycling through a carousel of widgets, checking notifications and launching apps. But both cover screens feel like a halfway point between a smartwatch and a phone. They’re glanceable and compact like a watch, but also large enough for tapping, swiping and typing comfortably. That makes me think there are probably new ways to optimize software, apps and even accessories for this front display in ways we haven’t seen yet, whether that comes from Samsung or a competitor like Motorola. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 closed

The new hinge lets the Z Flip 5 completely close shut without the wedge-shaped air gap that defined previous Z Flips.

Amy Kim/CNET

Samsung closes the gap

The other major aesthetic change to the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is its new hinge. When shut, both the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5 close completely, with no gap near the hinge. But according to Samsung, this is more than just a cosmetic upgrade; it should also improve durability since there are fewer moving parts. Of course, we won’t know how true that is until people get their hands on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 for an extended period of time.

So far, I really enjoy the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s more compact look. By comparison, the Razr Plus feels thinner and lighter and it also has a gapless hinge, so Samsung isn’t first in this regard. But there’s something about Samsung’s phone that feels a bit sturdier. Sometimes I have to give the top half of the Razr Plus a little extra push when opening it to get it to unfold completely. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 opens up straight without any extra effort. But it’s also important to keep in mind that I’ve had the new Z Flip for only a day. I used the Razr Plus over a couple of weeks, so there’s more wear and tear on it.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5’s main screen still has a crease, and it’s just as noticeable as the one on the Galaxy Z Flip 4. During my time in Seoul, I’ve been observing which phones are popular. And I see people using many more Z Flips compared with back home in New York. One way I’m able to tell whether a passerby is using a Galaxy Z Flip — even from a distance — is to see if the screen has a crease. It’s clearly a difficult challenge for any company making a phone with a folding screen, but I hope Samsung solves it in the near future.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 gets the same chip as the Galaxy S23 

Both the Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5 both run on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor as the Galaxy S23 series. I look forward to seeing how this impacts battery life and camera performance, since I noticed the Galaxy S23 series improve in both those areas.

My full review will have more tests and comparisons against the Galaxy Z Flip 4 to see how much of a difference the new chip makes. But so far, my battery has dipped from full down to 80% after roughly five and a half hours of use, which seems promising considering I had the adaptive brightness and high refresh rate settings turned on.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 has 12-megapixel wide and ultrawide cameras like the Z Flip 4, but Samsung added a new coating to help reduce lens flare. I haven’t had time to compare the Z Flip 5 against other phones, but here are some of my favorite photos taken in Seoul so far.

A photo from inside the Bongeunsa Temple grounds in Seoul near the Coex Center taken on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

A photo from inside the Bongeunsa Temple grounds in Seoul, near the Coex Center, taken on the Galaxy Z Flip 5. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

A photo from inside the Bongeunsa Temple grounds in Seoul near the Coex Center taken on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Another photo from inside the Bongeunsa Temple grounds. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

A photo from inside the Bongeunsa Temple grounds in Seoul near the Coex Center taken on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

And another. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

A photo of the Starfield Library in the Coex Center's Starfield Mall.

A photo of the Starfield Library in the Coex Center’s Starfield Mall, taken on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 feels like a step in the right direction for Samsung’s flip phone. I’m not sure if gives people who aren’t already interested in flip phones a reason to buy one, but it’s on the right track.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 specs vs. Motorola Razr Plus, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, Motorola Razr 2023

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5Motorola Razr PlusSamsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 5GMotorola Razr 2023
Display size, tech, resolution, refresh rate, brightnessCover: 3.4-inch AMOLED (728 x 720 pixels); internal: 6.7-inch AMOLED (2,640 x 1,080 pixels), 1-120HzCover: 3.6-inch OLED (1,066 x 1,056 pixels); internal: 6.9-inch (2,640 pixels x 1,080)Cover: 1.9-inch AMOLED (512 x 260 pixels); internal: 6.7-inch (2,640 x 1,080 pixels)Cover: 1.5-inch, OLED (194 x 368 pixels); internal: 6.9-inch (2,640 pixels x 1,080)
Pixel densityCover: 306 ppi, Internal: 425 ppiCover: 413 ppi, internal: 413ppiCover: 302 ppi, internal: 425 ppiCover: 282 ppi, internal: 413 ppi
Dimensions (inches)Open: 6.5 x 2.83 x 0.27 in; closed: 3.35 x 2.83 x 0.59 inOpen: 2.91 x 6.73 x 0.28 in; closed: 2.91 x 3.48 x 0.59 inOpen: 2.83 x 3.3 x 0.67 in; closed: 2.83 x 6.5 x 0.27 in; hinge: 0.59 in (sagging)Open: 2.91 x 6.73 x 0.29 in; closed: 2.91 x 3.47 x 0.62 in
Dimensions (millimeters)Open: 71.88 x 165.1 x 6.89 mm; closed: 71.88 x 85.09 x 14.99 mmOpen: 73.95 x 170.83 x 6.99 mm; closed: 73.95 x 88.42 x 15.1 mmOpen: 71.9 x 165.2 x 6.9 mm; closed: 71.9 x 84.9 x 17.1 mm; hinge: 15.9 mm (sagging);Open: 73.95 x 170.82 x 7.35 mm; closed: 73.95 x 88.24 x 15.8 mm
Weight (grams, ounces)187 g (6.6 oz)189 g (6.64 oz)187 g (6.59 oz)189 g (6.65 oz)
Mobile softwareAndroid 13Android 13Android 12/13Android 13
Camera12-megapixel (main), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)12-megapixel (main), 13-megapixel (ultrawide)12-megapixel (main), 12-megapixel (ultrawide)64-megapixel (main), 13-megapixel (ultrawide)
Front-facing camera10-megapixel32-megapixel10-megapixel32-megapixel
Video captureTBD4K4K4K
ProcessorSnapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1Snapdragon 7 Gen 1
RAM/storage8GB + 256GB/512GB8GB + 256GB8GB+ 128GB/256GB/512GB8GB + 128GB
Expandable storageNoneNoneNoneNone
Battery3,700 mAh (dual-battery)3,800 mAh3,700 mAh4,200 mAh
Fingerprint sensorSideSideSideSide
Headphone jackNoneNoneNoneNone
Special features5G-enabled, IPX8 water resistance, 25W wired charging, wireless charging, wireless power share, dual SIMIP52, 5G-enabled, foldable display, 30W wired charging, wireless chargingIPX8, 5G enabled, foldable display, wireless charging, 25W fast chargingIP52, 5G-enabled, foldable display, 30W wired charging, 5W wireless charging
US price off-contract$1,000$1,000$999TBA
UK price£1,049Converts to £780£999TBA
Australia priceAU$1,649Converts to AU$1,475AU$1,499TBA

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