As is expected around this time of year, Samsung has announced new foldable smartphones in the Galaxy Z Fold5 and Galaxy Z Flip5 at its Unpacked event in Seoul.
Neither device radically changes anything about how they work, though a larger Cover Screen on the Flip5 makes that phone much more utilitarian when clamped shut. The basic dimensions largely stay the same as well, save for newer hinges that make the two just a little smoother to open and close. Many of the updates have a strong emphasis on usability, but Samsung’s marketing promises “pro-grade” camera capabilities are to be found, too.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5
Samsung managed to shave off 2mm each way to make the device just a tad thinner, though noticeably lighter with a 10-gram reduction in weight. The company also says it developed a more durable hinge that should feel smoother each time you move it to close or open it up, and is a big reason why the phone closes the gap when folded shut.
The changes are otherwise incremental on the inside and out. The Cover Screen is the same 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x, as is the 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x Main Screen. There are no differences in resolution, including the 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, nor in the coating used on the display itself. There are some new features related to multitasking, one of which is the ability to take compatible apps and turn them into floating widgets on the Main Screen. Some other customizations are also available on the software side, like a revised app dock and the chance to bring two apps together into a Multi-window split-screen arrangement.
The specs don’t take any dramatic steps forward apart from what might be expected. The phone will run on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor with 12GB of RAM and storage options of 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. The battery is the exact same size as the Fold 4, with the same wired and wireless charging rates. Samsung says efficiencies in its One UI 5 Android overlay could yield better battery life, but we’ll have to see about that after testing the phone out.
Samsung retains compatibility with the S Pen, though you will have to do it with either the Fold Edition or S Pen Pro. Neither comes bundled with the phone nor is there a holster for the Fold Edition. There are, however, cases with built-in holsters for the pen to mitigate potentially misplacing or losing it.
Color options introduce a new icy blue variant to go with the familiar phantom black and cream ones, while the blue and gray models will sell exclusively from Samsung.com.
Samsung spent very little time talking about the Fold5’s cameras, so the middling specs shouldn’t be a surprise. It features a 10-megapixel selfie camera on the cover (85-degree field of view), a 4-megapixel under-display selfie camera on the inside (80-degree field of view), and then three rear cameras: a 12-megapixel ultra-wide (123-degree field of view), a 50-megapixel wide-angle (85-degree field of view) that shoots at a pixel-binned 12.5-megapixels at an f/1.8 aperture, and a 10-megapixel telephoto (36-degree field of view). Only the high-resolution wide-angle camera features Samsung’s Dual Pixel autofocus, but it and the telephoto camera have optical image stabilization.
Samsung says that it is using a different image sensor for the main camera in the Fold5, but we have yet to confirm which one that is. The Fold 4 used a 50-megapixel Isocell GN3 that was in line with the Galaxy S22+ and S22. If that trend continues here with the Galaxy S23+ and S23, then the Fold5 would also be using the GN3, though the GN5 is also possible.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5
The more significant changes from generation to generation can be found in the Galaxy Z Flip5, primarily because of the much larger Cover Screen. Growing to 3.4 inches from the previous 1.9-inch screen, the new cover display is large enough to do more with the phone when clamped shut. Now, not only can you see notifications, but also act on many of them directly from the Cover. One of the biggest additions that way is responding to messages directly without flipping the phone open. Certain apps are also readily available to browse and use on the screen, including YouTube, Netflix, and Google Maps, among others. Not every app is compatible with this setup, nor will everyone let you take action from the Cover Screen, but Samsung says that can change as third-party developers get on board. Meanwhile, as far as weather, calendar, audio recording, and Samsung Health go, they’re always just a swipe away.
The rear cameras benefit greatly from the extra screen real estate because it only makes it easier to frame and snap selfie photos or videos. It won’t necessarily give you all the camera app’s modes, features, and settings, but the Cover Screen is set up to capture images from a variety of angles based on how you prop up the device.
What’s strange is Samsung abandoned the matte finish of previous models and chose to go with a glossy finish that is a real magnet for fingerprints and smudges. A curious choice for a phone that’s designed to be held a lot.
Flipped open, the phone sports a lot of familiarity, starting with the 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x. Samsung hasn’t yet figured out how to get rid of the recessed fold in the middle of the display, but at least the phone is a tad slimmer and thinner this time around. It weighs exactly the same as its predecessor at 187 grams.
Samsung also boosted storage to start at 256GB, with another variant at 512GB. It’s still 8GB of RAM for memory. Like the Fold5 and other Samsung flagships in 2023, it runs on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. The battery is the same size as its predecessor as well, so it’s not clear if anything really changes as far as how long the Flip5 will last per charge.
Color options varied pretty widely for the Flip4 depending on market availability, and it looks to be the same for the Flip5. The graphite, cream, lavender, and mint variants will be available at various retailers, whereas the yellow, blue, green, and gray models will be Samsung exclusives.
When it comes to cameras, Samsung claims that the Flip5 has the most versatile camera experience of any Samsung Galaxy smartphone, a claim that is bolstered mainly by the smartphone’s ability to work at various angles thanks to the hinge. Again, the emphasis here is on usability. The biggest difference is with using the rear camera to capture selfies when clamped shut, pitched like a tent, or propped up in Flex mode. Samsung is using various terminologies to describe these setups, including Flex Window (selfies with the Cover Screen) and Dual Preview, where someone can see themselves on the Cover Screen as you’re about to take their photo.
As before, the hinges play a critical role in deploying either of these phones for hands-free photos and creative angles, both of which Samsung is promoting as signs of their respective versatility.
Samsung also claims night photography has been improved and artificial intelligence-powered image signal processing algorithms will correct visual noise that can usually detract from the quality of low-light photos.
Looking at the specifications sheet, the Flip5 has a 10-megapixel front selfie camera (85-degree field of view) as well as a dual rear camera system of two 12-megapixel cameras, one with a 123-degree field of view and the other with an 83-degree field of view, the first with an f/2.2 aperture and the second with an f/1.8 aperture. Only the latter has optical image stabilization and Dual Pixel autofocus. The Flip5 supports a 10x digital zoom, but no optical zoom.
Galaxy Tab S9 goes AMOLED
In addition to the two new folding phones, Samsung is also releasing a new line of tablets with the Tab S9 series. The big move here is that Dynamic AMOLED 2x screens will don the whole array, not just the best of the three. The S9 Ultra, S9+, and S9 also share many other features and functions. Each one comes with the S Pen, which itself has IP68 protection and maintains the same responsiveness we saw in last year’s models.
Vision Booster technology will adapt to brighter lighting conditions to keep colors vivid, though we have to see this in action to better understand how it works. Like with the foldable phones, widgets will play a role here, letting you float certain open apps on top of the home screen or while other apps are open. DeX mode and Second Screen with Windows PCs are also on board to showcase the tablets’ productivity side.
Pricing and Availability
Expect to pay good money for these products, except the Flip5 might be considered more competitively priced starting at $999.99. The Fold5 starts at $1,799.99 for the 256GB variant and crosses $2,000 when you go with the other storage options.
The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra starts at $1,199.99, the S9+ starts at $999.99, and the S9 starts at $799.99. Pre-orders begin July 26 with full availability for all of these devices beginning August 11.
This article was primarily written by Ted Kritsonis with support from Jaron Schneider
Image credits: Samsung