I've spent 72 hours with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and it's a bigger upgrade than you realize

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

I was at Galaxy Unpacked July 2023 this week in Seoul to witness the launch of a slew of new Samsung phones, tablets, and wearables. While the Galaxy Z Flip 5 did feature an attention-grabbing update to its cover display, many were underwhelmed with the update.

I get it, cover display (excuse me, "Flex Window") aside the specs do sound an awful lot like the Z Flip 4. However, after spending 72 hours with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and running it through the gamut of some of our lab tests, I can confidently say that it's a much bigger upgrade than it looks on paper.

Here's a rundown of some of the most impactful differences over the Galaxy Z Flip 4 which may convince you to upgrade or make the Galaxy Z Flip 5 your first foldable.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Preorder: from $999 @ Samsung + up to $900 off w/ trade-in
Preorder the Galaxy Z Flip at Samsung and get a free storage upgrade. Plus, save up to $900 on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 when you trade in an eligible device. Students and teachers get 10% off via Samsung's Education Program. Galaxy Z Flip 5 preorders ship to arrive by Aug. 11.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Preorder: <a href="https://shop-links.co/link?publisher_slug=future&exclusive=1&u1=hawk-custom-tracking&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.samsung.com%2Fus%2Fsmartphones%2Fgalaxy-z-flip5%2Fbuy%2F&article_name=hawk-article-name&article_url=hawk-article-url" data-link-merchant="samsung.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">from $999 @ Samsung + up to $900 off w/ trade-in
Preorder the Galaxy Z Flip at Samsung and get a free storage upgrade. Plus, save up to $900 on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 when you trade in an eligible device. Students and teachers get 10% off via Samsung's Education Program. Galaxy Z Flip 5 preorders ship to arrive by Aug. 11.

1. Flex Window

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Samsung)

Ok, I promise this isn't a bait and switch, I have other reasons, but I don't want this one to get lost in the shuffle just because it's a visible change. I still think people are ignoring how significantly it transforms your entire usage of the phone.

Samsung had been inching forward with the cover display on the Flip line, but it still felt like a tiny viewport into your content rather than an actual usable display. The jump from 1.9 to 3.4 inches completely changes the game. Now it is more limited than the free-for-all that Motorola is allowing on the Razr+, but that's not all bad as you are getting more curated experiences on this display and given Samsung's share of the foldable market I expect to see developer support grow. 

Selfies are the most obvious use case. While I do not condone slapping the phone out of someone's hand if you see them using the hole-punch front-facing camera on the Flip 5, please kindly and rationally explain the error of their ways, because you have dead-simple access to high-quality cameras for all your selfie needs.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Samsung)

Responding to messages no longer requires popping open your Flip either. Just tap on the notification and you'll be able to type away on a full-size keyboard and return your phone to your pocket. The widget-like modules on the Flip 5 Flex Window can feel a bit like smartwatch apps, but this is the major differentiator as I am not here for anyone telling me they enjoy or find it easy to type on a smartwatch keyboard.

Beyond Samsung's dozen cover screen widgets, you can go to Settings > Advanced Features > Labs to enable "Apps allowed on cover screen." This adds some handy additional apps like Maps, Messages, Netflix, WhatsApp, YouTube, and more.

Again, this is the major visible upgrade to the Z Flip 5 so maybe you weren't ignoring it, but I can't stress how often I find I don't even need to flip open the phone to get some quick task done, which is something I could only say of the Fold previously.

2. Battery life

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

The battery size on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 remains precisely the same 3,700mAh that Samsung used on the Galaxy Z Flip 4, how much better could the battery life really be? While I felt like I wasn't experiencing much battery anxiety the first couple of days with the Z Flip 5, something I would never have said of previous Flips, I was eager to see whether our lab test would back up my anecdotal experiences.

It did not disappoint with the Z Flip 5 lasting 9 hours and 53 minutes in our Laptop Mag Battery Test which involves the phone browsing the web on 5G with the display set at 150 nits of brightness. That's an hour and 20 minutes longer than the Z Flip 4 survived on that same test. It does come up just shy of the Razr+ (10:09), but that's a negligible advantage and pushes the Z Flip 5 into what I consider to be don't worry about it battery territory.

So how did Samsung pull this off? The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 inside. While we've seen solid performance gains from Qualcomm's latest, the efficiency has been its most significant win of this generation, consistently delivering at least 1-2 hours of added battery life to Android flagships across the board.

3. Storage boost

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

While the pricing didn't move on the Galaxy Z Flip 5, it starts at the same $999, Samsung doubled your storage for that price. I'd imagine at least 98% of smartphone users can get by with 256GB, so while I would still tell you to take Samsung up on the free upgrade to 512GB if you pre-order the Flip 5, if you're reading this after it elapsed, don't worry you will still be fine.

In a year where the threat of iPhone price hike rumors just won't stop, it's good to see Samsung not only hold the line on pricing but actually give you more for your money.

Outlook

While the first 72 hours have been a solid start, I'm not ready to weigh in with a final review just yet. Stay tuned for that this week after I've spent a little more time with the phone and can stack its photos up against rivals like the Moto Razr+. Early impressions there are good as well though, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also boasted some photo-enhancing features that may be benefiting the unchanged camera setup on the Z Flip 5.

Samsung may not have completely transformed the Z Flip 5 inside and out, but I think this is a more worthwhile upgrade than meets the eye. If you've been considering the jump into foldables or are waffling on one of the upgrade offers that makes it free or nearly free to go from the Z Flip 4, make the leap, you won't regret it.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.