Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: it's flippin' great

The best clamshell flip phone of 2023 so far, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is Samsung's biggest upgrade to the series yet

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review
(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)
T3 Verdict

As the title says: the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is flippin' great. In terms of design, build and visual appeal it's the best clamshell flip phone of 2023 bar none – including the also excellent Motorola Razr 40 Ultra in that assessment. However, despite the Galaxy's new, larger cover display being n obvious upgrade, Samsung has been a bit shy in getting the very most from it when it comes to app functionality.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    New 3.4-inch cover display way larger than before

  • +

    Best build quality of any clamshell foldable

  • +

    Tidy software and workable battery life

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Cover display lacks full app functionality

  • -

    No zoom camera feels like a shortcoming

  • -

    60Hz only on the cover display

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This year has been super interesting for clamshell flip phones: following Oppo and Motorola upping the ante with the respective Find N2 Flip and Razr 40 Ultra (known as the Razr Plus in the USA), all eyes focused on Samsung, which holds the biggest share of this market, and how it would respond to the theme of ever-increasing cover display sizes. At Samsung Galaxy Unpacked in July 2023 the Korean giant revealed its considerably upgraded answer: the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. 

Samsung's 2023 clamshell flip phone, which I've been using over the duration of a fortnight for this review, is easily the series' biggest upgrade ever. I've already written about ways in the Z Flip 5 bests the larger-screen Razr 40 Ultra, but having dug deeper into this Galaxy I think it feels like the best folding phone in this design format. Here's why it's flippin' great – but, in the same breath, still not quite perfect...

Galaxy Z Flip 5: Price & Availability

When the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 arrived with its £999/$999/AU$1,499 asking price it was a bit of a revelation. A flip phone for barely more cash than the entry Samsung Galaxy S23 model? Yes please! It widened choice in a then typically super-high-priced foldables market. 

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 – which goes on sale from 11 August 2023 – does increase the price for this year (in the UK anyway). The Z Flip 5's £1,049/$999/AU$1,649 shows that US customers get a better deal overall, while the 6% year-on-year rise in the UK is in line with inflation, yet still marks this handset as super competitive against the slightly-higher-priced Motorola Razr 40 Ultra

Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: What's new?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

As you can see from my photo of the Z Flip 5 above, this generation is a true step-change in design compared to its predecessor, as it features a much larger cover display: it's 3.4-inches across the diagonal, significantly up on the 1.9-inch panel of the Z Flip 4. And it looks great.

It's not just that the screen is larger, though, it's altogether more functional too. It's highly responsive – which I didn't find to be the case with the Oppo Find N2 Flip, for example – which means using a batch of widgets (that vary from animated wallpapers, to a calendar, plus some limited apps use) is a cinch. 

Flip the Z Flip 5 open and its 6.7-inch internal screen is more or less the same as its predecessor. The same size, just as resolute, with 120Hz refresh rate (it's only 60Hz on the cover), and same brightness (the larger Z Fold 5 gets a brightness boost). 

Like with the screen don't expect major shifts elsewhere either, as while the Z Flip 5 does opt for a faster processor – the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 – and a new lens coating for its main camera, the overall package is largely similar to before (including IPX8 water-proofing, which is a nice touch) in the same size of handset, albeit with an even flatter close to the hinge. 

Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Design & Displays

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)
  • Cover display: 3.4-inch OLED, 60Hz, 720 x 748 resolution
  • Foldable display: 6.7-inch OLED, 120Hz, 1080 x 2640 resolution
  • Dimensions: 71.9 x 165.1 x 15.1 (6.9mm unfolded)
  • Weight: 187g

I've already detailed the two screens – and for at-a-glance info I've listed the two key specs of each above – and think both are decent iterations for a device such as this. 

However, as I said in my earlier preview of the Z Flip 5, I'm still looking forward to the expansion of the cover display's functionality – especially when it comes to apps. The current biggest drawback of the Z Flip 5 is that it's just, well, kind of 'shy' when it comes to actually using that cover display to its fullest potential.

Let me explain: straight out of the box you can get notifications on the cover display, for example, but they're fairly cursory. To get expanded use you'll need to unfold the phone, go into settings, then Labs, then select 'Use main screen navigation on cover screen' and 'Apps allowed on cover screen'. That's quite a slog for something that should simply be accessible on the cover screen itself. I wouldn't be surprised if many users never realise this is even here, which undoes much of the point in having a dual-screen clamshell flip phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

Furthermore the cover screen apps are limited, as Samsung is being seemingly rather cautious regarding functionality, unlike Motorola which lets you have at it and try more or less any app on the Razr 40 Ultra's cover display. I can see arguments to both sides of this take, sure, but at the time of writing my Galaxy Z Flip 5 only permits Google Maps, Messages, Netflix, WhatsApp and YouTube proper on the cover display. I'd like to see more, really, or force some of my own choices. 

But even as it is straight out of the box I've found using the Z Flip 5 great in its small form-factor. I said much the same of the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, too, which features an even larger 3.6-inch cover display, but of the two I find the Galaxy's overall robustness, design and finish to give it the upper hand. I'm fine that it's a tad smaller, as it feels like a sweet spot for a pocketable device such as this. 

That's the thing about the Z Flip 5: it's really the feel of this flip phone that sets it apart from others on the market. That hinge sensation is all-important, so just to be sure I went back to my Motorola Razr 40 Ultra to get a proper comparison. It's night and day for me: the Samsung just has this more resistive yet 'sprung' sensation about it, delivering even greater satisfaction in use, while that glass (Gorilla Glass Victus 2 here) and metal finish (Armour Aluminium in Samsung's book) marry together for the best-looking clamshell on the market. And, frankly, the best-made one too.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Motorola Razr 40 Ultra

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

Can it fix some of the shortcomings that all foldables have, namely the internal screen reflective quality and inevitable 'crease'? No, not really. Currently that's part and parcel in owning a folding phone. I don't find it a major nuisance, but sometimes the crease's 'shadow' can distract when scrolling through material on light backgrounds. 

As for finishes, the pictures of my review Z Flip 5 scattered around this page are of the new Mint option. It doesn't look especially 'minty' to my eyes though, partly down to the subdued tonality of the green finish, partly down to mixed lighting causing a nuisance for my camera. But subtlety is the name of the game here: whether you pick the other Lavender, Cream or Graphite options they're all gentle (I've not seen the Yellow, Grey and Blue exclusive options, but think those bolder shades at least sound a bit more exciting).

If you ignore the obvious major increase in cover display size, the Z Flip 5 otherwise isn't significantly different to its predecessor – but I don't think that matters. I wasn't looking for an overhaul here, seeing as Samsung was ahead when it came to delivering a close-flat hinge type (which Motorola has been chasing ever since). That said the Z Flip 5 is actually slimmer when folded – 15.1mm, down from 17.1mm – thanks to hinge design tweaks (the unfolded 6.9mm thickness remains unchanged).

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Performance & Battery

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

Designing a flip phone takes a little more effort than the typical best flagship Android phones, as extra consideration needs to be given to battery division and placement, weighting to the two halves, and indeed just getting everything fitted into the device around that hinge mechanism. 

Following Samsung Galaxy Unpacked, I spoke to Samsung's Head of R&D Office, Mobile eXperience Business, Mr Won-Joon Choi, who went into great detail about the challenges his team had to overcome in creating the Z Flip 5. But to me using the handset feels effortless, showing Samsung design team's success. 

Under the hood the Galaxy Z Flip 5 houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor (a mid-year bump over the 8+ Gen 1 of before) paired with 8GB RAM (LPDDRX5 type, helping with speedy loading) so this is every bit the flagship device. Such a processor does need to be kept cool, of course, and in a device that folds onto itself that's one of those challenges – although, in my use, it's never been excessively warm. 

Initially I had expected that the Z Flip 5 would be quite heavily throttled, which is an issue I've experienced with the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra, for example, as games clearly take a dip after an extended period of use. Even is Samsung does throttle, I've had a far better experience with gaming using the Z Flip 5: whether digging into Mighty Doom for half an hour, or dipping into South Park: Phone Destroyer for my weekly challenge, it's all flowed along nicely. 

Samsung and Qualcomm have a long-running agreement in place that the Snapdragon chips at the heart of devices are tuned differently. Effectively this means overclocking to eke yet more potential out of the processor's maximum. This is processing power at the top of its game – and, like I say, it stands up better here than you'll find from extended use in the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra. So that's a point to Samsung. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

When it comes to battery life, the Z Flip 5's battery capacity, at 3700mAh, is the very same as in the older model. As a figure it's not especially high, when the flagships of today are rocking 5,000mAh cells inside. But it's no surprise: this flip phone is rather small scale and slender, so there's literally no extra space to cram more cells into. And I wouldn't want this handset to be much bigger – perhaps a mite wider, actually, as I've found the keyboard when typing to feel a little narrow.

So how does this battery hold up in general use? Actually really quite well. You're not going to set any records for longevity compared to much of the mainstream market, granted, but even with the gaming described above, plenty of work-related tasks and socials, including watching videos, I've found the Z Flip 5 to get me through 14 hours of use with around 20% battery life remaining.

Charging could be faster, sure, as 25W wired is well behind the current crowd – although, with the correct plug (not included in the box), you can gain 50% in half an hour – and 15W wireless is nothing to write home about. Perfectly functional, sure, but Samsung hasn't been in the battery race game for some years now really.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)
  • Main camera: 12-megapixel, f/1.8 aperture, 1.8um pixel size, optical stabilisation (OIS)
  • Wide-angle camera: 12MP, f/2.2, 1.12um, 123-degree field-of-view
  • Selfie camera: 10MP, f/2.2, 1.22um

The last major part of the Z Flip 5 puzzle is its cameras. Which are basically the same as those in the Z Flip 4's setup. Not identical, though, as Samsung has flipped the script on the main camera by using a new lens to help "mitigate flare". I don't think that's made a gigantic difference, but it's a small improvement to at least separate the two devices to some degree. 

I've not shot loads of photos using the Z Flip 5 during my time reviewing the device as, well, I suppose I've been spoiled by some of the best camera phones of recent times: from the Google Pixel 7 Pro to the Vivo X90 Pro, there's been no shortage of varied and amazing phone-cameras in the last 12 months. Even Samsung makes one of the best in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Z Flip 5 isn't nearly in the same league as those, which is perhaps why I've been snapping less than usual. 

When I wrote about three features I wanted to see in the Z Flip 5 (before it was announced), it was the camera setup that was one of those critical parts. I was therefore surprised to see the relatively low resolution remain in this device, as I'd thought that Samsung might up its game. That said, top-tier camera units are pricey to implement and I think the Z Flip series' appeal is that, while it's not cheap, it's not to Google Pixel Fold levels of expensive.

But during use it's actually been one particular absence that's bothered me more than anything else: no zoom camera. In the Camera app the Z Flip 5 presents you with '1x' and '.5x' options only. You can pinch to zoom (up to 10x), but as this is a 12-megapixel sensor it's not got vast amounts of resolution to play with. I kind of miss having a '2x' button to simplify zooming – even if it is only digital, as is on offer here.

Regarding the overall results from this pair of snappers and it's a familiar and fair story: shots look bright and sharp at this given resolution, with ample colour (that's often pushing to oversaturated, really) and contrast. Look up close, however, and you can see 'grain' and oversharpening around subject edges, even in daylight shots (as shown in the bee-on-flower shot above).

Low-light conditions and night shooting (which is automated as Nightography) is handled well too. The Z Flip 5's cameras are part of a responsive system, which I like, as the Nothing Phone (2) that I've been using recently isn't quite so instant. Night shots can also benefit from resting the phone and using the hinge for a tripod-like support to avoid inevitable blur!

Being a flip phone, the Z Flip 5 has those neat tricks added to its roster: you can use the foldable hinge to set it up for taking selfies, or even handle it like an old-school camcorder if you want to take videos with the device folded at 45-degrees (Samsung calls it Flex Cam). All fun, but not quite game-changing features for most people, certainly not for me anyway.

Overall, then, the Galaxy Z Flip 5's cameras are solid for what they are – they're just a little less than the best on the market, but in line with what to expect from a current flip phone. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review: Verdict

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Future / Mike Lowe)

As the title says: the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is flippin' great. In terms of design, build and visual appeal it's the best clamshell flip phone bar none – and I include the also excellent Motorola Razr 40 Ultra in that assessment. 

The Z Flip 5's new larger cover display is the real appeal of this handset, of course, although I think Samsung is holding back some of the functionality here (the Labs activation route is laborious), which I think could be improved for the better. There's heaps of potential for the future though, plus more apps will inevitably be supported.

All considered, I think the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the best folding phone of 2023 so far. It's the build quality that wins over Motorola, the screen responsiveness and software that betters Oppo, and at times I've been using this clamshell and thinking, "you know what, maybe I'll ditch my current flagship" in favour of it. It's that good. 

Also consider

If you've got your heart set on a flip phone then the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the best-looking and best-functioning one that I've used to date. That said, the Motorola Razr 40 Ultra's cover display is larger and even more functional. The prices are very similar, too. 

Not worried about a big cover display? Then the smaller 1.9-inch one of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 will suffice for much less cash if it's the flip function that interests you more than the larger cover display. 

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor and AV Editor at He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 and, as a phones expert, has seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a 10 years, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.