Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands-on review: comprehensive cover

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 takes on the Motorola RAZR Plus / 40 Ultra with its large cover screen – but how's the camera?

A photo of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
(Image: © Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Early Verdict

Samsung's strange side-notch on the Z Flip 5 might not look as good as Motorola's RAZR 40 Ultra cover screen, but if it makes room for better camera hardware, we're here for it. The fact the Z Flip 5 upgrades the cover-screen functionality to run third-party apps, levels up the line's power, and zaps the hinge gap of old Samsung clamshells all means this is the most exciting Z Flip since the first debuted in 2021.

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The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the new clamshell from Samsung, taking on the Motorola RAZR Plus (RAZR 40 Ultra in Europe), and Oppo's Find N2 Flip. Historically, Samsung's lack of great competition kept the Z Flip line ahead of the pack, but now that there are some strong alternatives, the Z Flip 5 has a tougher job than any of its predecessors.

Thankfully, Samsung is overhauling a huge aspect of the Flip line – its cover screen – upping it from 1.9 inches to 3.4 inches and adding support for third-party apps on it.

While Motorola dialed back its camera specs to increase its cover screen size, Samsung has brought back the same camera system introduced on the Z Flip 4 – significantly outperforming Moto's camera hardware on paper.

For the fifth generation of foldable, Samsung also managed to close the hinge gap across both its Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5, while loading them up with Galaxy S23 power and upgraded foldable experiences.

But does this new Samsung clamshell have what it takes now it has real competition from Motorola and Oppo?

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 hands-on: design and screens

Despite obvious updates to the Z Flip 5, its styling is similar to its predecessor. It's the same weight – 187g – and has a similar profile when unfolded at 6.9mm.

Where the Z Flip 5 edges ahead initially is its thickness when closed. While the Flip 4 clocked in at 17.1mm at its thickest part, thanks to a hinge-gap-free design, the folded Flip 5 has a constant 15.1mm profile.

That means Samsung's new Flip is just a little lighter than the glass-backed Motorola RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra, and a little heavier than the vegan leather Moto. As for their profiles, both phones are around as thick as one another.

Samsung may have trimmed its Flip, but the new clamshell's made of the same hardy stuff as its larger sibling, the Galaxy Z Fold 5. That means Armor Aluminum around the sides and along the hinge, Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the front and back, and the whole package is IPX8 water resistant.

Closed, the Z Flip 5 fits very comfortably in a palm, and its hinge is incredibly secure on first impression. While the Motorola RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra and Oppo Find N2 hinges don't put up much of a fight when you open or close them, the Galaxy Z Flip 5's holds confidently at virtually any angle throughout its range and takes intent to open or close it.

The front display isn't huge – vertically smaller than that of the Motorola RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra Plus – but it's comfortable to swipe across and measures a similar horizontal width.

Unlike Motorola, Samsung kept its cover screen specs modest, with a 60Hz refresh rate and a significantly lower-resolution panel. That means Samsung's new phone's front display is less smooth and crisp than the RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra.

You'll also notice that Samsung's got a strange side-notch going on with its Z Flip 5, and that's to make room for its cameras.  While Moto cuts a couple of holes out of the RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra screen and downgrades the cameras, Samsung's notch solution is likely why the Flip 5 didn't get a worse camera than its predecessor. 

So while cover screen fans may be dismayed by Samsung's Z Flip 5 cover screen credentials when compared to the RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra, if it means a better camera system, we're all for it.

As for the main display, it's a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel with a Wide Full HD  resolution of 2640 x 1080. On first impression, when open, it has a visible crease – more so than the Oppo Find N2 Flip, and we could feel a subtle bump as our thumb glided over the center, but it didn't detract from a quality display in our brief experience.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: camera

The Z Flip 5's main camera enjoys the same camera specs as the Z Flip 4, with its 12MP resolution matched with an f/1.8 aperture. The 1/1.76-inch primary sensor is a little smaller than that of the Oppo Find N2 – it's a similar spec to the Sony Xperia 1 II from 2020. But Samsung adds OIS to the mix, missing from Oppo's clamshell, so it should hold things together in dimly-lit scenes nicely. The main camera also has a wide 24mm focal length and sports Dual Pixel PDAF.

The Flip 5's ultra-wide camera looks to be the same as the Flip 3 and Z Flip 4, clocking in at 12MP, matched with an f/2.2 lens, and sporting an expansive 123˚ field of view. With 1.12 micron pixels, the ultra-wide won't be a lowlight champ based on its specs. 

Open up the phone, and the screen has a centered punch-hole selfie camera. This isn't an autofocusing front camera you might expect from top-tier Samsung smartphones, but it's still a respectable 10 MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture and a wide 26mm lens.

Naturally, you'll likely use the primary camera for selfies given its superior quality, and Samsung's improved the part-folded ways you can eke even more out of it in what it calls Flex Mode. 

Give subjects a preview so they can strike some more informed poses by turning on the front display, part-fold the phone and rest it on a surface for long-exposure snaps or hands-free group shots, and you can also gesture to activate the shutter release. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: additional features

Running Android 13 with OneUI over the top, Samsung's Android phones all look and feel similar, so if you've used one before, you'll know what to expect. App support is excellent, and with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy inside, there's ample power. 

The Z Flip 5 has a respectable 8GB RAM, and can be picked up with either 256GB or 512GB storage – ample space – though there's no SD card slot, so you can't bump that up.

Available in two storage capacities, the 256GB version costs $999/£1,049/AU$1,649, while the 512GB option costs $1,119/£1,149 – and while is pricier than the Z Flip 4 on launch – the Z Flip 5's starting storage capacity is double that of its predecessor, which had 128GB.

What's most novel about the Z Flip 5 is the cover screen interface. Similar to Motorola's in the RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra, it marries cards and an apps menu, and you can run third-party apps on it.

Samsung's cover screen cards are super-comprehensive, offering up shortcuts to your alarms, calendar, media controls, stopwatch and timer, voice recorder, weather, and more.

Changing your cover screen style is also simple, with Samsung giving Flip 5 users the pick from multiple options so they can line a few up, and easily switch between them with a long-press.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

With a 3700mAh battery, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a modest capacity by traditional phone standards. Compared to other flip phones, however, it's respectable; larger than last year's RAZR 2022 (3500mAh), a little smaller than the RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra (3800mAh), and a fair bit smaller than the Oppo Find N2 (4300mAh).

Unlike Oppo's offering, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 packs wireless charging and wireless PowerShare, so it can charge up a watch, buds, or even another smartphone wirelessly. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: early verdict

If we didn't get the Galaxy Z Flip 5 in front of us before writing about it, we would have been underwhelmed by its specs. After all – this phone is similar to the Z Flip 4 on paper – but that's only part of the story.

Foldables always present an engineering challenge, vying to be the thinnest and lightest while also trying to squeeze in better cameras and bigger displays.

Motorola made its choice with the RAZR Plus / RAZR 40 Ultra. By upping the cover screen size and making it a seriously stylish clamshell with top-tier displays, it compromised on cameras, downgrading the imaging hardware compared to the RAZR 2022.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

For 2023, Samsung's gone for balance with its flip phone. The Z Flip 5 is a less striking phone than the RAZR, but its more modest front screen is likely the reason we don't get a camera downgrade this year, and the solid construction is appreciated on first impression.

Unlike the Z Fold 5, though, the Z Flip 5 really does represent a leap forward for the line thanks to that 3.4-inch cover screen. The third-party app support, in particular, gives Motorola and Samsung's flip phone cover screens an edge over Oppo and its Find N2 Flip. And with the return of a competent camera and the latest image processing, the Z Flip 5 could still be the photographer's flip phone choice.

Want to know more about the Z Fold 5's competition? These are the best flip and fold phones flexing their features right now, and if you aren't sold on the fold, check out our guide to the best camera phones of 2023.

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Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist and content creator with a number of specialisms. He started his career at Canon Europe, before joining Phone Arena and Recombu as a tech writer and editor. From there, he headed up and runs Tech[edit], a technology YouTube channel, and has worked alongside this role at Future as a Senior Producer, sharpening his considerable video production skills. 

His technical expertise has been called on numerous times by mainstream media, with appearances and interviews on outlets like Sky News, and he provides Digital Camera World with insight and reviews on camera phones, video editing software and laptops, on-camera monitors, camera sliders, microphones and much more.