Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, a multitasking marvel, but needs to be even bigger

    Folding phones are an interesting concept, they offer much more screen real estate than even the largest Pro or Max models on flagship smartphones. We’re now multiple years into the folding era and still, they are quite rare among regular users, chiefly due to the cost, but there are also some trade-offs that may be keeping buyers away, at least until now.

    Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the best foldable offering I’ve experienced to date. The device really challenges what is a phone and what is a tablet, with the main display spanning a massive 7.6″ when open. While the foldable display is the big feature, you’ll also need to appreciate that this phone has another 6.2″ screen on the front which can be used when the phone is folded closed.

    Those of us who are power users when it comes to our phones, will love the extra pixels and their ability to run multiple apps simultaneously, delivering an experience similar to what we have on our desktops, this allows you to be entertained by a YouTube video, while also being informed by the latest posts on X and productive, responding to emails all at once.

    The phone offers many positives, but it’s not all roses and in this review, we’ll break down what works with this flagship foldable phone, and its downsides that may leave you waiting and waiting more next year.


    The design of a foldable phone often focuses on the hinge mechanism, the magic that allows the futuristic foldable display and for the phone to transform from one mode to another.

    Having used the Fold 5 as my daily driver for a couple of weeks, I noticed myself initially unfolding the display almost every time I used the phone, over the first few days. this was almost a novelty at first, but over time I came to appreciate that much of what I do with the phone is rapid and the front screen is plenty to get the job done.

    If I had to, I’d split the two displays into two purposes. The front screen is consumption, like checking your email, calendar, and a message but any time you want to be entertained or create content, then unfold the Fold 5 and leverage the larger screen, almost doubling the area you have to work.

    As someone who loves to multi-task, having the ability to run multiple apps at once, either side-by-side or above and below or complex combinations of the two, the Fold 5 offers a very different experience than other phones do. How much you take advantage of these will determine for you if the drawbacks and compromises are worth it.

    If you’re looking to browse the web, this device is amazing, that experience is unlike any other phone I’ve used. Using the web is extremely close to a desktop experience, in something that can fold and fit in your pocket. For me, it’s the times when you flip from a link in a social media app to the web and back that really show the benefits to productivity, and any gaming you do is simply a bonus.

    The camera array is on the back of the phone and when unfolded, the cameras remain in a location that allows you to capture the world as you’d expect. You’ll have an impressive camera array, made up of a 50MP main camera, a 10 MP telephoto and 12 MP Ultra-wide camera.

    If you want to take a selfie, there’s a front-facing camera under the foldable display and unless you’re using it, you’d never know it’s there. This camera is pretty average quality by today’s standard, just 4MP, but if you fold the phone, to the regular candy bar style, you’ll have access to a better 10MP camera.

    You can see that having a foldable design, has an impact on the cameras and Samsung had to get creative to make sure you always have cameras available to you in any mode. The foldable design means you’re up for multiple displays, and multiple cameras and this all comes at a cost.

    What is a bit of magic is the ability to fold the screen at 90 degrees and have a video play on the top screen, with controls on the bottom. What I’d love to do is manually switch to the front display when the phone is in this 90-degree (or half-folded) angle. This would allow the table experience where the keyboard (is folded back on itself and you interact with the display by touch). Unfortunately, this isn’t an option.

    Something I don’t love about the design is it’s camera bump. This may be overcome with a case that levels off the external surface, but naked, the phone is easily the most tippy I’ve used when laying on a flat surface. Given this, you effectively have to pick up the phone to use it and in the unfolded mode, it’s a two-handed operation.

    Something I do love is the hinge mechanism on the outside of the screen. In earlier generations, there was a gap at the top of the fold which allowed dirt to get between the displays. Now with this updated hinge design, the two screens fold flat when closed to largely avoid this issue. The hinge, combined with great foldable display technology gave me quite a lot of confidence that the display will last for far more folds than you will subject it to over the course of a couple of years. Given the price tag, some owners may push the lifespan of this phone to 3 or 4 years and we only have accelerated testing to rely on when predicting that.

    There is no doubt that the phone is thicker than a regular phone and for most of its life with you, that won’t be an issue. I did not that the phone had a higher propensity to slide out of my pockets when sitting down, like in the car, but again, I was using it without a case.


    Samsung didn’t skimp on the performance with this phone, including an 8-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 (2nd Gen) CPU and the phone is offered in a range of storage and RAM capacities. The review unit I had 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage, but you can get 512GB or 1TB of storage.

    You’ll get 5GB connectivity and those that like to split their home and work lives can leverage the dual-SIM support (1 physical, 1 e-Sim).

    Perhaps one of the best surprises of the Fold 5 was the battery life performance. One advantage of having two parts to your phone is that you have more space to incorporate the electronics (and battery). Samsung says the Li-Po 4400 mAh battery is good for all-day battery life, with up to 21 hours of video playback, or 73 hours of music.

    Let’s face it, we’re unlikely to listen to music for 73 hours and do nothing else on our phones. These battery numbers are really difficult to apply to your specific use case. What I can share is that I consider myself a power user, pushing a phone hard most days and some days almost torturous (close to worst-case) usage.

    Despite flipping between the single and dual (unfolded) displays, I never found myself on any day of the review, searing for a charger. Often by 5 or 6 PM on a heavy day, I’d be hitting the 20% or even 10% warning, but with the Fold 5, it offered really impressive battery life, despite the size of the battery on paper being less than something like the 5,000 mAh battery in other flagships. For those that do want to extract the most from the battery, just turn on the battery saver to reduce the amount that’s happening in the background and you’ll easily make it through the day.


    The main feature of the Fold 5 is obvious, it is right there in the name, It has the phone’s ability to fold and slide into your pocket, then unfold and reveal a large, bright display.

    That large display means multi-window multi-tasking is a real option and not a gimmick. Leveraging this is easy, just launch an app, then grab another from the app launcher at the bottom of the screen, and drag the second, third or fourth app to the zone on the screen you’d like it to consume.

    This is desktop-like multitasking, with the ability to use YouTube at the top and OneNote at the bottom, Email on the left and Facebook or X on the right. On Samsung’s Fold 5 page, they show the ability to drag and drop images from one app to another, much like we do on the desktop and if you’re into it, the Fold 5 supports the S Pen stylus for precision inputs.

    The Fold 5 offers a great camera array, which at its peak can capture video in 8K quality and stills in 50MP. As is the case with most camera arrays, your image quality will shift through different resolutions, as you shift through zoom levels.

    Dual Preview is a feature that allows the subject of your photography to see themselves on the external screen, while you get to take their phone using the large unfolded display. This provides amazing access to see where the focus point is, along with control over exposure, and more pro photo options.


    While there’s a lot to love, not everything is perfect. The following items are suggestions for improvement in future editions of the device.

    The aspect ratio of the external display is in an atypical aspect ratio at 23:1:9. The consequence of this skinnier arrangement of pixels is that some applications don’t scale particularly well to this and content feels cramped.

    On the flip side, not all applications scale well to the 1812 x 2176 pixels of the unfolded display. Something like Pokemon Go is a great example. The core gameplay looks great on the surface, an amazing immersive experience, but tap a menu and it’s oversized, making the touchpoints overlap and the whole thing then feels clumsy.

    While lacking 3rd party developer support for foldable displays is not Samsung’s fault, they could help solve this issue. In the Play Store, you can look for the label ‘foldable’ on apps and there’s an increasing number of developers that are supporting this.

    What I think would be the ultimate answer (this won’t be cheaper), is to grow the width of the 2 halves of the phone so the display is an exact doubling of the standard aspect ratios. This should help applications scale better natively, and allow the front display to feel like a fully-fledged smartphone, rather than a compromise.

    While this solves some of the hardware challenges, it will take software developers to support in-app foldable support, to increasingly take advantage of the additional screen real estate.

    Price and Availability

    With the hardware and features on offer here, it should be obvious that this phone is not a cheap one. When you package what is effectively 3 displays worth of pixels, the processor required to drive them, and a serious camera array, there’s enough hardware here to justify the price, but that doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow.

    The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is available now from Samsung directly, online and retail outlets and telcos. Outright, the phone costs A$2,599.00 a significant increase over Samsung’s single-display flagship, the S23+ 5G which is priced at A$1,849.00, a massive A$750 more.

    The question is ultimately this, does the extra experiences afforded by the folding display, minus the compromises, add up to warrant the extra $750? This will be a personal decision, but its likely those who can convince their boss to pay for it, will be lining up, while those footing the bill themselves will probably not be able to recognise the benefits on offer here.

    The phone is available in 5 colours, Icy Blue (reviewed), Phantom Black, and Cream along with online exclusives Grey and Blue.

    If you want the top-spec model with 1TB of storage, the outright price is A$3,149 and while I understand some people get more value out of their phones than their computers, they would buy one impressive computer or even a used car.

    If you buy the phone on a plan with Telstra, you’ll pay A$72.19 per month for handset repayments, on top of your mobile plan costs. An S23 Ultra by comparison is A$54.13 per month and when you consider these are 3-year/36-month plans, that’s a big difference by the time you own it.

    If you want to pay off the phone in a more typically 24 months, you’ll pay $108.29/mth, add the base 50GB / $62/mth plan and you’re up for A$170.29 per month.


    This phone has been amazing to use for the past few weeks, a really different mobile experience that I probably haven’t felt since phones went from the small miniature displays to the large smartphone screens we have today.

    I feel that the Fold 5 is a window into a very exciting future of foldable devices. With continued investment in hardware interactions, we are likely to find ourselves in the next couple of years at a point where mainstream adoption of these devices is likely.

    As it stands the price of admission is too high for many to seriously consider this as an option. This is a shame as I think many would love the experience if they could. I hope Samsung and other foldable manufacturers are successful in recruiting application developers to support the new screen sizes, but they would help themselves by supporting common aspect ratios like 16:9 or 9:16.

    Reflecting on my time with the device, I was pleasantly surprised by two key aspects of the Fold 5. I expected the extra thickness of the device would be problematic, but it was absolutely a non-issue. The phone fit on all my wireless chargers, and my pockets (this may not be true for everyone). My second question going into this was battery life, given the sheer number of pixels that were being presented here. While I wasn’t gaming all day, a healthy dose of mixed-use was met with very healthy battery experiences day in and day out.

    What Samsung has achieved here is a really solid entry in the foldable market, one that would be a serious contender for your foldable money. If your money doesn’t fold, then you’ll get to keep more of it, with a perfectly fine (less exciting) single-display flagship.

    Keep iterating Samsung and you can help deliver the future phone form factors to the masses, unless Zuckerberg’s Metaverse beats you to the punch.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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