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Disclosure: Samsung lent a unit for the purpose of this review
MANILA, Philippines – Samsung’s Galaxy Fold5, announced on July 26 at the company’s second Unpacked of the year, arrives in stores on August 18.
The Fold5 is an ultra-expensive device – its starting price is P98,990 (256GB variant), which is the same launch price for last year’s model – known for its foldable screen that allows it to flip open like a tablet or clap closed like a regular, albeit extra-thick regular smartphone with an extra narrow screen.
The biggest difference in this year’s model is its new hinge that Samsung calls the Flex Hinge.
This new mechanism allows the phone to fold nearly flat. Really close inspection shows that there still seems to be a very, very tiny hint of a taper, and there’s still a very tiny gap, but it’s a huge improvement from the Fold4.
To compare, the Fold4’s official specs showed a width of 15.8 millimeters (mm) at the hinge, and 14.2 mm at the tapered end. Measurements made by Financial Review confirmed what I saw with my eye that the Fold5 isn’t 100% flat. It found that it’s 13.6 mm at the hinge, and 13.2 mm at the opposite end. We’re picking nits, and splitting hairs, but there’s your answer if you were looking for it.
Samsung, to be fair, doesn’t market the phone as being completely flat. They only mention that it’s thinner, lighter, or easier to hold in the hand in their press materials, which are all true.
Weight and width reductions, comparisons
Unfolded, the Fold5’s width is down to 6.1 mm from the Fold4’s 6.3 mm, and the weight has dropped down from 263 grams to 253 grams.
To compare, the Samsung’s S23 Ultra is 234 grams while the iPhone 14 Pro Max is 240 grams, so the Fold5 is reaching traditional smartphone weight, at least if we’re talking about the largest flagship models. The original Fold, launched in 2019, weighed 276 grams.
Oher foldables with a Fold-like form factor include OPPO Find N2 at 233 grams or 237 grams for the glass back models, the Huawei Mate X3 at 239 grams (and also thinner at 5.3mm), and the Google Pixel Fold at 283 grams. Only the Samsung and Huawei models are available in the Philippines.
Is 253 grams light enough? I use a phone weighing 200 grams, case-less, so the Fold5 takes some getting used to, and you’ll be asking yourself whether daily use of a heavier-than-usual phone is worth the bigger fold-out screen.
The Flex Hinge is also an important development for Samsung as they claim it not only makes for a flatter profile but adds to the durability as well.
Samsung’s also saying that the inside screen’s brightness is now at 1,750 nits or 30% brighter than what the Fold4 was capable of.
Battery life, cameras
Another item on my wishlist: a bigger battery. It has the same 4,400 mAh battery as the Fold4, but software and processor improvements are supposed to make it last longer. Under heavy use, with some video editing and lots of video taking, the Fold5 appears to struggle to last a day. Even with moderate use, the battery seems to be going down faster than I had expected. That’s been my short experience so far. With longer testing, we’ll see if that’s indeed the case.
So far, my favorite use case for the main screen is how it makes video editing easier because of all that extra screen real estate. But if the battery can’t keep up….
As for the camera, it also uses the same 50MP (f/1.8, optical image stabilization) main camera, a 10MP sensor for 3x zoom, a 12MP ultra-wide, a 10MP selfie camera on the front screen, and a 4MP under display camera inside as the Fold4. It also has digital zoom up to 30x. The video stabilization, based on our use so far, is also reliable.
It’s a roughly similar array as Samsung’s other flagship line, specifically the S23+, and a step below the top-of-the-line S23 Ultra, which has the option of using a 200MP shooter, 10x optical zoom, and 100x digital zoom.
If camera is your top priority, the S23 Ultra is still the one to get, at least for Samsung fans. One wonders whether there will come a time where a Fold variant (Fold Ultra?) will eventually match up with the S line’s Ultra model.
As expected, you get the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform, and 12GB of RAM, with storage options of 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB.
The Fold is certainly not for everyone, largely because of the price. But if you’ve always been the target market, now’s as good a time as any to jump onto the Fold. The hinge improvement and the weight and width reduction might seem minor, but these really make the phone a more mature product than ever.
If you’re in the market for the Fold, Samsung has pre-order offers until August 17 for storage upgrades, discounts for select wearables, and trade-in promos. – Rappler.com