The flippable foldable, Galaxy Z Flip5 is the smaller and younger of Samsung’s folding smartphones. While it’s the Fold that turns into a tablet and back into an almost regular phone, the Flip turns into a compact square that nestles in the palm — and goes back to being an almost regular phone when you unfold it. The Fold gives more space to those who want to be more involved with what they do on a phone while the Flip gives you ultra portability. Ideally, one should own both, but these are expensive top-tier devices. The Z Flip5, in for review, costs ₹99,999 or ₹109,999, depending on the storage variant.

The box the Z Flip5 arrives in is minimal — just enough to hold a regular phone. That’s because it does hold the unfolded Flip5 with no extras including a charger. This remains a considerable shame considering the asking price. Come to think of it, one should be getting all essential accessories, including a cover, of which Samsung is making a whole army in colourful shades. The cases for this device are in fact quite a ‘thing’ on their own, being able to give the fashionable device a different look with a mere change of cover. The colours the actual Flip5 comes in are black (graphite), cream, mint green and lavender.

The Flip started out looking like a fashion bauble but it has, in fact, grown up.

Find a charger and top up the Flip5 and set it up. The most visible change from the previous versions of this unusual smartphone is the cover screen, now branded Flex Window - because that’s what companies like to do.

Flip5 has it covered

The Flip used to have a tiny secondary screen on the cover, almost there to just look good. With the competition using up the entire space on the top folded up half of the phone, Samsung has decided to extend that screen and it’s now 3.4 inches, leaving barely any room just for the camera circles and some internals. Now, this not only looks extremely attractive but is much more usable. There are more widgets that can now be used on that little cover or ‘Flex Window’. Actually — and thankfully — the display doesn’t flex. The hinge does. Be that as it may, the cover screen can be tapped and swiped in three directions to get to notifications, settings,  and more widgets. You can also use a pinch gesture to see all widgets quickly. They look very good on the SUPER AMOLED panel despite not being of the highest resolution. The top display is 720 x 748 pixels and has a 60Hz refresh rate. Given the size of the screen, all this is adequate. It’s crisp enough to read notifications and messages. Any more and it’s more sensible to open up the phone.

From the cover, you can also trigger the camera quickly and set the phone down in tent mode and voice-command the camera to shoot. One can now see more with the new Flex Window which of course makes a great viewfinder. An app called Good Lock, downloadable from the Galaxy Store, can open up the option to run any app in the Flex Window. As it is you can already use YouTube, Netflix and a small collection of apps, but with Good Lock almost everything can run on the cover screen. Apps don’t continue from the unfolded screen to the Flex Window.

The unfolded Flip5 is close to being a regular phone with a 6.7-inch screen, except for the fact that it is narrower and taller. This inner or main screen is a 2K, replete with all the support for HDR10+, 120Hz refresh and 1750nits peak brightness. There’s Gorilla Glass Victus 2 protection.

Some may find the keyboard a little cramped, but those who input with their thumbs will find it less tiring. Another difference is that there is still a crease in the centre. This is most visible when the screen is off however and it really doesn’t interfere with anything that one does on the device so it’s quickly and easily forgotten.

Flip5 folds flat

The second big upgrade on this phone (not necessarily in order of importance) is a redesigned hinge. Or one might say re-re-designed. Then the two halves of the phone meet, there’s no real gap between the two. Earlier this gap was enough to let in all sorts of things - especially dust - and damage the display. Now the folded Flip is much neater, though not altogether dust resistant. It is IPX8 water resistant though which means it can be submerged in 1.5 meters of water for about half an hour — if one dares.

The hinge is much stronger so that the phone can be opened in a sort of tiny laptop mode and the screen can be flexed at various positions. Hence the term ‘Flex Hinge’. When the cover is almost folded fully, the phone snaps shut. Hinges on both the Flip and the Fold’s previous versions haven’t shown any major problems despite the worry that moving parts are expected to stop working.

Flip5 flagship power

A welcome upgrade - and the third major one for this device - is the change in processor. The most recent flagship SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 \Gen 2 powers the Z Flip5 bringing it on par with the S23 series. There’s 8GB of RAM on both variants and storage is either 256GB or 512GH. It’s the newer UFS 4.0 standard, which should add to the speed. The fingerprint sensor is on the power button, where it’s very convenient, and you can use one physical SIM and an eSIM on this phone. There’s no memory card slot.

The battery is a 3,700mAh which really seems exceptionally meagre. But one might argue that this is a device that isn’t expected to be put to high usage but more likely moderate. It can also be counter-argued that the folding screen allowing creative ways of shooting photos and video could eat up the battery quite fast.

The camera setup is not on par with the S23 Ultra but it is nevertheless very much in the style of a Samsung camera. The primary is a 12 MP, f/1.8, 24mm (wide), 1/1.76" and the ultra wide is 12 MP, f/2.2, 123˚, 1.12µm. The selfie camera is 10 MP, f/2.2, 23mm (wide), 1.22µm. Generally speaking, pictures turn out very nice for casual usage. There’s a particular focus on improving night photos.

Samsung’s OneUI 5.1 with Android 13 is a one of the most sophisticated and thought-out interface implementations. It’s not only smooth and quick but full of details and customisations that make the user experience more intuitive rather than getting in the way. There are several aspects that are specially created for the Flip. There’s the ‘Flex Mode’ which splits various though not all apps into two so they fit on both halves and separate into viewer area and control area.

All said and done, the Z Flip5 is a very attractive phone. For those who can afford it as a second phone, it would be quite a joy to give an airing when going out on social occasions. Taking phone calls and answering WhatsApp messages from the cover screen is quite enjoyable now that there’s a complete keyboard that can fit the smaller display.The best part is that it can also turn regular with just an unfold.

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