Small Size, Big Punch: the S10e is the Rocky Balboa of Android Phones
A compact yet powerful Android phone for 2021
Published Aug 28, 2023 - The best foldable smartphone on the market gets a few small upgrades.
The latest version of Samsung’s pioneering folding slate phone, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, just came out, and with a price tag equivalent to some higher-end laptops, you’ll want to know whether it’s worth money (and the hype). We break it all down here.
We wouldn't blame you for thinking the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 doesn’t look much different from its predecessor–it doesn't.
In fact, aside from a slightly different range of colors, the new version of Samsung’s flagship technological wonder is almost identical to the one released a year ago. Both have very similar dimensions, a folding, 7.6” inner screen and a 6.2” cover screen, as well as the same three main cameras, cover camera, and under-screen camera. The Z Fold 5 comes in five different colors where the Z Fold 4 comes in four. Even the RAM, storage capacity, and battery size are the same between the two phones.
Where the Z Fold 5 truly differs from its predecessor, the differences are small. The phone is slightly smaller in height (unfolded and folded) and width (unfolded), and thinner both folded and unfolded. It is also 10 grams lighter. It features newer versions of several elements, including the Gorilla Glass screens and the chipset. Both phones run on an octa-core CPU, but the Z Fold 5 is faster.
The only area where the Z Fold 5 does worse than its predecessor is in battery life, with 37 hours of talk time instead of 40.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is great for those who are into the newest “wow” technology and want a fancy device that combines smartphone and tablet features. But with so few real upgrades from its predecessor and a price tag starting at $1800, it’s definitely not for the everyday consumer, and even those who have the money to spend on it would probably be better off buying last year’s model.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 features the same robust design as the previous model. The Samsung Armor aluminum frame is advertised as having enhanced drop and scratch resistance, and the Gorilla Glass Victus 2 front and back (folded) hold up to that promise as well. It’s worth noting that the internal Infinity Flex screen is coated with two layers of plastic, adding durability.
At 154.9 x 67.1 mm folded and 13.4 mm thick, the phone is fairly large, due to its doubled up nature. At the same time, it weighs in at 238g, roughly the same weight as the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (which is decent enough for a phone of its size) and 30 to 70 g more than the S23+ and the S23. Expect it to fill out your pockets a little more than most phones–the cost, of course, of an incredible 7.6” screen diagonal and 130.1 mm width when unfolded.
The folding screen is, of course, the main attraction of the entire Z series, and on the Z Fold 5, it is a marvel. Made with high-tech laminates and Gorilla Glass Victus glass, Samsung’s “Infinity Flex” display is no longer the delicate thing the original Galaxy Z Fold was released with. Samsung claims the Infinity Flex display can be unfolded and folded thousands of times, giving it the durability to last the typical life of a modern smartphone.
The ability to unfold your smartphone into a small tablet is pretty satisfying. Take your current smartphone and turn it horizontal. Then imagine another one placed above it. That’s the experience of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 (more or less). You can watch videos and play games in larger format, get a better view of your photos, and make use of expanded screen real estate. And when you’re finished, you can fold it up for easy carrying.
On top of this, the phone is rated IPX8 for water resistance, which means it can withstand immersion in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes without problem. Not that we encourage testing this.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 comes in five different colors: Cream, Ice Blue, Phantom Black, Grey, and Blue.
Beyond simply being able to fold up, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5’s displays are brilliant and well designed. Featuring the same Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz displays as the previous model, and on both the cover and the inside, you’ll get more accurate colors, improved brightness, and truer blacks and depths. The display also emits less blue light, making it less harmful to sleep cycles.
Additionally, the Dynamic AMOLED 2X display plays video faster and reduces screen flicker when gaming with its 120Hz refresh rate, which means a smoother visual experience.
With a minimum of 256 GB of internal storage (and up to 1 TB), you’ll have plenty of space for apps, games, photos, videos, music, and more on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. The 12 GB of memory is also excellent, and works well with the state-of-the art Snapdragon 8 Generation 2 octa-core CPU to provide great performance. A dedicated Adreno 740 GPU means better graphics without slowing down your system.
All of this is powered by a (non-removable) 4400 mAh lithium polymer battery, giving it up to 37 hours of talk time and 16 hours of video playtime. The phone features fast charging (advertised at 50% in 30 minutes), wireless charging, and reverse wireless charging.
The main camera on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a triple camera (50 MP/10 MP/12 MP) that allows for 3x optical zoom and beautiful, ultra-wide shots. It provides stunningly detailed photos well beyond what film cameras used to do.
The cover camera (for use mainly when folded up) is also 10 MP, which allows for gorgeous selfies and excellent detail on video calls. The under-the-display selfie camera, which is usable only when the phone is unfolded, comes in at a low 4 MP–not fantastic, but its purpose is mainly to allow for some front-facing camera capability while using the phone as a tablet, and to do so without impinging on the screen real estate.
Unfolded: 154.9 x 129.9 x 6.1 mm
Folded: 154.9 x 67.1 x 13.4 mm
253 g (8.92 oz)
Nano-SIM + eSIM or Dual SIM
Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz (Gorilla Glass Victus 2)
7.6 inches, 183.2 cm2
1812 x 2176 pixels
Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz (Gorilla Glass Victus 2)
Android 13, One UI 5.1.1
Qualcomm SM8550-AC Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (4 nm)
Octa-core (1x3.36 GHz Cortex-X3 & 2x2.8 GHz Cortex-A715 & 2x2.8 GHz Cortex-A710 & 3x2.0 GHz Cortex-A510)
256GB w/ 12GB RAM, 512GB w/ 12GB RAM, 1TB w/ 12GB RAM
Main (triple) camera
50 MP/10 MP/12 MP
4400 mAh, non-removable
25W wired, 50% in 30 min (advertised)
4.5W reverse wireless
37h talk time/14h web browsing/16h video
We mentioned the high price tag at the beginning of this review, and that’s definitely something to be aware of. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is one of the most expensive smartphones out there. It retails starting at $1,799 for the model with 256GB of internal storage. The middle-range model (512GB) goes for $1,919, and buying the 1TB model currently costs $2,159.*
*Retail prices as of Aug 2023 - subject to change
As always, Back Market offers more affordable, refurbished models of all sorts of electronics, including smartphones in the Samsung Galaxy Z series. This means that the devices are pre-owned and have been thoroughly tested and fully repaired to work like new. You get a top-quality smartphone, no compromise on performance, and the satisfaction of reducing electronic waste. Plus, there’s no risk to you, as our products come with a 1-year warranty, just like if you purchased them new, along with a hassle-free, 30-day return period.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is still brand spankin’ new, so refurbished models aren’t available yet. Until they start to appear on Back Market, you can find excellent Galaxy Z Fold 4 smartphones for significant savings.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is the best version yet of an already great, high-tech smartphone. It looks beautiful, is surprisingly sturdy, and features slight improvements in most categories with only a small drop in battery performance as compared to its predecessor. It’s not for everyone, though. The fancy folding gimmick is cool, but not something everyone needs, and the high price definitely puts it way out of most people’s budgets. Even refurbished versions will be a serious investment, on par with new iPhones and even some laptops.
Miguel is always looking for new ways to provide unique perspective on popular tech and has taken his writing to the refurbished industry to promote sustainability. Outside of creating content, you might find him travelling the globe, coaching a fitness class, or cheering on his favorite sports teams (Go Dolphins!)
A compact yet powerful Android phone for 2021
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