Android Central Verdict
Samsung's redesigned S Pen case for the Galaxy Z Fold 5 solves basically all the problems we had with last year's case, including a sleeker S Pen that's more comfortable to use than the tiny one siloed in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. It's quite expensive and doesn't provide any hinge protection, but is that a problem? Maybe not.
Almost no bump on the back
Pen is large and comfortable to use
Protects without adding bulk
Fixes the phone's wobble
Screen lip is just the right size
Some defective units reported
No hinge protection
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Ever since Samsung introduced S Pen support to the Galaxy Z Fold series in 2021, we've been pining for a Z Fold that includes an S Pen. Last year, Samsung made a case that slots the big S Pen on the back but it added an entire phone's thickness to the package, making it a bit pocket-unfriendly.
This year, Samsung redesigned the S Pen so it's flat on two sides but still as wide as the larger S Pen Fold Edition. It's using that S Pen to slot into a unique clip-in holster on the back of this new Galaxy Z Fold 5 case and it feels positively amazing.
This case solves many problems including packing the S Pen in with the phone, protecting the phone, and, somehow, not adding much bulk at all to the new slimmer and sleeker Z Fold 5. But it's not without its problems as early adopters have found. Is it worth the $100? For anyone who loves the S Pen, absolutely.
Slim it down
It's almost comical comparing the previous Z Fold 4 S Pen case with the new Slim S Pen case on the Fold 5. I'm not at all exaggerating when I say the old model is an entire phone thicker than the new model. That's 8mm thinner, to be specific.
It sounds pretty obvious to say, but that's a huge deal and makes it possible for more people to use the new case. The old case was quite literally too thick to fit into some pockets, and the new one helps that considerably.
Impressively, this slimming down hasn't affected the style or protective nature of the case, which still does a great job of protecting most of the phone from scratches and bumps.
The clear downside to this design is that there's no hinge protection, which may or may not bother you. I'm not a person who drops their phone often, so I'm mainly looking for scratch resistance and extra grippiness in my cases. Not to mention, of course, the addition of the S Pen itself.
Our review unit is the ever-boring black colorway, but Samsung seems to have remembered that color exists this year, offering more unique colorways like grey/orange and blue/lime. I really like these new colors and would highly recommend either of them, having seen them in person back at the hands-on session for the Fold 5 in July.
This case also solves the age-old problem of phone wobble. Having the pen holster vertically aligned with the side means that the phone sits nearly flat on a table and doesn't wobble at all. Conversely, the phone wobbles like crazy without a case when it's on a table or other flat surface.
The S Pen is held in a clip holster on the back of the case. This clip sits at the top of the holster and slides down to release the pen. Once you slide the clip down, the S Pen is propped up a few millimeters for easy removal. I particularly like this design because it doesn't eject the pen. It slides it up so you can easily grab it.
That's important because it prevents the pen from falling out of the holster under normal circumstances. The pen is replaced back in the holster by putting the tip in first, followed by pressing down on the opposite end to lock it in.
Having the S Pen in an actual holster on the back ensures it stays in place, but it's also less convenient than last year's slide-in solution. Samsung chose this new design because it helps further slim down the holster, but it also makes it slightly more difficult to remove than the old design.
That's not to say this is difficult to remove or to use, but the added friction of the experience could cause some users to actually use the S Pen less than they might have with the old design. Yes, it sounds funny, but humans are inherently lazy, especially when it comes to repetitive tasks.
Less friction is always better with these types of products, and this one, unfortunately, introduces more friction. Not less.
For me, this pen is the perfect middle-ground size between the comfortable-but-massive S Pen Fold Edition and the convenient-but-uncomfortable S Pen found in phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
My colleague Andrew Myrick says he prefers the larger S Pen and while I don't disagree with him for comfort's sake, I think slimming this thing down a bit is more helpful than it is harmful.
The new S Pen has flat "front" and "back" sides, which makes it feel more like a large version of the S Pen in the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Initially, I thought this would make it substantially easier to find the button and not spin the pen all the time.
In practice, it definitely improves the experience, but not as drastically as I originally hoped. I think we still need a bit more of a tactile feel on the button — either some kind of texture or making the button more recessed into the S Pen's frame — but it's not a huge deal overall.
A note on defects
Since the Fold 5 launched, some users who have purchased the Slim S Pen Case have received defective units. While they look just fine on the surface, something went wrong in the manufacturing or shipping process that warped the holster for the S Pen.
The result is an S Pen that wobbles or spins in the holder on the back and falls out at any given time. Knowing Murphy's Law, this means the pen will fall out in the worst place possible.
Neither Andrew Myrick nor myself have been able to replicate this problem. Reddit and Twitter replies also seem to suggest that it doesn't affect all cases, either. We reached out to Samsung, and they acknowledged the issue.
“We are aware that, in some instances, the S Pen may not fully click into the Galaxy Z Fold5 Slim S Pen Case. Users who may experience this can exchange their existing case for a new case by contacting Samsung Care at 1-800 SAMSUNG or contacting the store or website where they purchased the device."
It's good that Samsung has figured out the issue, but this isn't exactly something someone expects to see in a $100 case. Hopefully, future batches won't be affected.
Outside of these strange circumstances, the Slim S Pen Case is a work of art and is easily my favorite official Samsung case ever made. It's a lot to ask $100 for a case but, if you take into account similar cases like the Spigen Thin Fit P, it's right on the mark. Plus, it's great to have the S Pen included in the box and not have to purchase one separately.
Slap an S Pen on the back of your Fold without adding tons of bulk or thickness. It's hard to argue with the usability of the S Pen when it's this easy to add one!