Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: How it started and how it's going

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 was a welcome departure from previous Samsung flip phones when it launched, thanks primarily to the large cover screen on the front. However, flip phones have become much more competitive as companies flock to launch their own versions of the lower-cost foldable phones. So, how has the Galaxy Z Flip 5 fared over the past year since its launch?

Complicating that answer is the very imminent launch of the Galaxy Z Flip 6, which we expect will gain a number of welcome upgrades over the Flip 5. But even so, it's always worth considering the previous generation to either save money on an already great phone or discern how a company may treat the newest mode. So, in the spirit of potentially saving some money, let's look at how my statements from the Galaxy Z Flip 5 review have held up and whether or not it's still worth buying today.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Design and display

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 near a bush

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

"Despite the same boxy design, the Z Flip 5 does have one benefit over its predecessors; a new hinge. Thanks to Samsung finally adopting a waterdrop-style hinge design that other OEMs have long used, the company is finally able to make the Z Flip 5 close more or less completely flat and without an unsightly gap."

If there's one thing Samsung is good at, it's hardware. The company has sold many foldables over the years and has nearly perfected the hardware portion. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 may not look all that different from its predecessors, but it's a solid design that has held up well over the past year, especially now that the phone closes completely shut. The water resistance is also a nice touch, especially in the often wet and sometimes rainy Seattle weather.

I'm not too fond of the fact that the cameras tend to gather dust around them, but that's a given with this kind of design. The glossy frame and glass back also get a bit smudgy, but I tend to keep a case on it. And if you're looking for a Galaxy Z Flip 5 case, I would suggest this one from Thinborne, which is not only incredibly thin and tough but also adds a magnet ring for MagSafe accessories. And while you're at it, go and grab this Lamicall Magnetic Phone Ring Holder.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 with a Thinborne case and MagSafe ring

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

"With the new hinge design, I expected the display to feature a rather minimal crease. Unfortunately, that's not really the case. The crease is very much present, both physically and visually, and to a level that surprises me quite a bit."

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 hinge is still as sturdy as it was when it first launched, which is more than I can say for the Motorola Razr Plus 2023, which had a somewhat flimsy hinge. The Flip is able to retain its position from various angles, which is nice when taking photos or watching content.

That said, the crease is still a problem. Coming from other foldables like the Razr Plus 2023 and even the OPPO Find N3 Flip, the Z Flip 5 display is always so jarring because of the very deep and visually noticeable crease. It's my least favorite thing about the otherwise great AMOLED display.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Cover screen

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen apps

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

"On the one hand, it's great that Samsung is finally giving us a larger and more functional external display, and there's a lot to like about it. However, as I previously pointed out, the cover screen feels held back by Samsung's software, and for absolutely no reason."

Unfortunately, Samsung seems to be pretty stubborn on this front. A year later, I continue to be at odds with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen. Samsung clearly put some thought into it, which is evident by the various panels and unique navigation options like pinching to view all the panels at once (something Motorola recently adopted). However, Samsung continues to hold back the cover screen experience with the odd decision to hide most apps behind a series of menus and the Good Lock app.

Not only that, but there are still plenty of actions that require you to open the phone, and multitasking is still nonexistent. I'd say that Samsung has rendered the cover screen experience to nothing more than a blown-up smartwatch, but I often feel that even a Galaxy Watch can accomplish more than the cover screen.

I had a friend switch from an iPhone to the Galaxy Z Flip 5, and he had no idea he could use apps on the cover screen. I had to walk him through how to enable apps and then how to download Good Lock to get other apps on his cover screen. He was quite surprised that he could do all of this with the cover screen. This tells me that Samsung is not only failing to really communicate the functionality of the cover screen, but it's making this whole experience unnecessarily complicated.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Software and performance

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 advanced intelligence menu

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

"It's not perfect, and Samsung still bogs things down by pushing its own apps on you, but I feel that Google can learn a lot from One UI, particularly regarding foldables."

Aside from the frustrating cover screen experience, Samsung's One UI continues to be my favorite flavor of Android. I find the software quite clean and not too flashy or cartoony, and the phone continues to perform as well as it did when I first used it, no doubt thanks to the impressive Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

A quick swipe down for the Quick Settings menu reveals six toggles, the brightness slider, and a shortcut to the settings app. I appreciate that it doesn't take a second swipe to get to most of these things, and when you do swipe again, you get 12 user-selected toggles, permanent Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons, additional display options, and more. It's just a great use of space.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 launched with Android 13 but has since received One UI 6 based on Android 14, giving it some welcome UI enhancements (including some I mentioned above for Quick Settings) and additional features. The phone also continues to receive monthly software updates, which is always nice.

Perhaps one of the biggest updates came in the form of Galaxy AI, which launched with the Galaxy S24 series and brought some fun and useful new features to the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Of them, my favorites are Circle to Search and Chat Assist, which make it easy to search for anything on your screen and communicate with people in other languages, among other useful functions.

The gesture navigation bar on the Galaxy Z Flip 5

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

That said, my biggest gripe with One UI continues to be Samsung's continued use of a horizontal app drawer instead of a vertical one. It doesn't make sense to me and it sort of ruins the experience a bit. You could enable vertical scrolling with a Good Lock module, but the solution wasn't perfect and Samsung disabled it with Android 14 without warning. Fortunately, it looks set to return with an update later this year, but instead of making it a Good Lock option, Samsung needs to just make vertical scrolling the default.

"Depending on your use, the 3700mAh battery can maybe get you through most of the day on a single charge, but I find that I can maybe get to the end of a work day before the Z Flip 5 is on its last legs."

Despite updates and new features, the battery life situation remains roughly the same a year later. It's not phenomenal, but the Galaxy Z Flip 5 can get you through much of the day. Just be prepared to sit around and wait for the phone to charge with its meager 25W wired charging speed.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 in Flex Mode with the camera on

"In my experience, the phone's cameras take perfectly adequate images with enough detail, color, and dynamic range that they'll require very little editing before throwing them up on Instagram."

Not much has changed on this front. The camera still performs as well as it has, producing crisp images during the day and fairly detailed photos in low-light. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 continues to be a well-rounded camera phone that is enhanced by the form factor, which gives you different shooting options than you'd find on a regular phone.

Propping up the top half lets you emulate a tripod with the cover screen previewing the photo in real time, letting your subject adjust their pose for the perfect shot.

With One UI 6.1, Samsung added new features to the Gallery, such as Generative Edit, which lets you erase or move things around while the app fills in the space. There's also Instant Slow-Mo, which slows down almost any video in your gallery, even if it wasn't shot in slow motion. The phone uses AI to intelligently fill in the extra frames, and the effect is pretty cool.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Should you still buy it?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 outdoors with the cover screen on

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Even with the Galaxy Z Flip 6 on the way, the Z Flip 5 is still a great phone that has plenty going for it. Sure you don't get the same seven years of software support like with Samsung's latest phones, and some generative AI features may be limited, but as far as flip phones go, this is one of the best. If anything, the launch of the Z Flip 6 will drive the price even lower, making this a steal.

If you're in the market for a flip phone, I would say that the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is still a good buy. Otherwise, you can spring for the latest model or you can look at the Motorola Razr Plus 2024, which hits stores soon.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.

  • cknobman
    Good article and thank you for sharing.

    I'll add my thoughts on Flip 5 as well.

    I do share your issues about Samsung and its confusing, or incomplete, strategy with the cover screen.
    Without knowing to go through Good Lock and unlock some actual useful functionality the cover screen is limited to a small, and poor, selection of largely useless widgets.
    After unlocking more potential through Good Lock I use my cover screen all the time.

    Also, One UI launcher is one of the first things I disable because of stupid Samsung limitations, especially the app drawer.
    But that is an easy fix by using Nova Launcher.

    As for the battery I have not really had any issues at all. There have been fewer times than I can count on one hand where I drained the battery in less than a day.
    Only time the battery has come close to dying before bedtime is on extended bouts of YouTube or video streaming. (I dont really game).

    Overall I love this phone and it was worth the upgrade from the Flip 4.