Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5: What we want to see
Perfecting the Fold, one generation at a time.
Foldables prove that the future is already here, giving us phones that bend in half without sacrificing much, if at all. The latest generations of foldable phones continue to raise the bar and defy expectations, but that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement.
Last year's Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (opens in new tab) is my favorite phone of all time and I've been using it as my main smartphone any time I'm not busy reviewing another phone. With that said, I can definitely pick out a few things I'd love to see Samsung improve in the obligatory Z Fold 5 which we expect to come out sometime in late Summer or early Fall, if past releases are any indication.
And while Samsung has made the best foldable phone (opens in new tab) for a few years now, MWC 2023 has proven that Samsung better not rest on its laurels this year. Competition from companies like Honor (opens in new tab), Tecno (opens in new tab), Motorola (opens in new tab), and even Google (opens in new tab) itself proves that Samsung could very well lose its crown if it doesn't make a few important changes.
It's been quite a bit of time since we've picked on Samsung for using too much plastic in its phones — the one exception being the Galaxy S21 (opens in new tab) series — and this particular request actually has nothing to do with the phone's build itself. Rather, we're addressing the PET screen protector that adorns the foldable display on both the Fold and Flip phones.
All Flip and Fold phones have had some sort of protective plastic screen protector applied to the ultra-thin glass since the inception of Samsung foldables, but the PET one — that's polyethylene terephthalate — is particularly prone to warping and cracking over time.
As you'll see in the image above of my wife's Galaxy Z Flip 3, the screen protector developed a fine split line right in the center of the foldable crease. Both her Flip 4 and my Fold 4 now have an identical line developing after months of use.
While I can (and have) replaced the screen protector with any one of the best Fold 4 screen protectors (opens in new tab), it would be nice to not have to keep buying them every few months.
Not only that, but the plastic protectors often feel cheap and, depending on the material you select, can end up feeling grimy because of finger oils. If Samsung could develop something that doesn't crack or feel greasy over time, I'd love to see it on the Fold 5.
Death to the crease
All signs point to Samsung swapping out the current hinge design and replacing it with a "waterdrop" hinge that folds the glass inward in, you guessed it, a waterdrop shape. We've seen several other foldable phones use this folding method and they all result in a seamless, creaseless folding display.
The one caveat is that none of them are water-resistant the way Samsung's foldables have been since the Z Fold 3 and Flip 3. But that all looks to change based on the latest Fold 5 display rumor (opens in new tab) which shows that Samsung has solved the puzzle, meaning we'll be getting a phone that's water-resistant and has no display crease.
The interesting thing is that the crease is not formed by the display itself. Rather, it's the hinge design that causes the crease. A recent Samsung prototype, shown above, is likely what the Fold 5 could look like compared to a Fold 4. As you'll notice, the new hinge folds completely flat, and the device is also substantially slimmer.
As I've said in all of our Fold and Flip reviews, the display crease isn't a big deal when looking at it straight on, especially with a bright background. But boy, is it ever obvious from any other angle, especially from the side.
See that photo above? I took a vacation over to Santa Monica beach last year and didn't take the Galaxy Z Fold 4 with me for this particular portion. Why? Simply put, the Fold and Flip aren't dustproof like a standard slab smartphone is. If I had taken it and dropped it in the sand, the likelihood is that I could have destroyed the phone the next few times I opened and closed it.
While Samsung is at making a new hinge, it would be amazing to see a proper dust-resistance rating on any of the company's upcoming foldables. The lack of a dust-resistance rating is a real pain in the neck for anyone who enjoys going to the beach or getting dirty since specks of sand or dirt could cause serious problems with current hinge designs.
Shorter but wider
The rumored Google Pixel Fold is supposedly using a 16:9 aspect ratio for the inside display, meaning both inner and outer displays are notably wider than Samsung's Z Fold line. While I really enjoy the larger screen on the inside of the Fold 3 and 4, the aspect ratio has always been a bit awkward.
That's especially true of the outer display which seems comically narrow the first time you use a Fold. If Samsung were to shorten the phone a bit, it would be a bit easier to use the outer display with a single hand and the inner display could display videos without having to turn the device at all.
In fact, a wider inner display could prove to be a huge advantage for the Fold 5 over previous Samsung Fold phones as it would be inherently in "landscape" orientation at all times. Given that Google has a newfound interest in making Android more tablet-friendly thanks to the upcoming Pixel Tablet (opens in new tab), having a Fold that uses tablet apps on the inner display without having to rotate the phone would be a huge boon for Samsung.
Not only that, but a wider phone would make more room for an S Pen...
S Pen upgrades
Since the current tall-and-narrow design of the Fold lineup doesn't leave room for an S Pen, a wider phone would certainly help bring everyone's favorite stylus into the body of a potential Fold 5. The S Pen doesn't take up all that much room but, again, the current design is just too narrow to make it fit.
Since Samsung ditched the Note name in favor of phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra (opens in new tab) and even made S Pens specifically built for the Fold line, there's little reason to think the company hasn't been working on ways to integrate the S Pen into the body of a future Z Fold phone.
While I far prefer the larger S Pen Fold Edition (opens in new tab) over the tiny pencil that's included in the S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra, there's no denying the convenience of a stylus included in the body.
Additionally, I would love to see Samsung slap a Wacom digitizer in the cover display so I can make quick notes without having to unfold the Fold before writing. Currently, the Fold 3 and Fold 4 only support the S Pen on the larger inner display.
An ultra camera upgrade
Lastly, I want to see Samsung further push the boundaries of mobile photography on its foldables. The Z Fold 4 cameras (opens in new tab) were absolutely an upgrade over the Z Fold 3's cameras in almost every way, and adding the 200MP sensor and 10x optical zoom from the Galaxy S23 Ultra would put the phone over the top, making it the ultimate Android phone to get.
I also hope Samsung can finally figure out how to take better photos of moving subjects like kids and pets before the Fold 5 comes out. While I love being able to zoom way in and capture a quality image of something from 50x away, I'd much rather be able to take crisp photos of my active son when he's jumping around.
If it comes to choosing between a Pixel Fold that can do this and a potential Galaxy Z Fold 5 that can't, the choice is going to be pretty easy for me to make.
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