Last year one of the largest criticisms Stuff had about Samsung’s new foldable smartphones was that not much had changed. The Galaxy Fold 5 offers a repeat performance of 2022 by not looking all that different from the previous two editions. If it ain’t broke, and all that.
But the launch price may make you broke, even if Samsung is having a repeat of its pre-order storage special for 2023. Grab a Fold 5 in the first few weeks on sale and you’ll snag a 512GB version for the price of the 256GB model. But first, you’d best be sure that you want one.
Large effort, small changes
In terms of design, the Galaxy Fold 5 is almost identical to the Fold 4 (and the Fold 3). The changes come in at a very granular level. The folding design is the same as before, with the Victus 2-encased cover screen taking up the front. The rear panel maintains parity with the S23 lineup, including that vertical camera strip, and the interior 7.6in Super AMOLED screen still folds out – though Samsung hopes the crease will be less noticeable now.
There are some dimensional changes, but you’d better have a micrometer on hand to measure them. Samsung has shaved 2.4mm off the phone’s thickness and has also decreased the width of the internal gap – when the screen is folded – to nothing at all. This is handy since that’s the place where screen damage can happen. But there’s a new casing and frame, called Armour Aluminium, to play with and that 7.6in internal screen features a typical brightness of 1,200 nits. That’s… actually impressive.
S23, is that you?
Internally, there’s not much difference between the Galaxy Fold 5 and the S23 lineup. Samsung’s customized Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset sticks around to power the company’s newest foldable and the RAM allocations and storage options are all identical as well. If it’s just performance you’re after, you… wouldn’t be reading this but performance – including gaming performance – should be the same across Samsung’s 2023 flagship range.
The camera setup is slightly less impressive but it’s still not bad. There’s a 4MP sensor under the flexible screen, a 10MP camera on the cover display, and then a 12MP, 50MP, and 10MP arrangement at the back. Both the 50MP and 10MP lenses feature optical image stabilisation, while the 10MP adds 3x telephoto capability to the Fold 5’s arsenal.
As is the case with Samsung’s other new offering, the Galaxy Flip 5, no attention was paid to improving the battery. Yup, anyone opening up their Galaxy Fold 5 (we’d advise against that) will find the same 4,400mAh battery that was shoved in last year’s Fold 4. Charging hasn’t seen an improvement either, as Samsung sticks with the 25W wired and 15W wireless charging capabilities.
So what’s new?
Samsung’s major changes all seem to be software or peripheral-related this time. The company’s added drag-and-drop functionality, which will go some way toward making this feel like a mini laptop. You’re supposed to use it in that orientation anyway. The company’s most recent UI changes are in place as well, facilitating better multitasking.
Fans can also expect more machine learning integration, which is presumably a good thing. Changes have been made to the phone’s vapour chamber, which should keep it cooler during usage, and there are also more options coming in terms of cases. The S Pen case has been streamlined but there are also eco-leather, a clear gadget (it’s packing a magnet), and standing cases. One or another might be handy.
How and when
If you’re leaping into the folding smartphone pool, the Galaxy Fold 5 will cost at least R46,000 before you’re allowed to get your feet wet. Samsung in South Africa is reprising its trade-in offer, which will trim up to R10,000 from the final price. As mentioned, pre-orders, and phones ordered up until 31 August, will net 512GB of storage for the same price as 256GB. As for when you’ll get one, the Fold 5 officially launches on 25 August. Pre-order shipments in SA will start going out from 11 August, so you could be rocking your folding hardware a little earlier than the rest of the world.