Samsung has taken the wraps off its new Galaxy Fold 5 folding smartphone and it’s certainly the best version of this tech the South Korean giant has released yet. But that’s to be expected. Nobody in tech takes steps backwards unless something’s gone horribly wrong. But last year’s phone was good. Even great. Is it worth upgrading from the older one to the newest model?
That… probably hinges mostly on your budget. The Galaxy Fold 4 launched at R37,000 for the 256GB model and R41,000 for the 512GB. That price hasn’t dropped much if you can find the Fold 4, but the Galaxy Fold 5 starts at R46,000. You can match last year’s price, by trading in your old smartphone, but has Samsung made enough changes to make that an attractive choice?
Looks like a tie
It’s possible to tell, at a glance, which of the smartphones above is the Galaxy Fold 5 and which is the Fold 4. But you have to know what you’re looking for and the differences aren’t extensive. The same goes for the front view, which is identical on both phones.
The Fold 5, at 154.9mm high and 6.1/13.4mm thick, is ever so slightly smaller than the 155.1mm high, 6.3mm/14.2mm thick Fold 4. There are visual differences but they’re not enough to make an impression across a table. In fact, in order to tell the phones apart, you really should have them side-by-side.
For the record, the Galaxy Fold 5 in the image above is on the left. There’s a slight difference in the camera bump and the flash placement has altered for 2023. Hardly a compelling reason for a smartphone upgrade.
The screens are different, right? Actually… that depends. The internal, folding screen in the Fold 5 is capable of up to 1200 nits of peak brightness. Otherwise? Identical. Same size, same dimensions, same pixel density. Same screen type, even. That’s not to detract from Samsung’s wonderful Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel but if you’ve already got one in your pocket, it doesn’t make much sense to replace it. Not on its own.
The same goes for the cover display. Those are also identical, down to the 6.2in, 904 x 2,316 size. The only difference here is that Samsung used Victus 2 glass instead of Victus+ this year.
Internally, there’s more to see. Samsung promises better cooling but it’s the processor that should grab your attention. It’s the same Galaxy Edition custom version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that you’ll find in the rest of Samsung’s flagships this year. It’s at least as big an upgrade as the S23 Ultra was over the S22 Ultra but that doesn’t make it an automatic buy. If you’re upgrading from a Fold 3, on the other hand…
It’s a snap?
At least the cameras have been upgraded, right? You probably know where this is going. We’ve got no doubt that the Galaxy Fold 5 will perform better than the Fold 4 did out of the box. We’re also sure that it’s mostly a software upgrade and that the Fold 4 will get the update sooner rather than later.
Both phones split photography duties between 50MP, 10MP, and 12MP sensors on the rear. As far as we can tell, the camera hardware is the same as it was last year, right across the board. The internal 4MP camera and cover screen 10MP camera aren’t exempt from that, either. If photography’s your thing, you can hang onto the Fold 4 without feeling any pangs of FOMO. You’ll be just fine.
Galaxy Fold 5 or nah?
If you’ve already got a Fold 4, there doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to upgrade. If you’re further back on the evolutionary chain, that changes matters. But if you’re using the Fold 5’s immediate predecessor, you’re fine for at least another twelve months. There’s parity almost across the board. The IPx8 rating, 4,400mAh battery, 25W wired charging, and 15W wireless charging carry across from last year. What you’re paying for is a refined design (there’s no gap when it’s closed), a bigger processor, and software upgrades that’ll probably filter down to other models shortly. But it’s your money. If you want to upgrade from the Fold 4 to the Galaxy Fold 5, you’ll officially have Samsung’s best folding phone. It’s just that the Galaxy Fold 4 is almost that phone too.