Remember when they first told us about this phone? Some very important people who test phones really liked it a lot! They said things like, ‘This is a big improvement. It’s the best one we’ve seen!’ But what I thought was, ‘They’re getting really good at this.’ To be fair, I wrote about both the Flip 5 and the Fold 5, and I looked at how much better foldable phones have become in the last year. It seems like Samsung is sticking with what works for them. It’s like they’re making things even better. But after using the Flip 5 more in the last few days, I have to say I was wrong. It’s one of the best updates they’ve done.
Key Improvements: Chip, Hinge, and Exterior Display
In essence, three key differences set this phone apart from the Z Flip 4: the chip, the hinge, and the new exterior display. Let’s discuss them in the order of significance, which I believe is pretty clear.
- The Powerhouse Chip
Firstly, the new overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip is on board, which is fantastic. It’s now up-to-date with the latest flagships. This is the same chip found in the S23 and S23 Ultra, and let me tell you, it’s a powerhouse. The phone responds lightning-fast, and multitasking is a breeze thanks to the eight gigs of RAM. Apps pop open without any delays. Everything runs smoothly. It even handles demanding games like a pro. And I’m not much of a mobile gamer, but trust me, it’s impressive.
- Hinging on Excellence
Now, the other side of the coin for a top-notch chip is efficiency. So when I saw the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the Galaxy lineup, I had my fingers crossed for better overall battery life, but alas, no dice. Well, I shouldn’t be too surprised, considering the physical battery size remains the same, a solid 3,700 milliamp hours. Yet, there’s more screen to power now, which we’ll get to in a moment.\
- Enhanced Durability and Functionality
So, the new chip is indeed impressive, no doubt. However, let’s focus on the hinge – the unsung hero of folding phones. And I must say, this hinge is an absolute game-changer.
Samsung has taken a bold step by simplifying the hinge of this phone, resulting in fewer moving parts. This approach generally bodes well for long-term durability. The result? A slimmer profile and a leaner appearance around the phone’s back. A nod to Dave Lee (dave2d) for this visual representation, demonstrating the revamped internal multi-axis folding mechanism. This innovation grants the folded OLED a gentler, wider radius, reducing strain on its core. Admittedly, the crease is still discernible, especially when the screen is off or viewed at an angle. Yet, during regular usage, it becomes surprisingly easy to overlook. The hinge’s most significant enhancement is its ability to fold completely flat. Unlike previous Z Flip models, which featured a small gap susceptible to dust and debris, this version seals shut without any aperture.
The Expanded Exterior Display
Yet, the most substantial transformation of this phone undoubtedly lies in the expanded external screen. Let’s delve into this exciting development. The Z Flip has transcended from its petite 1.9-inch slot to a substantial 3.4-inch 720p square cover screen, aptly named the Flex Window. This alteration is nothing short of monumental, presenting a massive leap in functionality. The enlarged screen provides ample real estate for time checks, notification perusal, and framing shots with the rear cameras. It’s a resounding victory for these tasks. Moreover, the expansive display has prompted a reimagining of the user interface, accommodating up to 11 pages of apps for effortless navigation. This change is a nudge to encourage more frequent use of the external screen. Now, you can engage with your phone without unfolding it, effortlessly swiping between full-screen widgets, or managing notifications without a hitch.
Maximizing the Outside Screen
For the adventurous, the lab settings provide the opportunity to go beyond the standard. By enabling non-optimized apps to operate on the external screen, you can tap into a world of possibilities previously untapped. This expanded potential transcends the limitations of earlier Flip models, allowing for creativity and customization.
- Practical Usage
Initial assumptions about the external screen’s usage underwent a shift upon the phone’s release. While the larger exterior screen might have seemed underutilized at first, it quickly proved its worth. Notification management emerged as a significant activity, particularly in the mornings. Reviewing and prioritizing notifications without fully opening the phone has become a valuable practice, minimizing distractions.
- Outside Screen Applications
Within the lab settings, a selection of apps can officially operate on the exterior screen. Notably, this encompasses Maps, messaging apps, as well as Netflix and YouTube—an intriguing inclusion for the daring souls. While some tasks, such as responding to texts using the full QWERTY keyboard, are technically feasible, their practicality depends on individual preferences and the size of one’s hands.
- Balanced Functionality
Amidst the external screen’s enhancements, the fundamental distinction between the open and closed states remains a defining feature of the flip phone experience. While the external screen offers its unique functionality, flipping the phone open serves as a symbolic transition into a more in-depth engagement. Determining the appropriate usage for the exterior screen versus fully unfolding the device is a subjective decision, often influenced by the nature and duration of the intended task.
Optimized User Experience
Engaging with the external screen offers a range of possibilities, from creating new Spotify playlists to checking your calendar or handling quick tasks. The choice is yours, and the potential is significant for seamless interactions.
If I were to provide Samsung with feedback on their creation, while the overall design seems fairly established, there are a couple of points to consider. Firstly, the outside screen’s resolution stands at 720p, and upon close examination, some pixels become noticeable. A slight resolution bump could enhance the visual experience. More notably, the implementation of LTPO (Low-Temperature Polycrystalline oxidide) technology could be a game-changer. The current 60 Hz refresh rate, though consistent, could benefit from the flexibility offered by LTPO. This technology, found in some other devices, matches the max 120 Hz refresh rate of the internal screen and conserves battery life by scaling down to just one Hertz during low-demand tasks like pausing music or viewing brief notifications. Additionally, the inclusion of DeX functionality would be a welcome addition, further expanding the device’s versatility.
So, the ultimate question is: Should you invest in the Z Flip 5? Honestly, from my perspective, this device stands as the premier folding phone option for most individuals at this time. The powerful high-end chip, commendable camera performance, decent battery life, and swift fingerprint reader collectively form a solid foundation. The device doesn’t lack any major features; it offers wireless charging, an IPX8 rating for water resistance, and a commendable bump in base storage from 128 to a respectable 256 gigabytes for the starting price of a thousand dollars. This places it at the forefront of foldable technology. Until there’s a substantial evolution in the form factor or significant alterations, the Z Flip 5 remains the most secure and readily recommended foldable device on the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does it have Custom Widgets?
Yes, it has custom widgets. The external screen introduces new dimensions with its calendar widget and scrollable weather widget, meticulously tailored for a seamless experience. These “mini-apps” capitalize on the exterior display’s potential, enhancing usability and convenience.
What is a good lock app?
Diving further into customization, the Samsung Galaxy Store offers an app named “Good Lock” accompanied by the “MultiStar” extension. Through this combination, you can introduce a launcher to the exterior screen, featuring virtually any app from your device. The result is a canvas for experimentation, from scrolling through social media platforms to managing music playlists. As with any innovative endeavour, there are successes and instances where the concept falls short.
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