Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 review: Graceful feat of engineering

“That the new Fold?” is the first question folks ask when seeing the latest foldable from Samsung open in my hand. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 is a head turner and – in our opinion – always will be given the spectacle of a 67mm wide phone becoming a 129mm phone in one simple action. Is that worth the R39 999 price tag though? Let’s find out.

Spec it out

In keeping with the Galaxy S series, Samsung has opted to match that performance in the Fold5 Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 paired with 12GB of memory and up to 512GB of storage capacity. Samsung appears to have done a bit of tweaking under the hood here though as in our benchmarks the Fold5 outpaced the Galaxy S23 Ultra by a wide margin.

The result is an incredibly smooth experience which is vital here given you can switch from the front display to the wider main display instantly. This switch is incredibly fast and happens without delay. 

In fact, it’s not just switching which screen you’re using. One UI 5.1.1 works a treat on the Fold5 when it comes to multitasking. Active apps appear in the taskbar as you use them and it made switching between benchmarking tools and Google Sheets a real treat. For the first time in the decade-plus existence of smartphones, we feel as if we could have a decent experience doing work on the Fold5.

As for gaming, while it may not be running Resident Evil Big Vamp Mommy’s Village just yet, performance in benchmarks is impressive. In 3D Mark’s Wild Life we Maxed out the overall score with frame rates ranging from lows of 48FPS to highs of 111FPS. Bumping up to Wild Life Extreme, frame rates fell to 23.3 and we achieved a score of 3896, our highest to date in this extreme benchmark.

In terms of performance then, the Fold5 hits harder than any smartphone currently on the market in South Africa. We’re curious to see if Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro can compete here.

It’s also worth talking about the two displays here. The front, cover display measures 6.2inches but it has a truly bizarre 23.1:9 aspect ratio. The result here is a display that looks very narrow. This leads to the likes of TikTok looking shrunken when using the cover display. That small gripe aside, you can do everything you need to do using the cover display.

When you want a better visual experience the main 7.6 inch display features a 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. It is a visual feast and content really looks richer and more vibrant on this main display. The central crease is very noticeable. However, the inner main display still feels incredibly cheap owning to the bendable nature of it. It’s not something you may notice immediately but when switching between the cover display and the internal display, there is a noticeable change in the texture of the surface, minor as it may be.

The centre crease is still something that stands out.

The battery installed here measures in at 4 400mAh and it took us roughly 90 minutes to recharge the Fold5 from empty. A full charge should last a day to a day and a half depending on which display you use throughout the day and what apps you run. Using the cover display exclusively will net you a day and a half of life in our experience.

The audio is fine especially if you’re taking a call in a busy shop and for watching videos or series, the speakers work great and get quite loud.

The redesigned hinge is very sturdy and having multiple points to bend the phone is truly a phenomenal feat of engineering. While we can’t comment on exactly how long it will last, it always felt strong and rigid enough to us.

Overall, the Galaxy Z Fold5 is well-appointed, and well-engineered, and its performance truly is impressive.

USB Type-C handles cable connectivity and a cable (no charger sadly) is included.

See here now

As for the snappers, the main array features three sensors, a 50MP dual pixel PDAF shooter, a 10MP telephoto snapper and a 12MP ultrawide as well. Together the cameras work well and snaps look just fine. For selfies there are two different cameras. The cover display sports a 10MP selfie snapper while the internal display features a 4MP under display camera. The 4MP snapper is fine but unlikely to be used for more than video calls when you have the phone open. The cover’s selfie camera is far better as you can see in our snaps below.

The main camera is incredibly fast and we never felt like we were going to ruin our photos when quickly snapping a candid shot of our coffee being made. You can view a gallery of snaps below.

Overall the camera is fine but Samsung still struggles with sharpness in darker environments, something we suspect will always be a feature of the photos taken with the South Korean smartphone makers devices.

The trio of rear snappers.

Preinstalled guff

Surprisingly, at least after having played with a few Chinese smartphones of late, the Galaxy Z Fold5 has minimal bloatware. There is the usual lineup of Samsung apps such as SmartThings, Samsung Wallet and Samsung Health but given that these apps are rather useful we’re hesitant to label them as bloatware. There are also apps such as Spotify and Netflix that come pre-installed.

Apps play better on a larger display.

One UI has been improved vastly and features great cohesion with the foldable nature of the Fold5. Switching between apps is fantastic and the taskbar is such a great feature we wonder if we’ll ever see it in non-foldables. The convenience of having recently used apps easily accessible is something that we never knew we needed until now.


The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 is the best foldable from the firm yet sporting a blazing fast processor, fantastic cameras and its a bit more capable when dealing with water. It really is a marvel of engineering.

However, despite the wonder we felt while using the smartphone, the nag that is the starting price of near-as-makes-no-difference R40 000 is extreme. We’re not saying that the smartphone doesn’t demand that price tag, but it’s a bit rich for our tastes, especially with the Galaxy Z Flip5 on the market. 

The Fold5 felt like Samsung saying “This is what is possible when we pull out all the stops and make a foldable” while the Flip5 looks more like a consumer-friendly version of the Fold5. And that’s fine, but in our local market, the Fold5 makes very little sense.

The cost is too much and despite this being the fifth iteration of a foldable smartphone, it still feels experimental and asking folks to spend R40 000 on that is a reach, even for the world’s number one smartphone brand. Samsung is also competing against Apple and while the Cupertino firm doesn’t have a folding smartphone, the Apple brand is simply too strong and users are too deeply entrenched in that ecosystem.

Our conclusion then is that if you are a fan of foldables, the Fold5 is a wonderful upgrade. For everybody else, you could get a great smartphone and a notebook for that price and that’s what we’d recommend rather than taking a risk on the Fold5. 



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