Flip phones like the Galaxy Z Flip 5 are a double-edged sword when it comes to photography. On the one hand, they tend to have underwhelming camera hardware with small sensors. This is because internal space is at a premium, given the need for a hinge and moving parts. On the other hand, part-folded flip phones are great for hands-free photography, creative angles, and long-exposure shots.
This part-folded superpower had a lot to do with why we liked the Galaxy Z Flip 4, even though the cameras weren’t too impressive in isolation. For the Z Flip 5, it looks like Samsung is recycling last year’s camera setup, combining two 12MP cameras alongside the cover screen with a 10MP selfie camera at the top of the main display.
While the Z Flip 5’s camera is still competitive against its main competition – the Motorola RAZR 40 Ultra – Oppo’s new Find N3 Flip announced for Asian markets is heating up the flip phone imaging space, featuring a larger sensor and telephoto camera alongside its cover screen.
So can Samsung afford to rest on its laurels with familiar camera hardware, or is the Z Flip 5 as good as it needs to be to keep it at the top of the clamshell pack?
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Design
If you’ve used a Galaxy Z Flip 4, you’ll know exactly what to expect from the Z Flip 5’s in-hand feel. Its dimensions are identical, right down to its curved corners.
Weighing 187g, while the Z Flip 5 is a little lighter than most phones with a big 6.7-inch display, it feels solid, especially when closed. Its noteworthy presence has a lot to do with the phone’s very flat sides and flat front and back. There’s no ergonomic curve here, so expect a slab-like feel.
The Flip 5’s visual styling is rich and looks fresh thanks to fun colors aplenty to choose from. We’ve spent the last month with the Mint color option, but you can also grab the Z Flip 5 in Blue, Graphite, Khaki, Navy, Pink Gold, Purple, Red, White, and Yellow. As if that’s not enough, Samsung’s even launched a special edition Retro option; style is clearly the name of this flip phone’s game.
Image 1 of 4
Image 2 of 4
Image 3 of 4
Image 4 of 4
Ports and buttons and buttons match up to the Z Flip 4 with a power button and fingerprint scanner combo on the right alongside a volume rocker. There’s a USB-C port at the base of the phone and a speaker, and the SIM slot is on the Flip 5’s left side.
While the back panel is a polished sheet of glass – light colors look better, as smudges look less visible on them – this phone is all about the cover screen. Here’s where you’ll find the dual 12MP camera and the new, larger display, with its strange shape and unique interface – more on that later.
Ultimately, for a phone that seems to be all about design, we actually find the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s styling a little bit safe and clinical. In the same breath, the phone looks clean, and we love the color options. Its hinge is also one of the most secure we’ve used, holding its position firmly between around 45º and all the way open, and the fact the phone’s also IPX8 water resistant thrusts it to the top of charts when it comes to flip phone durability.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Screen
Image 1 of 3
Image 2 of 3
Image 3 of 3
The Z Flip 5 has two screens, a 3.4-inch cover screen and a 6.9-inch main display. When closed, you can use any app you choose on the zingy AMOLED cover screen, and with its respectable 304 pixel-per-inch clarity, it’s relatively sharp. While it isn’t comfortable for involved tasks like gaming or long bouts of typing, the cover screen is big enough to quickly reply to a WhatsApp or navigate a map without any squinting.
The unfolded main display is a much more familiar experience, clocking in at 6.7 inches with a 1080 x 2640 resolution and a 425 PPI pixel density. Sharp, vibrant, bright, it looks excellent with rich, deep AMOLED blacks and zingy colors.
Being a folding phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s main display has a noticeable crease horizontally across the middle. Alongside the Oppo Find N2 Flip and Motorola RAZR 40 Ultra, Samsung’s crease looks and feels deeper, making it our least favorite of the three in day-to-day use. This is especially true in bright environments when the light catches the crease, particularly noticeable when watching dark content. This doesn’t ruin a generally strong dual-screen experience and you will probably get used to the crease quickly – but if you don't think you will, Moto and Oppo's alternatives win out on this front.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Camera specs
Wide: The Z Flip 5’s main camera has the same sensor introduced on the Z Flip 4, with a 1/1.76” sensor, 1.8-micron pixels, and an f/1.8 aperture lens. The main camera's also matched with a wide 24mm focal length and sports Dual Pixel PDAF and OIS.
Ultra-wide: The Z Flip 5’s ultra-wide camera is the same as that of the Flip 3 and Flip 4, also clocking in at 12MP, matched with an f/2.2 lens, and capturing with an expansive 123˚ field of view. With 1.12 micron pixels, the ultra-wide won't be a lowlight champ based on its specs.
Selfie camera: Open up the phone, and the screen has a centered punch-hole selfie camera. This isn't an autofocusing selfie camera you might expect from top-tier Samsung smartphones, but it's still a respectable 10 MP sensor with an f/2.4 aperture and a wide 26mm lens. That said, you might never use it, given the main camera works in tandem with the cover screen for higher-quality selfies.
Image 1 of 3
Image 2 of 3
Image 3 of 3
The Galaxy Z Flip 5’s camera takes advantage of the phone's Flex Mode in the camera app, so when it’s half-folded, the top half of the screen acts as a viewfinder, while the bottom half serves up your shooting controls.
Flex Mode is especially handy in Pro Mode, with the top half of the foldable clear for your picture, and the bottom half displaying manual shooting options.
Samsung also wants you to hold the Z Flip 5 like a camcorder while capturing video. This creates a steadier grip when shooting in landscape orientation, though the Flip’s slippery, polished sides mean you’ll want to hold on tight when recording.
As for max resolution capture, photos cap out at 12MP, and you can record 4K video at up to 60fps.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: camera review
Photos taken on the Z Flip 5 all enjoy a super saturated, vibrant look that massively compensates for the modest sensors powering the experience. It’s almost like the phone pre-applies an Instagram filter like Juno to give shots a bit of va va boom, and we’re impressed with the results sometimes.
The optical focal length is as strong as you’ll get for a flip phone in the West with a wide and ultra-wide camera. It’s a real shame the ultra-wide misses out on autofocus, but at least the main camera is helped along by OIS. This translates to a versatile experience, but zooming performance is modest.
The fact that both cameras are 12MP means there’s no scope for hybrid zooming – when a high-resolution sensor enables lossless zoom – so beyond a 1.5x zoom, you’ll start to notice real degradation in shots. Stick to wide and ultra-wide, though, and detail is fair, especially in brightly-lit environments.
Image 1 of 3
Image 2 of 3
Image 3 of 3
A bi-product of a small sensor is poor dynamic range, but the Z Flip 5’s auto mode counters this with some next-level computational photography. Able to distill detail from what appear to be blown-out highlights in a live preview, and boost shadows aggressively, Samsung saves the Z Flip 5 with its advanced HDR and auto night mode.
The phone’s Pro mode unlocks manual capture and gives you the opportunity to adjust the following parameters: contrast, shadows, highlights, saturation, and tint. This is the only way to access less saturated shots.
Pro mode also shines a light on how mediocre the dynamic range can be without Samsung’s smart auto software. A shot with an intense backlight in auto mode showcases a blown-out blob of white in Pro mode, while in auto mode, it's a hyper-saturated blue sky or incandescent light.
Image 1 of 4
Image 2 of 4
Image 3 of 4
Image 4 of 4
Focus is quick, and the Z Flip 5’s primary camera can capture pleasing background blur when subjects are nearby, but if you want true portrait style depth of field, lean on the Portrait mode, which does a good job of faces, pets and objects.
The auto night capture helps extend the shutter and ensures the modest sensor doesn’t crumble when the lights go down. This also works for the ultra-wide camera and is its saving grace indoors.
The primary camera on the Z Flip 5 takes good-looking selfies, with the cover screen being a very handy tool for framing.
Image 1 of 6
Image 2 of 6
Image 3 of 6
Image 4 of 6
Image 5 of 6
Image 6 of 6
Video also looks respectable, though really suffers when the lights drop and the phone can’t take advantage of all the HDR smarts Samsung applies to its photos. On the plus, stabilization right up the 4K 60fps holds the scene together very well.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t pick up this phone if you don’t like zingy-looking shots that have an Instagram filter quality. If that’s your vibe, though, the Z Flip 5 does a great deal considering how modest its camera hardware is and how little flip phone competition is out there.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: additional features
Samsung’s Z Flip 5 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, and results are unsurprisingly impressive until you start hammering the phone with demanding tasks, after which it gets a bit hot.
Even though the chip is a powerhouse that keeps its cool on other devices, flip phones squeeze loads into a small space, so intensive tasks that engage various resources turn the Z Flip 5 into a pocket heater. Specifically, WiFi hot-spotting and wireless charging are the biggest culprits.
The Z Flip 5 has a respectable 8GB RAM, and can be picked up with either 256GB or 512GB storage – ample space – though there's no SD card slot, so you can't bump that up.
Available in two storage capacities, the 256GB version costs $999/£1,049/AU$1,649, while the 512GB option costs $1,119/£1,149 – and although this is pricier than the Z Flip 4 on launch – the Z Flip 5's starting storage capacity is double that of its predecessor, which had 128GB.
The phone runs with Samsung’s OneUI 5.1, which is a heavy skin atop Android 13. This is jam-packed with tools, from Samsung’s Notes app to a games hub, Samsung wallet, and more. Purists will prefer a less heavy interface like the Google Pixel 8’s stock Android, or the Motorola RAZR 40 Ultra’s more straightforward UI. If you’re coming from a Samsung phone, though, you’ll know exactly what to expect.
What’s new for the Z Flip 5 is the cover screen UI, which operates a little bit like a Samsung smartwatch, with different panels that you can add or remove and the ability to run apps on the cover screen. Only a handful of apps are available when you fire up the Flip 5’s cover screen, but it’s easy to unlock full access to unsupported apps.
While it takes some getting used to – two interfaces in one phone feels a bit unnecessary – there are playful, fun aspects to the Z Flip 5’s cover screen UI, and it’s a leap in the right direction compared to the Z Flip 3.
You can securely unlock the Z Flip 5 with a side-mounted fingerprint scanner or face unlock. These work whether it’s open or closed, and we found the fingerprint scanner to be the quicker of the two options.
With stereo speakers, volume is loud, and content plays back with a crispness, though the Flip 5 lacks the depth of some traditional, non-flip phones like the iPhone 15 Pro.
The Z Flip 5’s modest 3700mAh battery is smaller than most of the flip phone competition. However, we didn’t struggle to make it through a full day when we relied on the cover screen for basic tasks. If you’re a heavy gamer or love watching movies or shows on your commute, you might need to top up in the day to make it from morning to night.
As for charging, the Z Flip 5 doesn’t ship with a power brick, though maxes out at 25W with a compatible charger. It also supports wireless charging at up to 15W, and technically, also supports reverse wireless charging at up to 4.5W.
In our experience, reverse wireless charging heated the phone up to the point the feature turned itself off after 10 minutes or so, so maybe don’t bank on using it unless your ambient temperature is arctic.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Verdict
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a step towards realizing what’s possible from compact, clamshell foldables. It isn’t perfect; its camera hardware isn’t what we’d hope for given the phone’s price, and it struggles to stay cool when hot-spotting and wireless charging.
What’s great about the Z Flip 5 is that it helps Samsung stay relevant in the flip phone space. The new cover screen is extremely usable for most basic smartphone needs, Samsung is the only phone maker to build IPX8 water resistance into its flip phones, and the phone’s camera is good enough to compete with the RAZR 40 Ultra – Samsung’s only flip competition outside Asia.
So while photographers will likely resent Samsung’s heavy-handed HDR effect, Insta-color science, and heavy reliance on computational photography, it’s difficult not to be impressed when a phone with such modest camera specs can deliver a decent photo (albeit a stylized one) in most environments.
So, is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 the best camera phone of 2024? Absolutely not; it isn’t even the best flip and fold phone we’ve tested, with that accolade set to go to the OnePlus Open. Nevertheless, if you’re on the hunt for a compact clamshell and like Samsung smartphones in general, it’s the best of the bunch.
Want to know more about the Z Fold 5's competition? These are the best flip and fold phones flexing their features right now, and if you aren't sold on the fold, check out our guide to the best camera phones of 2023.