AT&T sent a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 for us to take a look at, and I’ve been using it for about two weeks. Spoiler alert: I like the darn thing. As in… really like it.
If you’ve ever heard me on my digital soapbox talking about foldables phones, you might be asking yourself if you really read that correctly or if I have been dispatched and replaced by some sort of folding pod person. I have said on many occasions that a phone that folds isn’t a thing that appeals to me. I just didn’t see the benefits outweighing the drawbacks.
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Mostly, I still don’t, especially when talking about a phone that folds versus one that flips. I have no desire to take a phone that’s already larger than I like and unfold it into some beast that thinks it’s an iPad. Quite the opposite, actually and I would be more interested in a tablet that folded in half.
That’s what has me really digging the Galaxy Z Flip 5. It’s a 6.7-inch phone with a body that’s smaller than a pack of playing cards.
Of course, it’s also a good phone when it comes to all the specs and features and whirlygigs. It has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, lots of memory and plenty of storage, and a really nice HDR display that’s not completely ruined by the very visible crease down the center of it. Even if this phone didn’t fold in half, plenty of people would like it.
Even the software is fine. Once upon a time, I hated the idea of using a Samsung phone and the mobile venereal disease its software was chock full of. Samsung has paired almost all of that back, and once you disable a few bits and pieces you might not want to use, you’re left with an OS that is completely serviceable. No more bleeping sounds of nature and crummy software that tried to do everything all at once.
In the case of the Galaxy Z Flip 5, that software is another big part of why I like it. Two words: cover screen.
So maybe Motorola does it better on the Razr when it comes to things happening on the small screen up front. I don’t know because I’ve yet to use one. Having said that, the two things I want to use the cover screen for are built into the phone without any fiddling or installing anything.
I want to pull my phone out of my shirt pocket and see one of two things at a glance: who messaged me and my calendar. If you want to do more, I understand why you might not like how Samsung does everything with its system of widgets, but I just don’t need much more. That makes me biased, but I’m talking about what I like, so everything is biased.
I do want to check out the Motorola Razr Plus to see if it works as well. But if I do, I’ll still only want my messages and calendar on the cover display.
I’m not sold yet
As much as I like a lot of what the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has to offer me, there are two things that are holding me back, and both of them are because it folds. I hate the crease, and it still has a plastic coating on the screen.
The crease isn’t 100% terrible to look at, and oftentimes you don’t even see it, depending on what’s on your screen. But you feel it every time you do anything near the center of the display. It seems even more pronounced than the Flip 4 crease did, but that could just be this particular unit or just my memory being faulty because I don’t have a Flip 4 here to check it against.
Either way, there is a very pronounced valley where the screen bends in half, and running your finger across it is like riding motocross and making a sweet jump.
The plastic coating on the display just makes it less sensitive because that’s how physics works. It’s not like it’s absolutely horrible, like an old resistive screen, and most of the time, it’s fine. But if I’m going to spend $1,000 on a phone, “fine” isn’t good enough.
I will say it’s much better than I remember the display on the Flip 4 being, but again, I don’t have one here to compare it against. I only played with my wife’s while she had it, and unfortunately, it got swiped out of the car soon after we bought it.
That’s it. There’s really nothing else about the Flip 5 that I dislike, which surprises the hell out of me. These two things are enough to keep me from buying one because I don’t desperately need a new phone right now, but I’m not sure they would stop me if I did — the Flip 5 would be near the top of my list of what to spend my money on.
If you’re thinking about it, don’t let me stop you from taking a look at one because you might not even care about the things I see as drawbacks. Then again, you might find other things you don’t particularly care for. Reviews and users sharing their thoughts should only be a guide, not some sort of biblical thing with commandments you have to follow.
As always, take your time and think long and hard about how you spend your money. There are a lot of good phones out there.