Who could have predicted this in 2019? That year, Samsung launched into the foldable smartphone industry with its Galaxy Fold, the first of its name. Next, the South Korean manufacturer expands its offering by offering the Flip range, a more “affordable” foldable. and more compact.
The least we can say is that this genesis almost turned into a fiasco. Indeed, screen fragility problems almost nipped the South Korean giant's new ambitions in the bud. Four years later, the situation has changed a lot.
Since then, with each new iteration of a range, Samsung has been able, little by little, to rectify the situation. So now, the Asian manufacturer offers products capable of competing with the best high-end smartphones. To the point of definitively replacing them in a few years? And why not… Many elements currently speak in favor of this scenario.
The main competitor in France for the Z Flip 5 is currently the Motorola razr40 Ultra. – © Motorola
First of all, with the exception of Apple for the moment, all the major manufacturers are currently positioning themselves in this new niche. Xiaomi, Huawei, Honor, Oppo, Vivo and more recently Google. Although not everyone has yet deigned to market their products in France, this is not the case for Motorola and OnePlus. Two brands that recently made a strong impression on us with the Razr 40 Ultra and the Open.
For the Cupertino company, as usual, rumors are rife, but no official information is available. to sink your teeth into for the moment. However, we would not be surprised if Apple released, in the more or less near future, its vision of the foldable smartphone.
It must be said that the smartphone market has been looking bleak for almost two years. 2023 will likely be the worst year for the sector in 10 years. Obviously, the purchasing power crisis has something to do with it. But that's only part of the explanation.
Screen, processors, photo sensors… The “classic” seems to be inevitably reaching its technological glass ceiling at a slow trot.The race for pixels and power will soon no longer be convincing enough arguments to make us spend so much money. In any case on the premium models.
Renderings of Apple's patent on foldable screens according to The Elec © LetsGoDigital
For their part, Samsung's foldable models, including the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip, are selling better and better and this segment is currently experiencing double-digit growth. According to research firm IDC, nearly 22 million foldable models are expected to be sold worldwide in 2023, an increase of more than 50% compared to the previous year.
Naturally, this sector has come a long way, and there is still a way to go before it can compete head-on in volume with traditional smartphones. But still! The foldable smartphone is currently a breath of fresh air in a more than moribund sector.
Beyond the figures, the foldable smartphone has an undeniable argument for mass appeal. It fundamentally redefines the way we use a smartphone on a daily basis.A new user experience that reverses what we have been experiencing for almost 15 years. This is why we wanted to shake up our habits. So I exchanged my iPhone 14 Pro for a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 for three months.
Let's say it straight away, the goal here is not to directly oppose Apple and Samsung , and even less iOS and Android. Indeed, if I swapped my iPhone 14 Pro (512 GB) for a Galaxy Z Flip 5, it's simply because it's my personal laptop.
Besides, these two phones were launched at approximately the same price for the same storage capacity. Or 1460 euros for the iPhone and 1340 euros for the Samsung.By making this exchange, I am therefore reducing the initial bias as much as possible, since I am exchanging a premium smartphone for a premium foldable smartphone. In addition, there will be no question here of a technical test. We have already had the opportunity to do this at length this summer with the Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Finally, if I do not dwell on the ecosystems, iOS and Android, it is above all because I know both well, their advantages and their limits. So, I didn't feel lost during this transition.
By moving from a classic smartphone to a foldable one, I wanted above all to experiment with the new uses that it could offer me. And thus confront myself with a format that shakes up all my old habits. After three months of use, here are my impressions.
This may seem obvious without a name. And yet, it took me a good month before getting used to the format of the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Between its 3.4-inch cover screen and its 6.7-inch interior panel , at first we no longer know where to turn. This is normal, we have been formatted for over 10 years.
Previously, our freedoms of movement and use were somewhat more extensive. As a thirty-year-old keen on new technologies, I have had multiple formats in my hands since the early 2000s. Flip phones like the Motorola Razr v3i, phones that rotate like the Sony Ericsson W550i or even sliding models like the unforgettable BlackBerry Torch.
© Lemon squeezer
Since the advent of the first iPhone, smartphones have overwhelmingly adopted a common guideline. A monolithic block on which we interact via touch. As a result, when you start living daily with a Galaxy Z Flip 5, you are inevitably taken aback.
When should I keep it closed and what can I do quickly with it when in use? For what activities should I use the smartphone in landscape and portrait format? Knowing that its ratio of 21:9 is unsettling to say the least at first. So many questions that took a few weeks to find answers.
After the first month, I began to be deeply convinced of one thing. This external slab was not there to show off. In addition to my notifications, I really enjoyed quickly checking my calendar, taking a look at the weather or even taking a call on the fly. If we put the sporty side aside, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 makes using a connected watch almost useless.
Even better, this year real applications have been adapted and can therefore be displayed on this screen. This is the case for YouTube, Netflix, WhatsApp and even Google Maps.And it’s far from useless. For years, our smartphones have forced us to use them on a single screen for all purposes. With the foldable, we start to have the choice.
In a crowded subway, we were able to discreetly watch content on Netflix. During a walk, you can regularly consult an itinerary by simply keeping the smartphone in the palm of your hand. Using these applications on a smaller screen is not regressive, quite the contrary.
Sometimes, we don't necessarily need a 6-inch screen to carry out a certain activity in such context. And if you want to take advantage of a larger panel, it’s as easy as pie. Just open the smartphone. Immediately the content viewed on the external screen will be launched on the main one.
It's just a shame that at the moment, too few applications can be used in this way. This external screen is a great tool and Samsung should use persuasion so that more developers can take advantage of it.
In recent years, high-end smartphones have gradually moved towards the 18:9 format. This ratio allows manufacturers to develop smartphones that are narrower, and therefore easier to handle with one hand, while offering more visual information in height.
But that's not all. Increasingly appreciated by producers, 18:9 better highlights the content of SVOD platforms and increases immersion on certain games. With the Galaxy Z Flip 5, we boxed for three months in an even higher category, the 21:9.
Right away, this ratio didn't appeal to me not immediately pleased. Having been fed for a long time at 16:9, then at 18:9, I had to get my bearings here too. And again, it's all about new routines. For browsing on Google or on a site, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 provides more visibility thanks to a more condensed and longer rendering. As a result, I quickly got into the habit of scrolling less because I was able to scroll more quickly to my goal. Reading articles and emails is also more enjoyable.
Thanks to its height of 16 cm, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 also offers a new browsing experience on social networks. Reading a thread on X or spending time on TikTok is done with truly new visual comfort. This is quickly obvious.
© Lemon squeezer
For leisure, the landscape format logically makes sense, especially on content that can be displayed in full screen, without a black band. It's quite simple, the two smartphones that have given me so much pleasure during a film or a series over the last two years are the Sony Xperia 1 V and this Galaxy Z Flip 5. /strong> Or two products with a 21:9 screen.
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So of course, not all films and series are yet adapted to this format, nor YouTube for that matter, but their number increases considerably year after year. More and more recent blockbusters are. For three months, for example, I was able to enjoy “The Killer”, the latest David Fincher on Netflix, without any problem, and catch up on season 3 of “The Mandalorian”. and shudder at “The Fall of the House of Usher” during Halloween.
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For gaming, the story was the same. The additional visual surface width allows you to better appreciate the graphics on certain independent games. And on others, it promotes concentration and reflexes, since our perception is broader. This was particularly the case during my long sessions on car games or FPS.
Whether with my colleagues, my friends or my family, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has clearly succeeded in its “wow” effect over all these weeks. As soon as I took it out, we wanted to try it, open it, test the external screen, watch a video in landscape format… In short, we wanted to succinctly appropriate its new uses. And each time, Samsung's latest offspring has succeeded in its casting in style.
It must be said that for this 5th iteration of its Z Flip, Samsung has taken care of its copy. First of all by correcting the biggest aesthetic defect of the range. From now on, the smartphone closes completely on itself. Thanks to a new hinge, the empty space between the two screens has completely disappeared. It lays flat without any problem and without moving, even on the side of the photo sensors.
With its glass exterior, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is devilishly elegant and catches the eye. Although it is not predestined for a specific audience, the fairer sex was full of praise for it. It has often been compared to a sort of engagement ring box. For the design, Samsung succeeded, it was a real plebiscite for three months.
On the male side, the reactions were just as laudatory while highlighting a problem that I knew well. The amount of space a smartphone can take up in a jeans pocket. Walking around with an iPhone or a smartphone larger than 6 inches in your pants, in the long run, is a bit of hell.
It's not aesthetically pleasing, first of all, not very comfortable, especially by bike, and in the long run it distorts my good old Levi's 511. After almost a year of iPhone 14 Pro, some of my pants clearly bear the scars of this transport.
This may seem secondary, but I can assure you that on a daily basis it changes a lot. We really feel lighter.Especially since the Z Flip 5 only weighs 187g. Folded, it looks like a rectangle measuring 8.5 cm by 7.1 cm. Certainly, it takes up more space in thickness (1.5 cm) than a premium smartphone, but this is a small drawback compared to the transport comfort it offers.
During the month of September, I had the chance to go to South Korea for three weeks. Happy coincidence? Not really, it was while organizing this vacation that I had the idea for this long-term test. So I left with him, to his land, to see if he was a good traveling companion.
No spoilers, it's all in the subtitle. All the qualities mentioned above make it the best smartphone that I have been able to take for traveling. Already, the bulk is minimal and it fit easily in the pocket of my shorts. Then, its 21:9 screen was particularly useful for finding your way around. In landscape format, we could have a nice overview to find our way on Kakaomap, the Korean equivalent of Google Maps.
And in portrait format, it allowed us to clearly display the maze of streets in the districts of Itaewon in Seoul and Gwangalli in Busan. Especially since even under the blazing sun, the two screens remained clearly visible. When it comes to brightness, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is at its zenith.
The other particularity of the smartphone that I greatly appreciated during this trip was obviously the photo experience. Thanks to its foldable format, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 can be placed on different types of surface. During a day of hiking in Seoraksan National Park, located in the northeast of the country, I was able to take lots of lovely memories thanks to its front screen which allows feedback. We find the ideal position on our smartphone, launch a self-timer, position ourselves and strike a pose.
This contortionist ability is really valuable, because it increases, casually, our creativity. By taking precautions, it is possible to take the Flip 5 anywhere.On a shore near the sea, on a step in the mountain or even on the ground. And above all, no need to have a tripod or accessories to immortalize memories together. It just takes a little imagination.
@ Lemon squeezer
© Presse Citron
During a sunset in Suncheon Bay, in the southwest of the country, not a soul was present to take our photo. Thanks to its format, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 still allowed me to not leave this magnificent spectacle empty-handed.
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The selfie experience is also different. No need to hold an imposing smartphone at arm's length to take a photo of yourself. Just raise your arm more naturally, which gives more balance, and smile big.
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In classic use, the Samsung smartphone is also a game-changer. This is particularly the case when I was able to take landscape photos in full screen. It becomes possible to capture all the beauty of a waterfall or the immensity of the panorama from new angles.
Without question, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 improves the photographic experience on a smartphone. We feel freer in our movements, the shots are more comfortable and we have fun looking for new perspectives. However, Samsung has not yet managed to offer an experience as accomplished as on the most premium smartphones in terms of rendering.
Indeed, the Z Flip 5 keeps the same two sensors as its predecessor the Flip 4.Namely, a 12 MP wide-angle sensor (f/1.8) and a 12 MP ultra-wide-angle sensor (f/2.2), too. While it is completely understandable that integrating a telephoto lens must for the moment be a real engineering headache on a foldable smartphone, it's a shame that Samsung does not offer a rendering as polished as on its Galaxy S23 range.
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Please note, the photos are very well made. The sharpness is good, the contrasts are well managed, even at ultra wide angle and at night the algorithms do an excellent job. However, when I wanted to look at my vacation memories on the computer, I was able to notice two hiccups.
@ Lemon Squeezer
Sometimes there is a lack of detail in certain areas of the background. In addition, the colorimetry of blue tones is sometimes too pronounced.These are small details, of course, but they confirm that for the moment the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is technically up to the level of an excellent smartphone at around 1000 euros. Like the recent Xiaomi 13T Pro. Without striving for the perfection of a Galaxy S23 Ultra or our good old iPhone 14 Pro that remained in the drawer.
Finally, I noticed that I never used the 10 MP selfie sensor located at the top of the internal screen. Indeed, to take this type of shot, I only used the Galaxy Z Flip 5 in closed mode, and therefore with its back sensors. Apart from facial unlocking and a few video calls, it wasn't of much use to me. I don't want to say here that we should remove this sensor, far from it, but perhaps concentrate our efforts more on the others.
Since their advent, smartphones with foldable screens have suffered from two major flaws. The fragility of the screen and autonomy. If Samsung has unequivocally succeeded in solving the first, the second is struggling to disappear.
It's simple, during my first week of use, I never went out without a charger. After living four days in a row with a smartphone that turned off between 7 and 8 p.m., I quickly changed my mind.
With its 3,700 mAh battery, the Flip 5 will barely last the day if you use it actively, as I often did. Afterwards, I must admit that I did not spare him. Gaming in transport, video streaming at midday, social networks you name it and a lot of emails and calls. On calmer days, he was able to last until bedtime, but never more. Suddenly, 25W wired charging was the outgrowth of the smartphone, it was always with me.
On vacation during the day, this was not a problem. I always had a bag, a tote bag or a fanny pack with me. Same for my days at the office, I always left an extra charger lying around just in case.
On the other hand, in the evening to go out or on weekends to stroll, it was more problematic. It's always annoying to have to think about charging your smartphone before going out or carrying a charger in your jacket. If the Flip 5 doesn't take up too much space in our pocket, it's a shame that it forces us to do otherwise. Especially since the charging is really not fast. It takes almost 1h30 for a full charge, on a smartphone of this price, it's extremely frustrating.
Getting into the folding game can be tricky at first. You must know it. Our daily routine is turned upside down, our grip is no longer the same and our usage reflexes need to be redefined. It’s normal, moving from one world to another is a real paradigm shift in our relationship with the smartphone.
Namely, an external screen as useful as the main one, a completely new immersion in our leisure activities and an enjoyable photo experience. With the foldable, it is the use that is revolutionary and not the component used. Of course, everything is not perfect. And fortunately! The foldable sector is only just beginning and it is the mistakes of youth that allow us to quickly improve. Overall, I criticize the Galaxy Z Flip 5 for three things.
Its battery life is too average and its charging is too slow. Afterwards, I plead guilty. It was such a pleasure to use this new format that I didn't do it any favors. My screen time averaged 6.5 hours per day.
It's also a shame that Samsung doesn't have the same photo ambition as its most recent smartphones in its S range. At least on the main sensor. In my opinion, there should be no difference, especially since these two products do not appear in the catalog. Finally, the external screen should be able to take advantage of more applications. In addition to being a pleasure to use, this tile literally divides our uses. We surprise ourselves doing certain activities with the phone turned off.
And the price? Given the level of engineering of such a product, I do not find its price to be that excessive. It’ is perhaps a hindrance, I understand, but the more a technology becomes popular, the more its price drops. As a reminder, the Z Flip, the first of its name, was marketed in 2020 at 1,500 euros. Best in every way, the Z Flip 5 is 1,340 euros.
Whatever happens, the smartphone is gradually establishing itself as a credible alternative to the classic smartphone. If you take the plunge, you have now been warned. You have to give yourself time and get out of your comfort zone so that the foldable format opens up the whole range of possibilities.