Three and a half inches. That is roughly the extent of the display on the original iPhone. It is difficult to fathom typing or using the majority of modern apps on such a cramped display when compared to the screens of modern smartphones. As a secondary display on a phone that divides in half, however, even 3.4 inches feels surprisingly spacious. At the very least, it’s significantly more useful than the 1.9-inch fragment on last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 4. Samsung’s latest flip-style foldable, the $1,000 Galaxy Z Flip 5, features a 3.4-inch external display that the company has confusingly renamed the expand Window (it doesn’t expand, so yes, I’m annoyed by the name). And that concludes it.
Additionally, the Flip 5 has a new hinge that enables a gapless closure when folded, as well as software updates. Aside from those modifications, this phone is essentially identical to its predecessor in terms of its cameras, water-resistance classification, and battery capacity. It costs the same as the model from the previous year and comes with twice as much base storage, which is a pleasant touch. With increased competition in the United States this year, Samsung can no longer rest on its laurels as the sole player in the market.
The Z Flip 5’s design
One of the few indicators that Samsung is in decline? The Flip 5’s appearance. With the exception of its larger external display, this item resembles its antecedent, which was essentially a carbon copy of its predecessor. The Flip 5’s chassis is the same 6.5 x 2.8-inch rectangle and 0.27-inch profile as the model from the previous year. Likewise, its weight remains unchanged at 6.6 ounces (or 187 grams).
This year, however, there have been some changes. The external cameras are no longer vertically layered; instead, they are arranged horizontally, presumably to accommodate the larger screen. Additionally, the available colors have changed, which I appreciate because the purple hue on last year’s model had become a bit stale. In addition to the standard ivory and black, you can now select from pink and a minty green. Unfortunately, our review unit is the standard black model, but the green model I saw at Samsung’s unveiling event is worth coveting.
The Z Flip 5’s Flex Hinge, which enables the device to fold completely flat and leave no gap between the two halves of its internal screen, is a notable upgrade. This should not only appeal to those who were turned off by the previous design’s asymmetry, but it also reduces the likelihood that a key in your purse will become lodged in that small opening and damage the fragile panel.
This does not imply that the Flip 5 is dustproof. Its IPX8 impervious rating indicates that it can withstand brief submersion in water, but protection against foreign solid particles was not evaluated. This is a lot of jargon to mean that the Flip 5 will be fine if you drop it in the bathtub, but it is more susceptible to sand than most contemporary smartphones. However, the exterior of the phone is likely more durable than its interior due to the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 covering its back and Flex Window.
Regardless of how I feel about Samsung’s ridiculous moniker, the Flex Window display is a significant enhancement over last year’s Cover display. It’s a 3.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a 60Hz refresh rate and 720 x 748 resolution, and the wallpapers I chose appeared sharp and vivid. But the greatest improvement is its girth.
The advantages are evident: With a larger canvas, you can view more information at once and buttons can be made larger and simpler to press. The Weather applet can now display the forecast for multiple days, while the Calendar provides a monthly view, thanks to the additional space.
Unlike Motorola’s Razr+, however, the Flip 5’s cover screen does not function as a full Android interface. It runs One UI similarly to how the company’s older smartwatches run Tizen OS. Swipe left to access widgets such as Timer, Stopwatch, Samsung Health, and Dialer, drag down from the main page to access quick settings, and swipe right to view your notifications. However, because the Flip 5 supports up to 13 widgets, navigating the carousel to locate what you need can become tedious rather quickly. Samsung has thankfully added a new touch gesture that allows you to view all widgets at once and quickly access the one you desire.
Although you cannot operate every app natively on the Flex Window, the company has optimized a select few for the smaller display. Once you’ve enabled them in Settings, you can activate Google Maps, YouTube, Netflix, Messages, and WhatsApp on the external display. I suppose these are the ones Samsung believes consumers will utilize the most when the Flip is closed.
If you’re feeling daring, you can install Good Lock from the Galaxy App Store, which allows you to run virtually any app outside. To make this work, you must go to Good Lock and download the MultiStar launcher, then add the launcher as a widget to the Flex Window. Once I did, however, I immediately chose Instagram, Chrome, Reddit, and Gallery to run externally. Each functioned as anticipated, that is, as a miniature version of itself on an oddly shaped display.
It is important to note that the Flex Window on the Flip 5 is not a typical rectangle. It resembles a document folder in that it is predominantly square and has a tiny tab on the bottom left. Functionally, the additional space does not interfere with applications or widgets. Swiping up on it returns you to the home screen, and if you have a timer or music playing, a countdown appears there.
Good Lock is not required to find the new Flex Window beneficial, but it does enhance the experience. For instance, when replying to a notification from an app like Telegram, you won’t be able to view the friend’s message. This may be due to the fact that Telegram notifications are typically hidden to prevent others from viewing your conversations. Therefore, if you wish to respond to Telegram contacts, you will likely still need to launch the Flip to view their messages.
Unless you use Good Lock to allow the app to run outside, tapping the notification on the Flex Window will simply transport you to the conversation within the app. It is surprising and oddly gratifying to see a non-native experience operate so smoothly.
In addition, the Flip 4 offers the ability to respond to text messages. It is now possible for Samsung to offer a QWERTY keyboard, and composing on it is a delight. Despite having relatively small hands, I had no trouble reaching across this panel to tap letters like Q and A, particularly when using swipe typing. The Flip 5’s software is also superior to that of the Moto, as the latter’s keyboard takes up the entire screen and requires an additional touch to send a reply. Samsung’s interface also displays a portion of your conversation above the input field, whereas the Razr+ does not.