Monday, June 24, 2024
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The real reason Samsung wants you to buy a folding phone this year

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5's cover screens.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 (right) and Galaxy Z Flip 5 (left) Andy Boxall/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

“Not everyone upgrades [their phone] every year. Relatively. I mean; but we’d love that to be more!” Nick Porter, vice president of product management and commercial operations at Samsung U.K. and Ireland, laughed as we talked about the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 just ahead of the official launch over a Microsoft Teams call.

His throwaway quip is something that I often forget myself, as using or buying the latest devices is part of my work. The subject came up after I’d asked about the reasons why someone with a Galaxy Z Fold 4 should upgrade to a Galaxy Z Fold 5, as I could see a clear path for Galaxy Z Flip 4 owners to do so. It turns out there are some compelling reasons to upgrade both foldable phones this year, as Porter explained.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is an easy upgrade decision

Nick Porter, VP of Product Management and Commercial Operations at Samsung UK and Ireland.
Nick Porter, VP of Product Management and Commercial Operations at Samsung UK and Ireland Samsung

“The foldable market is growing exponentially, and when we talk to consumers about what their next smartphone is going to be, 28% of them strongly agree that it’s going to be a foldable phone,” Porter explained. “So not only is the market growing, the future demand for foldable phones is growing, and growing massively.”

Providing different devices for this growing number of people is essential, but this year, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is Samsung’s 2023 folding smartphone with the most “curb appeal” due to its big, new cover screen. While there are other upgrades onboard, this is the one that will tempt you the most.

“The new Flex Window is the biggest visible innovation that we have on the Galaxy Z Flip 5, and we’ve worked with Samsung Labs in order to create really deep integration across a variety of apps and widgets,” he continued.

Two Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 phones next to each other.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

But you can’t just run any app on the cover screen; you choose from a carefully curated menu of apps instead. Why hasn’t Samsung opened it up to run any app, like the Motorola Razr Plus?

“Getting those experiences right for people out of the box is really, really important,” Porter told me — and emphasized how Samsung wants apps on the external screen to look and operate like they do when you open the phone and use them on the full screen. Samsung Product Specialist Kadesh Beckford was also on my call, and he confirmed it’s also only the beginning for the cover screen.

“I can confirm the amount of applications available will grow. But we want every experience to be the best experience. So everything that we push through afterwards will have been tested and optimized to work properly.”

Why you’ll want the Galaxy Z Fold 5

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The cover screen is undoubtedly a true reason to upgrade to the Galaxy Z Flip 5 this year, but what about the Galaxy Z Fold 5? Porter explained that you have to look closer to see the reasons why you should consider the latest phone if you already have last year’s device, and almost all of the new additions are found on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 too.

“It’s about understanding the details,” Porter said. “We have focused on durability with the new Flex Hinge, the Armor Aluminum frame, and the latest Gorilla Glass Victus 2, so you’ve got a phone that’s both lighter and thinner [than before], yet tougher than ever. The Flex Hinge has got a dual rail structure inside, which means any external impacts are diffused across its entire body, enhancing the stability and durability and making it even more streamlined at the same time.”

Someone using the Camera app on the Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Andrew Martonik / Digital Trends

Durability will always be a concern with foldable phones, but it’s always a key part of the conversation when I discuss new models with Samsung. It has learned from those early days when the original Galaxy Fold had some very public issues, and all the improvements above apply to both the Z Fold 5 and the Z Flip 5 — both of which even have an IPX8 water resistance rating today.

“We also have our Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, and we know the difference in performance we’re able to generate with it, as it’s customized for Galaxy,” Porter continued. “It means you’ve got a phone that’s faster, more efficient with battery life, and with incredible PC-like performance in your pocket, and that’s before talking about what we’ve learned about gaming. We’ve taken the best of what we’ve learned from the Galaxy S23 with the enhanced vapor chamber and the power of the processor, and you’ve now got it with that huge, immersive screen.”

Worth the upgrade?

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5's colors, and S Pen case.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

At first glance, the Z Fold 5 is a relatively small update over Samsung’s previous big-screen models, but what it’s doing is refining an established and successful formula. With the Z Flip 5, Samsung is being a little more daring because, according to Porter, people have demanded it.

“These are huge reasons to upgrade from a Z Fold 4 to the Z Fold 5,” Porter claims, referring to the durability, size, and performance improvements, before adding, “But they are also huge reasons to consider the Z Fold 5 as your next super flagship smartphone,” suggesting it’s powerful and capable enough to replace a phone like the Galaxy S23 Ultra in your hand too.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 in mint, cream, pink, and black colors.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

“The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is for people who want the most pocketable flagship smartphone that you can buy. People have been telling us very clearly they want pocketability, flagship performance, and durability. We’ve really listened to them,” Porter concluded.

Samsung has two very different products targeting two quite different sets of consumers this year and some compelling reasons to upgrade — or to be part of the 28% that see themselves buying their first folding phone soon.

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