The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a technological marvel. Not content with creating some of the world’s most powerful smartphones, Samsung decided they had to bend in the middle as well, and the original Z Fold sprang from that seemingly insane decision. Several years later, the culmination of that process is the Galaxy Z Fold 5 — a folding phone with an enormous inner display, flagship hardware, and the most advanced hinge technology we’ve ever seen.
I’ve just bought one, and I should be over the moon. But I’m not; I’m worried.
It’s not immediately obvious where my anxiety comes from. After all, exploring a whole new device is an exciting prospect. Add the thrill of trying an entirely new format, and I should be twice as excited. But overshadowing any sense of excitement is some serious anxiety, and I think it comes from the novelty that makes the device worth buying.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is an incredible device and is plainly at the cutting edge of physical technology. That means it commands a price to match, and while I’ve become accustomed to phones that sit close to four figures in cost, the Z Fold 5’s $1,800 ticket is … something else entirely. That’s a lot of money to drop on any gadget, which adds a lot of pressure to the purchase. But it’s not just the pressure of spending that amount of money on a smartphone, it’s something else entirely. It’s the pressure to make sure that money is going on a worthwhile purchase — and I’m worried it won’t be.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a phone of two halves. The outer display is going to be familiar to everyone. The frame is a funny shape, thanks to the hinge on one side, but ultimately, using the outer display is going to be business as usual. I know this world; it’s great. I’ve lived in it for a decade now. But the inner display? That worries me.
The inner display is the new one. It’s the part that adds “Fold” to the name. It’s the big time; it’s the headline act. It’s the part of the smartphone that everyone will want to see. It is the entire reason this smartphone exists.
What if I don’t use it?
Obviously, I’m bound to open it from time to time. But my worry is that I won’t use it enough to justify the purchase. If it doesn’t fit into my life, what was the point of buying it in the first place? If I only use it on the sofa at the end of the day or propped up in the kitchen while I cook, would I have been better off just using one of my tablets? At that point, I’ll feel like I’ve definitely wasted money.
I’ll also be carting around a massive phone when I don’t have to. By design, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is as thick as two phones — and that presents its own challenges. Will it fit in a pocket? Will my millennial skinny jeans allow for such a thick smartphone? Just like the question about cost, the extra weight and size are just a hindrance if I don’t get the use I’m hoping for.
The reason why I’m worried about this is because I’ve been here before. I’ve written about my time with the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, but one of the elements I didn’t touch on in that article was how big a disappointment the S Pen was. Not because it lacked features, was unreliable, or anything like that. No, it was simply because I didn’t end up using the S Pen all that often.
This isn’t a universal issue, as plenty of people love their S Pens — even to the point of buying one for their Z Fold phones, despite no native place to hold one. I thought I would be one of those people, but it turned out I wasn’t.
So, imagine my thought process of using another Galaxy smartphone that’s outside the norm. Sure, an S Pen isn’t close to being the same as a whole other display, but it was a headline feature, and it’s one that I just didn’t use. The extra money I paid to have an S Pen (and there were a lot of sacrifices made with that particular phone) was simply not worthwhile.
The barrier for entry to the Z Fold 5 is even higher, and while it’s likely the large display won’t suffer from the same lack of attention the S Pen did, I can’t help but worry. Hopefully, my worst fears won’t come to pass, and I will love the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s inner display. But until I’ve made that plunge, it’s going to be a big question that weighs on my mind.
Thankfully, it’s also not an anxiety that we’ll all have to go through. Folding smartphones are undoubtedly the future of the phone market, but prices are starting to fall, at least where flip phones are concerned. The bigger fold phones will likely stay expensive for a while longer yet, but the excellent Motorola Moto Razr (2023) starts from just $700, offering a reasonably priced starting point for anyone who wants to know if a folding phone fits into their life or not.
As for my Galaxy Z Fold 5? Only time will tell if my purchase was wise — and I’ll keep you updated every step of the way.