We know for sure that Samsung will announce its next foldable smartphones towards the end of July. What we don’t know is whether the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 will be capable of taking on the role of flagship champ from the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
We won’t be able to resolve that issue until we’ve had a chance to go hands-on with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, of course. Thankfully, however, a near-constant stream of leaks and rumors have given us a pretty well-rounded idea of what to expect.
The other side of the equation is the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which we’ve used extensively since its launch earlier in the year. It provides a handy solid anchor point against which we can hold those Fold 5 rumors. One thing’s for sure, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is going to have to go some to become our new favorite phone of the year.
Here, then, is how the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 might shape up alongside its less flexible flagship cousin.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs S23 Ultra: specs comparison
We’ll get into the details below, but first, here’s just a brief overview of the key specs we’re expecting from the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, alongside the specs of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, so you can see at a glance how they’re likely to stack up.
|Galaxy Z Fold 5 (rumored)||Galaxy S23 Ultra|
|Display:||7.6-inch OLED / 6.2-inch OLED||6.8-inch OLED|
|Resolution:||1812 x 2176 pixels / 904 x 2316 pixels||1440 x 3088|
|Chipset:||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||Snapdragon 8 Gen 2|
|Rear cameras:||50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto w/ 3x optical zoom||200MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto w/ 3x optical zoom, 10MP telephoto w/ 10x optical zoom|
|Front camera:||10MP and 4MP||12MP|
|RAM:||12GB||8GB / 12GB|
|Storage:||256GB, 512GB, 1TB||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs S23 Ultra: price and availability
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 will be announced in late July, 2023, and the internet rumor mill puts the precise date at July 26. You can generally expect a release date of around two weeks later, and sure enough, some are suggesting August 11 as that date.
According to said rumors, Samsung will be keeping its pricing in line with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. That would mean a starting price of $1,799.99 / £1,649 / AU$2,499 for the 256GB model, moving up to $1,919.99 / £1,769 / AU$2,699 for 512GB. At the top end of the scale, the 1TB range-topper could cost $2,159.99 / £2,019 / AU$2,999.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, meanwhile, arrived on February 17 of this year, with prices starting from $1,199.99 / £1,249 / AU$1,949 for the 256GB model. That bumps up to $1,379.99 / £1,399 / AU$2,249 for 512GB, and $1,619.99 / £1,599 / AU$2,649 for 1TB.
It’s more than likely that the Galaxy S23 Ultra will be the cheaper phone of the two, then – and by a considerable margin at that.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs S23 Ultra: design
However the Galaxy Z Fold 5 looks, it’ll be fundamentally different to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The latter is a super-sized non-foldable phone with a single display, while the Fold 5 will be a double-thickness phone that unfurls into a skinny tablet, with two displays to make those dual forms work.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 will inevitably be the larger phone of the two. Even a rumored weight of 254g, which is lighter than the Fold 4, would exceed the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 234g.
More generally, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s design harks back to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, with similar curved side edges, flat top and bottom edges, and a display that covers most of the front. Samsung has refined that design with a flatter display, but it’s a pretty traditional (if stylish) phone.
We’re expecting the Galaxy Z Fold 5 to look a lot like the Fold 4, though rumor has it that it might adopt a new waterdrop-shaped hinge. This hinge will enable the phone to close flatter than before, thus making it thinner than the Fold 4’s 14.2mm (at its thinnest) when closed.
Ultimately, it’ll still be way thicker than the 8.9mm Galaxy S23 Ultra when closed, and likely a couple of millimetres thinner when open, what with the Fold 4 being 6.3mm thick.
Talking of which, the hinge will also apparently benefit the Fold 5 when open, minimizing the crease that runs down the middle of the display. That’s simply not a design issue that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has to deal with.
Nor does the Galaxy S23 Ultra have to worry about dust ingress, with an IP68 rating making it as resistant to fine particles as it is to water. That’s not something that the Galaxy Z Fold range has traditionally been able to offer. Rumor has it the Galaxy Z Fold 5 may go some way to closing the gap (excuse the pun), albeit possibly with only an IP58 rating, and not all sources agree.
Another key design difference will likely be the fact that the Galaxy S23 Ultra contains a dedicated compartment for its S Pen stylus. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, on the other hand, will likely mirror the Fold 4 in supporting a version of the S Pen, but without anywhere to stash it.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs S23 Ultra: display
As we’ve already mentioned, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will have two displays to the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s one. All three of the screens we’re dealing with here will be markedly different, though.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5’s external display will bear the closest comparison to its cousin’s. Reports suggest that it’ll be much the same 6.2-inch AMOLED as the Fold 4, with the same 904 x 2316 resolution, super-skinny aspect ratio, and 120Hz refresh rate.
That won’t enable it to match the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s screen, which is a mighty 6.8-inch AMOLED with a 1440 x 3088 (QHD+) resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung’s current flagship screen will be bigger, sharper, and at a peak of 1,750 nits, most likely brighter too.
Of course, the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s party trick brings a much more impressive screen into play. The internal display is predicted to be a 7.6-inch AMOLED with a 1812 x 2176 resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate, much like the Fold 4. It’s the sheer size of it that sets it apart from the Ultra, not to mention its almost square aspect ratio.
We’ve heard it claimed that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5’s main screen will be brighter than previous Samsung foldables, but we somehow doubt it’ll be able to match the S23 Ultra’s 1,750 nits.
Rumored improvements to the durability of the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s internal display may be welcome within a foldable context, but it’ll still probably be much softer and more damage-prone than the Galaxy S23 Ultra with its Gorilla Glass Victus 2 cover. That’s just the nature of foldables right now, and they do have the natural protection of being able to close.
One way in which the Galaxy Z Fold 5’s internal screen will likely one-up the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s is with its under-display selfie camera, which in the case of the Fold 4 enables the whole screen to be given over to content. The Galaxy S23 Ultra has to interrupt that picture with a punch-hole selfie camera.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs S23 Ultra: cameras
If we can state anything with absolute confidence, it’s that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra will have a better camera system than the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5. With the way that foldables have to play component Tetris simply to squeeze everything into an awkward form factor, the camera is always compromised.
Reports suggest that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5’s camera system won’t differ all that much from the Fold 4, which was perfectly decent, but nowhere near the quality of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. That’s no disgrace. The Ultra is simply one of the best camera phones on the market.
If those rumors are accurate, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 will have a 50MP main sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide, and a 10MP telephoto capable of 3x zoomed shots. At least one of those sensors might be new and improved over the Fold 4, it’s alleged, but it’s unlikely to mark a radical overhaul.
Compare that to the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra’s huge 200MP main sensor, 12MP ultra-wide, and dual 10MP telephoto lenses (with one offering 10x optical zoom), and it’s not going to to be close.
Of course, one advantage the Galaxy Z Fold 5 might have is with selfies. No, we’re not expecting the 4MP internal camera to be much good, nor even a great advance for the 10MP external selfie camera. But the nature of such foldables is that you can easily use the main camera for selfies, with the external screen acting as a view finder. That’s a trick the S23 Ultra can’t pull off.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs S23 Ultra: performance
So far so completely different, but if there’s one area in which we’re expecting absolute parity, it’s performance.
That’s because the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is heavily tipped to feature the exact same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset as the Galaxy S23 Ultra. This is the ‘For Galaxy’ version of the chip, too, which has a slightly higher clock speed than on rival phones.
With both phones likely to max out at 12GB of RAM, and with the likelihood of shared storage capacities (256GB, 512GB, and 1TB), there really is probably going to be nothing between them in terms of baseline specs.
We found that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra had “exceptional performance” in our review, so we would have no reservations about Samsung adopting exactly the same setup. Even with that higher price tag, this is the fastest chipset available to Android phones right now.
The only slight disappointment would be that the Fold 5 may not benefit from the slightly faster Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2 revision that’s likely almost upon us. After all, the Fold 4 packed the equivalent ‘Plus’ revision of the previous Qualcomm flagship chip.
It’s also claimed that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 will feature improved speakers and haptics, but whether it will be able to compare with the top-of-the-tree Galaxy S23 Ultra in how it sounds and feels remains to be seen.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs S23 Ultra: battery
We’re expecting the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra to hold a clear advantage when it comes to stamina. For one thing, it has a 5,000mAh battery, while the Fold 5 is rumored to pack the same 4,400mAh battery as the Fold 4.
For another, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is driving a much smaller display, albeit probably a brighter and sharper one. Screens are invariably the biggest power hog in any phone.
To illustrate that point, you only have to compare our experience of the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s stamina with that of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The Fold 4 lasted us a little less than a full day (13 hours) on a single charge, while the Galaxy S23 Ultra lasted a day and a half.
We’d expect Samsung to up its game with the Galaxy Z Fold 5, especially with a more efficient chipset on board. But half a day’s worth? It seems unlikely to bridge that gap.
We’re expecting the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra to win on charging speeds, too. While 45W isn’t the fastest on the market by any means, it would beat the rumored 25W charging of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 hands down.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs S23 Ultra: verdict
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 has a good chance of being the best full-sized foldable phone for most people. However, it’ll have to go some way to replace the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra as our pick for the best phone overall.
There’s a fundamental difference in form factors here, and foldable phones simply aren’t in the same place as regular smartphones. Regular phones have matured, offering few surprises or innovations, but at the same time few outright flaws. Foldables, meanwhile, are still finding their feet, offering bags of innovation and excitement, but also a heap of basic quality-of-life issues.
Besides simple monetary factors (on which the Galaxy S23 Ultra will clearly win), this is likely to come down to what you want from your flagship phone. Do you want thrills and spills, or solid dependability? Do you prioritize the biggest display possible, or is the level of portability more important? How important is durability, camera quality, and battery life to you?
We’ll have a more comprehensive comparison of these two phones once our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review is ready, but even now we can see the faint outline of our conclusion. This is going to be a comparison of ideals and priorities as much as it will be a comparison of hardware, and as such there may not be a definitive winner.