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The new Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Fold 5 aren't always "thinner"

Thinner, yes, but only when folded.
By
July 26, 2023

During its Unpacked launch event, Samsung revealed that the new Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Flip 5 are notably thinner than their predecessors. That’s an interesting and amusing angle to take when the foldables are literally the same thickness unfolded; they just fold a little better. So what gives?

Those of you who have taken a thorough look at the previous Galaxy Z series should have noticed that Samsung’s foldables don’t fold fully flat. There was a noticeable gap between the two halves near the hinge, which progressively thinned down until the two parts nearly touched toward the opposite side. That gap was around the 2mm mark as you can clearly see in the pic of the older Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Flip 3 below.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 hinge detail laying on table
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
Galaxy Z Flip 3 (L) vs Galaxy Z Flip 4 (R)

The new Galaxy Z series has a better-engineered hinge that folds the two halves of the phone closer together. The gap is inexistent along the entire length, as shown in the image of the Z Flip 5 below. So yes, technically, the thicker side of the phone is thinner when folded (by 2mm), and the opposite side is marginally thinner (by 0.8mm) too. And it’s all due to a smaller gap, i.e. there’s less air in the middle. However, the entire phone is still literally the same thickness when unfolded. Check the Z Flip 4 and Z Flip 5 spec sheets if you don’t believe me: Both of them are 6.9mm unfolded. Marketing, eh?

The new Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Fold 5 are the same thickness unfolded; but they fold better.

Illusion is a beautiful weapon, though, and so is the power of suggestion. If you hold a Z Flip 5 or Fold 5, you might think they’re slimmer, whether folded or unfolded. Samsung has won that perception game.

Galaxy Z Flip 5 zero gap hinge
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

Look, I don’t want to undermine Samsung’s efforts in improving the hinge mechanism and getting that part right, but I think it’s quite misleading to pretend the two new phones are always thinner than their predecessors.

Do you think the new Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Flip 5 are thinner?

145 votes

What this indicates, though, is that Samsung may be feeling the heat of imminent competition. With the release of great foldables from Google, Motorola, OPPO, HONOR, and TECNO, Samsung is no longer the only foldable game in the worldwide town. These competitors have all emphasized their thinner and more elegant phones in the last few months.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 back panel
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

In the absence of a real thinner foldable and because phones’ development cycles last years, Samsung obviously couldn’t change anything last minute. Instead, the Korean megalith has tried to spin its marketing machine to avoid being left behind. So that’s where Samsung will settle for another year: A better folding foldable, that is technically only thinner when snapped shut.

Samsung might be feeling the heat of impending foldable competition and trying to get ahead of it with better marketing.

Come the sixth generation of Galaxy Z phones, though, I feel that Samsung will have to pull a seismic shift in design. It has rested enough on its laurels as the only foldable maker outside of China, but it can’t afford to do that anymore.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Huge new Flex Window
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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
New hinge finally folds flat
Bright, vibrant displays
Powerful multitasking features