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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23: Which small phone should you buy?

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Galaxy S23 are small phones in their own right. But which one makes better purchase sense?
By

Published onDecember 19, 2023

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
MSRP: $999.99
Check price
Positives
Huge new Flex Window
Excellent build quality
Solid rear cameras
Water protection
Class-leading software support
Negatives
Just-okay battery life
No dust protection
Good Lock can be confusing
Iffy sustained performance
The Bottom Line.
The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is Samsung's thinnest and most refined clamshell yet. It still has the best hardware around, and the new Flex Window opens up a world of possibilities once you've tackled all of Good Lock's quirks. Fresh competition in foldable flip phone space is keeping the heat on Samsung, but the Z Flip 5 shows there's still room for the Galaxy Z Flip series to grow.Read full review...
Samsung Galaxy S23
MSRP: $799.00
Check price
Positives
Compact size
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 power
Larger battery
Negatives
No UWB support
Limited charging power
No RAM options
The Bottom Line.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 is a giant among small phones, fixing many of its predecessor's flaws while retaining high standards in every other area. It offers much-improved battery life and more efficient performance to go along with one of the best software commitments in the game and an ever-reliable trio of cameras.Read full review...

Flagships continue to get better every year, but they also continue to get bigger and bigger. This ever-increasing race to pack the best technologies into a single phone has led us to phones we can’t easily hold and handle. If you’re looking for compact phones, your options are pretty limited. From the house of Samsung, the Galaxy S23 is one of the top choices for people who want a small phone. But with the launch of the Galaxy Z Flip 5, we now have a new compact phone to look forward to.

Which small phone should you pick, though? In this comparison, we pit the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs the Galaxy S23 to assess which phone makes the most sense for small phone buyers.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23: At a glance

Here is a summary of the differences between the compact foldable and the compact glass-slab smartphone:

  • The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a foldable with displays on its inside and outside, while the Galaxy S23 is a conventional glass-slab smartphone with one display.
  • The Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a larger storage option.
  • The Galaxy S23 has a slightly bigger battery.
  • The Galaxy S23 has a considerably better camera system than the Galaxy Z Flip 5.
  • The Galaxy S23 has better dust resistance.
  • The Galaxy S23 is cheaper.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23: Specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5Samsung Galaxy S23
Display
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Exterior:
- 3.4-inch Super AMOLED 60Hz
- 720 x 748

Interior:
- 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X
- 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
- 2,640 x 1,080
- 22:9 aspect ratio
Samsung Galaxy S23
- 6.1-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED
- 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
- 2,340 x 1,080
- 19.5:9 aspect ratio
Processor
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
Samsung Galaxy S23
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
8GB
Samsung Galaxy S23
8GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
256GB or 512GB
No expandable storage
Samsung Galaxy S23
128GB or 256GB
No expandable storage
Power
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
3,700mAh battery
25W Super Fast Charging
15W Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
5W Wireless PowerShare
No charger in box
Samsung Galaxy S23
3,900mAh battery
25W Super Fast Charging
15W Fast Wireless Charging 2.0
5W Wireless PowerShare
No charger in box
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Exterior:
- 12MP wide, 1.8μm, OIS, Dual Pixel AF, ƒ/1.8
- 12MP ultra wide, 123-degree FoV, 1.12μm, ƒ/2.2

Internal:
- 10MP, 1.22μm, ƒ/2.2
Samsung Galaxy S23
Rear:
- 50MP wide, 1.0μm, OIS, Dual Pixel AF, ƒ/1.8
- 12MP ultra wide, 123-degree FoV, 1.4μm, ƒ/2.2
- 10MP telephoto, 1.12μm, ƒ/2.4

Front:
- 12MP, 1.12μm, ƒ/2.2
Audio
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
No 3.5mm headphone port
Samsung Galaxy S23
Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
No 3.5mm headphone port
Durability
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
IPX8
Samsung Galaxy S23
IP68
Biometrics
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor
Samsung Galaxy S23
In-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor
SIM
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Single nano-SIM tray
eSIM support
Samsung Galaxy S23
Single nano-SIM tray
eSIM support
Software
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Android 13
One UI 5.1.1
Samsung Galaxy S23
Android 13
One UI 5.1
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Folded dimensions:
- 85.09 x 72 x 15mm (measured at hinge)

Unfolded dimensions:
- 165 x 71.9 x 6.9mm

Weight:
- 187g
Samsung Galaxy S23
Dimensions:
- 146.3 x 70.8 x 7.6mm

Weight:
- 168g
Colors
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Mint, Graphite, Cream, Lavender
Samsung.com exclusives: Gray, Blue, Green, Yellow
Samsung Galaxy S23
Phantom Black, Cream, Lavender, Green
Samsung.com exclusives: Lime, Graphite

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. The biggest difference between the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Galaxy S23 is that one is a foldable while the other is not.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 flex window youtube
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a clamshell foldable that appears as a tall smartphone but can be folded in the middle for a smaller footprint. The Z Flip 5 has two displays — a small display on the outside and a large display on the inside. On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 has only one compact display, with no folding trickery involved.

The Flip 5 folds to be compact, while the S23 does not need to.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the first among Samsung’s clamshell-style foldables to get a larger-sized cover display. Samsung now calls this the Flex Window, measuring 3.4-inch diagonally, though this display has an odd shape to accommodate the rear cameras. This is a 60Hz Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 748 pixels.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 incoming call
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Since this cover display is bigger than what it was on its predecessors, users can do a lot of things on it. You can check the weather, control music playback, catch up on the stock market, check notifications, check your call history, and even reply to texts with a full QWERTY keyboard — all without flipping the phone open. It’s not a complete replacement for the larger inner display, but it reduces the need to keep opening the phone for every small task.

When you do need to flip open the phone, you get access to a large 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. This inner display has a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and a resolution of 2,640 x 1,080 pixels. When opened, the Z Flip 5 has a tall aspect ratio of 22:9, making the phone easy to grip for its display-diagonal. The clamshell folding form factor gives you the advantages of both a small phone and a large display.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 internal display hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Z Flip 5

There is a noticeable crease running horizontally through the middle of the Galaxy Z Flip 5. It’s noticeable at off-angles; you can feel it throughout the day when you scroll up and down on the display.

On the Galaxy S23, there are no such odd features. It’s a simple glass slab smartphone that we are already familiar with. There are no intentionally folding parts, creases, or secondary displays.

What you get on the Galaxy S23 is a 6.1-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It has a resolution of 2,340 x 1,080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 which is broader and shorter than the Flip 5. It’s a compact smartphone that most people can hold and use with one hand.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra vs Galaxy S23 notification shade
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

On the inside, the two phones are fairly similar. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Galaxy S23 come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy, the premier choice of SoC for 2023. The “for Galaxy” branding means the chip slightly differs from the regular 8 Gen 2, offering higher peak CPU and GPU clock speeds. Both phones also have the same 8GB RAM option.

Both phones come with the latest flagship processor from Qualcomm.

There is a slight difference in storage options that Samsung presents. You can buy the Galaxy Z Flip 5 in 256GB and 512GB variants, while the Galaxy S23 can be purchased in 128GB and 256GB variants.

Since there is no microSD expandability on either phone, choose the storage variant that will last you for the next two-three years of ownership. Note that Samsung does not disclose its phones’ RAM and storage type specifications.

samsung galaxy s23 bacl on foosball table
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you care about protecting your phone against the elements, the Galaxy S23 performs better with its IP68 rating, while the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has an IPX8 rating.

The “8” signifies water resistance, with both phones able to handle fresh water up to 1.5m depth for up to 30 minutes. Neither can handle saltwater, though; water damage is not covered under warranty, so you’d still want to avoid water generally.

The point of difference is in dust protection. The “6” after “IP” is the maximum score for dust protection, meaning the Galaxy S23 is dust-resistant. The “X” indicates a placeholder, meaning the manufacturer did not specifically test the product. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 thus cannot be judged as dust-resistant, so we’d advise care and caution around sand, dust, and debris as there is a possibility that particles can enter the phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 fingerprint reader and volume rocker
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 relies on a side-mounted capacitive fingerprint sensor residing in the power button for biometric authentication. The Galaxy S23 relies on an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Both are great for authentication, so which one is better would boil down to your placement preference.

samsung galaxy S23 plus fingerprint
Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

Regarding software, the experience is nearly identical on either phone (barring the features reserved for the cover display). Both phones launched with One UI based on Android 13. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 comes with One UI 5.1.1, which is slightly newer than One UI 5.1 on the Galaxy S23. Both phones have been updated to One UI 6 based on Android 14.

Both phones will receive four major Android OS updates and five years of security updates from their launch date. Since the Flip 5 is a later launch, it is promised to get a couple of security updates more than the Galaxy S23, but this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker to most people.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23: Size comparison

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 flex window camera
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

In its folded state, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a tiny phone. It measures just 85.09 x 72 x 15mm, which is very pocketable.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 flex mode camera app
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

In its unfolded state, though, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a tall phone. It measures 165 x 71.9 x 6.9mm, significantly taller and slightly wider than the Galaxy S23’s 146.3 x 70.8 x 7.6mm dimensions. The S23 is slightly thicker, though, and because it doesn’t fold, it also feels more solid and confident in the hand.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is heavier at 187g, compared to the Galaxy S23’s 168g weight.

samsung galaxy S23 plus front
Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

If size is your primary consideration, you’d need to decide whether you want a phone that is always compact (Galaxy S23) or if you’d like a large display with the portability of a smaller form factor (Galaxy Z Flip 5).

Do you want a phone that is always compact, or do you want a small phone that still has a large display?

As for the design, there is a stark difference between the two, primarily because of the form factor. You can see a commonality in the design language that makes both of them Samsung phones, but much more of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is occupied by a display.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23: Camera

Galaxy Z Flip 5 cover screen selfie resize
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

The cameras on the two phones have a fair bit of difference. Samsung is constrained by the foldable form factor on the Flip 5, so the company cannot bring in some of the better camera tech it has been using on the Galaxy S23.

For starters, the primary camera on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a 12MP sensor with an ƒ/1.8 aperture, 1.8μm pixel size, OIS, and Dual Pixel autofocus. In comparison, the Galaxy S23 has a 50MP sensor with an ƒ/1.8 aperture, 1.0μm pixel size, OIS, and Dual Pixel autofocus. The pure pixel size may look smaller, but the Galaxy S23 uses quad-binning to combine four pixels into one larger pixel, outputting 12.5MP images.

On the Galaxy S23, we get bright, vibrant images with crisp details, and the Flip 5 exhibits similar behavior. Generally, the differences between the S23’s and the Flip 5’s camera setup will be best observed in lower lighting conditions. In situations with ample light, average consumers will generally have no complaints from either phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 primary camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S23 primary camera samples

The ultrawide camera on the two phones is a similar 12MP sensor with a 123° FoV and ƒ/2.2 aperture. The difference is in pixel size, with Galaxy Z Flip 5 producing 1.12μm pixels while the Galaxy S23 produces 1.4μm pixels.

Compared to the primary on the respective phones, the ultrawide produces a paler color palette with softer details and the typical wide-angle distortion at the edges. Between the two phones, the Galaxy S23’s ultrawide again has the upper hand over the Flip 5’s ultrawide as lighting becomes sub-optimal.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 ultrawide camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S23 ultrawide camera samples

Where the Galaxy S23 has a clear win is the telephoto camera because the Galaxy Z Flip 5 does not have one at all.

On the Galaxy S23, you get a 10MP telephoto camera with ƒ/2.4 aperture and 1.12μm pixel size. It is capable of 3x optical zoom and up to 30x digital zoom. Details are great at 3x and bearable at up to 10x, so you’d likely want to remain within this zone for the best results.

Samsung Galaxy S23 telephoto camera samples

For the front camera, there is a 12MP sensor with an ƒ/2.2 aperture and 1.12μm pixel size on the Galaxy S23. In comparison, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a 10MP sensor with an ƒ/2.2 aperture and 1.22μm pixel size.

You’d be hard-pressed to pick a winner between the two sets of phones for the front camera, as the images are usually very good. There is some room for improvement in portrait mode, though.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 front camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S23 front camera samples

Since the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a foldable with a large outer display, you can effectively flip the phone around and use the primary rear and ultrawide cameras for your selfie needs. In such situations, you’d get a better result than the Galaxy S23’s front camera.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 selfie samples with the rear camera

For video, the Galaxy S23 can shoot 8K 30fps and 4K 60fps from its primary rear camera. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is restricted to 4K 60fps only from its primary rear camera. There isn’t a lot of advantage in shooting at 8K, though. Further, the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s unique form factor makes it easy to hold like a camcorder, helping with longer-duration shooting.

samsung galaxy S23 plus camera rear
Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

Overall, the Galaxy S23 still retains a lead in quality and versatility over the Galaxy Z Flip 5. A good telephoto camera is an underrated feature, and it helps with framing and positioning.

If you’re choosing a phone for its camera prowess, we’d give points to the Galaxy S23 over the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23: Battery and charging

samsung galaxy s23 battery
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Despite the larger expanded form factor, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a smaller 3,700mAh battery, against the Galaxy S23’s 3,900mAh battery. Combined with the bigger expanded display, you’d usually get worse battery life on the Flip 5 than the S23 unless you resign yourself to operating the phone exclusively through the front display.

On the Galaxy S23, we could finish days with 40% battery remaining, and usually last a day and another close-half on a full charge. With the Flip 5, we could last just about a day, and another quarter if we stretch it, with about four hours of screen-on time.

Galaxy Z Flip 5 chin and forehead thickness resize
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

As for charging, both the Flip 5 and the Galaxy S23 share the same charging specifications. Both phones support 25W wired, 15W proprietary wireless charging, and 10W Qi wireless charging.

A USB Power Delivery PPS charger will take 80 minutes to charge up the Galaxy S23 fully, and about 75-80 minutes to fully charge the Flip 5 despite the smaller battery.

Both phones also support 4.5W reverse wireless charging to charge accessories. However, neither phone comes with a charger in the box.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23: Price

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (8GB/256GB): $1,000
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (8GB/512GB): $1,120
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 (8GB/128GB): $800
  • Samsung Galaxy S23 (8GB/256GB): $860

Pricing is where the Galaxy S23 flexes its muscles. The phone costs $800 for the 128GB variant, while the comparable 256GB variant retails for $860. In comparison, the 256GB variant of the Galaxy Z Flip 5 comes in at $1,000, while the 512GB variant is even more expensive at $1,120.

For its price, the Galaxy S23 offers an excellent package. Considering all the areas where it trumps the Flip 5, it’s surprising to see the lower pricing. If you’re willing to settle for a lower storage variant, the price difference is a neat $200, which further tips the already-titled spec sheet in the S23’s favor.

The lower pricing on the Galaxy S23 makes it a better value phone than the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 launched on July 26, 2023, with pre-orders beginning on the same day. The phone went on open sale on August 11, 2023, in the US. We’ve seen the price dip during sales season, but no deep or lasting discounts are available for the phone yet since it is still relatively new in its product lifecycle.

The Galaxy S23 launched on February 1, 2023, with pre-orders beginning on the same day. The phone went on open sale on February 17, 2023, in the US. We regularly see the phone be discounted by about $100, and these discounts will only deepen as we get closer to the Galaxy S24 launch.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 vs Galaxy S23: Which phone should you buy?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 flex window
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Galaxy S23 are solid smartphones with impressive specifications that should appeal to the average user.

That being said, the phone you should prefer depends on a straightforward question: Do you want a foldable phone? If the answer is yes, then the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the obvious choice. You should go for the Galaxy S23 if the answer is no.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 or Samsung Galaxy S23: Which flagship would you buy?

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For folks wanting a compact smartphone, the Galaxy Z Flip 5’s folded form factor would feel enticing. But there are a fair number of compromises along the way. You can’t use the phone’s entire functionality through the cover screen, so you will need to frequently open up the phone to use it. In its unfolded state, the Flip 5 is a large phone and cannot be called compact.

To fold or not to fold, that is the compact phone question.

Thus, the Galaxy S23’s form factor makes it perfect for those wanting a compact phone, as no conditions are attached to its compactness.

samsung galaxy s23 home screen hero
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Overall, the Galaxy S23 wins out on the spec sheet. It has a slightly better life, better dust resistance, and a considerably better camera system. The cherry on the cake is that it is cheaper too, so you spend less for a superior experience.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a great phone, but you need to be committed to trying out the foldable form factor to appreciate what it brings to the table. There are some comparative compromises to make vis-a-vis the Galaxy S23, but foldables are the talk of the town these days.

If you want to have a phone in your hand that stands out from the sea of glass slab smartphones, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is the perfect phone.

See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5
Huge new Flex Window
Excellent build quality
Solid rear cameras

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