Foldables prove that the future is already here, giving us phones that fold in half without sacrificing much, if any. The latest generations of foldable phones continue to raise the bar and defy expectations, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
Last years Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (opens in a new tab) is my favorite phone of all time and I use it as my primary smartphone whenever I’m not busy reviewing another phone. That said, I can definitely pick out a few things I’d like to see Samsung improve on in the mandatory Z Fold 5 that we plan to release in late summer or early fall, if past versions are any indication.
And while Samsung has done the best foldable phone (opens in a new tab) For a few years, the MWC 2023 has proven that Samsung better not rest on its laurels this year. Competition from companies like Honor (opens in a new tab), tech (opens in a new tab), Motorola (opens in a new tab)and even Google (opens in a new tab) itself proves that Samsung could very well lose its crown if it doesn’t make some important changes.
It’s been a while since we’ve faulted Samsung for using too much plastic in their phones – the only exception being the Galaxy S21 (opens in a new tab) series – and this particular request actually has nothing to do with the build of the phone itself. Instead, we’re talking about the PET screen protector that adorns the bendable screen of the Fold and Flip phones.
All Flip and Fold phones have had some sort of protective plastic screen protector applied to the ultra-thin glass since Samsung foldables were created, but the PET one – it’s polyethylene terephthalate — is particularly susceptible to warping and cracking over time.
As you’ll see in the above image of my wife’s Galaxy Z Flip 3, the screen protector has developed a thin parting line right in the center of the foldable crease. His Flip 4 and my Fold 4 now have an identical line that is growing after months of use.
Although I could (and have) replaced the screen protector with one of best Fold 4 screen protectors (opens in a new tab)it would be nice not to have to buy them every few months.
Not only that, but plastic protectors often look cheap and, depending on the material you choose, can end up dirty from finger oils. If Samsung could develop something that doesn’t crack or feel greasy over time, I’d love to see it on the Fold 5.
Death to the fold
All signs point to Samsung swapping the current hinge design and replacing it with a “teardrop” hinge that bends the glass inward, you guessed it, a teardrop shape. We’ve seen several other foldable phones use this folding method and they all result in a seamless, crease-free foldable screen.
The only caveat is that none of them are water resistant like Samsung’s foldables have been since the Z Fold 3 and Flip 3. But that all seems to be changing based on the latest Fold 5 display rumor (opens in a new tab) which shows that Samsung has solved the puzzle, which means that we will have a phone that is water resistant and has no display creases.
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The interesting thing is that the crease is not formed by the screen itself. Rather, it is the hinge design that causes the crease. A recent Samsung prototype, pictured above, is likely what the Fold 5 might look like compared to a Fold 4. As you’ll notice, the new hinge folds completely flat, and the device is also much slimmer.
As I’ve said in all of our Fold and Flip reviews, screen crease isn’t a big deal when viewed straight up, especially against a bright background. But boy, is it still evident from any other angle, especially from the side.
See that photo above? I took a beach vacation in Santa Monica last year and didn’t take the Galaxy Z Fold 4 with me for that particular part. For what? Simply put, the Fold and Flip isn’t dustproof like a standard slab smartphone is. If I had picked it up and dropped it in the sand, chances are I could have destroyed the phone the next few times I opened and closed it.
While Samsung is in the process of manufacturing a new hinge, it would be amazing to see a good dust resistance rating on one of the company’s upcoming foldables. The lack of a dust resistance rating is a real headache for anyone who likes to hit the beach or get dirty, as grains of sand or dirt can cause serious problems with current hinge designs.
Shorter but wider
The Google Pixel Fold is rumored to use a 16:9 aspect ratio for the interior display, which means both the interior and exterior screens are significantly larger than Samsung’s Z Fold lineup. While I really appreciate the bigger screen inside the Fold 3 and 4, the aspect ratio has always been a little awkward.
That’s especially true for the outer screen which seems comically cramped the first time you use a fold. If Samsung were to shorten the phone a bit, it would be a bit easier to use the outer display with one hand, and the inner display could show videos without having to turn the device at all.
In fact, a larger interior display could prove to be a huge advantage for the Fold 5 over previous Samsung Fold phones, as it would be inherently ‘landscape’ oriented at all times. Since Google has a new interest in making Android more tablet-friendly through the next Pixel tablet (opens in a new tab)having a Fold that uses tablet apps on the internal display without having to rotate the phone would be a huge boon for Samsung.
Not only that, but a larger phone would make more room for an S Pen…
S Pen Upgrades
Given that the Fold line’s current tall and narrow design leaves no room for an S Pen, a wider phone would certainly help fit everyone’s favorite stylus into the body of a potential Fold 5. The S Pen doesn’t take up as much space but, again, the current design is just too narrow to fit.
Ever since Samsung ditched the Note name in favor of phones like the Galaxy S23 Ultra (opens in a new tab) and even made S Pens specifically for the Fold line, there’s little reason to think the company hasn’t been working on ways to integrate the S Pen into the body of a future Z Fold phone.
While I much prefer the larger S Pen Fold Edition (opens in a new tab) on the small pencil included in the S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra, there is no denying the convenience of a stylus included in the body.
Also, I’d like to see Samsung slap a Wacom digitizer into the cover screen so I can take quick notes without having to unfold the fold before writing. Currently, the Fold 3 and Fold 4 only support the S Pen on the large indoor display.
An Ultra Camera Upgrade
Finally, I want to see Samsung push the boundaries of mobile photography even further on its foldables. THE Z Fold 4 cameras (opens in a new tab) were absolutely an upgrade over the Z Fold 3’s cameras in almost every way, and adding the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s 200MP sensor and 10x optical zoom would put the phone above it, making it the Android phone ultimate to get.
I also hope Samsung can finally figure out how to take better pictures of moving subjects like kids and pets before the Fold 5 comes out. Although I like being able to zoom in and capture a quality image of anything at 50x , I would much rather be able to take sharp photos of my active son when he is jumping.
When it comes to choosing between a Pixel Fold that can do this and a potential Galaxy Z Fold 5 that can’t, the choice is going to be pretty easy for me.