Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is Samsung’s latest foldable. It takes what worked about last year’s phone and fits it all into a thinner, lighter package. Those hoping for a design overhaul might feel disappointed, but first-time Fold buyers might just find something truly special.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
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The Galaxy S23 Ultra might as well be the definitive flagship experience on Android for 2023. With perfect fit and finish, a massive 6.8″ display, and four different camera sensors, it’s tough to compete. But if you’re looking for something a little more unique, you might want to look towards the Z-series this year.
When it comes to the best Android phones around, it’s tough to ignore Samsung. For all the effort companies like Google and OnePlus put into their respective devices, no one puts out hardware that matches the refinement offered by various Galaxy phones.
If you’re after the most powerful Samsung smartphones currently available, you have two choices: the Galaxy S23 Ultra or the brand-new Galaxy Z Fold 5. Both phones offer high-end experiences, combining powerful hardware and excellent displays into one shiny package. Just one big difference separates the two devices: a hinge. If you’re curious whether a foldable is right for you or if you should stick to standard slab phones, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy Z Fold 5 stack up.
Pricing, availability, and specs
No matter which of these phones you’re after, you will be paying top dollar for the experience. The Galaxy S23 Ultra starts at an eye-watering $1,200, but once you lay your eyes on that hardware, it’s easy to understand why the price is so high. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is even more expensive — at $1,800, some buyers might have difficulty justifying its purchase. But as a part-phone-part-tablet hybrid, finding anything cheaper that delivers a total package like this is tough.
Both phones are available through the usual retailers: Amazon, Best Buy, and the carrier of your choice. Samsung’s lineup is one of the easiest to find worldwide, and that goes double for this high-end hardware. Just remember you’ll need to preorder the Galaxy Z Fold 5, as it’s not set to ship until August 11th.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Brand Samsung Samsung SoC Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy Display 7.6″ 2176 x 1812 120Hz OLED primary, 6.2″ 2316 x 904 120Hz OLED cover display 6.8″ QHD+ curved-edge AMOLED, 1~120Hz refresh, 240Hz touch sampling RAM 12GB 8GB or 12GB Storage 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB Battery 4,400mAh 5,000mAh Ports USB Type-C 3.2, OTG USB-C, S Pen silo Operating System Android 13 (One UI 5.1.1) One UI 5.1 w/ Android 13 Front camera 4MP f/1.8 under-display camera (80˚ FoV, 2.0μm pixels), 10MP f/2.2 cover display camera (85˚ FoV, 1.22μm pixels) 12MP f/2,2 Rear cameras 50 MP f/1.8 wide-angle (85˚ FoV, OIS, 1.0μm pixels), 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide (123˚ FoV, 1.12μm pixels), 10MP f/2.4 telephoto (36˚ FoV, OIS, 1.0μm pixels) 200MP f/1.7 OIS main, 12MP f/2.2 wide (120°), 10MP f/2.4 OIS zoom (3x), 10MP f/4.9 OISzoom (10x) Connectivity 5G (inc mmWave), LTE, up to Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC 4G, 5G, UWB, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC Dimensions 67.1 x 155 x 13 mm folded, 130 x 155, 6.1 mm unfolded 163.3 × 78 × 8.9mm Colors Ice Blue, Phantom Black, Cream + Samsung.com exclusive Gray, Blue Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender + Samsung.com Exclusive Lime, Graphite, Sky Blue, Red Weight 253g (8.92Oz) 234g Charging 25W Super Fast Charging wired, 15W wireless (Qi) 45W wired, 15W wireless IP Rating IPX8 IP68
One look at the specs for these phones should tell you a couple of key things. First, these are two ultra-powerful models, sharing many key specs across the board. No matter which you pick, you’re looking at a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy SoC, Samsung’s boosted variant of Qualcomm’s most recent chipset. Combine that with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage, and both phones are practically begging to handle anything you could throw at them.
The biggest differences between these models come down to their displays and cameras, which we’ll tackle in different sections in this guide. As for other key specs, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 lacks a dust-resistance rating; the Galaxy S23 Ultra is IP68-certified. The battery is also smaller in Samsung’s latest foldable, which could be a turn-off for some buyers.
All told, both models are pretty similar, despite the Fold 5 arriving on the market six months after the S23 Ultra. If your decision comes down purely to specs, you’ll find it impossible to pick between them.
Regarding design, it’s one of the most subjective aspects of this comparison. I prefer the sleek look and feel of the Galaxy S23 Ultra; it’s a phone that doesn’t just stand up to Apple’s fit and finish, but far surpasses it. The Galaxy Z Fold 5, like other foldables for it, can’t help but feel a little ramshackle at times. The moving parts feel sturdy in your hand, but the plastic screen protector laid over the interior display has always felt cheap to my touch.
That said, the move to a new gapless hinge has helped a lot, and the Fold 5 does feel closer to the premium feel offered by Samsung’s S-series phones. It’s best to try out a foldable in person, especially if you’ve never used one before. They can be controversial devices; the last thing you want to do is drop nearly two grand on a phone you won’t want to hold.
Likewise, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is nearly identical to its predecessor in both look and feel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the small changes the company did make — such as smoothing out the curved display — transformed it into some of Samsung’s best design work yet. And that’s all before we mention the built-in S Pen, something you need a special case to use on the foldable. Still, overcoming this feeling of “been there, done that” can be tough if you’re used to living on the cutting edge. For those folks, the foldable might be the one to buy.
If you’re between these two phones, the display(s) will likely be the biggest differentiating factor in your purchase. We’re not trying to look down on the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s expansive 6.8-inch screen; it’s certainly large enough to balance a couple of split-screen apps or watch movies on a cross-country flight. But it pales in comparison to the 7.6-inch panel you’ll find on the foldable.
Although Samsung didn’t make any changes to the actual size or shape of the screens on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 this year — like many things on this phone, they’re identical to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 — the company did boost the brightness on the inner screen up to 1,750 nits, the same rating seen on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. That means no matter which of these devices you pick, you’ll have the same great experience outside on a sunny day.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 also offers an exterior 6.2-inch screen on the front. It’s in an ultra-tall aspect ratio that not everyone might find comfortable. But for accomplishing most tasks, it’s a great option for getting stuff done without opening the inner screen.
Ultimately, you either want a foldable display or you don’t. That might make up your mind right here and now, but if it doesn’t, there are still plenty of differences between these two phones worth highlighting.
We’ll keep this part simple. Samsung is launching the Galaxy Z Fold 5 with One UI 5.1.1, which includes a few tweaks and changes mostly exclusive to how its big-screen multitasking tricks function. These changes won’t matter much to potential S23 Ultra buyers. That device arrived running One UI 5.1 and, for the most part, is functionally identical to the newer build on the Fold.
Both phones fall under the same software policy Samsung offers the most powerful of its phones: four OS upgrades along with five years of security updates from launch. Technically, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will outlive the Galaxy S23 by six months, though both will reach their EOL dates in 2028. Likewise, both will see upgrades to Android 17. The first of their respective OS upgrades, Android 14, will arrive shortly after the Z Fold 5’s August launch date.
Let me stop you right here. If you care — and I mean really care — about the photo quality you’re getting from your uber-expensive flagship, there’s only one choice for you. It’s not so much that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 isn’t going to take good photos. Rather, the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera array trounced the Z Fold 4’s output last year, and considering Samsung hasn’t made a single change to the optics on its successor, you can predict how this showdown might look.
In a way, the lack of new camera hardware on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is a good thing. Although we have yet to really put the phone through its paces (give or take a hands-on session), our year-long coverage of the Galaxy Z Fold 4’s skills should give you a good idea of what to expect here.
On the Galaxy Z Fold 5, you’ll find the same 50MP primary lens first seen on the S22 series in 2022. It does a fine enough job — much better than on older Z-series phones, though not quite up to par with the last few Ultra models in the S-series. Samsung has been cramming plenty of hardware in those phones, and without the space afforded by a traditional form factor, packing in massive sensors and telephoto lenses is a challenge.
That’s why the two additional lenses on the Fold 4 are pretty boring. The first, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide shooter, can take decent crowd shots, while the 10MP f/2.4 telephoto delivers a 3x optical zoom for getting close up on a subject.
All three lenses pail in comparison to what’s on the back of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The main sensor is a whopping 200MP lens capable of 16-to-1 pixel binning, capturing shots at 12MP with extreme detail. You’ll also find an impressive 10MP f/4.9 10x zoom lens with OIS, something that can find faraway objects while producing excellent shots in the right condition. Both are combined with hardware similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 5: a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide lens and a 10MP f/2.4 3x telephoto lens.
If you’re after the most camera hardware in a smartphone, go with the Galaxy S23 Ultra — you won’t be disappointed. For everyone else, though, your Instagram photos will look just fine coming from the Galaxy Z Fold 5.
This is one category where you’ll need to wait for our full review of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 for more detail. It’s not so much that we don’t expect the Galaxy S23 Ultra to beat it in longevity — we do. Rather, it’s unclear how Samsung’s new foldable will really hold up. Last year’s Z Fold 4 fared well enough regarding battery performance, but the move to a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 could deliver some unexpected efficiency.
That said, the jump from a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 to a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 wasn’t revolutionary, and largely speaking, we expect to see the same four to five hours of screen-on time in regular use, depending on what you’re doing with the device. Really, only time will tell.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is a battery champ. While it can’t quite measure up to something as impressive as the OnePlus 11, it can reach seven to eight hours of screen-on time on a single charge. It’s tough to imagine Samsung’s foldable beating that.
Which is right for you?
Ultimately, this choice comes down to personal preference. Samsung has proven itself one of the best makers of foldables around, even as the competition continues to catch up. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is one of our favorite Android phones, period, and comes without the risk of breakable, moving parts.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
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The Galaxy S23 Ultra is an impressive phone. While it’s 6.8-inch screen doesn’t quite hold up to the 7.6-inch behemoth on the Z Fold 5, don’t look down on the S23 Ultra. With a built-in S Pen and long-lasting battery life, this might be the phone to get.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
- 6.8″ QHD+ curved-edge AMOLED, 1~120Hz refresh, 240Hz touch sampling
- 8GB or 12GB
- 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
- USB-C, S Pen silo
- Operating System
- One UI 5.1 w/ Android 13
- Front camera
- 12MP f/2,2
- Rear cameras
- 200MP f/1.7 OIS main, 12MP f/2.2 wide (120°), 10MP f/2.4 OIS zoom (3x), 10MP f/4.9 OISzoom (10x)
- 4G, 5G, UWB, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC
- 163.3 × 78 × 8.9mm
- Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender + Samsung.com Exclusive Lime, Graphite, Sky Blue, Red
- 45W wired, 15W wireless
- IP Rating
If you’re after an expansive display capable of a perfect mix between work and entertainment, it’s hard to ignore the package offered by the Galaxy Z Fold 5. It’s got two great displays, a new thin-and-light design, and the software to back it all up. The Galaxy S23 Ultra might not seem as futuristic, but it’s a total workhorse. You can expect it to always deliver on whatever you need to get done at the moment, even if the screen isn’t quite as luxuriously huge.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is perfect for anyone trying to maximize their productivity on the go. With an expansive 7.6-inch foldable display, it’s like always having a mini tablet in your pocket. Of course, you’re trading off camera quality and — likely — battery life, all while playing a whopping $600 more than the S23 Ultra.
Keep in mind the price difference, too. There’s $600 separating these two phones at full price, and neither was cheap to begin with. For some, it might be worth taking that $600 and investing it towards a full-fledged laptop (or, you know, any other gadget you’re lusting after). But if the idea of a one-size-fits-all device won’t leave your mind, well, Samsung would be happy to get a brand-new folding tablet in the palm of your hands.