It has been an eventful year for premium smartphones thus far, and the excitement continues with the upcoming unveiling of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 in late July. Undeniably, this device is the epitome of premium smartphones that Samsung has to offer and is currently the most expensive in terms of manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). However, Samsung does provide generous trade-in options for those who desire this luxury device.
But the Z Fold series is not the only high-end option from Samsung. On the other end, we have the Galaxy S23 Ultra, a camera-centric smartphone that comes with an S Pen, boasting its own advantages and minimal drawbacks. Therefore, it is only fair to ask the question: If you’re in the market for a premium Samsung smartphone, do you opt for the familiar Galaxy S23 Ultra or go all-in for the groundbreaking foldable Z Fold 5? Let’s ponder this as we await the launch of the Z Fold 5.
Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs Galaxy S23 Ultra Expectations:
1. Design and Size
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 undoubtedly takes the lead in terms of a radical design, featuring a large 7.6-inch screen that allows for the simultaneous use of three apps. However, when folded, it becomes quite chunky, and its external screen adopts a super-tall aspect ratio of 23:9. Consequently, using it as a “normal phone” may prove to be less convenient, whether it’s fitting it in a pocket or typing with both thumbs. This has been our experience with previous Z Fold models.
Furthermore, if you want to use an S Pen with the Z Fold phone, you need to make a separate purchase, and using a case with an S Pen silo adds even more bulk. Recent rumors suggest that plans for an S Pen silo in the Z Fold 5 have been scrapped.
Despite these considerations, there’s no denying the unique experience of unfolding the Z Fold to read long articles, watch YouTube videos while multitasking, or enjoy immersive gaming. So, with the Z Fold 5, you’ll compromise some ergonomic convenience for a pocketable square tablet.
On the other hand, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers ample screen real estate with its 6.8-inch display and a 19:9 (ish) aspect ratio. It allows for the use of two apps in a split-screen mode, and while you can also open apps in floating window mode, it can get crowded quickly. When it comes to video-watching experience, a landscape-oriented Galaxy S23 Ultra provides a screen size comparable to that of a Galaxy Z Fold 4, as we anticipate for the Z Fold 5. This is because the square-ish aspect ratio of the Fold fills the screen with black bars.
2. Display Differences
Both devices are expected to feature excellent screens, as Samsung’s AMOLED panels are known for their phenomenal color reproduction and pixel density. Moreover, both the Z Fold 5 and the S23 Ultra will have 120 Hz refresh rates and support HDR video, guaranteeing smooth animations and impressive brightness.
Even the Z Fold’s external display, considered “secondary” by some, has been upgraded to a 120 Hz refresh rate with the Z Fold 3. Therefore, we have no concerns in that department.
Regarding biometrics, the S23 Ultra boasts an under-screen ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, while the Z Fold devices have the scanner embedded in the power button. Based on our experience, both types are quick, accurate, and secure. However, we find the placement on the side power button a bit more inconvenient when trying to unlock the phone while lying on a table or placed in a car mount. Although this is not a deal breaker, it is a minor annoyance.
3. Performance and Software
How do you surpass yourself?
The Galaxy S23 Ultra launched earlier this year with a special processor, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Made for Galaxy. Samsung partnered with Qualcomm on this effort and equipped these phones with a slightly overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset at 3.36 GHz compared to the regular chips’ 3.2 GHz. While this difference may not translate into a significant increase in raw power, it signals Samsung’s active involvement in the phone’s hardware, inspiring more confidence in the new Galaxies.
But that’s not the only upgrade in the Galaxy S23 line. These devices also come with UFS 4.0 storage chips, which are twice as fast as the previous UFS 3.1 chips while being over 40% more energy-efficient. Additionally, they feature LPDDR5X RAM, slightly faster than the standard LPDDR5.
With that in mind, we anticipate that the Galaxy Z Fold 5 will also sport UFS 4.0 and LPDDR5X storage. So, will there be a noticeable difference in performance? It’s possible that there may be slight variations due to the different form factor and how Samsung manages thermals in these devices. Nevertheless, we expect them to deliver similar benchmark results.
Regarding software, both phones will launch with Android 13 and have One UI 5 layered on top. Samsung has committed to providing a 4-year software update (5 years of security patches) for both devices. Therefore, software-wise, they are on par with each other.
Core features like instant split-screen app pairing, DeX Mode, S Pen gestures, and a comfortable Notes app for writing will be available on both phones. The Z Fold 5 will also benefit from the addition of a persistent app dock, which further enhances multitasking capabilities. However, since Edge panels (a side bar for favorite apps) are available on all premium phones, the upgrade isn’t groundbreaking.
Unfold to capture, zoom up to 100 times!
Samsung clearly positions the Galaxy S Ultra series as “camera-centric phones.” The S23 Ultra boasts four rear cameras: a 12 MP ultra-wide, 100 MP wide, 10 MP 3x zoom, and 10 MP 10x zoom. With advanced digital enhancement, it can achieve 100x zoom. Granted, the results may not be flawless, but having such magnification capabilities is remarkable and serves niche purposes.
The Galaxy Z Fold series typically features a slightly weaker camera module, likely due to space and budget constraints. For the Z Fold 5, we anticipate a 50 MP main camera, 12 MP ultra-wide, and 12 MP 3x zoom camera. Unlike the S23 Ultra, the Z Fold doesn’t offer features like Space Zoom and Moon Shot. Although pixel peepers may discern slightly better image quality from the S23 Ultra, a comprehensive comparison is warranted to confirm this.
5. Audio Quality
The Galaxy Z Fold series delivers fantastic sound despite having stereo speakers housed in a thin flap that constitutes half of the phone’s body. These speakers offer a wide, loud, and detailed audio experience without any harshness. We hope to see the same audio quality in the Z Fold 5.
In contrast, the speakers on Galaxy S phones tend to vary from year to year. Currently, we find the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s speakers to be reasonably meaty, detailed, and slightly middy. However, they do not sound as wide as those on the Fold 4. Nevertheless, this is nitpicking in a direct comparison. Independently, the S23 Ultra’s speakers provide a great audio experience.
6. Battery Life and Charging
mAh, but no charger?
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is anticipated to house a 4,400 mAh battery. Although not exceptionally large, it is an impressive capacity considering the space restrictions…
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Deepak Sen is a tech enthusiast who covers the latest technological innovations, from AI to consumer gadgets. His articles provide readers with a glimpse into the ever-evolving world of technology.