The biggest change we have to see in the successor to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (which will likely be called the Galaxy Z Fold 5) is a greater number of software features that take advantage of its flexible form factor. Having a giant screen that fits in your pocket is great. But Samsung needs to provide more fabricated arguments if it really wants folding devices to appeal more than early adopters.
The Galaxy Z Fold is in its fourth generation, but foldable phones still haven’t had the breakthrough moment that Samsung expected. Although sales of foldable smartphones are increasing, they only represent 1.1% of the global mobile market in 2022, according to projections by the International Data Corporation.
Samsung usually releases its new foldable phones in August. Here’s everything we want to see from the Galaxy Z Fold 5 next year.
More software features
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 offers a giant screen that fits in your pocket. But it needs more than that to win over customers. James Martin/CNET
Yes, the Galaxy Z Fold’s design is what makes it stand out. But impressive hardware doesn’t mean much without the software that comes with it. Samsung has done a lot to improve the way apps work on the Z Fold’s 7.6-inch interior screen in the years since its launch. For example, the Z Fold 4 has a dock that sits at the bottom of the screen for quick access to apps, as well as the ability to use the bottom half of the screen as a touchpad in Flex mode.
The problem is that these specs don’t do a great job of convincing users why they should want a foldable phone in the first place. Instead, they make the process of using apps on the Z Fold slightly easier and more convenient.
We don’t think any company has ever adequately answered this question, but we’ve seen a few promising attempts. Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2, for example, turns into an e-book when you open the Kindle app, complete with page-turning animations. It should be remembered, however, that the Surface Duo is different from the Z Fold since it consists of two separate screens connected by a hinge. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also a much better phone overall thanks to its more developed camera part and smoother software improvements, among other benefits.
Samsung was among the first to release a foldable smartphone, which means it had a longer lead time than most of its competitors in this area. That’s why we want to see more ambitious features from Samsung in future versions of the Galaxy Z Fold.
A built-in S Pen
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Fold 3 do support the S Pen, but you need to purchase it separately. Patrick Holland/CNET
The S Pen could help Samsung answer the essential question of who the Galaxy Z Fold is for. Galaxy Z Fold 3 and 4 both support the S Pen, but you have to buy it separately and there is no storage mechanism for it. Instead, Samsung is expected to include the S Pen in the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and add a convenient way to store it or attach it to the device.
This could make the Galaxy Z Fold 5 even more useful for taking notes, drawing, and editing documents. That might not matter to everyone, but it might make the Z Fold more appealing to the productivity-geared crowd that Samsung seems to be targeting. It would also make the Z Fold’s high price a little easier to swallow since you’ll get more for your money.
Samsung did not discuss its plans for the Galaxy Z Fold series. But a report of The elect says Samsung cited adding a slot for the S Pen stylus as a key challenge in making foldable devices more popular. This means that Samsung could at least consider including the S Pen in its future foldable devices.
A less visible crease
The fold of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is still visible. James Martin/CNET
Samsung has gradually refined the design of the Z Fold over the years, but the crease hasn’t gone away just yet. Although it’s not always visible, you can feel the crease when you run your finger over the screen. Thinking of the fold, the Galaxy Z Fold might look more like a regular tablet when opened.
Samsung may be the leader when it comes to foldable phones, but other companies are making rapid progress when it comes to reducing the crease. Take Huawei and Oppo, the latter being one of the biggest smartphone makers in the world.
Huawei’s Mate XS 2 screen wraps around the front of the device so it can function like a regular phone when folded and like a tablet when open – a design that makes the crease barely exist. We recently tried Oppo’s new Find N2 which takes the format of the Galaxy Z Fold but its fold is almost invisible. These advancements reserve us to see more progress from Samsung in this regard. There is a chance that the South Korean firm will seek to resolve this problem, given that the report of The elect also suggests that she is interested in reducing the crease.
A design plus a fin
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 still feels thick when closed. James Martin/CNET
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a solid build and a big coverage screen. But it remains cumbersome to use like a conventional smartphone when closed. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 measures between 0.5 and 0.6 inches thick when folded, while the iPhone 14 and Galaxy S22 are both about 0.3 inches thick. That extra bulk might not bother those who primarily use their unfolded Galaxy Z Fold in tablet mode. But it’s another barrier to adoption for those who aren’t yet sold on the promise of foldable phones.
A lower price
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is significantly more expensive than your average non-folding phone at normal price. James Martin/CNET
With an entry ticket set at 1799 euros, qualifying the Galaxy Z Fold 4 could be an understatement. “It is definitely a challenge that we are taking up and that we will have to take up”said TM Roh, President & Head of MX Business, in an interview with CNET earlier this year regarding the price positioning of the Z Fold.
Changes like these might push builders a bit more to make folding smartphones viable alternatives to our everyday devices. Samsung thought of popularizing the large-screen phones we use today with its first Galaxy Note phone in 2011. The company is trying to do the same with foldable devices, but there are still clear challenges ahead.
CNET.com article adapted by CNET France
Feature image: James Martin/CNET.com