Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 Is Mostly About Better Software

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Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold5 offers some hardware improvements but the highlight is the new touch gestures. Samsung finally is putting more effort into its software. The big difference between many Samsung and Apple tablet devices is the better quality of apps and screen operation with Apple. This may be a turning point for Samsung in that regard.

I sampled using the Fold5 at Samsung’s briefing event and the multiple finger gestures and ability to prod the screen differently with left and right fingers simultaneously allows for more sophisticated multitasking operation.

Hardware wise, the Fold5 is not astoundingly different to the Fold4. It’s marginally thinner and 10 grams lighter with a brighter screen which is still 7.6 inches with the same 1812 x 2176 pixel resolution. The cover display is pretty much the same too: 6.2-inches with 904 x 2316 pixels resolution.

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You get an upgraded Qualcomm snapdragon chipset and GPU, the same back facing and selfie camera lens resolutions, same sound, battery capacity and IPX8 water resistance durability.

You pay $100 more for the entry level model: $2599 with 256GB. Models with 512GB and 1TB cost $2799 and $3149. You’ll need to get the hammer out and break the piggybank for those. Note that Fold4 prices have dropped significantly since its release two years ago. Some refurbished Fold4s cost just over $1200. If you want a perfectly useful Fold without the nuances of 2023 models, shop around.

Samsung is softening the cost blow through a premium device swap and mobile refresh program that operates during the pre-order period which starts now. Flip5 users can get up to a $300 trade-in bonus and Fold5 users up to a $500 trade-in bonus on previous Samsung handsets.

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The company also makes it easy to try out a Flip or Fold and ditch it for a current model Galaxy S23 within 30 days for $1. It’s a good way to go if you haven’t used a foldable and want to see if it is really for you. To qualify, you must buy your foldable direct from Samsung.com/au between July 26 and August 27, when the devices officially go on sale.

Telstra and Optus offer a free storage upgrade and more if you buy from them.

It is especially timely Samsung gets a new Fold to market as the previous Fold4 had faced serious competition from Google’s first generation Pixel Fold. Google got the engineering right first time around which was a big achievement. Pixel Fold had a less prominent crease and no visible space between the two halves when folded. The off putting part is the rather large bezel. With Fold5, the crease is less noticeable and the two halves fold flush. About time but it’s there.

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It’s the operating system software that makes the most difference. Swapping between apps looks easier with the taskbar letting you select from four recently used apps.

The highlight is the new two-handed drag-and-drop operation. To move around menu icons, you tap and hold an icon with one hand, and with the other, swipe across the screen to find your destination screen and then drop it in.

The same applies for images from the internet you’d like to save. You tap and hold the image with one hand, open an app from the taskbar with the other hand, and drop the image in. Samsung says this works not only with Samsung Notes, but with any app capable of accepting pasted images.

 

There are also multi-finger gestures for the touch pad when you flex the panel. This is called flex mode and it’s when one screen becomes a touch pad for working with the other screen above it, with the Fold5 in landscape orientation. You move the cursor with a one finger gesture on the touch pad, scroll through the top screen with two fingers, move backwards with three fingers and display the apps tray with four.

Of course, pulling this off depends on the right hardware too. But multi-touch screens have been around a long time. They were developed in the 1970s and capacitive multi-touch displays came with the earliest iPhones. Samsung’s way of letting you move icons across menu screens looks more direct than the jiggling icon concept used on iPhones. It helps make the Fold5 a richer experience.

Watch for a full review later.

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