Galaxy Z Fold 5: Why the swiss army knife of phones will finally deserve your purchase next year (and why it won’t)

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You know, you don’t just stumble randomly into working in the tech industry. The tech world is a very interesting and complicated one, and it usually takes a true tech enthusiast to enter it, and stick around. Be it by launching a startup company, financing one, producing new and unique consumer products, writing about tech, making YouTube videos about tech, and so on – it’s all almost exclusively the work of passionate techies, not just “people with a job.”Apple’s co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak legitimately and passionately cared about the potential of home computers when they started what is now the world’s most valuable company.

And even before Apple became a thing, Jobs famously “forced” his way into working at Atari, because he couldn’t possibly see himself anywhere else. Atari, of course, was the then-company to join if you loved tech; famous for its game consoles and home computers.

Atari’s founder even dabbled into the occasional robotics passion project, so it’s all a rabbit hole of tech enthusiasts doing things mainly because they love technology. It was then, and it mostly is now, even if big tech doesn’t take as many financial risks just for the love of the game anymore, there are countless startup companies that do.

I’ve been diving into all sorts of tech-related hobbies myself since childhood. I’ll spare that chapter of my life, but more recently, I’ve been investing in tech startups, most commonly small companies trying to launch portable handheld devices, such as Android gaming consoles. And, just as importantly, I’ve been buying all kinds of niche, first-gen products like that, which not only helps the companies financially, but feeds into my passion for mobile technology too.

To drive things home, let’s narrow things down to the world of smartphones. When it comes to niche products that you’re basically paying a lot of money for to beta test, folding phones come to mind, exclusively.

If you’re passionate about phones, you may have found yourself spending a hefty amount of cash for a product, namely a folding phone, that’s not exactly polished or even complete, just so you can be on the cutting edge of things, and taste a bit of tomorrow before anyone else can.

I’m sure a lot of you also take financial risks by supporting promising tech that you like. Whether you bought the very first Samsung Galaxy Fold, perhaps a Microsoft Surface Duo, or most recently – Google’s first-gen Pixel Watch, it’s kind of a gamble… But also – an exciting experience that supports said tech company, and encourages it to improve on that product.

People like you, and Samsung’s “don’t give up” philosophy is what made foldables so popular after all, and in such a short period of time. I’m guessing foldables are about to reach their best, final form as soon as next year – so buckle up, dear fellow tech enthusiasts!

Will foldable phones peak in 2023? An exciting new leak recently suggested a major win for Samsung, which already sits on the king’s throne. Its upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 5 is shaping up to be quite amazing, and me being a folding phone user and enthusiast – I’m obviously very excited for it. The Z Fold 5’s release might be a defining moment for foldables in general.

Will 2023 be the year you should finally cough up over $1000 for a folding phone, resting easy knowing you’ll be getting a polished and reliable 5th-gen product?

The answer might finally be a resounding yes, but let’s take a deeper look at what’s going to make the upcoming Samsung Z Fold 5 such a potentially worthy purchase, along with what might continue to deter you from buying it.

Samsung’s foldable may finally get an S Pen slot, suggests a recent report

The current Galaxy Z Fold 4 was already rumored to be getting an S Pen slot before it came out, but lo and behold – Samsung couldn’t figure this out in time, so while the phone does have S Pen stylus support, the stylus is sold separately, and the Z Fold 4 doesn’t have a compartment to store it in.

But the latest report from Korean electronics industry media The Elec, based on inside sources familiar with Samsung’s foldable development plans, suggests a big, long-expected change for the Z Fold 5.

That’s right, like the Galaxy Note series and now S22 Ultra, the Z Fold 5 may finally get a compartment for storing an S Pen stylus, which also means it’ll come with it out of the box too.

Now I know using a stylus is a niche thing, but the people who use it stand by it, and Samsung has been nothing but considerate for keeping the S Pen alive in its flagships, and deserves huge props for it.

Aside from taking notes, I’ve used the current Galaxy Z Fold 4 to draw video game asset sketches, and even some pixel graphics, for a couple of games I’m developing in my spare time. Android has the apps, the Z Fold has the right display size.

And aside from the crater that is the crease in the center of the screen, which likely won’t go away next year too, it’s pretty amazing being able to do real work on something that folds into a phone, and goes into my pocket when I’m done.

A lighter body (hopefully), which, trust me – is much-needed

So my experience with the Z Fold 4 has been pretty awesome. Samsung improved upon the last-gen Z Fold 3 yet again with this one, giving it a better aspect ratio, a bigger cover display, some obligatory spec upgrades, and most importantly in my opinion – the Z Fold 4 is a tad lighter and thinner.

A tad, unfortunately, is not enough. If you’ve never used a folding phone like the Z Fold, let me tell you – as cool as having a pocketable tablet is, it’s not exactly as pocketable as I assume most people expect it to be. Sandwich together two big phones in your pocket right now, and that’s what it’s like carrying a foldable.

You need some big pockets and a strong belt too, so you won’t accidentally moon everyone around you while walking. And don’t even dream about running, or even taking your Z Fold out of your pocket while sitting down – it’s borderline impossible to do that. Due to its size, it’s pretty crammed in there.

Meanwhile, the usual slab phone has none of those issues. And to me, that’s the biggest drawback of foldable phones, aside from their high price – the fact that they’re nowhere near as convenient to carry around and use.

And Samsung is well aware of this issue, as you might expect. The earlier report from Korean media site The Elec reported on it:

What we can deduce from this is that Apple’s biggest competitor is actively looking into different ways to make its foldable thinner and lighter. And since it managed to do that this year, albeit not by a lot, we can hope that 2023’s Z Fold 5 will get even more portable.

However, I remain pessimistic on that one, as we now know the Z Fold 5 is very likely to have a compartment for the S Pen stylus, and unless one side of the device gets thinner alone, I don’t foresee it getting any thinner at all. But hopefully – it will get a bit lighter no matter what. For reference, the current-gen Z Fold 4 weighs 263.0 grams (9.28 oz), which is almost as much as the way larger iPad mini 6 (297 grams).

A smartphone, a tablet, and a PC in one – 5 generations of improvements led to this

Let me paint you a picture of what using the Z Fold is like – you have a phone in your pocket, that, as my niece commented, feels “like two phones glued together.” So it is chunkier than you’re used to, but size aside, it’s a fairly normal Android smartphone nonetheless. You don’t need to unfold it to check your notifications, respond to a text, or scroll through your social feed – it has an outer display for all that.

But when you do unfold it, your smartphone becomes a 7.6-inch square-ish tablet, and the difference between that and what a normal phone is, is night and day. Now you can really get into all of your web browsing, social media routines, texting way more comfortably with a large keyboard, and best of all – watching YouTube videos and movies on a bigger screen! If you have an S Pen stylus, you can also comfortably write down some handwritten notes, sketch, or multitask even better than the phone already allows you to!

However, if those two Z Fold forms aren’t enough for you – why, this can even be your portable computer! Conveniently connect your Z Fold wirelessly to a nearby smart TV and you’ll get a full-blown desktop mode, called Samsung DeX. Your Z Fold’s touchscreen becomes a touchpad for the desktop Android interface it is now casting to your TV. With a start menu, windowed apps that can snap to corners, the whole nine yards… Just an overall polished and powerful Android desktop experience.

I dare say Samsung is the best when it comes to smartphone multitasking features and desktop modes, just like it is when it comes to folding phones. And the Z Fold 4 is the ultimate display of Samsung’s efforts to provide the most versatile and powerful smartphone, its magnum opus, if you will. Until the Z Fold 5 comes around next year and likely improves on this already excellent device.

Wait longer if you will, but the issues of weight, size, and cost aren’t likely to change anytime soon

If you’ve always wanted a folding phone, but are waiting for the price to go down dramatically, along with their weight and thickness – that’s all probably a pipe dream. From an engineering standpoint, we can’t go much thinner than this, and the price isn’t shaping up to get much lower either. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Z Fold 5 jumps in cost due to its potentially included S Pen stylus, but we’ll see.

In any case, if you’re passionate about foldables, pull the trigger on a Z Fold 5 next year, or wait a couple of months after its release to see what Apple and Google may or may not add to the table, but don’t wait any longer.

2023 – the year the Z Fold finally becomes what Samsung envisioned from the start?

It sure seems like it, no? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments section – do you expect that the Z Fold will reach its best and final form next year, and it’ll all be minor upgrades from then?

Are you betting on Apple and Google releasing their own foldables in 2023?

And, are you going to buy a folding phone then, or are you still not sold on the idea, and prefer the tried and tested, regular slab phone form factor?

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