Uncle has been using the Samsung Galaxy Fold 5 for a month now. So, this write-up is not exactly a review. The editor did mention that he expected my article 2 weeks ago, but as I shared with him, why would I want to write a review? The whole damn tech writing industry would be doing that. The editor was kind of cross with me, but aiyah, he can go and get pissy and assemble his over-expensive keyboards lah. (ED: Are you seriously gaslighting me in public?)
Now, regular readers would know that Uncle very seldom gets excited. Labelling gadgets with words like “Newest, latest, biggest, fastest, thinnest” is a surefire way to get my eyes glazed over. But new form factors, weird folding laptops, stupid expensive lights (Dyson lightcycle, imma looking at you)–these are the kinds of weird gadgets that get me excited.
And to be frank, I have been super patient as I have been eyeing the folding phones since the original Samsung Fold.
So I won’t lie, “F**ken excites” was how I would describe my feelings when I finally got the Fold 5 in my grubby paws. This was the first time that I would have the chance to use a folding phone, and hell, I’m never gonna fold!
By the way, as a sign of my commitment, I migrated fully from my iPhone to the Fold 5. Fully migrated, everything: Singpass, banking apps, payment apps, questionable bookmarks, EVERYTHING.
It’s like a black taco.
The handset that was sent to me was black, which is fine by me. I’m generally good with black-coloured gadgets. I took a look on the website, and if I were spending my own money, I would get the grey one. It’s matchy-matchy with my ride. But all the colours are nice lah.
So why do I liken this to a taco? Well, like a taco, while the crunchy shell is good and all, it’s the insides that hold all the good bits. So, for the purpose of this piece, I am gonna compare this phone to a taco. So let’s taco about it. First up, the shell.
Crisp and Crunchy Shell
I’ve read reviews complaining about the cover screen being too narrow. To be frank, I really like this narrower form factor that makes it easy to use one-handed.
The cover screen itself is really high quality. It is as good if not better, than any other phone screen out there. Yes, the aspect ratio is a little different as it’s taller than other phones, but hey, no one ever complained about an extra inch here and there. Touch your heart, could you do with an extra inch?
A good taco shell also has to be tough in order to keep all that good stuff on the inside and not disintegrate as soon as some hot meat gets shoved in it. And the Fold 5 has a good shell. The folding action feels solid. It doesn’t make a creaking sound like my back, and in general, it inspires confidence. When folded, the device feels really solid and has a nice, expensive heft.
But I do have some quibbles. For one, the volume rocker could be more prominent. And secondly, I think the fingerprint sensor / unlock button is way too sensitive. You just need to brush against it for the screen to turn on.
USB-C port on the bottom. I feel like I have to point this out as I’ve been told it’s an important feature. Gosh, I fucking hate fanboys.
The meat in the taco
Fish, chicken, beef, mutton, everyone knows that good meat is the soul of a good taco. In this case, I would say that the inside display screen is basically the meat in this taco. In fact, it is the single feature that defines this device.
It is a beautiful display, too. Again, it is class-leading in terms of colour and brightness. It’s a great size too. Perfect enough for one-handed use and yet large enough to feel much more immersive than the largest slab phones on the market.
It is really hard to translate into words, but consuming content on this phone really does hit different.
If you work on documents or spreadsheets on the go, it is just so much easier to do minor edits or go through work stuff. You will not be generating new spreadsheets or writing a thesis on this device in this form, but for everything else, it’s really great.
If for whatever reason, you don’t have a computer; there is still Dex mode. I wrote about Dex mode in my S8 Tab Ultra review last year; Dex mode is great–it’s basically like “buy phone, get computer free.”
But I digress. Look, it’s simple; it’s like having an iPad Mini on hand at all times. It’s just great. Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, whatever lah. It’s good. All your videos are going to look great, even those questionable ones that you like.
Every good taco needs some vegetables. To me, the veg in this case is the battery and other hardware bits. Uncle is brutal on phone usage. My day starts at 8 am every day when my little monsters get up and end only around midnight. Does it last me the whole day? Yes and no. I think your mileage will seriously vary based on how much you use the inner display.
But because Uncle has crippling battery anxiety, the USB-C port sees a tonne of action per day. Every time I get in the car, it gets shoved. When I’m at my home desk, it’s getting shafted. When it’s in the office, it’s backside action time again. On the rare occasion I have not had the chance to violate that USB-C port, the phone had enough juice to last me throughout my day–8 am to midnight. But really, it was damn near empty. Like my bank account at the end of the month.
On a serious note, I do think that it is a worthy trade-off. It’s far easier for me to charge the phone when I need to, than to find an equivalent experience.
One line about the performance: it’s really fast. I think having a Snapdragon chip that says “Designed for Galaxy” does have its place.
Holding every good taco together is the sauce. It’s the creme fraiche. It’s the guac; it’s the liquids, the ooze, the zhup.
In this case, the secret sauce is probably the OS. Look, we have been through this a billion times; love it or hate it, Samsung’s ONE UI is here to stay. It does everything it says on the tin and a whole lot more. Uncle is nonplussed about whether I use One UI, stock Android or even iOS. They are all great and all shit in their own ways.
But speaking of one unique Fold 5 experience, I really like how you can get a text with a link, click on it, and open the display for a better reading experience. This sounds boring as hell, but the first time you try this, it is hard to go back. Try getting a link from a Whatsapp message from your iPad mini. See what I mean?
There is also the possibility of using the phone with a stylus. But I have nothing to share because I didn’t receive a stylus to try with the phone. So watch a YouTube video to find out?
ALL TOGETHER NOW
So when you have the shell, the meat, the veg and the sauce, you have a taco. But it’s only when you take a big bite that it all comes together and gives you a party in your mouth. And with the Fold 5, it’s a tub-thumping party.
It’s adept at work and play, and I have really enjoyed using the phone. Just to share, I have used this phone for a month without any sort of protection and it has coped with the rigours of my Uncle life. But it’s not perfect of course. The camera system for one, falls a bit short of the true greats out there. That being said, the party trick of using the cover screen as a viewfinder while using the main camera for selfies works a treat. If you love taking selfies, I believe the fold 5 and flip 5 would really be your ally.
There are a couple of new use case scenarios which I would like to share:
Special mention use case 1:
Tent mode is awesome. You no longer need a phone stand. As Uncle has a 3-month-old baby who sleeps in his own bedroom, I have been using the Fold 5 in tent mode on my desk as a baby monitor. Trust me; you have never had a better baby monitor.
Special mention use case 2:
Uncle got one pet peeve, which is restaurants like to “Scan this QR for our menu and order.”
I f**king hate that. Squinting at menu items on a phone screen while asking the wife what she wants to eat.
With the Fold, after you scan the pesky QR code, the digital menu somewhat looks more decent. The extra real estate really makes it much more tolerable. The experience almost feels like you are handling a physical menu. And Uncle is less pissed and more likely to spend more money at said restaurant. I feel like this functionality is almost worth the entry price.
Really great experience, especially if you are new to this
There have been reports of durability issues when it comes to folding phones. But Samsung has been at it for five iterations and in my experience, the phone has been rock solid.
In my time with the phone, I have found uses for it that other phones could never replicate. Even my 4-year-old loves it. She loves it because she loves looking at photos and the larger canvas really does make a big difference.
The editor says that for reviews, I have to grade them based on a few metrics. So just that he keeps his panties on (ED: yeah go tell your mum I left them on the porch, thanks), here are my grades.
Features – 10
Folding phones are awesome. Especially the ones like the Fold 5. You will find new ways to use them. Personally, I think I am going to find it hard to go back to regular slab phones.
Value Prop – 9
Look, it’s expensive, but which flagship phone isn’t? But if you sit down and think about it, you are getting a tablet that folds into a phone. If you plug it into a screen, it becomes a computer. Seriously, last I checked, people are selling phones at the same price as the Fold 5, and the best thing they can offer is “with USB-C”.
Think about the innovation, courage and sheer persistence it takes to come up with something like that and actually be successful at it. I think Samsung deserves a lot of praise for stuff like this.
Performance – 9
Hello, it’s using a top-of-the-line SOC that is “MADE FOR GALAXY”. So yes, the phone is fast. Camera not as good as the best out there, but the margins are not huge. Your lack of photography skill is actually the main reason your photos turn out shit.
Design – 10
It’s a well-designed taco.