The biggest changes we expect to see in the successor to the Galaxy Z Fold 4 (which will likely be called the Galaxy Z Fold 5) are a greater number of software features that take advantage of its folding form. Having a giant screen that fits in your pocket is great. But Samsung needs to make a stronger case if it really wants foldable devices to appeal to early adopters.
The Galaxy Z Fold is in its fourth generation, but foldable phones still haven’t had the breakthrough moment Samsung was hoping for. Although sales of foldable smartphones are increasing, they will represent only 1.1% of the overall mobile market by 2022, according to projections by the International Data Corporation.
Samsung usually releases its new folding phones in August. Here’s everything we expect 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 takes more than that to win over customers. James Martin/CNET
Yes, the design of the Galaxy Z Fold is what makes it stand out. But impressive hardware doesn’t mean much without the software that goes 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 below 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 good 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 easier and more convenient.
We don’t think any company has adequately answered this question yet, but we’ve seen some good attempts. Microsoft’s Surface Duo 2, for example, turns into an e-book when you open the Kindle app, complete with page-turning animations. However, it should be noted that the Surface Duo is different from the Z Fold as it consists of two separate screens connected by a hinge. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is also a better phone overall thanks to a more detailed camera and smoother software improvements, among other benefits.
Samsung was among the first to release a foldable smartphone, which means it has a longer lead time than most of its competitors in this area. That’s why we hope 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 support the S Pen, but you have to buy it separately. Patrick Holland/CNET
The S Pen could help Samsung answer the important question of who the Galaxy Z Fold is for. Both the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and 4 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 can make the Galaxy Z Fold 5 more useful for taking notes, drawing, and editing documents. That might not matter to everyone, but it could make the Z Fold more appealing to the productivity-oriented crowd that Samsung seems to be targeting. This will also make the Z Fold’s high price easier to swallow because you’ll get more for your money.
Samsung has not discussed its plans for the Galaxy Z Fold series. But a report of The Electric Samsung said adding a slot for the S Pen stylus was a key challenge in making folding devices more popular. This means that Samsung might 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 Z Fold’s design over the years, but the fold still hasn’t gone away. Although it’s not always visible, you can feel the crease when you run your finger across the screen. By reducing the fold, the Galaxy Z Fold can look 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 of which is one of the largest smartphone makers in the world.
Huawei’s Mate XS 2’s screen wraps around the front of the device so it functions as a regular phone when folded and as a tablet when open – a design that makes the fold almost non-existent. We recently tested Oppo’s new Find N2 which takes on the Galaxy Z Fold format but its fold is barely visible. These advancements make us want to see more progress from Samsung in this regard. There is a chance that the South Korean firm will seek to solve this problem, because the report of The Electric also suggests he is interested in reducing the crease.
A slimmer design
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 still feels thick when closed. James Martin/CNET
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 has a solid build and wide display coverage. But it remains difficult 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 around 0.3 inches thick. That extra bulk might not bother those who primarily use their unfolded Galaxy Z Fold in tablet mode. But that’s another barrier to adoption for those not yet sold on the promise of foldable phones.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is more expensive than your average non-folding phone at a normal price. James Martin/CNET
With an entry ticket set at 1799 euros, calling the Galaxy Z Fold 4 expensive might be an understatement. “This is definitely a challenge that we face and we have to face”said TM Roh, President and Head of MX Business, in an interview with CNET earlier this year, regarding the Z Fold’s price positioning.
Changes like this can push developers a little further to make foldable smartphones a viable alternative to our everyday devices. Samsung helped popularize the large-screen phones we use today with its first Galaxy Note phone in 2011. The company is also trying to do the same with foldable devices, but clearly there are still challenges ahead .
CNET.com article adapted by CNET France
Featured image: James Martin/CNET.com