Saturday, June 22, 2024

5 phones you should buy instead of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

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A person folding up the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Is it 2004 again? Flip phones are back, and they’re the perfect blend of retro and futuristic. There’s a beautiful nostalgia about the clamshell form, with its closing snap and Star Trek-like flip open. But at the same time, the technology that allows for a full screen to bend almost seamlessly in the middle is clearly some sort of futuristic black magic.

Contents

  • Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus
  • Motorola Razr Plus
  • Motorola Razr (2023)
  • Google Pixel 8 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Of all the smart flip phones currently available, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is one of the most polished and capable. Samsung has taken on the burden of bringing the foldable smartphone into the mainstream, and the results are some of the finest pieces of technology we’ve ever seen. If you’re considering a flip phone, then the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 has to be at the top of that list.

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But it’s not the only smartphone on that list. There are many exceptional devices for sale at the moment, and there are many reasons you might prefer one of those instead of Samsung’s latest. Here are five phones you should buy instead of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

A phone doesn’t have to fold in order to go up against the Galaxy Z Flip 5, as some can count as competitors simply by being — in a word — exceptional. The Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus is one such device, with the middle child of the S24 range being a truly excellent smartphone and a strong alternative to the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

The Galaxy S24 Plus doesn’t fold in half — at least, not without a considerable amount of strength and voiding your warranty — but it’s very much still worth considering. The new flat sides are easy to grip, and they give the phone a polished and refined look. The 6.7-inch AMOLED 2X display is as large as the Z Flip 5’s display and has the same dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, too — but the S24 Plus has a sharper 1440p resolution and a higher maximum brightness of 2,600 nits.

Performance on both phones will be strong and fast, but the S24 Plus’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is undoubtedly the faster of the two processors. While both have the same storage options, the S24 Plus also has more RAM at its disposal, giving it a little bit of an edge when multitasking and juggling apps. Battery life gives the S24 Plus a massive advantage, though. Whereas the Z Flip 5 can just about make it through a single day, the S24 Plus’s battery can make it through a heavy day with battery to spare. Take it a bit easier, and the phone can definitely stretch to last two days, which is truly exceptional for a flagship phone.

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

We haven’t even brought up the S24’s camera, which is head and shoulders above that offered by the Z Flip 5. While the Z Flip 5’s dual-camera system is a good set of shooters, it can’t compete with the three lenses on the back of the S24 Plus.

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus may seem like an odd alternative to a flip phone, but dive into the specs and read the reviews, and you’ll see it’s a truly excellent smartphone that betters the Galaxy Z Flip 5 in almost every way. Plus, it starts at the same $999 price, meaning both devices are on an equal footing. If the lure of a stunning phone is something you can’t resist, then this is the best alternative choice. If folding is a must though, well, check out this next option.

Motorola Razr Plus

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

While Samsung is undoubtedly the most prominent player in the foldable scene, there are other manufacturers worth considering. Motorola has a strong foldable pedigree, having made the legendary Razr, and it’s great that the company has chosen to make a full-throated return at the advent of folding smartphones. The Motorola Razr Plus is Motorola’s best, most powerful flip phone, and it’s the device to consider if you want a similar folding phone to the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

The first thing to note is the Razr Plus is gorgeous. Flip phones are naturally quite good-looking, but Motorola has taken it to another level with a selection of bold colorways and the inclusion of a vegan leather back on certain models. The hinge isn’t as stiff as the Z Flip 5, which means it won’t sit open in as many positions — but it also means it’s easier to flip open and closed, which may appeal to you more.

The cover screen is the biggest difference, though. It’s 3.6 inches large and packs in a 144Hz refresh rate. But it’s not how it looks that makes the difference; it’s what it can do. There’s a useful “panels” system here for accessing information, but it also runs any Android app as well. Yes, any Android app will run on the Razr Plus’s cover screen. That’s a big deal, and while you can do the same thing on the Z Flip 5, it’s not as straightforward a process as it is on the Razr Plus. The software is also a cleaner affair, and you won’t find it’s anywhere near as large a departure from Android as Samsung’s One UI.

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

All of this means the Razr Plus is just a better smartphone than the Z Flip 5, right? Unfortunately, no. It has some downsides, and they could be dealbreakers for you. The battery is a little weak, lasting just about a single day, and the cameras are nowhere near the quality Samsung is capable of. Despite being a phone with a $1,000 price tag, it’s also only running the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, a flagship chip from 2022. Granted, it’s still a powerful piece of silicon, but for four figures, you should expect more.

Thankfully, you don’t have to, as it’s common to find this phone at a solid discount now. A $700 price is fairly common, and you’ll probably see deeper discounts during sales. These price drops make it a much more tempting package, and a very strong competitor for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Motorola Razr (2023)

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Motorola Razr Plus is available at a strong discount, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more savings that can be had. The Motorola Razr (2023) is the cheaper version of the Razr Plus, and while that means you lose a few of the headline features, you still get a folding phone at an even lower price. How low? The Razr (2023) debuted at $700, with a launch discount price of $600. These days, it’s not uncommon to find it for just $500, making it a very attractive choice for those who want a folding phone at a bargain price.

What do you end up losing for the discount? The most obvious loss is that of the 3.6-inch cover display. Instead, the Razr has a much smaller 1.5-inch display that sits at one end of the phone while folded. It’s still an OLED panel, but there’s not a huge amount of room to work, so it’s largely just for the clock, widgets, and notifications — though the inclusion of the mascot, Moo, is fun and much appreciated. The inner display is a roomy 6.9 inches, and it has the same 144Hz refresh rate as the Razr Plus, which is a nice bonus.

Instead of an older flagship chip, the Razr has a midrange chip, the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1. It’s a good chip, chugging its way through all of our tests, and held up well when compared to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 in the Razr Plus. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the Z Flip 5 is objectively more powerful again, and you may notice a small difference in performance. But when you’re looking at half the price, that’s a small hit to endure.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The camera is good enough for the price you’re paying, and the battery lasted a solid day with some change left over. Two days does seem beyond it, but that’s OK. The 30W charging isn’t as good now as it was at launch, but it’s still more than acceptable and faster than a number of flagship phones. Wireless charging comes in at a paltry 5W, though, which is achingly slow.

Yes, you only get three years of software support, and that’s more like two now, but that was standard when the phone was released and forgivable as a result. With a price that’s often found at just $500 and can sink even lower at sale periods, it’s hard to find a folding phone that’s a better bargain than this.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

One thing a few of these alternatives have in common is a camera that’s not a showstopper. Don’t get us wrong; a lot of them are good, but it’s clear the camera wasn’t the focus. That’s very much not the case with the Google Pixel 8 Pro, which has one of the best phone cameras you can buy for a price similar to the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

To be entirely fair, it’s not that the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 has a bad camera — it has a very capable pair of rear-facing shooters, and you’re likely to be quite happy with most of what it produces. But it’s not the match of the Google Pixel 8 Pro, which takes some of the best photos you’ll see from a smartphone. The 50MP main lens takes some outstanding stills, while the 48MP ultrawide lens and 5x optical zoom lens also work extremely well. If having a great camera is important to you, then the Google Pixel 8 Pro has to be on your list of alternatives, especially at a similar price to the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

The performance is solid, thanks to Google’s Tensor G3 processor. Though the battery and charging speeds aren’t great, the gorgeous display helps to win back some major points. It’s a 120Hz 6.7-inch OLED panel, and this year, it gets much brighter, peaking at 2,400 nits.

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Another feather in its cap is how clean the software is. Pixel phones have one of the purest forms of Android you’ll find anywhere, and that’s very much a positive. Of course, that’s because Google creates Android, and that also means Pixels will get Android updates faster than any other smartphone on the market. The update record is exceptional, too, with Google promising seven years of support for the Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8.

The Pixel 8 Pro is also a testing ground for a lot of Google’s new AI features. It’ll get Google Gemini features first, and it also gets AI-powered abilities like Magic Editor, an AI wallpaper generator, the ability for Google Assistant to read out webpages or summarize them for you, and a bunch more. It’s a peek into what an AI-supported phone could look like in the future, and it’s impressive.

The price is the same as the Galaxy Z Flip 5, as mentioned, so really, all you’re losing is the flip-ability of the Samsung phone. The Google Pixel 8 Pro is a stellar smartphone and an all-around upgrade for the Z Flip 5, to the point where Samsung’s foldable is only really worth considering if you really want a folding phone. And well, if a folding phone is what you want, why not also consider the biggest, baddest foldable of all?

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If you want a folding Samsung phone, why not go all out? The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 may not be in the same price range as the Z Flip 5, but good lord, it’s a stunning phone and an incredible piece of technology. If a folding phone is what you want, then the Z Fold 5 has that in spades.

We’ll start with the obvious difference: the displays. The Z Fold 5 is formed of two displays: an outer cover display that measures 6.2 inches and an inner display that folds out to a massive 7.6 inches. It’s a tablet in smartphone form, and a good tablet at that. Using a phone like the Z Fold 5 comes down to the activity at the time. Browsing social media? You’ll probably use the cover display for that. Watching videos or reading a book? Then the large inner display is the one you need, and it’s excellent for those particular cases. The Z Fold 5 is the phone you need if you’ve ever wished your tablet could fold into a pocket.

Some elements are similar. They both have the same processor, for one thing. Both have battery lives that are … acceptable one-day affairs, even if they’re not particularly special. And obviously, both have Samsung’s One UI software and the same update promises. The Z Fold 5 does have a lot more cameras at its disposal, including an extra lens in the rear and an under-display camera (UDC) beneath the inner display. Putting the UDC to one side because it’s not great, the Z Fold 5 is the stronger of the two when it comes to taking pictures, but largely because of its additional versatility.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Really, you’ll buy the Z Fold 5 because you prefer the form factor over that of the Z Flip 5. Want a phone you can fit into even the most shallow pockets and miss the clamshell phone of yesteryear? Then the Z Flip 5 should draw you in. But if you’re a media-lover, gamer, or avid reader, then the Z Fold 5’s tablet-like display should be the one you crave. But there’s a catch here, and it’s the price. While the Z Flip 5 starts from $999, an already high price, the Z Fold 5 comes in at an eye-watering $1,799. That’s a lot of additional money and a big reason why you should look at the other alternatives on this list if you don’t have a lot of money to spare.

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