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Galaxy Z Fold 5 design leak shows market leader Samsung finally catching up to the competition

Published Jun 16th, 2023 6:50AM EDT
Various Galaxy Fold 4 and Flip 4 foldable phones.
Image: Samsung

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Samsung paints itself as the dominant player in the foldable niche, and for a good reason. The Korean giant is a key player in the space. You can’t have foldables without Samsung’s determination to make them happen. But until this year, Samsung never really had any competition. It’s easy to be the leader in a race nobody else really joins. And that’s why the Galaxy Z Fold 5 might be catching up to competitors rather than pointing the way.

A new leak shows that Samsung is copying its competitors with the new foldables and finally delivering the design change many people have requested. The elimination of that unsightly screen gap.

The picture below, courtesy of MySmartPrice, looks like a press image showing the Galaxy Z Fold 5 model.

We’re looking at a familiar design, which isn’t surprising. We never expected big changes from the next-gen Fold. However, the Fold 5 will bring over a significant difference. The handset features a new hinge mechanism that removes the gap. We’re probably looking at a water-drop hinge, similar to what other players in the field use for their devices.

The phone also has slimmer bezels. But, as I’ve realized after seeing the Pixel Fold, thinner bezels on a foldable phone’s “tablet” screen might not necessarily be a good idea.

The new hinge will be the highlight of the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Especially if it can also reduce the appearance of the mid-screen crease. And I can’t help but wonder whether the Fold 4 could have featured this gap-less hinge design.

Image removed at Samsung’s request.

If you’ve followed the Fold and Flip history, Samsung’s complacency and risk aversion in the foldable space are understandable. The first-gen Fold was a monumental failure of design. Samsung found out from early reviewers what its testers missed. That regular users would have an easy time destroying the foldable display. Samsung had to postpone the first Fold’s launch to alter the design and fix the flaws.

The years that followed brought us better Fold and Flip models. The Fold 3 variant introduced new durability standards that Samsung continued to perfect.

That said, Samsung was never able to remove the screen gap between the Fold’s two halves. Maybe Samsung was worried about the foldable screen’s durability. The handset’s gap was necessary to prevent damage to the screen. At least on earlier models. Or keeping the same design detail in place was cheaper.

But, it’s not like Samsung delivered big Galaxy Z Flip changes until it had to.

Now, competing devices from China already sell foldables with no-gap water-drop hinges. Then again, those first foldables that folded perfectly flush were only sold in China initially. Samsung had no reason to hurry. It was still the main player in the international foldable market without having to worry about any meaningful competition.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 won’t have the same luck as its predecessors. When the handset hits markets at some point in mid-August, it’ll have significant competition out there. Chinese smartphone vendors brought their foldables to MWC 2023 earlier this year, signaling an attack on Europe and other markets.

Then Google unveiled the Pixel Fold, which is probably the foldable phone to get right now. The Pixel Fold also folds without showing a gap.

Samsung already reacted to the increased competition in the space by moving its launch event up to late July. It’ll be interesting to see what else Samsung does to entice consumers. Cutting the starting price of the Fold 5 would be a great start.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.