Review: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 strikes millennial nostalgia and Gen-Z TikTok trendiness in one very cool package

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 composite
While we've well-and-truly moved on from galaxy-print leggings and Supré tote bags, what goes around generally comes around - and flip phones are now at the centre of a revival. Photo credit: Photo illustration - Newshub; Images - Supplied

If you too straddle the generational junction between Camp Millennial and Camp Zoomer, you likely also grew up with a flip phone: a device that for today's young'uns, is essentially an ancient artefact that only just succeeded communicating with cave paintings.

If you're a young whippersnapper who grew up speaking emoji as a second language, allow me to paint a picture of the olden times: touch screens? Oh, no. We had keypads (yes, imagine having to press a button three times to get to the letter C). We took selfies with the back camera (shudder the thought), and customisation comprised charms and stick-on diamantes, rather than ultra-protective cases to shield your $2500 phone's titanium finish.

Once upon a time, ringtones could be purchased from the back of magazines, and if you were really cute (like me), Soulja Boy's 'Kiss Me thru the Phone' would blast from your Telecom's tinny speaker.

For other mid-to-late-90s babies, the flip has long been a symbol of a bygone era: but while we've well-and-truly moved on from galaxy-print leggings and Supré tote bags, what goes around generally comes around - and flip phones are now at the centre of a revival.

Amid the Y2K resurgence popularised by the likes of TikTok, tech giants such as Samsung have been busy boarding the bedazzled bandwagon: bottling that hit of nostalgia and bringing out a new line of flip phones for generations old and new in the form of the Galaxy Z Flip5.

It's a flip phone with all the trimmings and trappings of the luxury tech us Zillennials have become accustomed to, while harkening back to the good old days of ending a call by sassily snapping it shut with a flick of the wrist. I can almost smell the Cool Charm now.

Alongside the Fold5, the Galaxy Z Flip5 marks Samsung's fifth generation of Galaxy foldables, bringing powerful performance, an optimised battery and a bloody good camera to the flip form we know and love. As a quick note for the uninitiated, yes, this flip phone is a touch-screen (no keypads here): it's essentially like any other Samsung Galaxy smartphone, except it folds in half via a very nifty hinge. Plus, said hinge is almost imperceptible and does not interfere with the look or function of the phone when it's flipped open in all its glory. Even better, it shuts completely flush, which is quite satisfying to behold.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 composite
Photo credit: Supplied

While the Flip5 makes sense as a high-performing piece of nostalgia for millennials and elder Gen-Z, it's also heavily aimed at social media's new generation of tech-savvy tastemakers, no two ways about it. This phone oozes trendiness: its retro shape adds to the cool factor, while the sleek, compact design makes it the perfect pocket-sized companion for on-the-go content creation, from snapping memories to sharing TikToks.

During my loan period, I took the Flip5 to New Zealand Fashion Week in Auckland, where it made the ideal device for capturing content. Unlike my iPhone 14, which struggles to fit in inconveniently small but fashion-forward bags, the Flip5 slips seamlessly into most purses and pockets, just like your trusty old Nokia used to do.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 composite
Photo credit: Supplied

This emphasis on content creation is evident with the Flip5's new-and-improved Flex Window, which offers a variety of functions but primarily, allows the user to snap a shot more quickly and easily than ever before - you don't even have to open the phone. If you're new to the Galaxy Z range like I was, let me explain.

In layman's terms, when the phone is flipped shut, the rear camera serves as a front camera via the aforementioned Flex Window: a smaller second screen situated on the back of the phone, which becomes a front-facing screen when the phone is closed. Pretty sick, huh?  

Overall, this makes for a unique and versatile photo-taking experience: not only do you get the traditional front and rear cameras when the phone is opened, the rear lens also doubles as a second high-quality selfie cam - known as FlexCam - when the phone is shut. It allows you to capture hands-free photos from creative angles, before reviewing and editing your shots just as easily via the Flex Window.

Plus, if you're serving as group photographer at an event or taking content for a friend, your subject can see themselves in the Flex Window, much like a mirror - allowing them to make adjustments in real time for the perfect shot.   

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 composite
Photo credit: Supplied

Whether you're an established influencer or enjoy creating content for your family and friends, this phone also makes taking top-quality photos child's play. The Flip5 camera uses artificial intelligence to help bring your images to life: the AI-powered image signal processing (ISP) algorithm corrects any visual noise that typically spoils low-light images, while enhancing details and colour tone. There's improved Nightography to optimise photos and videos in ambient or low lighting, while digital 10x zoom ensures your snaps are clear, even from a distance. Plus, there's camera-stabilising Super Steady technology for smooth shots on-the-go, while Auto Framing ensures no one is left out.  

Let's touch quickly on what else the Flex Window can do. Firstly, it's almost four times larger than that of previous generations, so there's a good amount of space to work with: this is important, considering it's such an integral and multi-functional component of the phone.   

As the Flip Window serves as the mini screen when the phone is shut, there's also a host of customisation options, including informative and graphical clocks as well as stylish frames - allowing you to add a touch of personal flair to your flip (sans the 2000s-esque charms and stickers).   

From the Window you can also quickly access useful information via Widgets, whether it be checking the weather or controlling music playback: you can view all Widgets at a glance and switch between them with a pinch of the screen to activate Multi Widget View. From this one screen, you can also check notifications, make and return calls, and reply to texts on-the-go with a full keyboard (and visibility of chat history) - yes, without even opening the device. With a swipe up on the screen, you can also access QR codes, boarding passes, and membership cards, making life just that little bit easier.   

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 composite
Photo credit: Supplied

While there weren't many negatives during my Flip5 experience, the overwhelming issue for me is that I am simply not an Android gal. Since trading in my Telecom flip and pink Skinny blackberry for an iPhone 5 when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I haven't looked back, and as cliched as it is, I just can't quite get to grips with the Android way of life.

As someone who also uses a MacBook Air and owns an Apple Watch, my entire existence has become inextricably tethered to the Apple ether: memories captured on my earliest iPhone sit in my (very full) iCloud, a career's worth of interviews reside in my Voice Memos. This isn't something one can easily give up, no matter how cool a flip smartphone is.

Plus, I think anyone who is accustomed to Apple will initially struggle with the Android interface, as I did: it's strange having an actual home button, as opposed to simply swiping from the bottom of the screen, and the graphics somehow seem a little clunkier and a little less satisfying compared to the Apple icons I know and love. Whining aside, the display itself is super crisp, making it easy to enjoy your favourite form of content, whether its TikTok or YouTube or streaming. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 composite
Photo credit: Supplied

All in all, while the design is among its key selling points, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 does a lot more than flip open and snap shut. Samsung touts this model as a phone that's "built for self-expression", and this is no overstatement. It strikes a balance between appealing to the dewy-eyed nostalgia within its adulting customer base, while catering to younger demographics with its impressive technology and emphasis on content creation.

Whether you want to express your inner teen or produce high-quality content for your legion of followers, the Flip5 offers a unique experience in an evocative package that is sure to find a foothold in the mobile market.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5
Photo credit: Supplied

Tech specs

  • Main screen: Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz Adaptive refresh rate (1~120Hz), Infinity Flex Display (2640 x 1080, 22:9) - measured diagonally, Galaxy Z Flip5's main screen size is 6.7-inch in the full rectangle and 6.6-inch when accounting for the rounded corners; actual viewable area is less due to the rounded corners and camera hole
  • Cover screen: 3.4-inch Super AMOLED 60Hz Display, 720 x 748, 306 PPI - measured diagonally, Galaxy Z Flip5's Cover Screen size is 3.4-inch in the full rectangular form; actual viewable area is approximately 95 pct of the full rectangular area due to the rounded corners and lower cutout
  • Front camera: 10MP Selfie Camera, F2.2, Pixel size: 1.22μm
  • Rear dual camera: 12MP Ultra Wide Camera, F2.2, Pixel size: 1.12μm; 12MP wide-angle camera, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, F1.8, Pixel size: 1.8μm
  • Memory: 8GB RAM with 512GB internal storage, 8GB RAM with 256GB internal storage
  • Battery: 3,700mAh (typical) dual battery
  • Wired charging: Up to 50 pct charge in around 30 mins with 25W Adapter and 3A USB-C cable.
  • OS: Android 13, One UI 5.1.1
  • Colours: Mint, Graphite, Cream, and Lavender (availability of colour may vary)
  • Price: 256GB starts from $1879; 512GB starts from $2079.

Newshub was supplied with a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 for this review.