Hands-On With Samsung’s More Durable Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6 Foldables

The most important upgrades are mostly internal.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 in three colors: navy, pink, silver shadow
Photograph by Raymond Wong

As widely expected, Samsung used its Unpacked event in Paris to announce a tsunami of new Galaxy products. Chief among them were two new foldable phones: the Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6.

The sixth-generation Samsung foldables, available in book-style Fold and clamshell-style Flip, are yet again iterations of what came before. While it may seem like Samsung has become complacent as competitors release foldables that are thinner, lighter, and have more desirable dimensions, the Korean tech giant has made several upgrades and additions that I think deserve a closer look.

Familiar Foldables With Upgraded Durability

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 6 comes in three colors: navy, pink, Silver Shadow.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

You’d really need to do side-by-side comparisons between the new Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Z Fold 5, and the Z Flip 6 and the Z Flip 5, to spot the differences between the hardware. That’s how similar the designs are.

Samsung traded in the rounded corners for sharper ones and flattened the sides even more so that the foldables better match the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s aesthetic. I like the look; it makes the devices appear more premium, but they also feel chunkier in the hand because of the straighter rails. The phones are still made of aluminum and not titanium like the S24 Ultra, but the metal mid-frames are at least no longer shiny, which means they don’t pick up fingerprints as much. It’s a small quality of life improvement, in my opinion. The rings around the camera sensors are also bolder and thicker.

The Craft Black has a carbon fiber-like design and grippier texture.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

The Z Flip 6 also comes in exclusive online colors.

Photograph by Raymond Wong
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The standard colors are fine: matte navy, pink, and Silver Shadow for the Z Fold 6 and blue, mint, Silver Shadow, and yellow for the Z Flip 6. But I do think the online exclusive colors are hot, especially the Crafted Black Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6, which is a carbon fiber-like pattern with added grippy texture, and the peach-colored Z Flip 6. I do think it’s time for Samsung to explore more eye-catching colors and textures like the iridescent-colored Galaxy Note 10 or the faux leather from past Galaxy Notes.

Most of the upgrades to durability on the Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6 are invisible to the naked eye. The “armor” aluminum is stronger; the glass on the cover screens and backsides is made of more scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2; the internal hinges that bend the flexible screens have been re-engineered to be thinner and more durable for absorbing shocks from drops or protecting them from foreign particles; there’s a new layer in the flexible screens that makes them tougher (particularly on the Z Fold 6, which supports being poked at with an S Pen). IP-rated dust resistance has also gone up, with the new foldables sporting IP48 ratings versus the previous-gen’s IPX8 ratings. All of these things are improvements other foldable makers don’t seem to be investing enough in; six generations in, Samsung foldables should be the most durable of them all.

The Galaxy Z Fold 6 has a slightly larger 6.3-inch cover screen.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

One small tweak that might go unnoticed at first glance is the cover screen on the Z Fold 6 — it’s 6.3 inches, which is 0.1 inches wider than on the Z Fold 5. It’s a tiny change, but in the hand, you may feel the aspect ratio of the foldable ends up being closer to a bar-style phone than a skinny TV remote.

What might be a little disappointing is that the crease on the Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6 don’t seem less visible. The crease is still there; still visible; still something you feel while running your finger over it. Maybe it’s something we have to give up overcoming. Even a piece of paper bent in half has a crease, so defying physics might be too much to ask, and we should perhaps just accept the visible seam.

Upgraded Performance and Cameras

Check out those bolder camera rings.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

The Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip foldables have always lagged behind the S series in some kind of way, whether it’s a last-gen chip or previous-gen camera sensor. That changes with the Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6. Both phones come with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy chip with support for 14 percent faster CPU, 25 percent faster GPU, and 41 percent faster NPU (neural processing unit) performance, as well as ray-tracing for mobile games, just like the S24 series phones. Both foldable models come with 12GB of RAM across the board. And both phones share the identical 50-megapixel f/1.8 main camera sensors, the same ones in the Galaxy S24 and S24+.

Gamers will appreciate that the Z Fold 6 has a larger vapor cooling chamber. And for the first time ever, the Z Flip 6 gets a vapor cooling chamber, too, with the copper heatsink being 50 percent larger than the one in the Galaxy S23, according to Samsung.

The Z Flip 6’s cover screen can display more widgets.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

For the Z Flip 6, the battery has increased to a 4,000mAh capacity compared to the Z Flip 5’s 3,700mAh battery. Hopefully, battery life really is longer.

Specs-wise, Samsung’s new foldables are no longer second-class citizens to its Galaxy S series smartphones. Not that past foldables were slouches in performance or responsiveness, but these beefier specs all but ensure that the Z Fold 6 and Z Flip will be capable of handling more advanced AI features that will likely be added in a future software update.

Galaxy AI Comes to Samsung’s Foldables

Galaxy AI features finally come to Samsung’s foldable phones.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

It’s no surprise that Samsung is bringing all of the Galaxy AI features it introduced on the Galaxy S24 phones to the Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6. Everything from Circle to Search, Live Translate during calls, Instant Slow-Mo, and Chat Assist will be available in the new Samsung foldables. It’s not just a copy-and-paste job. Samsung optimized many of the AI features like Circle to Search and Interpreter to work better with the Z Fold 6’s larger screen and the Z Flip 6’s Flex Mode. For example, Circle to Search on an S24 shows a Google search card that slides in from the bottom and covers up a portion of the screen. On the Z Fold 6, search info is displayed side by side with the circled content, as well as showing more results.

There are also some new Galaxy AI features launching on the foldables, too. One is called Portrait Studio. It’s kind of fun. After taking a photo, you can use generative AI to stylize the photo in one of four creative styles, including comic, 3D cartoon, watercolor, and sketch. The results resemble a typical AI-generated image, complete with all the smeary characteristics that you’d get from Midjourney or Dall-E, but it’s pretty cool if you want to create a photo for, say, an online account instead of using a real picture. Another generative art/editing feature lets you turn a crude sketch into something more detailed. For instance, you could draw a doodle of sunglasses on a cat and the AI converts that into a pair of Ray-Bans-style sunnies. It also seems like a fun AI feature. On the Z Flip 6, you can generate wallpapers with a few guide prompts, similar to what you get on the Pixel 8 phones; there are also live weather animations for rain, snow, and other forecasts that can be generated in real-time for display on the Z Flip 6’s cover screen.

The Z Flip 6 has straighter side rails.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

The Z Flip 6 starts at $100 more than its predecessor.

Photograph by Raymond Wong
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Two AI-powered camera features stood out to me. The first is an auto-zoom feature for the Z Flip 6 that lets you position the foldable in Flex Mode and then the camera automatically detects people standing in front of it and intelligently crops in or zooms out for the “perfect” framing. The second is better portrait photos; AI enhances the background blur (bokeh) after the shot is taken, separating subject hairs and outlines better from the background.

And if you need more serious AI for productivity, there’s plenty of that. Chat Assist can help write messages or emails and change the tone and style depending on who you’re writing to. Live Translate has expanded to work in third-party apps like WhatsApp and Signal. Oh, and there’s all the summarization and transcription you could ask for in certain apps. If you’re an early AI adopter and have been waiting for them on Samsung’s foldables, the wait is almost over.

$100 Price Increase For Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6

Do you like these colors?

Photograph by Raymond Wong

If you like what you just read, you may not love this next part: The Z Fold 6 starts at $1,899.99, which is $100 more than the Z Fold 5 when it launched at $1,799.99, and the Z Flip 6 starts at $1,099.99, also $100 more than the $999 Z Flip 5 launch price. You are getting more for the money, even if many of the upgrades are internal hardware ones or AI/software-based.

I’ll reserve in-depth thoughts on the new Samsung foldables for when I get them in for testing, but my gut tells me if you already have a Z Fold 5 or Z Flip 5, you probably don’t need to upgrade unless you’re sold on all the new stuff. Chances are Samsung will bring some (if not all) of the Galaxy AI features launching on these new foldables to older foldables. Samsung brought Galaxy AI features to the S23 series after introducing them on the S24 series first, so there is some precedence, though it’s not a surefire bet.

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