Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: What will be the ultimate Samsung phone?

galaxy z fold 6 vs. Galaxy s24 ultra
(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra impressed when it arrived on the scene earlier this year. But can it win a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra showdown when the foldable phones shows up later this summer?

After all, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will be entering a more competitive market for foldable phones, so the pressure will be on Samsung to deliver a compelling upgrade. With a slimmer design apparently in the works and the likelihood of new Galaxy AI features coming to the Fold, there's a very good chance we could see this upcoming phone replace the Galaxy S24 Ultra as the best Samsung phone.

We can only guess as to what the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will bring to the table, as nothing's been officially announce about the upcoming foldable. But rumors give us an inkling on what a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs Galaxy S24 Ultra comparison might look like once both phones are available.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs Galaxy S24 Ultra: Price

The Galaxy S24 Ultra saw a price hike this year, launching at $1,299 for the 256GB base model. It's one of the most expensive flagships you can buy — at least when it comes to one that doesn't fold.

But if you want to talk expensive phones, Samsung's foldables are usually at the top of the list. The current Galaxy Z Fold 5 starts at $1,799, and there are few indications that Samsung is planning a price cut. It is early, though, and pricing rumors really don't pick up until we get closer to a phone's release date.

There has been talk of Samsung possibly introducing a cheaper version of the Fold — a Galaxy Z Fold 6 FE, if you will — that will scale back some features for a reduced price. Since we're concentrating on Samsung's top phones, we're only going to look at how the full-featured Galaxy Z Fold 6 will compare to the S24 Ultra in this face-off.

As for a release date, Samsung typically releases its foldable phones in the second half of the year, after the Galaxy S models come out earlier. The Galaxy S24 Ultra debuted in January 2024 — an unusually early appearance for Samsung's flagships — and the Galaxy Z Fold 6 could have an early arrival of its own, as Samsung looks to launch its foldable prior to the start of the Paris Olympics that start on July 26.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra: Design and display

Galaxy Z Fold 6 render

(Image credit: Smartprix)

Samsung updated quite a bit when it came to the design of the Galaxy S24 Ultra, switching from aluminum to a more durable titanium. It also ditched the classic Galaxy S curved screen for a completely flat 6.8-inch one in an apparent move to make the included S Pen work better on that massive display.

The Galaxy Z Fold 6 could be in for some design changes, too. Like the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it could shift to a titanium frame, potentially reducing its weight. That's key as foldable phones can be a pain to tote around.

The bigger shift could be a thinner design for the Galaxy Z Fold 6, with the new phone having a 12.1mm thickness when folded. (The Galaxy Z Fold 5 measured 13.4mm.) Unfolded, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 could have a thickness of 5.6mm — the Galaxy S24 Ultra is 8.6mm thick.

In addition to its thinner size, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 could have a different outer display, with Samsung shifting to a wider aspect ratio. The interior 7.6-inch panel would remain unchanged, giving you much more screen real estate than the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Early Galaxy Z Fold 6 renders don't indicate that Samsung is adding a place on the phone to house the S Pen. That would give the Galaxy S24 Ultra an edge, since it does come with a built-in slot for the included stylus.

Currently, the S24 Ultra comes in seven colors: green, blue, orange, violet, yellow, black and gray. Color rumors tip the Galaxy Z Fold 6 to include light pink, dark blue and silver options. It’s unclear if that’s in addition to black, cream, gray and two shades of blue for the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra camera closeup.

(Image credit: Future)

 The Galaxy S24 Ultra's biggest camera change involved its telephoto lenses as one of the 10MP sensors from previous models made way for a 50MP one. That switch came at the expense of zoom length, as the S24 Ultra features telephoto lenses that offer 3x and 5x optical zooms — not the 3x and 10x of the previous model.

Even so, the S24 Ultra remains one of the best camera phones out there, thanks to a 200MP main camera augmented by larger pixels.

Foldable phones are not necessarily known for their cameras, though Samsung has put in work in recent Galaxy Z Fold models to improve the optics on its main foldable. However, rumors suggest you're unlikely to see many changes with the Galaxy Z Fold 6, as the upcoming model is tipped to keep the same 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide and 10MP telephoto lenses found on the exterior of its predecessor. Even the much-maligned  camera under the Z Fold's display isn't tipped for an upgrade.

Should the lack of camera improvements to the Galaxy Z Fold 6 turn out to be true, the Galaxy S24 Ultra should remain the first choice for phot-focused smartphone buyers.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra: Performance

Three-app split screen on the Galaxy Z Fold 5

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which was built with AI in mind. Our Galaxy S24 Ultra benchmarks found that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 offers a significant power boost, beating even Apple's silicon in some tests; the new Qualcomm chip also happens to be better at power management, helping the S24 Ultra last longer on a charge.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 ran on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the same silicon featured in the Galaxy S23 lineup. Therefore, it stands to reason that the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will upgrade to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 as well. However, Samsung could opt for the recently released Snapdragon 8s Gen 3, a slightly less powerful chipset that's also less expensive than the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

Whatever system-on-chip Samsung turns to, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 should get tons of RAM. Leaks hint at the foldable featuring either 12GB or 16GB of memory, compared to 12GB in the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra: Battery life

Battery life has been a struggled for foldable phones, though the Galaxy Z Fold 5 made some progress in this regard, improving its time in our battery test by an hour. Still, the Galaxy S24 Ultra has some of the best phone battery life of any major flagship, lasting 16 hours and 45 minutes on our test. That's nearly 6 hours longer than the Z Fold 5's time.

So the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will have its work cut out for it, if it wants to match the Galaxy S24 Ultra's battery life. Frankly, we'd be happy just to see the foldable benefit from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3's power management features to improve upon the result of its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra: Software

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra in hand.

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S24 lineup, including the Ultra, introduced us to Galaxy AI features such as Circle to Search, live translations and AI-powered photo editing tools. Those capabilities subsequently appeared on other recent Galaxy flagships — including the Galaxy Z Fold 5 — thanks to the OneUI 6.1 update

That's why it's a safe bet to assume the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will match the S24 Ultra's AI capabilities. The question is whether Samsung will add more Galaxy AI tools to the mix and whether they'll be tailored to the Galaxy Z Fold's foldable form and multitasking features.

Another question for the Galaxy Z Fold 6: will it follow the Galaxy S24 lineup's lead and receive seven years of software and security updates? The Galaxy Z Fold 5 giets four years of software support plus another year of security updates.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy S24 Ultra: Outlook

We’ve got a few months to go before the Galaxy Z Fold 6 might appear in the wild, which means you'll have to decide whether to hold off for that phone or buy a Galaxy S24 Ultra now if you want a top Samsung device. The answer to that question hinges on how much you appreciate a foldable screen and the multitasking features it supports. 

If you favor cameras as your top smartphone feature, the Galaxy S24 Ultra sounds like the better choice, given the rumored lack of changes coming to the Z Fold 6's camera setup. On the other hand, don't feel you have to get the Galaxy S24 Ultra to experience Galaxy AI features, as Samsung has been pretty generous in bringing those capabilities to other phones — which we assume will include the Galaxy Z Fold 6.

More from Tom's Guide

Scott Younker
West Coast Reporter

Scott Younker is the West Coast Reporter at Tom’s Guide. He covers all the lastest tech news. He’s been involved in tech since 2011 at various outlets and is on an ongoing hunt to build the easiest to use home media system. When not writing about the latest devices, you are more than welcome to discuss board games or disc golf with him.