Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5: Biggest rumored upgrades

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5
(Image credit: SmartPrix/OnLeaks/Tom's Guide)

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 arrives later this summer facing a much more competitive landscape than most of its predecessor ever had to weather. Both the Pixel Fold from Google and the OnePlus Open have been out for nearly a year, establishing themselves as credible alternatives to Samsung's well-established foldable phone. In fact, by the time the Galaxy Z Fold 6 arrives, the rumored Pixel Fold 2 may have already made its debut, ratcheting up the competition for the title of best foldable phone.

For that reason, the pressure's on Samsung to take a bigger step forward with the Galaxy Z Fold 6 than it normally would have to with such a well-established device. And if Samsung's really looking to make a splash, it will need to do so by making noticeable improvements from last year's Galaxy Z Fold 5.

That's a tall order since the Z Fold 5 was a pretty good improvement in its own right. With a thinner, lighter design helped by a new Flex hinge, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 felt more polished than ever before, and Samsung addressed one of our biggest complaints by improving image quality via from previous editions thanks to software fine-tuning.

Is there room for further improvement? Our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5 comparison looks at what's likely to change, based on the rumors we've been hearing about Samsung's foldable. Note that we're largely focusing on the main Galaxy Z Fold 6 and not the rumored Galaxy Z Fold 6 FE that's potentially joining Samsung's foldable lineup as a lower-cost alternative.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5: Price and availability

Samsung has been charging $1,799 for its high-end foldable since the days of the Galaxy Z Fold 2. That's what the phone maker charges for the Galaxy Z Fold 5, and we imagine that $1,799 will remain the starting price for the Galaxy Z Fold 6, especially if Samsung does produce a lower-cost version in an effort to broaden the market for its foldables.

We could get a look the new Fold earlier than usual. While the Galaxy Z Fold 5 debuted last August — a fairly typical time for new Samsung foldables to show up — there's talk that the Galaxy Z Fold 6 might launch earlier in the summer, as Samsung looks to release the phone ahead of the Paris Olympics. That event gets underway July 26, so make your summer plans accordingly.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5: Design and display

Galaxy Z Fold 6 render

(Image credit: SmartPrix)

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 introduced some key design changes to Samsung's foldables lineup, highlighted by the Flex hinge, which allows the phone to close all the way flat, without the gap we had come to expect from previous Folds. The new design helped the Z Fold 5 feel more streamlined, too.

Initial Galaxy Z Fold 6 rumors suggested more changes, particularly to the phone's exterior display. The aspect ratio on the cover display of the current Galaxy Z Fold is very narrow, particularly when contrasted with the wider Pixel Fold outer screen. As a result, jotting down notes on the Samsung cover display could feel a little cramped.

A rumor suggested that Samsung might make the cover screen a little bit wider, and initial rumors pointed to a 6.4-inch panel compared to the 6.2-inch cover display on the Galaxy Z Fold 5. But subsequent Galaxy Z Fold 6 renders show off a phone that looks a lot like its predecessor, which has splashed some cold water on those rumors of a substantive design change.

One design possibility is that the Galaxy Z Fold 6 takes a cue from the Galaxy S24 Ultra by working titanium into its frame. That would lighten the load even further, after the Galaxy Z Fold 5 shed a third of an ounce from its predecessor to weigh in at 8.9 ounces. We also hear that the Galaxy Z Fold 6 could use Gorilla Glass Armor for its display, which not only improves durability but also helps reduce glare.

A recent leak from Ice Universe on X has stated that the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will be noticeably thinner than the Galaxy Z Fold 5. According to the post, the Z Fold 6 should have an unfolded thickness of 5.6mm and a folded thickness of 12.1mm. For reference, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 has a folded thickness of 6.1mm while the folded thickness was 13.4mm. 

Galaxy Z Fold 6 colors are tipped to include light pink, dark blue and silver. That compares to black, cream, gray and two different shades of blue for the Galaxy Z Fold 5.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 rear cameras

(Image credit: Future)

We felt that image quality improved from the Galaxy Z Fold 4 to the Galaxy Z Fold 5, even if Samsung didn't make any changes to the camera hardware that its foldable uses. Instead, we'd chalk up the changes to software tweaks that produced better colors and more balanced shots.

We had better hope that history repeats itself with the Galaxy Z Fold 6, as rumors suggest the new phone will feature the same camera setup as before — a 50MP main camera on the outside of the phone joined by 12MP ultrawide and 10MP zoom lenses. Throw in an external 10MP selfie cam and an under-display camera, and you've pretty much got the predicted setup for the Z Fold 6, at least according to leakers in the know.

That's not to say it will be the same camera experience between the Galaxy Z Fold 6 and the Galaxy Z Fold 5, as Samsung is continuing adjusting its photo-processing algorithms. There's also the matter of generative editing tools that could give Galaxy Z Fold 6 owners new ways of tweaking their photos after the shot.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5: Performance

Snapdragon 8 gen 3

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Samsung usually turns to the best Qualcomm silicon available when it releases a foldable phone. For the Galaxy Z Fold 5, that was the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. For that reason, it's widely expected that Samsung will use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in the Galaxy Z Fold 6. Our Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 benchmarks found that the chipset offers a power boost over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, and it's also proven to be more power efficient as well.

There is one potential wrinkle — Samsung only used the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 in all of its Galaxy S24 Ultra models as well as the North American versions of the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus. Those later two phones featured an Exynos 2400 chipset when they were released in other parts of the world, resulting in benchmark results that were a step behind the Snapdragon-powered phones. Could Samsung pull a similar move with the Galaxy Z Fold 6? The company's never used Exynos chips in the Galaxy Z Fold lineup, so probably not. But the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is a pretty pricey system-on-chip apparently.

But there's an alternative. Qualcomm just released the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3, which isn't as powerful as the regular Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but will outperform the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Qualcomm is aiming the new chipset at lower-cost flagships, so Samsung could theoretically turn to the 8s to keep costs down. 

Whatever chip gets used will apparently be accompanied by plenty of RAM. Reports suggest the Z Fold 6 will feature either 12GB or 16GB of memory, compared to a lone 12GB option for the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Storage options should remain at 256GB, 512GB and 1TB.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5: Battery life and charging

360 degree render of the Z Fold 6

(Image credit: Smartprix)

Samsung kept the Galaxy Z Fold 5's battery the same 4,400 mAh size as its predecessor. Still, the Z Fold 5 managed to last longer on a charge, beating the Galaxy Z Fold 4 by 1.5 hours on our battery test. We'll chalk that up to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2's power management features.

Assuming the Galaxy Z Fold 6 jumps to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, we'd also expect improved battery life, regardless of whether Samsung boosts the phone's power pack. Rumor sites haven't ruled out an increase in battery capacity, though there's nothing definitive.

Similarly, there's no word on whether the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will improve upon the 25W charging speed offered by the Z Fold 5. Since Samsung's Galaxy S flagships didn't see faster speeds, we'd imagine that it won't happen for the foldables, either, though we'd at least like to see the Galaxy Z Fold 5 match the 45W speeds of the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Galaxy S24 Plus. Recent regulatory filings suggest we're going to be disappointed.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5: Software

Galaxy AI banner at Galaxy Unpacked 2024

(Image credit: Future)

With Samsung pushing Galaxy AI, it's a safe bet that many of the features that appeared on this year's Galaxy S24 phones are also slated for the Galaxy Z Fold 6. Of course, thanks to the One UI 6.1 update rolling out at the end of March, Galaxy Z Fold 5 owners get access to those features, too, which include Circle to Search, text message suggestions and generative photo edits.

Given the likely launch window for the Galaxy Z Fold 6, we'd assume the new foldable will be running Android 14, just like the Galaxy Z Fold 5 does now after an upgrade. The big question is whether Samsung extends the same 7-year software and security support enjoyed by the Galaxy S24 to the Galaxy Z Fold 6. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 gets four years of Android updates and an additional year of security support.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 5: Outlook

We've got several months between now and the rumored launch date for the Galaxy Z Fold 6, and we expect plenty of additional details to emerge in that time. Right now, the rumored differences sound modest at best, with Samsung seemingly relying on AI as the distinguishing feature for its Fold. Whether that will play in an era of greater foldable competition remains to be seen.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.