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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 hands-on review: Know when to fold ‘em

It’s thinner and lighter than the previous generation but the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 doesn’t feel like much of an advancement

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 will be hoping to seamlessly step into the shoes of its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Fold 5, as our favourite full-size foldable phone. While the clamshell Galaxy Z Flip 6 only has one major rival in the Motorola Razr 50 Ultra, there’s more competition for the Z Fold 6, so Samsung can’t afford to coast along on what worked last year.

Unfortunately, my hands-on time with the Galaxy Z Fold 6 gave me the impression that coasting along is the name of the game here. There are a few improvements to note, including a tightening of the design and a new processor, but considering that they’re also paired with a £50 price increase, I’m not convinced that there’s enough advancement here to tempt consumers into an upgrade.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 hands-on review: Specifications, price and release date

  • Processor: Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy
  • Memory: 12GB RAM
  • Storage: 256GB, 512GB or 1TB
  • External display: 6.3in, 120Hz, 2,376 x 968 AMOLED 2X
  • Internal display: 7.6in, 120Hz, 2,160 x 1,856 AMOLED 2X
  • Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.8), 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide and 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto
  • External selfie camera: 10MP (f/2/2)
  • Internal selfie camera: 4MP (f/2.2)
  • Dust and water resistance rating: IP48
  • Battery: 4,400 mAh dual battery
  • Dimensions: 68 x 12.1 x 154mm (folded); 133 x 5.6 x 154mm (unfolded)
  • Weight: 239g
  • Colours: Silver Shadow, Pink, Navy, Black, White
  • UK price: £1,799 (256GB); £1,899 (512GB); £2,099 (1TB)
  • UK release date: 24 July, pre-orders from 10 July

See the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 in action

I got some hands-on time with the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 – check out my footage of the event below.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 hands-on review: Design, key features and first impressions

While the Galaxy Z Fold 6 offers the same storage options as its predecessor, prices have crept up across the board, with the three variants costing £50 more than their 2023 counterparts. That means that the starting price is now £1,799, going all the way up to £2,099 for the 1TB model.

It’s just as well, then, that we’ve got several numbers heading in the opposite direction. The handset has shed a few grams and tips the scales at 239g (the Z Fold 5 weighed 253g) – meaning it’s only a few grams heavier than the non-folding Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The build is also a fair bit thinner, both folded (12.1mm, down from 13.4mm) and unfolded (5.6mm down from 6.1mm).

The lighter and slimmer build doesn’t mean a drop in robustness, however. We’ve still got a pair of Gorilla Glass Victus 2 panels on the front and back (when folded) and the weather resistance rating has been increased from IPX8 to IP48. This certifies the Z Fold 6 as resistant to the ingress of particles greater than 1mm, and able to be briefly submerged in 1m of water.

The slightly shrunken dimensions haven’t harmed screen space, either. The interior display unfolds into a massive 7.6in flexible AMOLED 2X with a similar resolution to the Z Fold 5 (2,160 x 1,856) and a refresh rate that dynamically adjusts between 1 and 120Hz. You get the same screen space but the aspect ratio is slightly different this time around, due to the display being 1.4mm shorter and 2.3mm wider than its predecessor.

It’s the same story on the external display, with the secondary screen again coming in slightly shorter and wider than last year’s model. Here, we’ve got a 6.3in AMOLED 2X display with a resolution of 2,376 x 968, which is very similar to the Z Fold 5. What’s different this time around is the dynamic refresh rate, which now offers an expanded scope of 1-120Hz, just like the main screen, whereas the previous generation could only go as low as 48Hz.

There have been some tweaks to the overall look, as well. The corners are more squared off than they were on the Z Fold 5, sitting closer to the aesthetic of the Galaxy S24 Ultra. As usual, there are new colours to choose from: the Silver Shadow, Pink and Navy colourways can be picked up at most retailers but as with the Galaxy Z Flip 6, the Black and White styles are exclusive to Samsung.

Something that stood out to me during the announcement was that the camera array is identical to the Z Fold 5’s lenses – which were, for the most part, dead ringers for those found on the Z Fold 4. That’s a disappointing development, as we found photography to be something of a weak link with the previous generation. In particular, the ultrawide camera washed colours out too much and the lower resolution on the telephoto lens led to a major loss of detail when zooming past 3x.

Once again, we’ve got five cameras in total: the external display has a 10MP (f/2.2) selfie camera beneath the screen, there’s a 4MP (f/2.2) front-facing camera beneath the internal display, while the triple rear camera array sees the return of the 50MP (f/1.8), 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide and 10MP (f/2.4) 3x optical telephoto lenses.

Our current favourite full-size foldable phone for photography is the OnePlus Open, with higher pixel counts on the telephoto and ultrawide lenses, as well as both selfie cameras, and a wider f/1.7 aperture on the main camera. With no real movement in the camera specs, it doesn’t seem likely that the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will be posing a serious challenge to the OnePlus Open in this department.

We see a little more improvement with the internal components, with a vapour chamber 1.6x the size of the Z Fold 5’s and a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset, once again backed by 12GB of RAM and 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage. Unfortunately, the battery remains at 4,400mAh and charging speeds are no better than last year (25W wired and 15W wireless).

That’s not to say that we won’t see some stamina improvements. Of the five top scorers in our Best phone battery life chart, three use Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, including Samsung’s Galaxy S24 Ultra at the very top of the leaderboard. I doubt we’ll see a foldable topping this list any time soon, but the power efficiency achieved by the chipset may help the Z Fold 6 offset its relatively small battery capacity.

Software, at least, sees some solid improvement. The Z Fold 6 is launching with Android 14, topped by Samsung’s OneUI 6.1 launcher, and is confirmed to be getting seven years of OS security updates. That’s a fairly big leap over the Z Fold 5 and brings the Z Fold 6 in line with the Galaxy S24 series.

Finally, we can’t talk about anything smartphone-related this year with AI cropping up, and after debuting back in January with the S24 series, Galaxy AI is available on the Z Fold 6 from launch. As well as the usual bevvy of tricks like Circle to Search and more context-aware chat assists, the Z Fold 6 gets a unique use of Live Translation, with your native language displaying on the internal display and the translation showing on the external, allowing the phone to act as an interpreter on your behalf.

There’s also an optional S Pen case with a new, slimmer stylus that you can use to sketch over images and then ask the AI to convert your doodle into something more professional-looking. I’m not convinced that this approach is supporting creativity in the way that Samsung is claiming, so much as it’s just taking the wheel, but it’s a fun enough inclusion for those who want it.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 hands-on review: Early verdict

Considering that Galaxy AI has already come to last year’s Samsung foldables, I’m not counting that as a reason for people to fork out on the Galaxy Z Fold 6. The refinement of the design and generally tighter build are both positives but I remain unconvinced that they warrant the extra £50 – on top of what was already an exorbitant price tag.

I know that it sounds like I’ve already written the Galaxy Z Fold 6 off but we’ll reserve final judgement for the full review. Display testing, performance benchmarks, camera samples and battery life results may well end up being so impressive that they claw back a positive review. After this first hands-on, however, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 feels like Samsung is asking too much and delivering too little.

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