Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Flip 6 first look: big software boost, US$100 price rise

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This is a welcome move, as Samsung’s foldables had begun to feel bulky in the last two years compared with Chinese rivals from the likes of Xiaomi and Huawei.

While the Z Fold 6 is still thicker and heavier than virtually every Chinese foldable phone released in the past 12 months, the gap has closed.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 (bottom), at 12.1mm, is slimmer than both the Fold 5 (middle) and Fold 4 (top). Photo: Ben Sin
The Z Fold 6’s main screen (right) is wider compared with the Fold 5 (left). Photo: Ben Sin

The Z Fold 6’s main screen has also been stretched slightly horizontally, so the device has a more conventional phone shape when folded, unlike its previous elongated form. That display is also much brighter, at 2,600 nits.

The Z Flip 6 did not get the same slimming down its big brother did, but it did gain a larger battery and a slightly improved main camera – two areas that were unchanged in the Z Fold 6. Both phones are powered by the newest Qualcomm chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.

Samsung’s hinge mechanism is still best in class. The two foldables require just the right amount of force to open, and stay open mid-fold at various angles. The hinge feels sturdy and reassuringly stiff.

If you have only used previous Samsung foldables, these new phones have improved enough in terms of hardware to satisfy, especially the slimmed-down Z Fold 6. But if you have used recent Chinese foldables, you will realise that Samsung is merely catching up on the hardware front.

The front of the Galaxy Z Flip 6. Photo: Ben Sin
The Z Flip 6 in semi-folded form. Photo: Ben Sin

That is where software comes in, and these new Samsung foldables have a lot of tricks up their sleeves.

In addition to being more optimised for American apps like Instagram and YouTube than most Chinese foldables, the Fold and Flip 6 also gain all the AI features first introduced in Samsung’s S24 series earlier this year.

These features are very useful, including real-time live interpretation that supports over a dozen languages (including Cantonese), and “Circle to Search”, which allows the user to conduct a search of anything shown on the phone screen with a finger scribble.

Circle to Search is actually a Google service, but Samsung and Google have an agreement to essentially gatekeep this feature so that only the two companies’ flagship phones have access to it.

The partnership extends to Android software updates too: the Fold and Flip 6 are guaranteed seven years of updates, meaning these Android 14 devices get upgrades to at least Android 21. No other Chinese foldable is promising more than three years of updates.

The inside screen of the Z Fold 6. Photo: Ben Sin
The back of the Z Fold 6 (right) and Z Fold 5. Photo: Ben Sin

There is also the brand-new “Sketch to Image” AI feature launching with the Fold and Flip 6. You can draw on any photo (whether taken by the phones or grabbed from the internet) and Samsung’s generative AI will turn the rough sketch into something that looks real.

In the sample image (see top of story), you can see that I drew a hat and glasses on my face, and the generative AI produced realistic-looking versions on my head.

Whether generative AI photo editing is practical (or even ethical) is a divisive topic, but I personally am fascinated by the ability to use semi-professional-level photo-manipulation skills with just a few scribbles and taps.

Pricing for Hong Kong had not been announced at the time of this report, but US pricing sees both phones getting a US$100 hike from the previous generation: the Z Fold 6 starts at US$1,899 and Z Flip 6 starts at US$1,099. I suspect Hong Kong pricing will be adjusted accordingly.

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