Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Should you buy the Galaxy Z Fold 5 now or wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 6?

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The Z Fold 5 being half folded.Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is one of the most technologically impressive feats we’ve ever seen. It’s a smartphone that unfolds into a tablet-sized device, and it’s a really good smartphone to boot. Samsung was one of the first major manufacturers to really nail the formula that makes folding and flip phones so great. And we’ve also seen efforts from OnePlus and Google, among others, follow Samsung’s lead.

Contents

  • Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: design
  • Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: specs
  • Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: cameras
  • Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: battery
  • Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: software
  • When is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 coming out?
  • What about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 Ultra?
  • Should you wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 6?Show 3 more items

But if you want the crème de la crème of folding smartphones, it has to be a Samsung Z Fold. So you should buy a Z Fold 5, right? Well, not really. While the Z Fold 5 is excellent, there’s another device you need to keep in mind if you’re thinking of purchasing a foldable phone within the next few months. That device is, of course, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6.

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While the Galaxy Z Fold 6 isn’t official by any means, there are a number of rumors and leaks that spell out almost exactly what we can expect from Samsung’s new foldable device. What we’ve seen paints no mere upgrade. Samsung is making some big changes this year, and they could mean a lot for your purchase. So, should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 now or wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 6? We took a look at the most plausible rumors and leaks to better understand that question.

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This comparison is based on unverified leaks and rumors and may not perfectly reflect the final device, so keep that in mind as you read.

Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: design

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The design is paramount to a foldable phone’s success. Not only must it look great, but it also needs a near-flawless mechanism and hinge to ensure it can withstand the thousands of folds it will undergo in its lifespan. Samsung has largely cracked that with the Z Fold handsets, and we don’t expect the Z Fold 6 will innovate on that element in a way that will make it notable over the Z Fold 5 after the latter’s hinge was upgraded only last year.

That doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement, though. One of the biggest repeated theme in leaks and rumors is a big shake-up in the size and shape of the device. No, it’s still vaguely phone-shaped, but the Z Fold 6 looks set to be slightly shorter and wider than last year’s model. The Z Fold 5’s long and narrow cover display is certainly divisive, and while some love it, it’s a real annoyance for others. Making the Z Fold 6 squatter will squish the awkward 23.1:9 aspect ratio into a more conventional 20:9.

Renders of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 OnLeaks / SmartPrix

Rumors and leaks are united over a change in aspect ratio, but no one can seem to agree whether that means the display sizes will change. Early leaks said the cover display could increase from 6.2 inches to 6.4 inches, but later renders from OnLeaks suggested the display dimensions would be unchanged. OnLeaks is a particularly notable leaker with a strong history, but so is IceUniverse, who popped up even later to say the cover display would increase to 6.3 inches. The inner display would still be 7.6 inches, but would have a much more square aspect ratio as a result of the dimension changes.

The OnLeaks leaks also came alongside some design renders, which threw light on another change. According to these renders, the Z Fold 6 will take a leaf out of the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s book and will have flat, sharp edges rather than the gentle curves of previous generations. Around the back, there’s less to remark upon, with a similar-looking camera bump housing three lenses.

Renders of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 OnLeaks / SmartPrix

Ultimately, what does this mean for your purchase? A change in look is in the eye of the beholder, so really, the difference between flat sides and curved ones comes down to whatever you prefer. A shorter and wider cover display, though? The Z Fold 5’s odd aspect ratio means it’s not the best screen to watch videos on, and content often feels oddly pinched. We would advise you to wait and see if the Z Fold 6 delivers the rumored changes in dimensions, because we suspect those changes will benefit you.

Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: specs

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

There’s not a huge amount to report here that won’t already be expected, as it’s no big surprise to say the Z Fold 6 is going to have better specifications. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is expected to find a home here, as the Z Fold 6 will be expected to follow where the Galaxy S24 leads in terms of processor.

There’s been no word on RAM specs, but we wouldn’t expect less than 12GB — the same as the Z Fold 5. Storage tiers have been leaked, however, and according to those, we can expect the same 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB options.

So, where does this leave the two devices? It’s no shock that the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will be the more powerful phone, thanks to the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. But will it make a noticeable difference? The Z Fold 5’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is still an extremely powerful chip, and it’ll handle every task you throw at it, from demanding apps to the latest 3D games. The inner display provides more of a challenge than a normal smartphone, of course, but the older hardware is still more than capable of handling it.

The bottom line is, don’t use the specs as your principal reason to wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 6 because it’s unlikely to be a massive jump up. It certainly won’t be a difference you’ll notice in real-life use, even if the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 will technically push benchmark numbers higher. There may be an impact on battery life, but we’ll get to that later.

Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: cameras

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Samsung is one of the market leaders where camera phones are concerned, and one of its phones is almost always found in the top spots of our best camera phones list. The Galaxy Z Fold isn’t usually Samsung’s focus for camera excellence — that’s usually the Galaxy S Ultra — but it would be wrong to say the Z Fold misses out in the camera department.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 has some very capable cameras. The main camera system is the rear-facing triple lens system, comprising a 50-megapixel main lens, a 10MP telephoto lens, and a 12MP ultrawide lens. There’s a 10MP selfie lens above the cover display and a 4MP under-display camera (UDC) underneath the inner display. The UDC is as underwhelming as ever, but the rest of the camera lenses are solid, and while they tend not to rival any entries in Samsung’s Galaxy S range, they generally won’t let you down and will produce great-looking images in most circumstances.

An image claiming to show a close-up shot of the Z Fold 6’s camera IceUniverse

But what about the Z Fold 6? Leaks are concerned only with the triple-lens camera system around the back, but they’re conflicted. Early reports indicated the Z Fold 6 would have the same main 50MP sensor as the Z Fold 5, but later reports asserted it would instead have the same main lens as the S24 Ultra — a 200MP beast. Otherwise, the setup would remain much the same, with the same 10MP and 12MP lenses included.

What can we make of these reports? Well, it’s certainly confusing. One way to reconcile the differing leaks is that Samsung is also considering making an Ultra version of the Z Fold 6, which would certainly contain an upgraded camera system. But if this isn’t the case, and the regular Z Fold 6 does use the same 200MP main lens as the S24 Ultra, then that’s a significant step up from the Z Fold 5 and would be a reason to hold out for the newer model — especially if a strong camera is key for you.

Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: battery

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Z Fold 5 has the same 4,400mAh battery as the Z Fold 4, so it’s not unfair to say the Z Fold 6 is due an upgrade. Leaks suggest a larger battery is on the way, with the newer device claimed to sport an extra 200mAh. That’s not a huge increase by any means, but when you’re powering a massive inner display, every little extra bit does help. Plus, keep in mind that the expected Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor will also have improved power efficiency over earlier chipsets, so that will likely result in a stronger battery life for the Z Fold 6.

Outside of that, rumors are fairly quiet about other potential increases. There’s no word about increases in the charging rate, which is a shame. The Z Fold 5 is shackled to a 25-watt charging rate, which, for such an expensive device, is downright shameful. Hopefully, Samsung will do the right thing and increase the charge rate of the Z Fold 6, but for now, we’ve seen no indication that it will happen.

Galaxy Z Fold 5 vs. Galaxy Z Fold 6: software

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

There’s relatively little to say as far as the direct software is concerned. The Z Fold 6 will likely launch with Android 14, just as the Z Fold launched with Android 13. Both devices will have largely the same software — Samsung’s One UI — so you’re likely to find similar experiences on either. The Z Fold 6 is likely to come with Galaxy AI included, but that’s coming to the Z Fold 5 anyway, so it’s not that huge a deal.

The Z Fold 6 will likely have an advantage in software updates, though. Samsung recently upgraded its update promise to an impressive seven years, which means the Z Fold 6 will likely get many more updates than the Z Fold 5, which gets an admittedly still impressive five years of updates. However, if you’re buying the Z Fold 5 today, that’s down to four years of updates, giving the Z Fold 6 another three years on top of that.

If longevity is important to you, and it should be with a device this expensive, then the Galaxy Z Fold 6 looks to have a serious advantage here.

When is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 coming out?

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Usually, we’d expect to see a new Z Fold device in August, but this year may end up being a little different. According to leaks and rumors from SamMobile, Samsung is gearing up for an early release of the Galaxy Z Fold 6. How early? Instead of mid-August, we might expect to see the new device in early July, with the smart money on July 10.

Why so early? According to another report, Samsung hopes to release the device before the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Samsung has previously run marketing campaigns during the Olympic Games, and this time could be no different.

What about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 Ultra?

OnLeaks / SmartPrix

But there’s another reason to think twice about buying a Z Fold 5 right now, and it’s because rumors abound of another foldable device on the way. As we’ve briefly mentioned above, there have been plenty of rumors about a Galaxy Z Fold 6 Ultra this year. Presumably an upgraded version of the Z Fold 6 that will fall in line with the jump between the Galaxy S24 Plus and S24 Ultra, it’s expected to be an even more expensive device with specs pushed up to 11 across the board (if it’s actually released).

The existence of the Z Fold 6 Ultra could be the reason for some of the confusion we’ve seen in some leaks, as we’d expect an Ultra model to be bigger, perhaps with an included S Pen and a more capable camera system on the same level of the S24 Ultra.

At the moment, these are only rumors, and similar whispers have come about in previous years. However, if an upgraded version of the Galaxy Z Fold 6 is something you would consider buying, then this is definitely a reason to hold off on buying a foldable device for the moment. You only have to wait until early July to find out for sure, and we’re sure even more leaks and rumors will emerge closer to that time.

Should you wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 6?

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

So, should you wait for the Galaxy Z Fold 6, or should buy a Z Fold 5 now instead? Usually, we’d say it boils down to how much the leaked upgrades matter to you — but the rumored existence of the Z Fold 6 Ultra throws some confusion into that particular answer. At the moment, even the most esteemed and renowned leakers seem confused as to whether specs and designs correlate to the Galaxy Z Fold 6 or a potential Z Fold 6 Ultra, making a true answer to this question difficult.

However, with the potential launch of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 being so close, it’s worth keeping your powder dry for the moment. Even if the possibility of a Z Fold 6 Ultra does nothing for you, and the Z Fold 5 is looking like a solid option regardless of upgrades, the chances of last year’s model getting discounts are high. With the Z Fold 5 costing well over four figures, these discounts could be very welcome indeed and could potentially save you a large amount of cash.

So that’s our recommendation at the moment: Wait and see what Samsung announces at its next Unpacked. With  the Galaxy Z Fold 6 rumored to arrive as soon as July and possible discounts for the Z Fold 5, you’ve little to lose and a lot to gain.

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