Foldables like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 need to be flagships without compromises

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 in flex mode

What you need to know

  • Known leaker IceUniverse claims that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 won’t include any camera hardware upgrades, and will feature the exact same sensors as the Z Fold 5. 
  • Samsung hasn’t changed the camera hardware in the Z Fold lineup since the Z Fold 4.
  • If there are no camera upgrades in the Z Fold 6, it will continue a worrying trend of foldables not keeping up with their flagship counterparts.

We’re nearing Samsung’s typical summer Galaxy Unpacked event, and we expect to see the company’s new foldable phones debut. There are a lot of leaks and rumors surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Galaxy Z Flip 6, including what features and changes might arrive soon. However, according to known leaker Ice Universe in a post on X (formerly Twitter), camera upgrades might not be coming on the Z Fold 6. If true, that would mean the brand-new Galaxy Z Fold 6 would ship with the exact same camera hardware as the two-year-old Z Fold 4.

That would be devastating news for fans of Samsung’s folding phones. Even when the Galaxy Z Fold 4 was brand new, it still lagged behind the company’s flagship phones in terms of camera hardware. For example, the Z Fold 4 and Z Fold 5 only support 3x optical zoom via the 10MP telephoto sensor. By comparison, the Galaxy S24 Ultra uses a periscope lens for 50MP, 5x optical zoom. 

We’ve been waiting years for foldables to appear on the spec sheets and compete with their flagship counterparts. If this Ice Universe leak turns out to be accurate, users will have to wait beyond the Galaxy Z Fold 6 release. “All its camera specifications, including front camera, rear camera, UPC, and aperture value, are exactly the same,” the leaker claims. 

Foldable phones already cost about double the price of a standard flagship. The regular Galaxy S24 costs $800, while the current Z Fold 5 costs $1,800. The high prices were acceptable in the beginning, but as we near the sixth generation of Samsung foldables, the bubble has to burst. Either prices need to come down, or hardware needs to match that of regular flagship phones.

Foldables have never been complete phones

Comparing the outer display size between the Google Pixel Fold and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

If the Galaxy Z Fold 6 doesn’t include major upgrades, it wouldn’t be the first time a foldable fell short of competing with regular flagships. In fact, that has been the norm since foldables were introduced, especially concerning those released in the U.S.

Last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 5 was virtually unchanged from the prior Z Fold 4, only adding a new hinge and a chip upgrade. It still has a narrow cover screen that makes it hard to use the phone when closed, and the cameras just don’t stack up to flagship cameras. It’s thick, too. There are quite a few compromises you make when picking up the Galaxy Z Fold 5, although you’re paying a lump sum to own one. 

The Pixel Fold might just be worse. Google announced the Tensor G2 chip that powers the Pixel Fold in October 2022, and it was already half a year old when it debuted in the foldable phone in May 2023. The Pixel Fold only had the newest chip for about five months before Google replaced the Tensor G2 with an upgraded G3 version in October 2023. This is significant because Tensor G3 was bad in a lot of ways, from overall performance to thermal issues that caused overheating. And yet, if you buy Google’s most expensive phone today, you’ll get the aging Tensor G2 chip. 

OnePlus did things a bit better with the Open, though it, too, had timing issues. Qualcomm announced the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile platform on the exact same day as the OnePlus Open became available. There wasn’t a single day when the OnePlus Open had the newest phone chip, even though it cost $1,700. Even though the rest of the OnePlus Open’s hardware is great, reports indicate we won’t get a OnePlus Open 2 this year. That means the OnePlus Open will drift further away from flagships until it receives an update.

OnePlus Open vs. Pixel Fold

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

People who buy foldable phones are enthusiasts willing to pay top dollar for a premium experience. By not doing everything they can to improve foldable hardware, tech companies are doing a disservice to their best customers. 

Competition should push Samsung to really innovate foldables

Porsche Design Honor Magic V2 RSR review

(Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

There are consequences to companies’ approaches to foldable phones sold in the U.S. Stagnating innovation, driving people away from brands like Samsung and pushing them to others that provide a better experience. In a report covering the Q1 2024 foldable phone shipments, it was revealed that Huawei beat Samsung for the first time ever in moved units. Plus, competitors Honor and Motorola are finding success outside of China. 

Samsung needs a big win to rebound and prove it’s still the leader in the folding phone market. We still don’t know what the Galaxy Z Fold 6 holds, and it’s entirely possible Samsung will surprise us with something outstanding. But if the leaks are right, it’ll be another underwhelming year for Samsung foldables. That might just push more people to buy traditional flagships again or look outside the North American market to get a better product. 

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.