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How Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 6 Could Beat the Z Flip 5

Commentary: Here's what I want to see in Samsung's next flip phone.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
7 min read
The new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 phone

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 was one of our favorite phones of 2023.

Rich Peterson/CNET

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 represented a notable step forward for Samsung's flip phone, thanks to its spacious cover screen and sleeker build. But there are still plenty of ways I'd like to see Samsung improve its next foldable phone, which will presumably be called the Galaxy Z Flip 6.

Samsung's flip phones have come a long way since the first Z Flip launched in 2020, but I'm still hoping to see longer battery life and upgraded cameras that are more comparable to those in the Galaxy S series. What's perhaps most important, though, is improving the software. The Galaxy Z Flip 5's cover screen, with its glanceable widget-like interface and ability to run full apps, is a promising step forward. 

But I still think Samsung could push the software experience further with more features that are designed specifically for the Z Flip. Combine that with a less noticeable crease -- and all the other routine upgrades phones typically get, like a new processor -- and the Galaxy Z Flip 6 could be the phone to beat.

Samsung typically releases new foldable phones during its summer Unpacked event, and we're expecting that to once again be the case this year. Here's what I think Samsung should do to make the Galaxy Z Flip 6 truly stand out.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 Gets an AI Update: What It's Like to Use

Unique (and useful) software features

The weather widget being shown on the Galaxy Z Flip 5's cover screen.

The Z Flip 5 had a beautiful big cover screen.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Samsung clearly knows software is almost as important as the hardware when it comes to foldable phones. It's why Flex mode, which splits apps between the top and bottom portions of the screen when folded halfway, has been part of the Z Flip from the very beginning. Since then, Samsung has gradually expanded what the Z Flip's software can do. 

In 2022, for example, it introduced the ability to use the bottom half of the screen as a mouse pad for easy navigation while in Flex mode. And in 2023, the Z Flip got a significantly larger cover screen, which makes the phone more useful when closed. 

These additions are certainly welcome improvements, and the cover screen helps make a stronger case for a phone that folds in half. But overall, there's a lot more Samsung could be doing with the Z Flip's software. Flex mode makes apps usable when the phone is folded halfway, but it doesn't necessarily create a compelling enough reason to buy a foldable phone in the first place. 

Samsung Z Flip 4  cameras

Samsung's Z Flip phones can split app interfaces between the top and bottom portions of the screen for easier control. 

Screenshot/CNET

As for what Samsung should be doing with the Z Flip's software, that's a question I don't have the answer to yet. But now that Samsung is presumably focusing more on software thanks to the arrival of Galaxy AI, there's plenty of opportunity. 

As I wrote when I reviewed the Galaxy S24 Ultra, I think Samsung missed an opportunity by not developing specific Galaxy AI features just for the Ultra -- perhaps those that take advantage of the S Pen. The same could be said about Samsung's flip phone. Galaxy AI features that are specifically tailored to the Z Flip's unique folding display could go a long way in helping Samsung's foldable stand out, especially as it faces more competition from companies like Motorola and Oppo.  

Won-Joon Choi, executive vice president and head of the research and development office for Samsung's mobile experience business, hinted that the company could customize certain Galaxy AI features depending on the device in the future. 

"Rather than just simply extending it, we want to come up with very specific … optimized experiences according to those form factors," he said in a January CNET interview. "Not just [a] copy and paste but enhancing the experience for those specific form factors."

During its annual I/O developers conference, Google also showcased how it wants AI to play a bigger role in Android phones through its Gemini virtual assistant. Gemini will be able to interact with certain apps, like Google Messages, Gmail and YouTube, so that you can ask it a question about a video you're watching or drag-and-drop AI-generated images directly into a text or email. While that feature isn't specific to Samsung phones or foldable devices, it shows that major tech companies are starting to rethink mobile phone software.

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 closed with WhatsApp open on the cover screen

The Galaxy Z Flip 5's cover screen (pictured) is a game changer. I hope Samsung makes it even more useful with the Galaxy Z Flip 6. 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Samsung could also add more functionality to the cover screen. As I pointed out in my review, only certain apps work on the Galaxy Z Flip 5's cover screen natively. Apps also don't transition seamlessly from the main internal screen to the cover screen as they do on the Motorola Razr Plus.

I understand Samsung's reasoning for this; if you close your phone, it's probably safe to assume you're finished using it for now. But it would be nice to at least have the option to pick up where you left off, perhaps by tapping an app icon, like on the Razr Plus. 

I appreciate that Samsung didn't just make the cover screen a shrunken-down clone of a standard-size smartphone display. That said, what I've seen on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 also just feels like it's scratching the surface of what can be done with a pocket-size secondary screen that fits in the palm of your hand. 

A better camera

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The Galaxy Z Flip 5's  (pictured) camera is good, but I'm hoping to see more substantial changes on the Z Flip 6.

Amy Kim/CNET

Samsung's foldable phones aren't known for having the company's top-of-the-line cameras, but I'm hoping that changes. The  Galaxy Z Flip 5, for example, has 12-megapixel wide and ultrawide cameras, while the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus have a higher-resolution 50-megapixel main camera sensor. 

I'm not expecting to get the same camera quality as the Galaxy S24 Ultra, which Samsung largely pitches as a device for photography enthusiasts. But the company should at least bring the Z Flip 6 up to speed with the regular Galaxy S24. 

If rumors turn out to be accurate, Samsung may do just that. The blog Galaxy Club reports that Samsung's upcoming flip phone will have a 50-megapixel camera. While camera quality likely isn't the top reason for buying a foldable device, a phone that costs $1,000 like the Galaxy Z Flip 5 should have a camera that's on par with that of other high-end phones.

A less noticeable crease

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Samsung has made a lot of design improvements to its foldable phones over the years. Next, I'm hoping for a less noticeable crease. 

Amy Kim/CNET

The Galaxy Z Flip's design has certainly evolved and improved over the years. In 2023, for example, Samsung implemented a new hinge that makes it possible for the Z Flip 5 to fold completely flat with no gap. Before that, the Z Flip 4 gained Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Plus on the exterior for better durability. 

What hasn't changed much, however, is the crease in the middle of the display. The Z Flip 5's crease feels slightly flatter to the touch compared with the Z Flip 4's, but it's still very visible. Eliminating the crease entirely is no doubt a daunting engineering feat, especially if Samsung doesn't want to raise the Z Flip's price. But companies like Oppo are making progress in this regard, as my colleague Sareena Dayram wrote in her review of the Oppo Find N3 Flip. She didn't see the crease at first glance and had to maneuver the phone to a certain angle to truly notice it. 

Extended software support

Samsung Galaxy S24

The Galaxy S24 (pictured) gets seven years of operating system updates. I hope the Galaxy Z Flip 6 does too.

James Martin/CNET

With the Galaxy S24 series, Samsung upped the ante when it comes to software support. The new trio of phones will get seven generations of operating system updates, following in Google's footsteps with the Pixel 8 series. That's an additional three years compared with the four years of support Samsung provides for other recent Galaxy S and Galaxy Z series phones. 

Samsung should take the same approach with the Galaxy Z Flip 6 by supporting it with seven years of software upgrades. A phone that costs $1,000 or more should last as long as possible, and software support is an important part of making that happen. The good news is that Samsung usually follows the same software support timeline for its Galaxy S and Galaxy Z phones, so the Galaxy Z Flip 6 will likely adopt the same seven-year upgrade cycle. 

Longer battery life like the Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24

Samsung Galaxy S24 Plus' bigger battery means you shouldn't have to plug it in as often. I hope the Galaxy Z Flip 6 gets a battery boost, too. 

James Martin/CNET

Samsung gave the Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus larger batteries compared with their predecessors, and I'm hoping it does the same for the Galaxy Z Flip 6. Samsung hasn't increased the Z Flip's battery capacity since the Galaxy Z Flip 4, which got a boost to 3,700 mAh compared with the Z Flip 3's 3,300 mAh. 

The Galaxy Z Flip 5's battery life is enough to get through a full day of use, but there's always room for improvement. For example, when I tested the phone while traveling last year, I had 25% to 30% of my battery left after a long day of snapping photos and looking up directions, among other tasks. That's impressive and sounds about on par with the Galaxy S24, based on my colleague Patrick Holland's review. 

But based on his usage, the Galaxy S24 Plus (which costs the same as the Galaxy Z Flip 5 at regular price) lasted for two days on a single charge. Even if the Z Flip 6 doesn't make that huge of a jump, it would be nice to see some battery gains, whether it's because of a larger battery or better power efficiency. It's also worth noting, however, that the Z Flip has an additional miniature display to power, which could make it more challenging to extend battery life.

Overall, I'm hoping to see a combination of routine upgrades, like improved cameras and longer battery life, and creative new features tailored specifically to the Z Flip 6. The Galaxy Z Flip 5 is already one of the best, if not the best, foldable you can buy today. Now, it's about what Samsung can do next to maintain that lead. 

Samsung Concept Flip Phone Lets You Bend It in Both Directions

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