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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6 First Take: Catching Up to the Galaxy S24

When I picked up the Galaxy Z Flip 6, which Samsung announced at Unpacked, for the first time, I noticed there was something different about its screen. Where was the crease? Now that Samsungadded another layer to the device's display and improved the hinge, that familiar horizontal bend running across was barely noticeable by sight or touch.

It's changes like these, in addition to the Galaxy Z Flip 6's upgraded 50-megapixel main camera and larger battery, that should make Samsung's clamshell foldable phone feel more like a regular smartphone. Such updates are crucial because for the last four years, buying a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip meant making some type of tradeoff, namely in camera quality and battery life, to get the benefits of a screen that folds in half. 

There are still ways in which Samsung's flip phone falls behind the Galaxy S series, such as its lack of a telephoto camera, and I'm sure more of these discrepancies will become evident once CNET has had more time with the Z Flip 6. Still, the changes Samsung made with its new foldables suggest the company is on its way to bridging the gap between the Galaxy Z and S series. At the same time, the Z Flip 6 comes with other changes that build on the direction Samsung established with the Z Flip 5 and Galaxy S24 series, such as an even more functional cover screen and more AI-powered software features. 

Unfortunately, these changes don't come cheap. The Galaxy Z Flip 6 starts at $1,100, making it $100 more expensive than the Z Flip 5. Both of Samsung's new foldables, the Z Flip 6 and Z Fold 6, are available for preorder starting July 10 before launching on July 24.

Read more: AI Needs to Earn Our Trust Before It Can Deliver on Its Promises

Watch this: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6: My First Impressions

08:05

The Galaxy Z Flip 6's crease is almost invisible 

It seems that Samsung has finally solved the crease problem on the Galaxy Z Flip 6. During the brief time I spent with Samsung's new flip phone, I barely noticed the crease when scrolling through apps or using the camera. It felt like I had to go out of my way to find it, which is a welcome change from the obvious crease on the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Take a look at the photo below, which shows the Z Flip 6 next to the Z Flip 5. If you look closely, you can see a dimple on the Z Flip 5 where the crease is based on how the light is hitting the phone's screen.

The Galaxy Z Flip 6 (left) next to the Galaxy Z Flip 5 (right)

The Galaxy Z Flip 6 (left) next to the Galaxy Z Flip 5 (right).

Jide Akinrinade/CNET

That's a big deal because the crease has been a major shortcoming of foldables, particularly those made by Samsung, for as long as they've existed. Huaweiand Oppo have made strides in this department over the last several years, and it's nice to see Samsung showing meaningful progress as well. 

There's another noticeable design change on the Galaxy Z Flip 6: its cameras. The lenses are now outlined in a trim that matches the color of the device, giving the phone's face a more polished look.

Everyday improvements we've been waiting for

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 6 closed

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 6 has a sharper 50-megapixel main camera.

Jide Akinrinade/CNET

After testing the Galaxy Z Flip 5 last year, I came away wanting longer battery life and a sharper camera that matches the one found on the Galaxy S24 series. Samsung has seemingly addressed those concerns. The Galaxy Z Flip 6 has a 50-megapixel main camera like the Galaxy S24 and a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera with a new sensor that should perform better in low light. 

Megapixels aren't everything when it comes to the camera; factors such as sensor quality and size and the way images are processed also play a big role. Regardless, it's reassuring to see Samsung trying to bring the Z Flip up to speed with the Galaxy S series hardware-wise, especially given its higher price. 

The Z Flip's battery life is also getting an upgrade this time around. The Z Flip 6's battery capacity is 4,000 mAh, the same as the standard Galaxy S24's and larger than the Z Flip 5's 3,700-mAh battery. 

Similar to the camera, there's a lot more that affects battery life, such as the power efficiency achieved by both the software and internal components. But since Samsung's new foldables also run on the same chip as the Galaxy S24 series -- a version of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 optimized for Samsung's Galaxy devices -- hopefully we'll see similar battery life. The Galaxy Z Flip 6 is also the first Z Flip with a vapor chamber for cooling, further indicating that Samsung wants this phone to perform just as well as its other premium devices. 

Upgrades like a sharper camera and bigger battery might not sound that exciting, but they are practical. We'll know whether the Galaxy Z Flip 6 lives up to these claims once we've had time to test it.

More AI features and the same cover screen with new tricks

Samsung's new

Samsung's new "Sketch to image" feature on the Galaxy Z Flip 6.

Jide Akinrinade/CNET

Galaxy AIwas a major part of the Galaxy S24's launch in January, and the same applies to the Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold. Samsung is introducing new features on both devices. They can generate images based on sketches, turn photos of people into stylized portraits (such as cartoon, watercolor, comic book and so on) and use both screens for language interpretation simultaneously during real-world conversations, much like Google's interpreter mode for the Pixel Fold. 

These features are fun to play around with, but it's difficult to tell how useful they will be without using the device regularly. I didn't find Samsung's stylized portraits to be very accurate when trying the feature with a quick selfie I snapped in Samsung's demo room, although I'll have to reserve judgment until after I've used it more. 

What's more interesting, however, is the Galaxy Z Flip 6's new auto zoom feature, which it says can detect subjects when snapping a photo while the phone is positioned half open in Flex mode. It sounds a lot like Apple's Center Stage feature, and it seems like a pragmatic change that could make one of the Z Flip's best attributes -- its ability to function as a tripod and camera in one -- even better.

Speaking of the Z Flip's most useful features, Samsung also built on the device's cover screen this year. But instead of extending the size of the screen like Motorola did with its 2024 Razr Plus, Samsung added new software features to the current 3.4-inch screen. You can now add multiple widgets to the Z Flip's cover screen at once, which could make it easier to see more information at a glance. 

Suggest replies on the Galaxy Z Flip 6's cover screen

Suggest replies on the Galaxy Z Flip 6's cover screen.

Jide Akinrinade/CNET

Samsung will also suggest message responses based on the content of previous messages, likely an effort to make texting easier on the smaller front screen. There are also wallpapers for the Galaxy Z Flip that can change automatically based on the time and weather. Like its Galaxy S24 series, Samsung guarantees seven years of software updates for both the Z Flip 6 and Z Fold 6. 

With the Galaxy Z Flip 6, Samsung clearly focused on practical everyday upgrades like reducing the crease and extending battery life, but it's also betting that flip phone enthusiasts will be willing to pay $100 more for those benefits. While I'm glad Samsung is continuing to develop new features for the cover screen, I'm hoping to see more unique features like auto zoom that make the most of the Z Flip's dual displays in the future. 

Source: cnet.com

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