If the Galaxy Z Fold 6 Ultra is real it could finally change my mind about foldable phones

OnePlus Open with Pixel Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 4
(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

I like foldable phones, but I haven’t bought one. When I’m spending my own money, I buy phones like the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the iPhone 15 Pro Max. I’ve never purchased a foldable phone for myself, not even the OnePlus Open, my favorite foldable of last year. I’ve had reasons for holding out, but rumors that Samsung may Ultra-fy its Galaxy Z Fold 6 have me very curious – and maybe saving up for a new foldable. 

Why haven’t I bought a foldable phone? It’s not the high price tag – I don’t mind signing up with a carrier for a few years to pay off a phone if they give me a great deal. AT&T gave me $1,000 to trade a worthless old phone for my current Ultra. Once every two or three years, I’ll get an expensive phone this way, and if there’s a solid deal on the Galaxy Z Fold 6 Ultra, I’ll consider it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 review

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

It isn’t a question of durability. I go easy on my phones, and sometimes I don’t even use a case. I don’t tend to drop my phones often, and I don’t stash them alongside a big keychain in my pocket. I’m not worried about the durability of foldable phone hinges, and I can be careful enough with that soft, inner display to avoid nasty scratches.

I’m not a fan of the way most foldables look, but it’s not my biggest issue. I think the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is, well… just wrong. Its aspect is wrong; it’s too narrow on the front display. I thought the Google Pixel Fold was better, with a squat, wider display on the front, but it’s still not perfect. The OnePlus Open was the Goldilocks that taught me foldable phones can hit a perfect aspect ratio, with a front display that looks like a normal smartphone, and an even larger inner display.

The one compromise every foldable phone makes

The big sticking point that keeps me from buying a foldable phone is the camera. No foldable yet has shipped with a great camera. The Galaxy Z Fold 5 has cameras similar to the base-model Galaxy S23, and not the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The latter was our best camera phone until the Galaxy S24 Ultra supplanted it. 

The OnePlus Open uses the new Sony Lytia stacked sensors to great effect, but the cameras aren’t the best. To achieve the thin, foldable design, phone makers compromise every time, and the compromise every foldable makes is on the camera.

OnePlus Open camera lenses showing texture

The OnePlus Open camera bump (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

The reason is depth. A great camera system needs room. You need space for the sensor, the lens, and ideally some room in between for depth. And that’s just the main camera. If you want to zoom, you need even more space.

The Galaxy Z Fold 5 is 6.1mm thick, which is not a lot of space for a camera. To compare, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is 2.5mm thicker, at 8.6mm. That’s a lot more room for camera tech. The Galaxy S24 is 7.6mm thick, and its camera specs are nearly identical to the Z Fold 5.

If rumors are true, an upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 6 Ultra could use a big new sensor, possibly the 200MP sensor found on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. That would be huge news. OnePlus managed better photography with the OnePlus Open, but the camera module protrudes significantly. If Samsung can keep its current design and add a huge new camera sensor, I’d be very impressed.

Titanium, too, but about that camera...

In addition to the new camera specs, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 Ultra could get a titanium frame, which would be very cool, and would make the Fold feel more durable for sure. I’m also hoping to see a different aspect ratio, similar to that of the OnePlus Open, and of course a display with no visible crease. 

But it’s the camera that has me the most excited. A foldable phone, especially a tablet-sized foldable, needs an amazing camera. The foldable design lends itself to amazing photography.

Motorola Razr Plus camera app

Foldable phones make for interesting photo opps (Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)

You can position the camera in new ways, and see a preview on the screen while you’re shooting. The main camera is also the selfie camera, thanks to the dual displays. Photography is just more fun with a foldable, except that no foldable has yet excelled at photography.

Frankly, I don’t care much about zoom or a better ultra-wide sensor, not if I can get a great main sensor. I care about portraits, and selfies, and group shots, and night scenes. All of those are photos that look better from a big, high-resolution camera. If the Galaxy Z Fold 6 Ultra is real, and if it delivers on Ultra-level photography, I would say that foldables finally deserve their time in the spotlight, and I’ll be stepping up to take a closer look.

Philip Berne
US Mobiles Editor

Phil Berne is a preeminent voice in consumer electronics reviews, having reviewed his first device (the Sony D-EJ01 Discman) more than 20 years ago for eTown.com. He has been writing about phones and mobile technology, since before the iPhone, for a variety of sites including PCMag, infoSync, PhoneScoop, and Slashgear. He holds an M.A. in Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University. 

Phil was the internal reviewer for Samsung Mobile, writing opinions and review predictions about top secret new devices months before launch. He left in 2017. He worked at an Apple Store near Boston, MA, at the height of iPod popularity. He has been a High School English teacher at Title I schools, and is a certified Lifeguard. His passion is smartphones and wearables, and he is sure that the next big thing will be phones we wear on our faces.