Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: top foldable or top candybar?

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max: top foldable or top candybar?

Intro


Samsung has recently announced the spectacular Galaxy Z Fold 6, which is arriving in a market very different from the one the original Galaxy Fold landed in. With a lot of pressure from its competitors, like Google and OnePlus, offering their own take on the formula, and Huawei and Xiaomi launching their own thinner, premium foldables in the East, the Z Fold 6 has its work cut out for itself.

So, as a first step, the new Galaxy Fold comes with a slightly bigger external screen, to make it easier to use as a "regular smartphone", and a new hinge design to make it thinner and further reduce the dreaded crease along the main display.

Of course, it's wise to consider one's options. Foldables have come a long way, but they are still "the new kid on the block". And they are a hefty investment. Do you risk an experiment, or do you buy a tried-and-true, solid flagship? And the iPhone 15 Pro Max is certainly the latter.

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Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max differences explained:



Table of Contents:

Design and Display Quality

The true treasure lies inside


The iPhone 15 Pro Max came in new titanium-clad clothes — a layer of the premium material around a light aluminum frame. The Galaxy Z Fold 6 doesn't follow suit, but it does come with a strengthened hinge and a slight facelift all around. The external screen has slightly thinner bezels, and the whole phone has stark, sharp angles — displays included.

The Z Fold 6 is now thinner when in a folded state — 12.1 mm. That's still thicker than the 8.25 mm of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, but it will definitely feel less chunky than before. The external screen of the new Fold now has a 22.1:9 aspect ratio — still a far cry from being comfortable for dual-thumb typing, but slightly better than the tall 23:9 it was before. The Z Fold 6's external screen has a 6.3-inch diagonal, so — in general — the iPhone 15 Pro Max will offer the better candybar phone experience, with its 6.7-inch screen and 19.5:9 aspect ratio.

Of course, the star of the show here is the Z Fold 6's main display, which has a 7.6-inch diagonal and an almost square aspect ratio of 10.4:9. That won't fill up well when watching 16:9 movies and videos, but it offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to multitasking with splitscreen apps and floating windows.

The thing about foldables is that to get to that extra juicy main screen — you need to commit to unfolding it. That's one extra action that does stack up with every use — if you are less than a dedicated "poweruser", you may end up feeling like a regular smartphone with a big display is good enough for you. The redesigned external screen of the Z Fold 6 does feel a bit more spatious here, but it's not like a OnePlus Open or Pixel Fold in that regard.

For unique features, we have the Action Button on the iPhone, which can be programmed to launch or activate various apps and features of the phone. But, you can sort of do that on Samsungs by programming the double-press action of the power button.

The Z Fold 6 does support an S Pen — sold separately, but well integrated with One UI 6.1.1 and the new AI features. No AI handwriting correction like on the iPad Pros, but you can now use Galaxy AI to generate drawings from your sketches and scribbles.

For overall durability — the iPhone 15 Pro Max still wins, with that titanium build, IP68 rating, and... you know — foldables are inherently slightly more at risk. However, it's commendable that Samsung achieved an IP48 rating with the new Galaxy Z Fold 6. That means very good water protection and limited particle ingress protection — bits and pieces that are 1 mm or above in diameter shouldn't get lodged inside the Z Fold 6, though that's still not good enough to fend against dust and sand.


Display Measurements:



With an excellent top brightness and 1 nit minimum brightness, the Z Fold spans the entire range and is perfectly visible in broad daylight, comfortable enough for bedside viewing. The iPhone 15 Pro Max's range is slightly narrower, but not really something you should be worried about. Also, the specs for these phone say that peak brightness for the Fold is 2,600 nits, peak brightness for the iPhone is 2,000 nits. These numbers are not reflected by our test, because we measure full screen brightness over a prolonged period, whereas peak brightness only measures part of the screen, for a limited time.

You will get to enjoy pretty screens with both these devices, though. The Z Folds come with Samsung AMOLED panels, capable of hitting 120 Hz refresh rates both inside and out. Apple's iPhones are also equipped with ProMotion OLED screen — also with a 120 Hz cap. High resolutions, vibrant colors, top-tier brightness, and smooth animations should be achievable with both.

Performance and Software

The beast vs the best


Samsung's flagships are powered by top-tier Qualcomm chips. The two companies have tight partnership and the current Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 comes with a "For Galaxy" variations for Samsung phones specifically — slightly overclocked to give Sammy phones that extra oomph.

It's a lovely, powerful chip that supports ray tracing, Wi-Fi 7, and does well on benchmarks. The Apple A17 Pro does clock better, but also seems to run a bit hotter. iPhones are quick to throttle their speed down after a cycle of a stress test.

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It doesn't slow to a crawl, no, but it doesn't give you a lot of bragging rights over a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. What Apple does have is AAA game developers on its side — with games like Assassin's Creed and Resident Evil making their way to iPhone 15 Pros and iPads with M chips. Not mobile ports — the actual console games, with tuned graphics and controls. No word on whether these are coming to Android any time soon, so we are not sure if there's been some exclusivity deal, or if Android devices are just still a tad behind in the hardware race.

Performance Benchmarks:


Geekbench 6
SingleHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 62252
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2958
Geekbench 6
MultiHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 66796
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max7288
3DMark Extreme(High)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 64785
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max4236
3DMark
Extreme(Low)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 62692
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2632

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 has impressive graphical prowess and stands up to the Apple A17 Pro quite nicely. However, in raw processing power, Apple's silicon is still a bit ahead. No worries, though — rest assured that bost of these systems are absolute beasts that can chew through apps and tasks with little effort.

The Galaxy line does have a jump on the AI craze — Apple is still working on implementing its "Apple Intelligence" with iOS 18, while the Galaxy S24 already flaunts those features. The Galaxy Z Fold 6 also gets all of them — Live Translate in phone calls (now available for 3rd party calling apps, too), generative image editing, note and recording summaries, website summarizing, and more. The Z Fold 6 also adds a "Sketch to image" feature to generate drawings from your lines and squiggles.

Also, it's worth noting that the Z Fold 6 now comes with a 7-year software update commitment. This means it should get Android 21 and end support in 2031 — quite the tall order! Apple's iPhones typically get updated for 5 years, which means we expect the iPhone 15 Pro Max to stop getting patches in 2029 when iOS 23 comes out. But, who knows, Apple may stand up to the challenge — it's just that Cupertino does not make official statements about its update cycle intentions.

Camera

We expect the Fold to be a step behind


Galaxy Z Fold phones are not camera-centric — Samsung has the Galaxy S24 Ultra for that. The Z Fold 5 had a 50 MP main camera, 10 MP 3x telephoto camera, and 12 MP ultra-wide, and the Galaxy Z Fold 6 has the exact same specs. Its camera features do come under the Samsung ProVisual Engine marketing stamp, which is simply an umbrella term that represents the Samsung camera experience — from viewfinder, to AI editing features, to being able to generate a slow-mo video by just tapping and holding on a regular clip.

We expect the Z Fold 6's cameras to be very adequate, but a step behind the iPhone 15 Pro Max in terms of consistency and quality.

Main Camera



Thus far, we stand corrected. The HDR quality seems similar, and colors are nice, given that both phones treat white balance a bit differently. But we can't help but notice that the iPhone 15 Pro Max is a bit more prone to oversharpen around small details — you can see some halos around the leaves.



At night, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 holds it together great, too. Oversharpening is a bit more apparent, but the images to look crisp, with good contrast, and better colors. The iPhone 15 Pro Max gets a bit softer in details, a bit more washed-out in colors.

Zoom Quality



At 3x zoom, the Galaxy Z Fold 6 is using its telephoto lens, and it's evident — the iPhone looks a bit softer at that step. However, when we move to 5x, we get images from the iPhone's tetraprism lens — more detailed, more confident, definitely sharper. At 10x, the story repeats itself, as the iPhone has that 5x lens as a jumping off point, while the Z Fold 6 has only a 3x lens to work with.

That said, the zoom from the Fold is still pretty good — commendably so.

Ultra-wide Camera



Similar differences transfer to the ultra-wide-angle cameras. The Galaxy Z Fold 6 looks more natural here — both in terms of the details and dynamics.

Selfies



The selfies from the Galaxy Z Fold 6 look sharper for sure, but it's a bit more aggressive with tuning colors. The iPhone 15 Pro Max gives us better skintones, though its a bit scared of boosting shadows, and some selfies may look a bit underexposed.

Battery Life and Charging

Big screen, use sparingly


The Z Fold phones only have enough room to hold a battery in one of their shells. It is pretty impressive that Samsung managed to stick a 4,400 mAh cell in there, but that's still not a lot when you consider that battery needs to drive a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and a huge, 7.6-inch display with a 2160 x 1856 resolution.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 4,422 mAh cell and it's pretty good at running marathons. iOS does exceptionally well at preserving battery charge when in standby, which is why many find the 15 Pro Max to be lasting them up to two days on a single charge.

PhoneArena Battery Test Results:


Web Browsing(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 612h 42 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max19h 20 min
Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 67h 1 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max9h 45 min
3D Gaming(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 610h 30 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max9h 36 min


The iPhone's more powerful processor allows it to scroll through web pages and stream videos with a bit more ease. The 3 nm chip is slightly more energy-efficient, but this web browsing result from the iPhone is just excellent (we run a script, which reloads and scrolls pages as if real life use).

Now, when the GPUs come into play — it's a different story, and both phones drain similarly fast. But this here is a win for the Z Fold 6, because it has to feed that extra-large 7.6-inch screen, yet lasts a crispy 11 hours of constant 3D rendering.

On the charging front, Samsung didn't push any envelopes, so the Z Fold 6 still juices up with 25 W on the wire, 15 W wirelessly. No Qi2 on board, as magnets don't play well with the S Pen digitizer. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is also 25 W on the wire, 15 W MagSafe wireless.

PhoneArena Charging Test Results:


15 Mins(%)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 625%
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max28%
30 Mins(%)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 647%
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max53%
Full Charge(hours)Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 61h 25 min
Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max2h 1 min

Speakers and haptics


The Galaxy Z Fold series have been the best-sounding Samsung phones thus far. With so much room to play in, the speakers produce a nice, wide soundstage, detailed mids, and a good amount of bass. It's pretty fun to watch videos or listen to music with the Galaxy Z Fold.

The iPhone 15 Pro Max itself is no slouch in the sound department — a bit V-shaped, a bit brittle in the highs, but none the less, quite impressive sound for its size. The bass is nice and present, the vocals cut through clearly — you can definitely enjoy audio content on an iPhone Pro Max.

For haptics, the Taptic engine in an iPhone is king — with precise, strong, and reassuring feedback. But the Samsung phones are quite close in that regard. The haptics of a Z Fold 6 may feel a bit weaker simply because they need to move a large phone body — and it depends where you are holding it.

Specs Comparison


Here's a quick overview of how the core specs will look here, but if you want the full view, check out our dedicated Galaxy Z Fold 6 vs iPhone 15 Pro Max specs comparison page.


Which one should you buy?



If you have been thinking about dipping your toes in the foldable space, it seems the Galaxy Z Fold 6 will be a good place to start — with the stark new design, shallow crease, and powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 on board. You will get to enjoy a lot of new multi-tasking options, video watching experience, and you might just ditch your tablet if you have one. The S Pen is a great stylus experience, too, though — it will require an extra investment.

If it feels like too much work for you, hey — the iPhone 15 Pro Max is just as solid as ever. It's a solid market leader for camera and performance, and it will be getting some sweet AI tricks with iOS 18.


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