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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 lets you use exterior display as a phone — here's how

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 hands-on review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 just got a huge new feature thanks to one enterprising user: the ability to use its external notifications window as a regular display.

While the cover display is only 1.9 inches across, CoverScreen OS by user jagan2 on the XDA Developers forums gives you all the functionality you need to use your Z Flip 3 without opening it. If you want to take a look, check out jagan2's post at the link above or the Google Play Store page.

A demonstration of CoverScreen OS working on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, showing the main menu

(Image credit: jagan2)

That includes a home page, app drawer, interactive notifications and a search function. You can actually use it to access Samsung Pay for contactless payments too by just tapping and holding the screen, which sounds pretty useful. The mod supports both horizontal and portrait modes, letting you turn the phone to whichever orientation is most useful for what you're trying to do.

A demonstration of CoverScreen OS working on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, showing a list of conversations vertically

(Image credit: jagan2)

As this is an unofficial mod, we have to recommend that only the most confident users try this. Altering your phone's functionality like this can have unintended effects, including data loss or bricking the handset. And since this is a $1,000 foldable we're talking about, those are some high stakes indeed.

A demonstration of CoverScreen OS working on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, showing conversations horizontally

(Image credit: jagan2)

Seeing this in action has got us thinking about the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the Z Flip's successor that we expect to arrive later this year alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 4. Although the Z Flip line's aim is to make a normal smartphone smaller, rather than add extra features like the Z Fold does, having a more functional external display would be a good addition from Samsung.

After all, just look at the Oppo Find N, a rival foldable that sits between the Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 in size. It features a full exterior display that proved very useful during our review. So with both its fans and its competition both looking to add extra utility to smaller foldables' outer displays, Samsung should have some clear goals for the Z Flip 4.

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.