The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 makes its debut in less than two weeks. But we don't have to hold out for that long to figure out what Samsung plans to deliver with its latest foldable phone.
Thanks to a steady stream of rumors — and even confirmation on a few things from Samsung — we've got a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Galaxy Z Fold 3. We're looking at some big upgrades over last year's Galaxy Z Fold 2, as Samsung tries to broaden the mainstream appeal of foldable devices.
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And there's plenty of pressure on Samsung to deliver on that goal. The company isn't coming out with a new Galaxy Note this year, pushing the Galaxy Note 21 aside and putting all its eggs in the foldable phone basket.
Here are the expected Galaxy Z Fold 3 upgrades that could justify that decision.
5. An under-display camera
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 could be the first Samsung phone to incorporate a feature that's been long-rumored for premium handsets from the electronics giant — a selfie cam that lies beneath the phone's display. It would only appear when you go to take a selfie, staying out of view the rest of the time.
That means no camera cutout or notch to house the lens, giving you uninterrupted screen real estate. Considering the interior display of the Z Fold 3 is expected to stretch out to 7.6 inches, that's a lot of screen to work with.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 won't be the first phone to offer an under-display camera. The ZTE Axon 20 5G pulled off the same trick more than a year ago. But this would be the first Samsung device to boast that kind of capability, and it could pave the way for future Samsung handsets to adopt the feature.
One potential source of disappointment with this feature could be the size of the sensor underneath the display. Evan Blass, a leaker of some repute, suggests the lens will be a paltry 4MP sensor. Others have suggested a 16MP selfie cam, but that could be wishful thinking.
4. Improved multitasking
Previous versions of Samsung's foldable phones offered ample screen space for working with multiple apps at the same time. A Continuity feature lets you use an app on the cover display, and open up you Galaxy Fold for a more ample work area. And a Flex Mode lets you split up an app's different tasks into different sections of the screen — such as taking a video call with the viewing section on the upper half of the Fold's screen and controls on the bottom.
These are pretty cool features — when your favorite apps support them. And that's been a sticking point for Samsung's foldables so far. Some apps can take advantage of the extra screen space on the Galaxy Fold for improved multitasking; others do not.
Samsung has told everyone that's changing. In a blog post previewing Samsung's August 11 plans, mobile division leader T.M. Roh promised improved compatibility between apps and the latest versions of both the Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip. "For our third generation of Galaxy Z phones, we have lined up even more partner apps that make the most of the versatile fold-out format," Roh said.
3. Support for the S Pen
Once the exclusive stylus for the Galaxy Note, the S Pen started branching out earlier this year when Samsung included S Pen support with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Sold as a separate accessory, the S Pen proved valuable scribbling down notes and reminders on the S21 Ultra's 6.8-inch screen.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is getting similar treatment, and once again, confirmation of this rumor comes directly from Samsung. "I hope you’ll join us as we debut our next Galaxy Z family and share some foldable surprises — including the first-ever S Pen designed specifically for foldable phones," Roh said.
Of course, there's S Pen support — like the S21 Ultra's optional accessory — and there's making the stylus an integrated part of the phone as it was on the Galaxy Note all those years. Sadly, the rumors aren't being too kind to that desire, with signs pointing to the need for a separate Galaxy Z Fold 3 case in order to holster the S Pen. Hopefully, Samsung includes that with the phone instead of charging extra.
2. A more durable foldable
Since the first Galaxy Fold was unveiled back in 2019 — and then quickly delayed so that Samsung could work out some design flaws — the phone maker has tried to make a more durable device. You can understand the motivation. If foldable phones are to go mainstream, it's because shoppers will be confident that the devices won't crumble the first time they come into contact with another substance.
Samsung took some steps toward that with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which adopted a layer of Ultra Thin Glass to make its bendable display seem more sturdy. Samsung has also taken steps to keep out dust and other display-damaging particles.
The next step appears to be IPX8 water resistance, if rumors about Samsung's upcoming foldables are true. That means the Galaxy Z Fold will be able to be submerged in around 1 meter of water without suffering catastrophic damage. It looks like another way for Samsung to convince skeptical shoppers that money spent on a foldable is money well spent.
1. A lower price
Positioning the Galaxy Z Fold 3 as a value is critical because up until now, getting your hands on a a Samsung foldable meant spending a lot of money. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 debuted at $,1999 — a staggering amount to pay for a phone. The current price of $1,799 isn't that much better. It's no wonder, then, that one of the most frequent Galaxy Z Fold 3 rumors concerns Samsung's desire to lower the cost of its foldable.
Based on current rumors, it's not clear if Samsung will manage to do that. One report places the price of the foldable at 1.9 million to 1.99 million won, which converts to between $1,660 and $1,750 — not much of a price break from the Galaxy Z Fold 2. (Then again, phone makers rarely do straight currency conversions.) Another rumor claims that the Z Fold 3 will start at $1,599, which is a little more appealing.
Clearly, price is the key feature for the Galaxy Z Fold 3. After all, what good are the other enhancements if the phone remains too expensive for most people to buy it?