While Samsung hasn't show how it managed to waterproof its fodables, YouTube channels iFixIt and JerryRigEverything have taken the Galaxy Z Fold 3 apart in two to show how water is kept at bay. If you can stomach watching them rip into $1,800 phones, then it's a fascinating look into how folding phones work and how Samsung achieved the IPX8 ratings.
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Because foldable phones by design have big gaps in their frames to allow the folding to happen, Samsung's approach was to make sure everything past that point is sealed up. For example, the cables that attach the display to the motherboard are surrounded by a perimeter of adhesive, making sure water can't infiltrate the phone through here.
There are rubber gaskets, held in place by a silicone adhesive, surrounding the cables running through the hinge on the Galaxy Z Flip 3. The JerryRigEverything video found a similar one located behind the Galaxy Z Fold 3's power button/fingerprint sensor. These seem to be the main line of defence against water, alongside waterproof screens over microphone and loudspeaker openings. And more rubber gaskets around the speakers, SIM card eject port, SIM tray and charging port.
While these measures don't stop water from getting into the phones, it should stop them from being damaged by it. For example, you can see in iFixit's video that some water got under the Galaxy Z Flip 3's display after being submerged, although due to these measures, those droplets shouldn't interfere with the circuitry.
There has been some suspicion that Samsung used a hydrophobic coating on the motherboard of its new foldables as another method of protection. However, when Zack of JerryRigEverything dropped some water onto the circuitry of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the drops stayed put, meaning there wasn't any waterproofing on the inner parts of the phone.
These teardowns also show off the phones' main line of defence against dust — nylon brushes that line the hinge. These aren't enough to grant the phones a dust resistance rating, but should hopefully prevent any particles from wrecking the hinge.
We have yet to test how waterproof the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or Z Flip 3 are for ourselves, other than the odd rinse under a tap, but watch out for future tests. While we had no reason to doubt Samsung's claims about waterproofing its new foldables, it's fascinating to see how it's slowly making this new form factor more refined. We just need other foldable phones to follow suit and offer compelling alternatives to Samsung's latest Android flagships.
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Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, 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.