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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 could get this big upgrade over Galaxy Z Fold 3

An illustration of Samsung's patent for a dual-sided fingerprint sensor, showing active zones on the front and inside displays of a Galaxy Z Fold-style foldable.
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

If we're lucky the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 could feature a big upgrade, in the form of an under-display fingerprint scanner,

That's going by a new patent spotted by LetsGoDigital, which also drew up the illustrations you can see here. Samsung's patent envisions a dual-sided fingerprint sensor to be used on both the outer and inner displays of a Galaxy Z Fold-style foldable. 

Such a sensor would mark a departure from the side-mounted fingerprint scanner found on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. While the Galaxy Z Fold 3's scanner is rather responsive, it can be awkward to reach at times when using the folding phone in its tablet mode. 

This patent, filed back in March but published now, details a scanner sporting a design that essentially folds with the next-Gen Fold's folding display. It features two sensors sandwiching a circuit board, which sit together between the foldable's front cover display and the left side of the larger interior display. This double-sided design would theoretically let you unlock the phone with a fingerprint whether it's open or closed with the same sensor.

An illustration of Samsung's patent for a dual-sided fingerprint sensor, showing active zones on the front and inside displays of a Galaxy Z Fold-style foldable.

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

LetsGoDigital noted that this isn't the first time Samsung's filed a patent like this. It also filed one in April of last year, proving this is no idle fantasy on the company's part. It also gives us more hope that Samsung could use this folding scanner tech in  the Galaxy Z Fold 4 could use this technology, rather than hold it for foldables some several years in the future. 

However patents don't always end up as real features on products, and those that do can take a lot longer to develop than just a year or two. So take this patent with a suitable serving of skepticism. 

It's likely going to be some time before the Galaxy Z Fold 4 appears, given the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has only been out for a month and a bit. However, the limited leaks we've had for the next-gen foldable already make for interesting reading. Next year we'll hopefully get a more affordable Galaxy Z Fold with an improved under-display camera; two very welcome changes since these are the  current flagship foldable's two weakest points.

Richard Priday

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. 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.