Update: The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 could fix Fold 3’s biggest flaw: the under-display camera. And according to a new rumor, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 won't have a slot to store an S Pen, which could be rather disappointing and a missed design upgrade.
Given the success of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung is doubtlessly working on a new version of its foldable phone for 2022. And based on a recently approved patent, the company could be considering a new look for the next edition of the best foldable phone.
Let's Go Digital says that earlier this month, Samsung won approval from the World Intellectual Property Office for a a patent that covers a foldable phone with an expanded screen size and a horizontal hinge. To help illustrate the look of a such a device, the Dutch site created a concept render showing a Galaxy Z Fold with a horizontal hinge.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3, like previous Folds, uses a vertical hinge that allows you to open the phone like a book revealing the interior display. A horizontal hinge would shift that orientation so that the device opens more like a flip phone — only with a Galaxy Z Fold-sized screen, presumably.
The advantage of switching to a horizontal hinge seems like it would give Samsung the opportunity to boost the size of a future Galaxy Z Fold while maintaining the portability of the foldable phone. Samsung touts the Galaxy Z Fold as a productivity booster, and having a bigger screen might appeal to people who want to get things done on the go.
When closed, the phone in the Let's Go Digital render offers what looks to be a square exterior display — another contrast from the 6.2-inch cover display on the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
All this doesn't necessarily mean Samsung is eyeing this particular design for the Galaxy Z Fold 4, which you'd figure would come out in the latter half of 2022. Patents don't necessarily translate to finished products — many such patents never result in products that see the light of day.
Still, there's no denying that foldable phones are of increasing interest to Samsung. Last month, the company said that it sold five times the number of Galaxy Z Fold 3 units as it had the Galaxy Z Fold 2.
And earlier this week, Slashgear picked up a report of Korea that claimed Samsung expects to ship 10 million foldable phones next year. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 will make up 29% of the foldables Samsung produces, the report claims, while the successor the Galaxy Z Flip 3 will account for 68% of foldable phone production.
Samsung currently dominates the market for foldable phones between the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. No real competitor has emerged, and just this week, rumors surfaced that Google was scrapping plans for a Pixel Fold that would have gone up against Samsung's devices.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.