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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 rumor could be bad news for the S Pen

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 with S Pen
(Image credit: Evan Blass)

Like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, it seems that S Pen support for the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be an optional extra. More intriguingly, it seems that the S Pen in question will be a specific version of the foldable.

This comes from the established leaker Ishan Agarwal who tweeted the following: “Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will have an ‘S Pen Fold Edition’ for it. Along with a ‘Note Pack’ case for storing it with the phone.” 

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This matches up with a render published last month by Evan Blass. As you can see in the picture below, the S Pen has the words “Fold Edition” near the top. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

But how would a S Pen Fold Edition be different from previous Samsung stylii? One persistent rumor is that due to the thinness and fragility of foldable screens compared to standard non-folding panels, Samsung will be switching to Active Electrostatic (AES) technology for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, rather than the Electro-Magentic Resonance (EMR) digitizer found on the Galaxy Note series. 

The main difference between the two is that EMR uses a digitizer built into the display, meaning the current S Pen doesn’t require its own power source for basic drawing functionality (though it’s still required for additional Bluetooth features). 

With the Galaxy Note family, charging the S Pen is easy: you just dock it in the phone when not in use. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 reportedly won’t have this luxury, so it’s going to need to charge the optional extra differently — and we can’t look to the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s example here, because the S Pen for that handset didn’t feature Bluetooth and thus didn’t have a battery to charge.

There are a few potential options. One is the example set by Apple with the first generation of Apple Pencil, where the cap could be removed to reveal a lightning connector that could be plugged into the iPad to charge. Another possibility is that the Note Pack case Agarwal mentions isn’t optional, and somehow charges up the S Pen itself.

To complicate matters further, although the talk and renders point to the ‘S Pen Fold Edition,' we know that the device will also support the S Pen Pro thanks to an FCC listing directly mentioning the Galaxy Z Fold 3. While details of the S Pen Pro are still a little scarce, we know that it will feature Bluetooth functionality, so will also require charging.

How the S Pen Pro differs from the S Pen Fold Edition, then, remains to be seen. But we imagine we’ll have a better idea when Samsung takes to the stage at its Galaxy Unpacked event on August 11. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.