The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 didn't appear at the Galaxy S21 launch on January 14, but that doesn't mean it's not coming - we just might have to bide our time before Samsung's next big foldable phone is out.
We've been hearing rumors about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 for a while now, so we suspect it’s in development and it's likely to be Samsung's next top-tier foldable phone.
The Fold 3 follows on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, which was officially released in September 2020 and which crucially improved on the original Galaxy Fold’s durability issues and got a much bigger front screen. So what’s left to improve?
Foldables are in their early days, and they’re still working out the issues of folding displays, battery life, and multi-screen software. Given how bulky they are, future foldables might be slimmer, lighter, and less cumbersome to use one-handed.
Samsung could be making many of these general improvements, but the rumor mill has suggested several more specific upgrades the Z Fold 3 could implement – including, at long last, an S Pen stylus. Given we’re also expecting a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, more productivity-focused features make sense for the Z Fold 3.
Here’s all the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 leaks and rumors we’ve heard, along with what we want to see out of Samsung’s next flagship foldable.
Update: Evidene is mounting that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will have an in-display selfie camera, something you don't see in many smartphones.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Samsung's next big folding phone
- When is it out? Probably 2021
- What will it cost? Expect $1,999 / £1,799 / AU$2,999 and up
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 release date and price
One report suggests the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 release date will be in June, which is surprisingly early given that the Z Fold 2 only came out in September 2020. As such, we'd take this with a pinch of salt, especially as another leak suggests a launch in the second half of the year.
Elsewhere a leaker claimed in early February that we might be waiting five months for the phone, meaning a launch in or around July, so the second half of the year is looking the most likely.
We've also heard that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could run One UI 3.5 - software which itself is unlikely to land until the second half of the year.
The Z Fold 3 may not even be the next Samsung foldable though, as we could see the clamshell Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 launch first, given their alternating release schedules. With a rumored late-2021 release date for that, though, it's anyone's guess which foldable comes out first.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 cost a whopping $1,999 / £1,799 / AU$2,999, so expect a similar price for the Z Fold 3. We don't yet have any rumors about the price, but we'd expect it to be around this.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 rumors and leaks
We’ve heard several rumors about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 that point to some potentially different features and capabilities.
First among these is the S Pen – the same stylus in the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 family and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus – that a patent suggests is coming in a future Samsung foldable phone, which could refer to the Z Fold 3.
Another report supports the reasoning that an S Pen may come to the Z Fold 3, while also suggesting some display changes that may need to be made to get stylus functionality. First, Samsung may switch screen technologies from electromagnetic resonance (EMR) to active electrostatic solution (AES) to better register stylus input; and second, that the ultra thin glass (UTG) may be twice as thick as on the Z Fold 2, from 30 micrometers to 60 micrometers.
There’s also a rumor that the Z Fold series will combine with the Note series to make a single productivity-focused phone line, ultimately condensing Samsung’s annual flagships to just the S- series and the stylus-packing foldable Z Fold line. A Samsung official has reportedly said similar, saying that the Z Fold 3 will get a stylus while the Note range will be discontinued.
This would be sad news for Note fans – though the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has launched with stylus support anyway for folks who won’t want to wait for a foldable.
Another feature the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 might get is an in-screen camera, something we've heard several times, as well as saying that it's likely to be the first Samsung phone to have one. A Samsung official has reportedly even said as much now - though the feature may apparently not make it if it degrades the screen or photo quality.
Elsewhere, we've heard that there might be two Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 models. The source doesn't say what's different about them, but claims that they'll both support 5G. We have however heard of a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold Lite, so they might be talking about that.
We've also heard that - unsurprisingly - the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 could have at least 256GB of storage and run Android 11 overlaid with Samsung's One UI 3.5.
And rounding out the rumors is a fun one: a patent suggests a future foldable phone will get a light strip on its hinge. Inscribed hinges are so Galaxy Z Fold 2, we want RGB on our Z Fold 3.
What we want to see
What do we want to see Samsung bring to its next big foldable phone? We've put together a few improvements we'd like to see Samsung introduce on the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
1. More onboard storage
The Z Fold 2 is a powerful phone with the best specs on the market – aside from its storage. With a maximum 256GB and no tray for a microSD card to expand its space, users had no choice but to deal with it.
Even giving the option for a 512GB or 1TB storage option would be acceptable, with a microSD slot ideal, but 256GB feels criminal for a device that’s supposed to be so central to your personal and professional lives.
2. Easier one-handed use
The Z Fold 2 is an impressive phone, but they really need two hands to use properly – even when closed and using the 6.2-inch external screen, its 16.8mm thickness, about twice that of most other phones, is tough to use one-handed.
Unfolded is a whole different story, of course, since it’s even more difficult to manhandle a 7.6-inch display with one hand. But it would be nice to have an easier way to pry open the device without needing both hands.
3. Better cameras
The Z Fold 2 has a decent spread of cameras, but it misses out on the powerful shooters on Samsung’s other phones. The trio of rear 12MP cameras (main, ultra-wide, telephoto) don’t measure up to the Samsung S20 Ultra’s 108MP main and 48MP 4x optical telephoto lenses, which combine for their stunning 100x Space Zoom capability. More of that in the Z Fold 3, please.
4. Better multi-screen capabilities
If there’s one thing we’ve seen with 2020’s wilder phones, it’s inspiring new features. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, for instance, let you keep the phone open at an angle to, say, voice chat without needing to prop the phone up. Or the LG Wing 5G, which allows you to record video from the front and rear cameras at the same time.
We’d love to see some inventive uses of both the display and the six (!) cameras in the Z Fold 2, especially if the Z Fold 3 ends up packing more shooters.
5. Longer battery life
Despite being around twice the size of a typical smartphone, the Z Fold 2 has a 4,500mAh battery, which has been surpassed by even budget phones like the Moto G8 Power and its 5,000mAh battery.
With the extra screen and 5G connectivity, a bigger battery would certainly be welcome, or at the very least, faster charging times than the 25W max in the Z Fold 2.
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