Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Rumor Roundup: Here’s everything we know about the next foldable flagship phone series

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Rumor Roundup: Here’s everything we know about the next foldable flagship phone series

Foldables have seen a sustained increase in popularity over the past few years, and a good chunk of that credit goes to Samsung. Samsung entered the foldable space with the original Galaxy Fold, which had a fair few flaws. The company took the criticism on the chin, went back to the drawing board, and returned with a fixed product. A few months later, Samsung dipped further into the foldable space with the Galaxy Z Flip, experimenting with a different form factor.

Reserve your Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

On the flagship line, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 arrived sometime later, marking the strongest attempt at a foldable on a wide scale. Now it’s 2021, and that means it’s time for the next foldable. Here’s what we know about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, the next premier foldable flagship from Samsung.

Typing on bluetooth keyboard while being connected to Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: Release Date

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, the predecessor, was launched on August 5th, 2020. Using that as a reference, it was predicted that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 would also launch sometime in August. A recent leak by @evleaks on Twitter suggested Samsung will host an Unpacked event on August 11th, 2021 to unveil the Galaxy Z Fold 3 along with the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the Galaxy Watch 4. The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 are also expected to be announced at the same event.

Now, Samsung has officially confirmed that it will launch the Galaxy Z Fold 3 as well as Galaxy Z Flip 3 on August 11th. You can reserve the device if you’re planning to buy one and get some nice offers included additional trade-in value.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: Variants and Pricing

The first two foldables in this lineup were rather straightforward: one single phone for the whole world. These phones weren’t meant for the mainstream audience, so the single-product lineup was more than enough to help Samsung test the waters on this nascent technology.

For 2021’s foldable space, we could see this change up a bit. There’s going to be a Galaxy Z Fold 3, followed by a clamshell foldable i.e. the Galaxy Z Flip 3 (skipping over the “2” nomenclature to bring about uniformity in the lineup). There were some rumors initially about a supposed “lite” version of the phone that was planned to make foldables more accessible to the masses but it appears that that plan has now been scrapped.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 cost $1,999 at launch, and we can expect the Galaxy Z Fold 3 to also hover around this price tag. However, a recent leak on a Korean blog, Naver, suggested the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be priced lower than its predecessors and may start anywhere between KRW 1.9 million and 1.99 million which translates to about $1,670 to $1,750. Launching it at a lower price would mean the Galaxy Z Fold 3 would be more accessible to a larger demographic. This is probably also the reason behind dropping plans for the “lite” version (for now).

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: Design

As the branding would make it amply clear, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be a foldable smartphone, so no points for guessing that. Beyond that, we don’t expect Samsung to make any significant changes to the folding form factor on this lineup. This means the successor in this lineup is expected to have the general form factor Samsung has been adopting for the Z Fold series — a book-style phone with an outer display, that unfolds to reveal a larger display on the inside.

Why would Samsung be sticking to this book-style form factor? Simple, because it works and it works well. Other OEMs have experimented with different approaches, and as Ben puts it, many have come to the conclusion that Samsung was right all along when it comes to foldables. Other form factors like outer-folds and tri-folds have their own limitations, and while this book-style form factor does have a few limitations, they’re reasonable enough to overlook until rollables mature.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Our best look at the device comes through noted leaker Evan ‘evleaks’ Blass, who has shown off what appear to be near-final marketing images of both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. For the Galaxy Z Fold 3, we get a good look at the device, its rear camera modules, and the S Pen Fold Edition.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 5G

More recently, Evan posted a GIF that shows the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in its entirety from all angles. You can see the phone in both the folded and unfolded positions from the GIF. As you can see, the edges seem slightly more rounded on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

Getting down to some specifics, leaks suggest the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be physically smaller than the Galaxy Z Fold 2 by a small margin. The main display will now measure 7.6-inches diagonally, while the cover display could be 6.2-inches big. The new prime foldable is also expected to be slightly wider, making it different from the tall and slim stance that previous generations had adopted when closed. If this pans out, it should feel less awkward to hold and use when closed now.

We now have a complete overview of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 thanks to WinFuture. You can see the device from all angles and in both folded as well as unfolded positions.

The smaller device footprint will also lead to a smaller battery, going from 4,500 mAh to 4,380 mAh, and the weight of the device could also go down as a result.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 long outer cover display being used with one hand

There’s good news for all those of you who use your phones in and around the pool or if you frequently spill your drinks on your phone. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 will have IPX8 certification for water resistance. This is fantastic news since it’s not an easy task to make a phone with moving parts water-resistant, but looks like Samsung has done it.

Internals: SoC, RAM & Storage

Samsung has been featuring top-of-the-line SoCs on its foldables so far, and there’s no indication this will change with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. As such, it would be fair to expect something like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or the Exynos 2100 (hopefully not) on the device, coupled with generous amounts of RAM and storage. There’s unlikely to be expandable storage though, but we’re hoping to see larger storage variants like a 1TB option. On the inside, FCC reports suggest we would see support for Ultra Wide Band (UWB), sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G, Wireless PowerShare and Wi-Fi 6E.

Camera: Will the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 feature an Under Display Camera?

The most surprising leak we’ve heard about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3’s camera setup is Samsung could be exploring an under-display camera (UDC) on the foldable. The leak mentions that Samsung will use a special display from Samsung Display, and the image sensor will be sourced from Samsung Electronics’ System LSI division. The company is also said to be working on an image correction algorithm to improve the under-display camera setup’s output.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 folded up at right angle on a table, with flex mode on the camera app to take pictures

Flex mode with the camera app on the Galaxy Z Fold 2

If this does indeed turn out to be true, this will be the first Samsung smartphone to feature an under-display camera (but not the first Samsung device — that’s a laptop). From what we’ve seen in solutions so far, UDC as a technology is still a few generations away from going mainstream. Results from devices like the ZTE Axon 20 5G indicate there’s a lot of work to be done before we can reach the stage where we are right now with conventional cameras.

Samsung is also unlikely to feature a half-baked solution in their premium foldable lineup, especially with the Galaxy Note series now being terminated. So either Samsung will drop the project from the Galaxy Z Fold 3 if it compromises too much with the display or the camera, or they would be confident the results produced are worthy of a ~$2,000 flagship.

Speaking of cameras, the latest render shows the rear camera setup, and going by what we see, it doesn’t seem like Samsung has added the camera hardware from the Galaxy S21 Ultra to the Z Fold 3. We were expecting Samsung to bring the periscope zoom lens from the S21 Ultra over to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 but it looks like we’ll have to wait another year for that to happen. We’re not sure if this is due to a technical limitation since Huawei did it on the Mate X2. It’s probably a measure to bring the price of the phone down and make it more accessible to consumers, and we’re happy about that.

If you’re wondering about the camera specifications, the primary shooter is going to be a 12MP sensor accompanied by a 12MP ultra-wide and a 12MP telephoto lens as well. The cover display on the outside is going to have a 10MP selfie shooter while the larger display when unfolded will have a 4MP camera. The lower resolution probably has something to do with the fact that it’s going to be an under-display camera.

S Pen

There are a few rumors regarding S Pen support on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. With the Galaxy S21 Ultra finally ending the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab-exclusivity for the S Pen, it becomes a no-brainer that the next foldable needs to support the S Pen too. After all, a larger screen device is a perfect medium for making use of S Pen-enabled creative applications.

Samsung's S Pen and S Pen Pro

For S Pen support to materialize, Samsung would need to make some changes to the display to support stylus input without damaging the flexible display on the inside. The company could possibly make the Ultra-Thin Glass thicker on this device, along with other changes. This shouldn’t materially impact the user experience, so we’re curious to see what changes are brought about.

Evidence has been spotted on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 coming with S Pen support. A recent leak shows off some official Samsung cases with a holster for the S Pen with rumors suggesting that there will be support for two variants of the S Pen – The Pro Edition and a Fold Edition.

Software: One UI based on Android 11

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3’s launch timeline puts it in a position where it’s unlikely to come with the newest version of Android, i.e. Android 12. So Samsung is going to be sticking with Android 11 as the base, which isn’t entirely a bad thing. The company has promised 3 generations of Android OS updates and 4 years of security updates, so your bases are covered for a long while. Samsung has also been pretty good at updating the OneUI version of its recent flagships, so when a new update comes around, you’ll be in line for it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 open in book form, standing upright on a table

There’s a possibility that we’ll see a new One UI version with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 itself. One UI 3.5, or whatever it gets called, could potentially come with S Pen-related changes, and other changes that synergize both the displays. Other than continuity elements and how the software can take advantage of two different display sizes on the device, there’s a low probability of any other groundbreaking features introduced with this one.

XDA’s Wishlist for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

With all the leaks and rumors captured above, we’d also like to put forth our wishlist for the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. Here are the features and changes we’d like to see on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

A Flatter Fold & Less Heft

The point of a foldable is it offers the user a larger screen experience in a pocketable package. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 mostly delivers, but it’s still slightly thick and heavy at 16.8mm and 282g. The phone’s heft also tires the wrist after extended one-hand usage.

We would also like to see the Fold 3 fold in a flatter-folding design like Huawei’s Mate X2. This would not only make the Galaxy Z Fold 3 look better, but shave another few millimeters off the overall thickness of the device.

The Huawei Mate X2 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 (left) has a noticeable gap when folded; the Mate X2 does not.

True Flagship Camera System on the Galaxy Z Fold 3

All of Samsung’s foldable phones up to this point didn’t use Samsung’s best possible camera systems at the time of release. The Galaxy Z Fold 2, for example, lacks the 108MP sensor and Periscope zoom lens that’s been a headline feature of the past three Galaxy slab flagships.

Camera array on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 back

The Galaxy Z Fold 2’s trio of 12MP sensors are pedestrian compared to the camera arrays found on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or S21 Ultra

When Ben reviewed the Galaxy Z Fold 2, he forgave the device for using a “lesser” camera system because he figured it was physically impossible to fit a Periscope lens (which is thicker and takes up more space than traditional camera sensors) into a foldable device. But then Huawei threw that assumption out the window by doing just that with the Mate X2.

Camera arrays found on the Huawei Mate X2 compared with Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

The Huawei Mate X2 has a 10x optical Periscope zoom lens.

Now there are no excuses for Samsung — please put a Periscope zoom lens into the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Widen the outer “Cover Display”

One major improvement Samsung made with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 over the original Fold was it drastically increased the display area of the outside screen, which Samsung calls “cover display.” Most of that growth happened vertically, however, as Samsung really just got rid of the huge forehead and chin bezels of the original Fold and didn’t increase the phone’s width all that much.

That left the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s cover display with an awkward 25:9 aspect ratio, which is really tall and narrow. The phone is still usable for most tasks, but it exudes a cramped feeling, especially when typing on the keyboard. Some apps also don’t display properly in such a tight fit.

The outside screens of the Huawei Mate X2 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

We would like to see the Galaxy Z Fold 3 widen the outside display to come closer to a more conventional aspect ratio. This has already been accomplished by the Huawei Mate X2, which has a 21:9 outside screen that makes the phone feel more like a conventional slab phone when folded.

Get Rid of the Crease

Both the original Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 2 displays have a rather abrupt and harsh vertical crease down the middle of the screen that, while not too visible to the eye if looking at the “right” angle, is always noticeable by touch. The groove is so deep in fact that it would disrupt a pen stroke for artists who value precision. Therefore, if the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is to support the S-Pen, as leaks say it would, it must reduce the crease.

The good news is, the technology is already there. Huawei’s Mate X2, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1, and Motorola’s Razr 5G all have foldable screens that exhibit very little crease due to a folding mechanism that tucks the screen into a gap for a teardrop-like fold.

The Huawei Mate X2 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 inner display, with visible creasing

The Mate X2 (left) and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (right).

Samsung could consider this option to reduce the crease. However, going this route may make the hinge no longer able to stay open at any angle — a useful trick of the Galaxy Z Fold 2. Maybe the engineers can figure out a good middle ground somewhere.

Easy Aspect Ratio Switch for Non-Optimized Apps

Whether it’s inside the square-ish 7.6-inch main screen or the 25:9 6.3-inch external screen, both the Galaxy Z Fold 2 displays have unconventional aspect ratios. This means smartphone apps that aren’t optimized specifically for the Galaxy Z Fold 2 have three options to show themselves — display in normal smartphone form with letterboxing; display in stretched format to fill the screen but open the possibility of distortion; or display in full via cropping, which means the edges of the app may not show up on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 display.

Sure, app makers can optimize their apps to fit into these folding screens perfectly — and Samsung’s first-party apps all do so — but it’s highly unrealistic to expect every app maker to do so, especially when the foldable market is still niche. This is a problem that will be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

It’s not too big an issue on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 for most word-based apps. Chrome, when stretched out, is slightly odd-looking, but it doesn’t break performance or the experience. But photo-heavy apps like Instagram are trickier to handle. Distorting an image by stretching it is obviously not ideal, so Instagram on the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s big display must run either in letterboxed format, or a cropped format that chops off the top and bottom of Instagram Stories. We can cycle between either option via the Samsung Good Lock app, but shouldn’t Samsung build this functionality natively into the phone’s software instead of requiring an additional download?

Better yet, how about giving us the option to quickly swap between the three display options (letterboxed, cropped, stretched) in real-time? Maybe a pop-up button on the screen, a multi-finger gesture, or a shortcut toggle in the navigation panel? We see room for improvement here.

Increased durability

To some people, foldable phones are still synonymous with “fragile.” So for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, we would like to see increased durability of some sort. Asking for IP68 water- and dust resistance is probably highly unlikely for a foldable device. But how about a lesser IP rating, similar to those seen in earbuds, like IPX3 or IPX4? There have been stray rumors for IP53 resistance, but we’re waiting to hear something more credible on this end.

If Samsung can’t provide tangible “proof” of durability like an IP rating, then perhaps it can give buyers more ease of mind by extending the warranty period from one year to 18 months or even two years? Samsung already seems quite confident with the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s durability, as it offers a 100-day return period, so further assuring customers that foldables are not fragile could go a long way in pushing this product category into mainstream acceptance.

What would you like to see on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3?

With the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 likely just a few months away, chances are most of the hardware changes have already been set in stone, so our wishlist is purely hypothetical. If Samsung hasn’t already applied these changes, it’s probably too late to see them in the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

But Samsung, after all, is the pioneer of the foldable category, so their engineers likely have some tricks up their sleeves no one expects.

What are your expectations with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3? What big changes should Samsung do with its next prime foldable? What price point are you expecting the phone at? Should there be a Lite version of the Galaxy Z Fold 3? Let us know in the comments below.

About author

Sumukh Rao
Sumukh Rao

A tech fanatic with a hunger for knowledge in the ever-growing field of science and technology. An avid quizzer and a gadget critic who loves simplifying tech for the masses has a keen interest in modding Android devices.