Luckily, with rumours pointing to a slimmer design, S Pen stylus support, and the introduction of an under-display selfie camera on the folding screen, Samsung might have done just that.
When is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 release date?
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 launched in September 2020, so it was no surprise that its successor didn’t launch at Samsung’s Unpacked event in January when it launched the S21 range – a follow-up 12 months on in September 2021 makes much more sense. If you believe tipster Max Weinbach, whenever it does arrive it will at least be alongside the upcoming Galaxy S21 FE.
According to Korean news outlet ETNews, the latter half of 2021 is when to expect one, if not two, variants of the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The report makes mention of two “fold-type” and two “flip-type” devices – all cited as supporting 5G. The Fold 3 may be accompanied by a more affordable Galaxy Z Fold FE and it’s thought that it’ll be a similar situation with the Z Flip phones too.
On the other hand, leaker Ice Universe has made mention of a five-month wait from their February post, suggesting that we could see a pair of new folding Galaxy phones – including a new member of the Fold family – as early as July.
We may have to wait 5 months to see Flip 3 and Fold 3.
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) February 4, 2021
It certainly won’t come before that. Hinge supplier S-Connect has confirmed that it enters mass production of the Z Fold 3 hinge in Q2 2021, so there’s no way the phone will launch earlier than late summer or autumn.
That matches up to an early June report from WinFuture, which claims that Samsung has begun mass production of the phone’s components, predicting that in turn this means the device will ship to consumers within two or three months – so August or September.
SamMobile echoes that timetable, predicting a Q3 2021 launch for the Z Fold 3, along with the Z Flip 2/3. There are also rumours of a Z Fold S and Z Fold Scroll, though if real they’re likely to launch later.
What is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 price?
Although the Z Fold 3 is still a ways off, there are already rumours about its price. Mauri QHD, a leaker with a good track record, says that it will cost the same as the Z Fold 2.
He does say to take it with a pinch of salt at this stage, but if true, this would put the Galaxy Z Fold 3 pricing at around £1,800 or $2,000.
What are the Galaxy Z Fold 3 specs?
Considering the huge jump in innovation between the first two Fold models, don’t go expecting the same again. Samsung managed to fix a number of elements on its second-generation device, including enlarging the small 4.6in front screen and improving durability. Read our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold review to find out what we disliked about that first iteration.
The Fold 3 will likely offer more subtle improvements and refinements.
We already have a decent idea of what the Z Fold 3 will look like following the first low-res leaks of what appear to be internal Samsung materials. The below comes from @TheGalox_, but IceUniverse corroborated it with further images shared on Weibo that appear to confirm the design, and that the phone will use an under-display camera on the internal screen.
Following the leaks, several tipsters were quick to mock up more details renders based on the new confirmed details. Our favourite so far is this from Ben Geskin:
Aesthetically, the Fold 3 doesn’t look too different to the Fold 2 based on the leaks and renders so far. The biggest change is probably the rounded camera module – in contrast to the squared off dominoes Samsung has used in other recent flagships – though the internal under-display camera is also pretty notable. Geskin’s render suggests that the hinge will be slightly slimmer on the left side of the external display – a common complaint about the previous iteration.
Slimming down would make sense. During its Samsung 2020 Investor Forum, the firm talked about how it is working on launching a thinner and lighter foldable device. This, we assume, is the Fold 3; good news considering that folding phones with this sort of design have been rather chunky so far – the Z Fold 2 isn’t far off 300g and measures 16.8mm thick when closed, for example.
Don’t expect a radical reduction though – leaker Ice Universe says the Fold 3 is just 13g lighter than the previous generation – progress, but not quite transformative.
Meanwhile Ross Young claims that in fact the Fold 3 is thicker than the Fold 2, blaming the decision to support the S Pen. This is thanks to the digitizer needed to recognise the stylus input, though Young also notes that the UTG – ultra-thin glass – layer isn’t any thicker, contrary to expectations that Samsung might make this layer thicker & tougher to improve durability when using the stylus.
The Z Fold 3 is thicker than the Z Fold 2 even with no polarizer and UTG thickness the same. This is due to the digitizer for S Pen input.
— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) June 3, 2021
Leaks from SamMobile suggest that the phone will be available in black and green, and possibly more colours – the leaked image above also shows what’s either a silver or white.
A later leak from the same site also points to an IP rating for the phone – the first for a Samsung foldable – which leaker Chun corroborated, adding that he believes it will be an IP53 rating, rather than the stronger IP68 rating found on flagships like the S21 Ultra.
Finally, one wilder suggestion is that the Z Fold 3 might not have any buttons. This stems from a patent filed by Samsung in November 2020, and spotted by LetsGoDigital.
As you can see in the above image, the patent shows a series of touch-sensitive areas built into the phone’s frame. These can be used for tap, swipe, or squeeze gestures for a variety of control options, and with touch-sensitive areas on both frames you’ll get double the compatible surface area when the device is folded.
We’ve seen similar tech adopted by Huawei for some of its ultra-curved waterfall displays like the Mate 30 Pro, and by Vivo in the buttonless and portless Apex 2019 concept device. Applying it to a foldable makes sense, but we don’t yet know if this will be featured in the Z Fold 3, or instead appear in next year’s fourth-gen foldable.
Samsung’s slimming efforts also seem to be behind what we’ve heard about the phone’s two screens. Most agree that both screens will shrink ever so slightly: a drop from 7.6in to 7.5in for the main panel, and from 6.23in to 6.21in on the front – barely perceptible. The change is reportedly part of efforts to tweak the phone’s overall dimensions and make it shorter but wider, with slightly different aspect ratios that will help Samsung slim down bezels, especially on the outer display.
Unexpectedly, one leak points to a very different external display spec. A document shared by leaker Chun on various upcoming foldables claims that the phone’s external display will be just 5.4in – much smaller than the 6.23in display on the outside of the Fold 2.
Except the Z Fold3 outer screen size which I haven’t heard just yet, rest are match perfectly with what I heard and leaked (refering to the Z phones, and I haven’t heard anything about OPPO/vivo foldable phones) pic.twitter.com/na9lbbtzs8
— CEO of Chun Corp (Tet forever) (@chunvn8888) April 6, 2021
Chun admits that he hadn’t heard that spec from other sources, and we’re a touch sceptical that it isn’t a typo or other error. That seems especially plausible since the table also reports a 4.3:2 aspect ratio for the internal display, which is nothing near the square-ish display we’re expecting. With all that in mind, chalk this one up as unlikely for now.
While this isn’t destined for the Fold 3, SamMobile spotted that Samsung Display has since showcased a bi-folding concept device, as well as a scrollable, as part of Display Week 2021.
Along with a couple of other display examples, Samsung is clearly looking to push the envelope on folding devices and while these particular innovations aren’t likely to manifest on any of this year’s Folds or Flips, they could well grace consumer devices in the next year or so.
SamMobile reports that the phone will have the model number SM-F926 and will ship with at least 256GB storage – no real shock. The site also claims it will run Android 11 and One UI 3.5, which is another point in favour of a late-2021 launch, as that’s when the updated version of Samsung’s OS is likely to launch.
One of the other core specs may be less predictable: the chipset. Leaker Ice Universe tipped that the Z Fold 3’s processor is ‘top secret’, hinting that it may be something new – though days later recanted and suggested that it will in fact simply use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. The quick about-face leaves us a little uncertain, though a Snapdragon 888 would make sense – Samsung has so far stuck with Qualcomm over its own Exynos chips for its foldable phones.
Meanwhile, The Elec reports on a 4,380mAh battery – the same as the original Fold, but slightly smaller than the 4,500mAh capacity of the Fold 2. Again, a slightly smaller battery would help keep the phone itself a touch more slender. Meanwhile, 3C certification reveals the same 25W charger as the last phone too – though it is still possible that the phone itself could support faster charging than the charger it ships with.
As mentioned above, the biggest change believed to be on the way is an under-screen sensor that will be used for the selfie camera.
“It is heard that Samsung Electronics is designing a display that has wider pixel spacing in the area where UDC will be placed in order to secure opening ratio and so that there will not be an issue with taking pictures,” reports 9to5Google.
Leaker Ice Universe has separately reported that Samsung is planning to include an under-display camera in a foldable phone – presumably the Z Fold 3, and since then has also shared this leaked image seemingly confirming the fact:
This would help solve the awkward placement of the inner camera on the Z Fold 2, which sits on the centre of one side of the panel, making it oddly placed when the screen is fully open. And if an under-display camera sounds far-fetched to you, bear in mind that Samsung has already debuted the tech in the Blade Bezel laptop, while you can also find it in a phone in the ZTE Axon 20 5G.
As for the rest of the camera spec, don’t expect any radical changes from last year’s device. Twitter tipster @FrontTron has shared a possible camera spec, but it’s very similar to the Fold 2.
Front 10MP 1.22um 1/3.2″ IMX374
Front 16MP 1.0um 1/3.09″ IMX471
Rear Wide Angle 12MP 1.8um 1/1.76″ IMX555
Rear 2x telephoto 12MP 1.0um 1/3.6″ 3M5
Rear Ultra Wide 12MP 1.12um 1/3.2″ 3L6 https://t.co/xZqyIUbQEv
— Tron ❂ (@FrontTron) May 25, 2021
The rear camera spec looks to be roughly the same – three 12Mp cameras – and is expected to include a main shooter, ultrawide, and 2x zoom. None of the sensors are particularly large either, so we shouldn’t expect knockout camera performance by 2021 standards.
The outer cover selfie camera is the same as the Fold 2’s, though the inner camera does get an upgrade to a new 16Mp sensor, with tiny 1μm pixels to allow it to work better from under the display.
S Pen support
Finally, as the Galaxy Note 21 won’t launch at all, it’s widely expected that the Z Fold 3 will include support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus, to help push Note buyers into adopting the foldable format.
It looks like it will be supported similarly to the S21 Ultra, and sold as a separate accessory rather than bundled in – partly because Samsung has struggled to find a way to make the new S Pen physically slot into the foldable, reports Naver. Apparently including the S Pen compromised efforts to shrink the Fold 3 and make it waterproof, so for now it’ll be a separate extra.
As with the under-display camera, S Pen support was seemingly confirmed in leaked images:
We discussed the latest rumours surrounding the next Galaxy Z Fold in our weekly podcast, Fast Charge: