The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 didn't appear at the Galaxy S21 launch on January 14, nor at the Unpacked event unveiling the mid-range Galaxy A52 5G in March, 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 from 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, especially since we're hearing that Samsung probably won't release a Note phone in 2021.
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.
Might the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 come with a super-strong frame? A new trademark that Samsung just registered suggests that an ‘Armor Frame’ might make an appearance on the phone.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Samsung's next big folding phone
- When is it out? Probably 2021, unclear when
- 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.
Then, a leak from South Korean newspaper The Elec suggested that the Z Fold 3 is set to debut in July 2021. We don't know the outlet's sources, but July does fall into the second half of the year and it matches another leak we heard back in February.
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.
We've also seen a leaked Samsung product launch roadmap that runs up to late August, and there's no sign of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 anywhere on it. That might mean we won't see it before late August, although the roadmap looks like it's probably incomplete, so don't count on having to wait quite that long.
A launch around August could make sense though, since Samsung will likely want to fill the hole left by the Samsung Galaxy Note, with no new model of that likely to launch this 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.
It's possible that one of these Galaxy Z Fold 3s could sport a smaller outer screen. At a supposed 5.4-inches, it would be significantly smaller than the outer display on the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (6.23-inches) so we're more than a little skeptical. However, a smaller screen could hint again at a cheaper Lite model.
The standard model might also get a slight reduction in size though, with a report claiming it will have a 7.5-inch main screen (down from 7.6 inches on the Z Fold 2), and a 6.2-inch cover display. The report also points to a slightly smaller 4,380mAh battery (down from 4,500mAh).
Could the Z Fold 3 also come with a super-strong outer frame, perhaps made of titanium or carbon? The fact that Samsung just applied to register the trademark 'Armor Frame' suggests that it might.
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.
Continuing the specs rumors, one reliable source says that the foldable phone is going to come running a "top secret" chipset – which makes us think it won't be the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100, which aren't secret at all.
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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