Time to Fold again.
Last year was big for foldable smartphones — with Samsung leading the charge in more ways than one. The company debuted its Galaxy Z Flip lineup to tackle the vertical folding niche, and with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Samsung gave us one of the very best foldables we’ve seen yet. As such, there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation around the inevitable Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The year-over-year improvements between the original Galaxy Fold and the Z Fold 2 are still kind of mind-blowing to this very day, so the idea of Samsung continuing to refine that formula is something we can’t wait to see.
From the latest hardware details to leaked renders and any other rumors we’ve tracked down, here’s everything we know so far about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3:
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Price
As jaw-dropping as the Galaxy Z Fold lineup features and design have been, they’ve been a bit overshadowed by the device’s price. Making folding phones is not a cheap endeavor, as evident by what Samsung asks for these devices.
The original Galaxy Fold debuted with a $1,980 MSRP, and a year later, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 was launched at $1,999. That’s way more money than most people are willing to spend on a smartphone, so what can we expect from the Galaxy Z Fold 3?
Rumors in early June have us thinking that this could be the first Galaxy Z Fold that sees a significant price decrease, not an increase. In fact, the rumors are pointing to an MSRP of around $1,600 in the US. Of course, that’s still out of many people’s price range, but it’s a huge improvement, to be sure!
There has also been talk about a cheaper Galaxy Z Fold Lite that’ll make the folding niche more accessible, but that lower price is expected to come with a few different compromises. Even still, having a more affordable option that’ll get more people in on the folding game is a good look.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Availability
We can’t wait to get our hands on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but unfortunately, we likely have a while to go before that can happen. While the Galaxy Z Fold 2 wasn’t unveiled until September 2020, rumors suggest that Samsung could forego its usual annual release by at least two months this year, announcing the Z Fold 3 in July and, subsequently, releasing it in early August.
Samsung leaker Ice Universe shared in February 2021 that we have five more months to go before the Z Fold 3’s release, pointing to a July launch. Several other recent reports seem to suggest the same, with Samsung apparently gearing up to launch the Z Fold 3 alongside the Galaxy Z Flip 2 — which will incidentally be dubbed the Z Flip 3 — at a dedicated Unpacked event in July.
Those rumors have the Galaxy Z Fold 3 releasing on August 11, while the Galaxy Z Flip 3 might be slated for later in August.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Design
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 kept the same core design as the first Galaxy Fold, but thanks to a much larger cover display, an improved inner display, and various refinements to aesthetics and durability, it was a much nicer overall package. While we don’t expect quite as drastic of a design change with the Z Fold 3, there are still some improvements we’re looking forward to.
Our best look at the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes by way of Ice Universe and Evan Blass on Twitter, and it shows a largely unchanged design. Leaked marketing materials from Twitter user TheGalox on May 3 also show off a design that’s similar to the Z Fold 2, but a further leak suggests the Fold 3 will be the first Samsung phone to feature an under-display camera.
The most recent renders of the Z Fold 3 seem to imply that it will not have an in-display camera, rather the same punch-hole camera that the Z Fold 2 sports. Xiaomi and other Chinese vendors showed off the tech in action last year, and while Samsung also revealed its own under-display camera tech, it was initially assumed to be heading to notebooks.
One of the biggest things we’d like to see Samsung tackle is the Z Fold 3’s overall heft. The Z Fold 2 is a pretty chunky device when it’s closed, partly due to the fact that it doesn’t shut completely flat when it’s folded up. If Samsung can find a way to address this with the Z Fold 3, that’d be quite the accomplishment.
The Z Fold 3 will be the first foldable that works with Samsung’s S Pen, as confirmed by Ice Universe on May 3. In late June, Evan Blass revealed the above render, which further confirms that a special S-Pen is being made for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, although there won’t be a dedicated slot for the pen like that’s found on the Galaxy Note 20 series.
That’s an exciting change, and it should lead to further durability upgrades. The switch to Ultra-Thin Glass on the Z Fold 2 was a big step in the right direction, but the Z Fold 3 will need all-new glass for S Pen support because the current UTG won’t cut it. To work with the S Pen, the inner display will need to be even stronger than it currently is.
Funny enough, recent rumors suggest that the Z Fold 3 will have a slightly smaller inner display than the Z Fold 2, measuring in at 7.5 inches and 7.7 inches, respectively. Still, this smaller display combined with thinner bezels could make the device a bit smaller, and Samsung will reportedly be using LTPO technology to reduce overall power consumption.
Adding to that, other leaks show that the Z Fold 3 will feature an in-display fingerprint sensor instead of the side-mounted fingerprint sensor found in previous Z Fold phones. That’s an interesting change, for sure, and one that could negatively affect egonomics if it’s not done well, but we’ll hold judgment until we get our hands on it.
Lastly, one of the most recent leaks shows renders of the device in three different colorways; black, dark green, and pink. This would switch things up from the Mystic Bronze that was offered in quite a few of Samsung’s 2020 flagships and provide an additional option for prospective buyers to choose from. The device may also have a matte finish similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which should help with fingerprints.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Specs
There hasn’t been much talk regarding the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s specs, but even so, there are a few assumptions/educated guesses we can make. For starters, we expect the phone to be powered by one of the latest Qualcomm flagship chipsets — that means the Snapdragon 888 and not the newer Snapdragon 888+. We’ve already seen the chip in the Galaxy S21 lineup, so its presence in the Z Fold 3 should be all but guaranteed.
The larger inner display will reportedly keep the 120Hz refresh rate introduced on the Z Fold 2. Additionally, Samsung is said to be switching to 120Hz on the smaller outer panel as well, as noted by Ice Universe on Twitter. With two 120Hz screens, the Fold 3 will offer a considerable display upgrade over the Fold 2. It also means swapping between those two screens should feel more natural, as one won’t automatically feel slower (or laggier) the moment you turn it on.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 will also reportedly feature a 4,380mAh battery, matching the original Galaxy Fold’s spec. It’s a bit smaller than the 4500mAh cell in the Z Fold 2, but the LTPO display tech should help offset the difference in battery life.
Impressively enough, along with S-Pen support, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 looks to be bringing back MST support to the Galaxy line. That’s the tech Samsung has been using to allow phones to make digital payments on older payment kiosks that only have a magnetic stripe reader — that is, except for the Galaxy S21 line, which is devoid of an MST coil.
Perhaps the biggest change of all could come in the cameras. The Z Fold 2 had surprisingly great cameras already, but with Samsung reportedly partnering with Olympus on a new camera system, the Z Fold 3 could take foldable photography to a new level. The camera is set to have a feature similar to sensor shift on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, resulting in dramatically better image stabilization and cleaner shots — though it’s possible this camera could skip the Z Fold 3 and end up in the next Galaxy S model instead.
Other specs should include at least 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and Android 11 out of the box with Samsung’s custom One UI interface — we’re estimating One UI 3.5. If everything comes together the way we hope, we could very well be looking at one of the best Android phones of this year.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 FAQ
Is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 going to come with an S Pen?
One of the most exciting rumors surrounding the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is that it will support the iconic S Pen. The Galaxy S21 Ultra recently launched as the first non-Galaxy Note phone to offer S Pen support, making it even more likely that the Z Fold 3 will also see some S Pen love.
How the S Pen will be integrated into the Z Fold 3 still remains as one of the biggest mysteries. It’ll more than likely be offered as an optional accessory the way it was with the S21 Ultra, but it’s also possible Samsung will include it with the Z Fold 3 given its presumably high price.
Will there be more than one version of the Z Fold 3?
As noted above, word on the street is that Samsung is working on a couple of different Z Folds for 2021 — the flagship Galaxy Z Fold 3 and a more affordable Galaxy Z Fold Lite. We aren’t sure if the cheaper foldable will be sold under the Z Fold 3 branding or if it will be marketed as a standalone handset under the FE label. No matter which direction Samsung goes with its branding, we should be looking forward to at least two Galaxy Z Fold options for 2021. If you ask us, that’s pretty exciting.
As an added bonus, we could see a third model crop up around the same time as the others, featuring a dual hinge design and folding out to a much larger form factor that’s more akin to a traditional tablet. Only time will tell.
Will The Z Fold 3 bring back MST?
Samsung Pay suffered a big blow when the Galaxy S21 was released, as that series of phones don’t feature the MST coil that modern Samsung Galaxy flagships have had for years. This means that Samsung Pay on the Galaxy S21 can only be used at terminals with an NFC reader, cutting out the single biggest advantage for Samsung’s digital payments platform.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 looks to be bringing that MST coil back, which would enable digital payments even on payment kiosks that only have a magnetic stripe reader. The MST coil acts as a magnetic transfer tool that tricks the machine into thinking you swiped a physical card, enabling impressive backward compatibility for digital payments.