The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is Samsung’s upcoming flagship foldable, its next tablet-sized foldable that folds shut to the size of a regular phone – and we finally know when it’s going to launch.
Samsung has had the run of the foldable market so far, but with increased competition in China from Huawei and now Xiaomi, the Korean giant will have to step it up with the Fold 3 to stay ahead of its rivals.
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. Here’s what we know so far.
When is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 release date?
Samsung has confirmed that the next Galaxy Unpacked event will be on 11 August at 3pm BST/10am EST/7am PST – almost certainly when we’ll see the Z Fold 3 unveiled.
If nothing else, that’s been pretty heavily implied by the event’s media invite, between the ‘Get ready to unfold’ tagline and the abstract shapes that look an awful lot like a pair of folding phones.
We’re expecting the Z Fold 3 to launch alongside the Z Flip 3, Galaxy Buds 2, and the Galaxy Watch 4. This is the time of year when we’d normally expect to see the Galaxy Note 21 launch too, but Samsung has scrapped this year’s model so we’re not expecting a new Note until next year instead.
As for when you can buy the phone, Jon Prosser previously predicted that the Z Fold 3 will actually go on sale on 27 August, a couple weeks after the launch, though tipster Yogesh says that India will get the phone a little later, in September. Two separate South Korean leakers repeat the 27 August date, though disagree on whether local pre-orders will start on 12 August or 17 August.
If you’re in the US, you can already reserve the phone now even though it isn’t yet official – though note that this is just reserving a slot, not a full pre-order. Reserving also unlocks exclusive offers including up to $100 extra on device trade-in prices, a free 12 months of Samsung Care+, and “an extra, special offer” on Galaxy products during pre-orders.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 launched in September 2020, so an August launch would be slightly earlier than expected, but not by too much.
Besides the products set for this event, there are loads of other Samsung devices on the way. The Galaxy S21 FE was originally tipped to arrive at the same event, but is now reported to be delayed – it may launch alongside the expected Galaxy Tab S8 instead.
There are more foldables on the way too. Previous rumours have also pointed to a more affordable Galaxy Z Fold FE, and two new foldable form factors possibly called the Z Fold S and Z Fold Scroll, but all of these are expected to further afield, if they launch at all. And of course, there’s the Galaxy S22 line ahead, but not until next year.
How much will the Galaxy Z Fold 3 cost?
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.
On the other hand more recently a Korean leaker has predicted a slightly lower price, while SamMobile more specifically says that the phone will be up to 20% cheaper than the previous generation. That would work out at around £1,450/$1,600 – a pretty huge reduction, though still an expensive phone by any measure.
The only specific price predictions we have are for South Korea, with one leaker predicting that it will cost between KRW 1,900,000 and KRW 1,999,000 ($1,655 – $1,741), and another more specifically suggesting prices of KRW 1,999,000 (256GB) and KRW 2,098,000 (512GB) – that’s roughly in line with the 20% reduction, as the previous Fold cost KRW 2,398,000 in Korea.
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 sort of leap 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 thanks to plenty of leaks.
The best yet comes from leaker Evan Blass, who shared what appears to be an official Samsung promo image showing off the Fold 3 along with the ‘Fold Edition’ S Pen stylus.
Not long after, 91mobiles followed up with leaked renders from an anonymous industry source, most importantly giving us a look at two more of the phone’s colours.
Yet more renders come from OnLeaks and Digit India, this time with the option to watch them incorporated into a video, so you can see the phone from more angles and get a sense of what it might look like in motion.
Blass also followed up with a bumper leak of animated GIFs, revolving around every major product (in every expected colourway) said to debut on 11 August:
— Evan Blass (@evleaks)
July 10, 2021
We’re inclined to believe that the leaks are real, not just based on the various leakers’ track records but because they’re also a very close match to what we saw earlier this year from 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.
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. Renders 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.
Thanks to the phone’s listing on China’s TENAA certification system, we know it’s exact dimensions: 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm when unfolded. Importantly, that means it’s half a millimetre thinner than the Fold 2, which is 6.9mm thick when unfolded.
Leaks from SamMobile suggest that the phone will be available in black and green, and possibly more colours – the leaked images above also show 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 both Evan Blass and Max Weinbach have reported will be an IPX8 rating. That signifies a high degree of water-resistance (the ‘8’), but that Samsung has not had the phone tested for dust or sand-resistance (the ‘X’).
Samsung’s slimming efforts also seem to be behind what we’ve heard about the phone’s two screens. Thanks to the TENAA listing we know that the external display will measure 6.2in, while both Blass and Korea’s ETNews report that the internal display measures 7.6in, unchanged from the previous Fold.
Previous rumours theorised that the internal screen would shrink ever so slightly: dropping from 7.6in to 7.5in, as part of an effort to tweak the phone’s overall dimensions and make it shorter but wider, with slightly different aspect ratios designed to help slim down bezels, especially on the outer display.
Setting size aside, everyone agrees that the both displays will be AMOLED, and that the main display will have a 120Hz refresh rate.
SamMobile reports that the phone will have the model number SM-F926 and will ship with 256GB base storage (since repeated by a Korean leaker, who adds that there will be a new 512GB option too). 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.
The 888 is what we see in a leaked benchmark result for the phone from Geekbench 5. This seems to be a version of the phone running Android 11, with a Snapdragon 888 and 12GB of RAM.
Ice Universe has also reported that the Snapdragon 888 version of the phone – implying that there might also be an Exynos version – has improved heat management, along with “good battery life.” The latter is also echoed by another leaker, Chun, in a reply to the tweet, adding that a source managed 6.5 hours of screen-on time – though also acknowledged it had “slightly less” battery life than the Fold 2.
In terms of hard numbers, the TENAA certification reveals a 4,500mAh capacity split between two cells – the same as the Fold 2. 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.
— Tron ❂ #SamsungUnpacked (@FrontTron)
July 1, 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 only real difference from the Fold 2 is the inclusion of PDAF autofocus on the ultrawide camera – a minor, but welcome, improvement.
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 (pixel-binning to 4Mp), 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 no surprise that the Fold 3 is set to support Samsung’s S Pen stylus.
Samsung Mobile’s president, Dr. TM Roh, confirmed as much in a blog post promising “the first-ever S Pen designed specifically for foldable phones” – no doubt meaning the Fold 3.
As with the under-display camera, S Pen support was seen in leaked images even before Roh’s confirmation:
It looks like it will be supported similarly to the S21 Ultra, and won’t physically slot into the phone, reports Naver. Apparently including the S Pen compromised efforts to shrink the Fold 3 and make it water-resistant, so for now it’ll be a separate extra.
In addition to the ‘Fold Edition’ S Pen, it seems the Fold 3 will also support the S Pen Pro – an improved stylus that Samsung announced in January but is still yet to release. This was confirmed by the FCC filing for the S Pen Pro itself, which lists the Galaxy Z Fold 3 as one of its supported models for the stylus’s Bluetooth-powered gesture controls.
We discussed the latest rumours surrounding the next Galaxy Z Fold in our weekly podcast, Fast Charge:
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