Samsung unfurls new Fold and Flip phones – and first under-display camera
Keen to show off its folding screen tech, Samsung has announced the new generation of its Z Fold and Z Flip phones at its latest Samsung Unpacked event. Most of the changes are skin-deep, but the few spec updates are important – and a price drop sweetens the deal.
The Galaxy Z Fold3 is Samsung’s flagship folding phone, which opens like a book to reveal a huge 7.6-in AMOLED screen in the center. It displays at a resolution of 2208 x 1768, with a refresh rate of 120 Hz and a peak brightness of 1,200 nits, and it’s compatible with the S Pen stylus. The single “cover” screen packs 2268 x 832 pixels into a 6.2-in rectangle, also with a 120-Hz refresh rate and a higher 1,500-nit brightness.
The device is kitted out with five different cameras – a 10-megapixel cover cam, a 4-MP selfie cam on the inside, and a trio of 12-MP main cameras around the back, comprising a wide-angle, ultra-wide and telephoto lens. Of those, the surprising star of the show just might be the inner selfie camera, which actually hides under the display itself, eliminating the need for a notch or hole-punch. Samsung says there are “minimal” pixels directly above the camera, to give it the best view out while keeping the display unbroken. How good the display looks or the camera works remains to be seen until we can get our hands on one, though.
Not only is this under-display camera a first from Samsung, but it’s a first on a consumer device from any major company, and something we’d expect to see more of in the next few years. It’s pretty likely that it’ll crop up on Samsung’s next Galaxy S flagships, and it’s already rumored for the next iPhone.
Under the hood, the Galaxy Z Fold3 is running on a 5-nm, 2.84-GHz Octacore processor, 12 GB of RAM, either 256 GB or 512 GB of storage space, and a 4,400 mAh battery. It comes preloaded with Android 11, and there’s 5G connectivity, too.
Pretty much all of that was present on the previous model though – in fact, the battery capacity has even dropped slightly, from 4,500 mAh. The main upgrades are the under-display camera, the stylus, the processor, the 512-GB storage option, and the brighter and more energy-efficient screens.
There are a couple of usability tweaks too, though. That generous screen real estate can be divided up more easily, so that multiple apps can be run side-by-side. App Pair lets users set shortcuts for pairs of apps they often use together, and there’s a new Taskbar that helps switch between apps without having to back out to the Home screen.
Samsung has also made improvements to the durability of the phone. It’s made using what the company calls an “Armor aluminum” shell, and the screen has a claimed 80 percent better durability thanks to Gorilla Glass Victus and a new protective film. There’s also now IPX8 water resistance – an absolute necessity – that should help it shrug off spills and dunks down to 1.5 m (4.9 ft) for up to 30 minutes.
These same durability boosts also apply to Samsung’s second new phone, the Galaxy Z Flip3. This device looks like the flip phones of old, closing in a clamshell design and opening to reveal a portrait display.
Don’t let the name fool you, though – this is only the second-generation Z Flip phone. It seems like Samsung just skipped ahead to keep it in-line with the Z Fold.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 packs a 6.7-in AMOLED inner display, with a resolution of 2640 x 1080, a 120-Hz refresh rate and up to 1,200 nits peak brightness. The cover screen measures 1.9 in – making it four times bigger than the previous model’s – with a resolution of 260 x 512. That’s designed to display notifications and quick info like the time or weather without having to open the phone.
The Z Flip3 is equipped with three cameras – a 10-MP selfie camera, and a pair of 12-MP wide and ultra-wide main cameras. It’s running the same processor as the Z Fold3, 8 GB of RAM with either 128 GB or 256 GB storage, and a 3,300-mAh battery. There’s also 5G connectivity now, which is something the previous model missed out on.
It sounds like users can do more without having to open the device too. Samsung Pay is now built into the cover screen for quick tap payments while still folded, and photos and videos can be quickly shot by double-tapping the power button.
Thankfully, both phones have had a bit of a price drop from last time – the Galaxy Z Fold3 will launch from US$1,799.99, and the Z Flip3 starts at $999.99. Both phones will launch on August 27 in the US, Europe and Korea to begin with.