Behold, Samsung’s latest flagship. With the Galaxy Note out of the way — for this year, at least — the company used today’s Unpacked event to breathe added legitimacy into its foldable line. The original Galaxy Fold, introduced in 2019, represents a sort of experiment for the company (along with all the hiccups that entailed), as the first foldable from prominent hardware manufacture. In contrast, last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 found the company correcting some of the glaring issues with its predecessor.
Today’s event finds the company making a case for Galaxy Z Fold 3 as something beyond an experiment or a curiosity. The task will almost certainly be an uphill battle for the next few generations. Unlike the latest version of the Flip, which starts at a price reduced considerably from its predecessor, the new Fold drops the entry price $200, down to $1,800. Any price reduction is a step in the right direction — and something that should be increasingly feasible as the technology continues to scale. But even in the world of premium flagships, that will continue to be a tough pill to swallow.
However, the upgraded Fold truly brings to the table is a continued refinement to build materials that make the foldable screen a feasible option for day-to-day usage. This, of course, is precisely what hamstrung the original. Sure, the company did a lot of testing in controlled rooms. Still, once the product got out into the world (and into the hands of non-Samsung employees), durability problems began cropping up, resulting in displays that were unintentionally damaged in a variety of imaginative ways.
The Galaxy Z Fold features a more robust frame made of “Armor Aluminum,” new protective film for the foldable display, Gorilla Glass Victus on the front-facing screen, and an IPX8 rating — representing the first waterproof rating for the company’s foldable. Waterproofing has, of course, become something of an industry standard, but obviously, things are complicated quickly when you add folding mechanisms into the equation.
In fact, that’s why the rating has an “X” stuck in the middle of it. It’s effectively protected from accidental dunks in water, but not dust and debris. This is due to the hinge mechanism created for earlier models that allows some particulate matter but sweeps it away with a built-in brush that moves as the device opens. That effectively protects it from getting behind the screen, where it could damage the phone with a finger press on the other side.
Of course, the stronger protective film is the thing. It’s what’s (hopefully) standing between you and damaging your phone’s most significant selling point with an overzealous finger press — or, for that matter, a stylus. The Fold, after all, is following in the footsteps of Samsung’s S series by blurring the line with the Note (which handily opted to sit this round out). In fact, Samsung went out of its way to create a special Fold Edition of the S-Pen specially designed to not damage the Fold display. It’s optional, of course, and as with the S21, there’s a slot for the stylus in the handset — that’s to be expected, given the relative fragility of the product. There will, of course, be a case with a built-in S-Pen holster.