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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 official as world’s first water-resistant foldable phone

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Last updated: August 11th, 2021 at 16:01 UTC+02:00

Samsung's third-generation flagship foldable, the Galaxy Z Fold 3, is finally official, following months of what seemed like endless leaks and rumors. And what a device it is – Samsung has packed it with a number of features no one expected to see on foldable devices so soon, along with giving it mostly flagship-grade specs to make it worthy of the asking price.

Water resistance, S Pen support, and under-display camera make this a special device

First up is, of course, the fact that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is water resistant. It's got an IPX8 certification, which means it can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes and come out of the ordeal without any damage (though we wouldn't recommend testing this out in the real world). That's the same level of protection you find on Samsung's Galaxy S and Note flagships, making it an impressive feat.

Dust resistance, unfortunately, hasn't made the cut. However, the Z Fold 2's and Z Flip 3's vacuum cleaner-like sweeper technology, which puts nylon bristles inside the hinge to sweep dust away, is present on the Z Fold 3 as well. The design is also stronger thanks to what Samsung is calling Armor Aluminum, its “toughest strongest aluminum frame” yet.

Then there's the under-display camera. Due to the nature of the folding display, the cameras on the inner screens on Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold devices are placed in an awkward location that affects the user experience, so Samsung has made it invisible, so to speak. There's a 4MP camera hiding underneath the 7.6-inch foldable display that gets out of the way when you're not taking photos or making video calls. And don't worry – the UPC camera has a fairly large pixel size of 2 microns to make up for the low resolution so it should offer respectable image quality.

The third big feature on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and the reason why Samsung will try to pass it off as a Note replacement, is S Pen support. The Z Fold 3 supports stylus input on its main screen and comes with a S Pen specifically designed for it (this S Pen won't work on other Galaxy devices, nor with the other S Pens work with the Fold 3). There's no Bluetooth or gesture functionality on the Z Fold 3's S Pen, but you can get that on the newly announced S Pen Pro. In case you're wondering, the cover display doesn't support S Pen input.

Samsung's made plenty of enhancements to the software experience. With the S Pen, for example, you can jot down notes on the lower half of the screen while watching videos on the top half. Multi Active Window, which lets you run two apps side by side, now works with many more apps. A new ‘Drag & Split' feature enables smoother transition between to split screen/Multi Active Window, and the Navigation Rail inside apps makes access to important functions easy to access by putting them on the side of the screen.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 gets brighter screens, same old cameras

Samsung has also made numerous improvements to the displays on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The 7.6-inch main screen now has a protection film that's 80% stronger, and it's 29% brighter than the Z Fold 2's display. The 6.2-inch cover screen is also 29% brighter than before, but more importantly, it sports a 120Hz refresh rate. Flex Mode is here, as well, so you can keep the screen open at an angle. As expected, Gorilla Glass Victus protects both the front and back of the device.

Gorilla Glass — Gorilla Glass DX, which is what Samsung uses on its smartwatches — also covers the rear cameras for higher scratch and shatter resistance. Sadly, the rear cameras themselves have remained more or less unchanged from before. There's a 12MP F1.8 main camera that features Dual Pixel autofocus and optical image stabilization, and it is accompanied by a 12MP F2.2 ultra-wide camera and a 12MP 2x F2.4 telephoto camera. On the cover display, there's a 10MP camera for selfies and video calls – this is also the same sensor as before, so it lacks any form of autofocus.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 also misses out on the latest and greatest Snapdragon silicon. It is powered by the Snapdragon 888, same as the Galaxy S21 series, instead of the Snapdragon 888+. Thankfully, there's 12GB of RAM as standard, along with 256GB and 512GB of non-expandable UFS 3.1 storage. The battery is a little smaller, too, at 4,400 mAh, and fast charging speeds still max out at 25W. Other features include a side fingerprint sensor mounted on the power button, stereo speakers, and two physical SIM slots in addition to an eSIM.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 arrives August 27 for $1799.99

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 will hit retail shelves worldwide on August 27th for a price of $1799.99 for the base variant (12GB+256GB) and $1899.99 for the 12GB+512GB variant, with pre-orders starting today from Samsung.com. Color options will include Phantom Black, Phantom Green, and Phantom Silver. The Z Fold S Pen, which is a separate purchase, will cost $49.99, while the S Pen Pro comes in at $99.99.

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