With only a few weeks left until Apple’s upcoming launch of the Iphone 13 with a smaller “notch“, Upgraded cameras and 120 Hz screen, Samsung has launched a new flagship phone: Galaxy Z Fold 3. It is their third generation foldable phone and belongs to one of the most innovative smart phones launched this year, with a fantastic 7.6-inch Infinity Flex screen that has the camera placed during screen.
But even after three generations of foldable phones and a reassuring lead over its competitors, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is not perfect – the fact is that it is far from perfect. It is rumored that Apple is testing several prototypes of its own foldable phone. Here are three things about the Galaxy Z Fold 3 that Apple needs to improve in order for their foldable phone – if it ever comes! – will be a success.
When the Galaxy Fold (without Z) was released in 2019, two things stood out: Samsung was serious about making foldable phones a reality – and that they had a lot to do. In fact, the first version of the phone was delayed for several months when Samsung had to redesign the hinge and screen, to improve durability.
Samsung managed to ride out that storm, but now, three years later, nothing has changed. Admittedly, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 definitely looks like a luxury phone, with an aluminum body and sharp lines, but the phone’s size is basically the same as the original. It is still uncomfortably long and when folded it does not close properly. There is still a visible crease in the center of the screen and a gap near the hinge; when the phone is folded, there is a 1.6 millimeter difference between the top and the bottom. The phone also has a thickness of 16 millimeters, which makes it anything but comfortable to hold or take with you.
None of these compromises are acceptable to a company as obsessed with thinness and design as Apple. If Apple designs a foldable phone, I will be very surprised if it follows the Z Fold 3’s design. Samsung’s hinges are definitely innovative, but after three generations, they need to come up with a way to make the Z Fold significantly thinner. If Apple ever releases a foldable Iphone, I guarantee it will not be as thick as two Iphone Pros.
The idea behind the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is simple: you have a 6.2-inch phone when you want to call or read a text and a 7.6-inch screen when you want to multitask and work. The problem is that the premise is wrong. While the technology is cool, there are very few moments during my day when I wish I could make the phone bigger – and then I have an Iphone 12 mini. All day long, my 5.4-inch Iphone is good enough to write long emails, edit or finish an article. But a tablet that could be folded out into something bigger, which I could still carry the bag, that would be something!
You may think it’s the same thing, but it’s not. The proportions of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 are not ideal for either a phone or tablet. Because Samsung designed it to be both at the same time, it got the worst of both worlds. Therefore is Z Flip 3 so much better – it knows what it’s supposed to be and does not try to be anything else. It is a foldable smartphone. Point. Z Fold 3 does not know if it wants to be a smartphone or a tablet.
If Apple wants to make a foldable Iphone, it needs to have a reason to exist. I’m convinced that there is a place in the world for folding phones, but Samsung has not sold me on their concept. Neither does Huawei for that matter. I think the answer lies in building a tablet that can be folded, rather than a phone that can be opened. This may mean that a foldable Iphone has a different form factor, a different hinge mechanism, a different interface, it may not even be a phone at all.
It’s true that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is Samsung’s cheapest full – size folding phone. It is also true that it is one of the most expensive phones you can buy with its price of SEK 19,500. Yes, it has a Snapdragon 888 processor, 5g, 120 Hz display and triple camera system, but it also has a Galaxy S21 that costs SEK 8,000. You basically pay for the novelty of a folding phone.
I’m not saying that the Galaxy Z Fold3 is necessarily expensive. But realistically, it must have a starting price of around 14,000 to be attractive to anyone other than Samsung’s fanbois. Apple is not directly known for its cheap phones, but I would be surprised to see a foldable Iphone that costs as much as the Galaxy Z Fold3 does.
Just like with the Apple Watch, Apple will enter an existing segment with a foldable Iphone. One that Samsung dominates and that with several years of experience. But there is still plenty of room for Apple to innovate, accelerate and improve foldable phones – especially if they learn from Samsung’s mistakes.
Original article by Michael Simon
Translated and edited by Petter Ahrnstedt