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Trusted leaker details Samsung’s revolutionary Fold 3 upgrade

Published Jun 7th, 2021 7:31AM EDT
Galaxy Z Fold 3 Rumors
Image: Samsung

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The Galaxy Z Fold 3 that’s due in August will be a massive upgrade over its predecessor, according to several reports so far. Every new smartphone generation is supposed to be better than its predecessor when it comes to internal hardware and software capabilities, but the Fold 3 already teases a few exciting upgrades beyond that.

The new foldable might deliver an improved design that would address fragility concerns. Reports claimed that the handset would be Samsung’s first foldable to receive an official dust and water resistance certification, which should further improve the phone’s durability. The Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) layer that sits on top of the OLED panel will be a reinforced version of the first-gen UTG panel launched last year. The stronger glass should prevent accidental cracks and allow Samsung to bring S Pen stylus support to the foldable. That’s also a first for the handset. The new Fold is also expected to deliver its first GPU for mobile phones developed with AMD this year.

Finally, Fold 3 buyers might get another first from Samsung, but this upgrade is even more significant than the others. The Fold 3 might be Samsung’s first phone with an Under Panel Camera (UPC) display, a feature that will likely come to more Samsung phones in the future. A trusted leaker with access to Samsung’s unreleased devices has shared more details about the UPC innovation.

Samsung started teasing UPC screens quietly in January when it unveiled its OLED display technology for laptops. Those OLED screens come in UPC varieties, although laptop makers are yet to launch such a screen. Not even Samsung’s new Galaxy Book devices feature UPC OLED screens. Samsung then unveiled the technology in full a few weeks ago at SID Display Week. But Samsung used imagery that connected UPC tech to laptops. However, the company made it clear that UPC applies to mobile devices. UPC is “a front-facing camera for mobile devices that is housed underneath the display panel to achieve a real full-screen experience without distracting notches.”

A few days ago, well-known leaker Ice Universe said that the Fold 3’s UPC camera has a transmittance as high as 40%. He said that’s much higher than other UPC solutions from other Android vendors.

Placing the camera under the screen allows handset makers to deliver a perfect smartphone design. But the selfie camera performance might be impacted as a result. Light has to pass through the glass and OLED layers of the screen before reaching the sensor.

That’s why we saw UPC phones some two years ago from Chinese makers, but the technology never made it to commercial devices. ZTE launched the world’s first phone with a camera under the screen last fall, but that device wasn’t a flagship, and it hardly impressed reviewers.

Ice returned over the weekend with additional remarks about Samsung’s UPC camera. According to him, the light transmittance is close to the experience of regular selfie cameras. But he added that the screen design would not be perfect. The UPC location will be easily spotted, as seen in the render above.

If the leaker’s information is accurate, then it looks like Samsung chose camera quality over design. That’s the trade-off we already expect when it comes to UPC designs. The selfie camera experience is incredibly important on smartphones, and photo and video quality can’t suffer because we want those “perfect” screen designs. Even if the under-display camera will be visible, this will be a first-gen design that should see improvements in the coming years. That’s assuming Samsung is happy to launch its UPC tech this year.

The leaker did not name the Fold 3, but he teased that his audience should know which phone he’s talking about. Ice said in previous remarks that he expects the Fold 3 to be one of the several Android phones this year to feature UPC tech.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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