There’s no question that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 phones are huge wins for Samsung. They are the best foldable phones that money can buy right now, although there’s not much competition yet. Still, Samsung improved the build quality and lowered the prices for this year’s foldables. And Samsung will continue to make new Fold and Flip successors for the foreseeable future, as it wants to continue to lead the industry. Reports have already teased more competition for the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Flip 4, which will put more pressure on Samsung to deliver foldable tech improvements. It’s too early to tell what sort of advancements the 2022 Galaxy foldable handsets will deliver next year. But we now know that Samsung is considering a new design for its foldable flagship.
The current Galaxy Z Fold design
Samsung has stuck with the same basic design for the Galaxy Fold since the original, and it’s likely the Fold 4 will deliver a similar experience. When folded, the Fold is a thicker version of a traditional phone, although the external screen isn’t as wide as you might want it to be.
Unfolded, the Fold becomes a tablet with a generous display that extends from edge to edge. The Fold 3 offers the best iteration, with its foldable screen featuring an under-display camera. The Fold 3 also has a stronger Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) panel on top of its screen, which is more durable than the Fold 2’s UTG layer.
With that in mind, how could Samsung improve the Fold 4 design? It’s too early for design leaks for the 2022 Galaxy Z foldables, but reports suggest that Samsung is already hard at work.
Folding the Fold 4 differently
Currently, every Galaxy Z Fold model folds vertically. That means the hinge runs from top to bottom. Opposite the hinge, there’s a vertical display crease where the handset folds.
The central hinge placement means Samsung had to move the internal front-facing camera to the right side. As a result, the original Fold featured an asymmetric notch. The Fold 2 had a hole-punch camera on the right side of the screen. The Fold 3’s under-display camera got the same location.
Samsung has considered placing the hinge horizontally on a Fold device that would offer the same foldable real estate. The company has a design patent for such a device that LetsGoDigital discovered. That doesn’t mean the Fold 4 will adopt the design seen in these images. But it shows that Samsung has looked at alternate ways of delivering the same overall experience.
The overall size of the foldable screen would not change when the handset is folded. You’d still get the same tablet experience in unfolded mode, no matter where the hinge is situated. But the horizontal hinge would move the screen crease to the horizontal, where it might be less of a visual annoyance.
The foldable gets even more compact
The hinge would also be smaller in size, which would further reduce the risk of dust ingress. As a reminder, the Fold 3 is not dust-proof, even though it’s the first Fold foldable to come with a water-resistance rating.
Such a Galaxy Z Fold 4 design would also let Samsung move the selfie cameras to the center. There’s no hinge in the way to block camera components.
But the best thing about a horizontal Fold design becomes clear once you fold it. The handset gets more compact than before. It’s wider and not as tall as the current Fold 3 design. This also means the external display has a better aspect ratio, making it more comfortable to use.
Samsung already uses a horizontal hinge in the Galaxy Z Flip. Applying the same “clamshell” design to foldable devices like the Fold might have some merit. But, again, the illustrations that LetsGoDigital provides are only informative. Samsung might have patented the design, but there’s no guarantee that it’ll use it. Or that it’ll use it in the Fold 4 series. Samsung could always come up with a different Galaxy Z family member for this design.