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Why the most exciting Galaxy Z Fold 3 feature is S Pen support

Published Jul 13th, 2021 7:31AM EDT
Fold 3 S Pen
Image: Samsung via Evan Blass

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A leaker earlier this week spoiled everything that Samsung has planned for the upcoming summer Unpacked press conference. We saw official-looking renders of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Flip 3, S21 FE, Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch Active 4, and the new Galaxy Buds — well, again. All these devices leaked in great detail before, so Samsung fans should not be surprised. We already know almost everything there is to know about these gadgets, especially the flagship foldable phones. A brand new finding further cements the idea that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will come with S Pen stylus support. This time we’re looking at a new FCC listing, which is the best confirmation we could expect at this time.

As someone interested in the concept of foldable phones, I’ve followed the Fold series closely. The first model hardly impressed, with its poor design choices that lead to potentially fatal display accidents. Samsung had to delay the phone’s launch for nearly half a year in 2019 to fix the design. The Fold 2 brought further design refinements meant to improve the phone’s durability. We got a hinge that could stop debris from getting into the handset and an Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) panel covering the OLED screen.

With the Fold 3, Samsung will “fix” two things about foldable phones that could drive up adoption significantly. That’s durability and affordability. The FCC’s confirmation that S Pen support is coming to the Fold 3 has to do with the former.

Why the Fold 3 S Pen support is the phone’s most exciting feature

Even if you don’t plan to use a stylus with the Fold 3, S Pen support is amazing news for the foldable. We saw the feature leaked for well over a year now. Fold 2 should have supported stylus input, but the first-gen UTG panel was too brittle.

That layer of glass that improved the durability of the Fold 2 was much better than the plastic panel of the original Fold. But the UTG panel was too thin for its own good. Accidents were still possible. So using a stylus on such a display isn’t a good idea.

Rumors said that Fold 3 would feature a more durable UTG panel. It’s still bendable glass, but it’ll be stronger than before. This second-gen foldable glass can support the S Pen. Samsung might have made changes to the stylus as well to prevent screen damage. The FCC reveals the name of the new stylus. It’s S Pen Pro, and it’s compatible with several types of devices, including the unreleased Fold 3.

The stylus itself isn’t new. It’s the one that Samsung announced earlier this year. But the listing confirms all the rumors so far.

It’s amazing news even if you don’t buy a Samsung foldable

If the new UTG glass can survive the stylus, the screen should be even more durable than before. Just like that, Samsung might alleviate one of my biggest concerns about expensive phones with foldable screens.

Even if you don’t plan on buying the Fold 3 but want a foldable from the competition, the Fold 3’s S Pen support is terrific news. That’s because it doesn’t just want to sell more foldables than ever. Rumors say that the company is looking to sell foldable screens to other smartphone makers. The most notable entity on that list is Google, which is making a foldable Pixel of its own.

Having the same high-quality Samsung foldable OLED screen complete with the brand new UTG panel on top inside next-gen foldable phones is something to look forward to.

Also, let’s not forget that Apple is already exploring foldable iPhones. And Samsung is the main provider of iPhone displays.

That said, things could still go wrong with foldable screens. The new, unconfirmed UTG panel might not be as durable as we want. Real-life Fold 3 use will tell us exactly how strong the glass is and whether the S Pen can damage it. Even so, rumors said that Samsung planed other durability changes for the new foldables. The list includes better seals that would give the phones better protection against water and dust ingression.

Samsung will unveil the Fold 3 on August 11th, according to recent leaks.


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.