Samsung might finally give in to consumer pressure in its next foldable phone, but is it really the best solution?
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is arguably the best-selling foldable phone Samsung has launched, at least next to the clamshell-style Galaxy Z Flip 3. It’s not without its fair share of criticism, of course, particularly with the lackluster front camera tucked under the display. Along with increased durability, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has sparked interest with its compatibility with an S Pen, Samsung’s Wacom-powered stylus. This new power, however, came with a big snag that nearly ruined functionality for many users. A designer has now created 3D renders that attempt to imagine what the next iteration would look like if Samsung gave this stylus a home inside the foldable phone.
Designer: Waqar Khan
The S Pen for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 fulfilled the fantasy of having a digital notebook that you can open and write or draw. Just like with analog laptops, however, the S Pen didn’t slide inside the phone like it did with the previous Galaxy Note series of phones. Samsung tried to justify this step back with the size of the stylus, which doesn’t fit inside the phone, and the newer hardware it had to cram inside the bigger stick, but those excuses didn’t fly. with a lot of people, especially Samsung’s own fans.
This design meant that Galaxy Z Fold 3 owners would have to purchase and carry this S Pen separately, which created the risk of losing the stylus or even accidentally breaking it. Samsung used a similar strategy with the Galaxy S21 Ultra last year, but released a case that included a place to store the S Pen. In contrast, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s first-party flip cover looked like an April Fool’s joke gone wrong in both design and usability.
With the Galaxy S22 Ultra this year adding a silo for the S Pen, rumors and expectations that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 would follow. These renders are based on unofficial information and perhaps a bit of wishful thinking, and they show what the foldable phone would look like if it had the S Pen built in. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t look any different at all.
It was almost as if the designer had taken a Galaxy Z Fold 3 model and simply cut out a whole for the S Pen like the Galaxy S22 Ultra. There’s almost no visible change other than that, which might not bode well for those who were already disappointed with last year’s cameras. Fortunately, it is still too early to say if this will indeed be the case.
While an S Pen included in the Galaxy Z Fold 4 would indeed solve the problem of speed and convenience, it still begs the question of whether this is the best solution or just a fix. bypass. Having a stick always ready for your notes and scribbles is certainly better than having to search for a pen, but it’s not the most ergonomic tool either. Even the biggest fans of Samsung’s stylus would admit that their hands hurt after prolonged use, and even the larger Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen can feel a bit cramped.
Samsung has an even larger S Pen Pro that offers more functionality and, more importantly, better grip for those who need to use the stylus for more than a few minutes. This, however, brings us back to the original issue of where to keep the stylus. The S Pen Pro is much larger than the phone, so none of the cases, including third-party designs, would actually fit.
There’s no easy answer to this design puzzle, at least not yet, but Samsung could have alleviated some of the pain points had it properly designed a case for the Galaxy Z Fold 3. To date, it still only has one official case that can accommodate its open S Pen, which makes it seem like the functionality was more of an afterthought than a key selling point. Granted, this allowed accessory makers and even some more creative owners to design their own solutions that looked and worked better than Samsung’s official product. They’re still not perfect, but that doesn’t bode well for Samsung’s reputation in the design community if it can’t even create a decent solution for an $1,800 phone.