Exclusive: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will get Android updates faster than previous foldables

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 (Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung's most recent foldable phones - the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 - won't have to wait long for the new update to One UI 4, according to a Samsung executive.

Sally Hyesoon Jeong, Head of Framework R&D at Samsung, told TechRadar, “Last year, when One UI 3 was released, foldable users had to wait a little bit before they could enjoy the latest version. 

"We heard feedback, and they wanted to get their hands on One UI as soon as possible. So this time around, we tried our best to narrow the gap.

“We brought greater efficiency to the software structure by bringing a modular structure to the underlying software architecture. Through that, we were able to bring One UI to foldable users earlier than before.”

Jeong couldn't share an official release date for the new software, but the One UI 4 update - which is based on Google's Android 12 - is now rolling out to the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 are the company's most recent smartphones, so it'd make sense if these handsets are among the next to get the upgrade. Often Android manufacturers will prioritize upgrading its current line of smartphones.

The company confirmed today that One UI 4 would be coming to the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3, as well as the original Galaxy Fold. So far, it doesn't seem like the software will be coming to the Galaxy Z Fold 2, Galaxy Z Flip or the Galaxy Z Flip 5G.

While we don't yet know when it'll land on Samsung's most recent foldable handsets, it's reassuring for those who have spent a lot of money on these handsets that the company is making an effort to get them upgraded as soon as possible.

Analysis: Foldable phones have made updates tougher

Why do people's iPhones get updates on the same day, but those with Android devices have to wait to be able to upgrade to the latest software? It's mostly because of the sheer variety of devices on Android.

Manufacturers have to take the software update that Google provides - for example Android 12 in 2021's case - and then adapt it for their own means. For One UI 4, that includes a different design to the software as well as extra features.

Foldable phones only make this process more complicated as it's an entirely new form factor that Samsung has to take into account when its tinkering on its changes to the software.

Samsung also had two forms of foldable device. The Z Flip series features clamshell devices that need the software to work across a longer screen, while the Z Fold series mimicks a book and therefore the software needs to work on a wider screen.

It's unlikely to differ too much, but foldable phones just add in another thing for manufacturers to consider when upgrading smartphones to the latest software so it's not a huge surprise these new handsets haven't been the priority for Samsung in the past.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.