The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is widely expected to arrive within the next few months, and when it does turn up it might not have any physical buttons attached – or at least that's the suggestion from a newly published Samsung patent.
LetsGoDigital has done the patent digging to uncover the filing, which shows a device that looks very much like the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Instead of actual, physical buttons, the handset is controlled with capacitive (non-moving, embedded) buttons and gestures.
This would be particularly useful when the folding phone is in its closed state, when the two 'sides' of the device are next to each other – that gives users twice as much space to work with on the edge of the gadget, and having capacitive buttons and gesture control might be a more intuitive option than the conventional approach.
By incorporating side panels that can except taps, squeezes and swipes, Samsung would be able to expand the number of controls and features that can be accessed whether the phone is open or closed – if it can successfully pull off the implementation of the tech.
The patent was filed in November 2020, but there's no clear indication of whether this is going to be ready in time for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 launch. The latest leaks and rumors point to an August debut for the foldable, alongside the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.
If this button-less technology isn't ready for this year's foldable phones, we might well see it appear in 2022: at this point Samsung seems very much committed to the form factor, and the company looks likely to launch at least a couple of bending smartphones at year for the foreseeable future.
Various rumors and leaks have given us some idea of what to expect from this year's Galaxy Z Fold 3, the follow-up to the Galaxy Z Fold 2 that launched in August 2020. In some areas, like charging speeds, we might not see much of an upgrade at all.
However, we are expecting some upgrades in the camera department: in particular, the Z Fold 3 is being tipped to come with an under-display selfie camera that should improve the overall aesthetics of the foldable device.
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Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.