I love Samsung’s tri-fold phone tech, but this phone looks like a brick

Samsung's tri-fold Galaxy is really clever – but it's also really thick

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
(Image credit: Future)

If you thought the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G was clever, Samsung has something even cleverer for you: a patented design for a tri-fold phone with two hinges that folds in a Z shape. Unfortunately it suffers even more from the problem that plagues the Z Fold 3: when you fold a phone, it gets a lot thicker – and the more folds it has, the thicker it gets.

The patent, which was spotted by LetsGoDigital, makes it clear: a tri-fold phone brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "bricked your phone". Where the Samsung Galaxy S21 is super slim, Samsung's patented design looks as thick as a brick.

You gotta know when to fold 'em

The design here is very interesting: the guts of the phone are in the front and back sections, with the middle bit largely free of crucial components. But as interesting as the idea of a phone that becomes properly tablet-sized is, there are practical issues to consider too. 

For example, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is around 100g heavier than an iPhone 13 or Samsung Galaxy S21, and it's only 22g lighter than the iPad mini 6. That's with a bi-fold design. A tri-fold will add more weight and more bulk too, and unless you're wearing cargo pants it's not going to fit in your pocket. Unless or until Samsung can find ways to make things a whole lot lighter and a whole lot thinner, a tri-fold phone is something most of us would admire rather than acquire.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).