Compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, this year’s foldable headliner almost looks like an incremental upgrade rather than a revolutionary one, at least if you don’t consider the “optional” S Pen. The small improvements, however, add up to make the Galaxy Z Fold 3 one of the most durable phones in the market, despite its seemingly fragile design and display. One of the biggest upgrades is the IPX8 rating that sounds almost impossible for such a device. Fortunately, JerryRigEverything and iFixit have taken apart the $1,800 phone to reveal Samsung’s hydrophobic secrets.
On a conventional smartphone, waterproofing is easy enough to pull off with a combination of adhesives, rubber gaskets, and water-resistant meshes that cover all possible entry points. A foldable device with a hinge naturally complicates that, and Samsung was forced to apply new designs and materials to prevent water from getting inside in the first place. Just like with the hinge brushes that keep most dust out, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s waterproofing starts at the hinge.
Samsung already talked about the special gaskets it used around the cable connectors that joined the two displays, employing a special silicone material to keep water from getting into the phone from that point. iFixit pointed out that water could still get into the phone and under the display panels but is further stopped by the strong adhesive that protects the cables that connect the screen to the rest of the phone.
Unfortunately, water that gets past those barriers will be able to damage the Galaxy Z Fold 3. JerryRigEverything proved that the phone’s boards don’t have any hydrophobic coating to protect the electronics from water. Then again, Samsung was pretty vague on that part, so it can’t really be called out for potentially misleading marketing.
All in all, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has proven to be a very tight device, which unfortunately translates to being difficult to open up and repair. That, in turn, translates to expensive repairs, which is why Samsung is pushing its Care+ warranty to all foldable phone buyers. Given its durability, owners would at least have less to worry about, but some are already reporting some nicks and scratches that are ironically more common on the outer Cover Display and rame than the more fragile main screen.