The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 have been widely touted as the best foldable smartphones from Samsung, yet. However, for those looking to get either of the devices, especially tinkerers, as per a report from XDA Developers, there may be a catch.
The foldable phones in the Samsung lineup have gained so much popularity over the past three years to the extent that Samsung is considering dropping the decade-old Galaxy Note series in favour of the new guns. This can directly be seen by Samsung failing to announce a new Galaxy Note for 2021.
However, this goodwill built over the last few years can be destroyed after reports that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 camera will stop working once you unlock the bootloader.
Samsung is notorious for making it difficult for enthusiasts to have root access, but this roadblock is felt as going too far in restricting after-market development.
Samsung uses a security suite called Knox, and like other manufacturers, any modifications to the device will trigger it, therefore voiding your warranty and disabling Samsung Pay, in countries where Samsung’s payments platform is available, permanently.
Samsung Pay enables one to pay with a smartphone at places they would normally use a physical credit or debit card. Now, this, specifically, won’t be a problem for most Kenyans, as the payment system isn’t accessible here and, well, there’s the more convenient M-Pesa route.
Consequences of Unlocking the Bootloader
According to early testers of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, you will be provided with a confirmation screen that the bootloader unlock process will cause the camera to be disabled.
Upon booting up with an unlocked bootloader, the stock camera application will fail to operate and also all other camera-related functions will be ground to a halt, including facial recognition.
Downloading a third-party camera application will not solve the issue as you will still be met with a dark screen, and, after a while, it will time out on its own.
This anti-consumer move pulled by Samsung mirrors what Sony did in the past with the Sony Xperia handset. Unlocking the bootloader on the Sony Xperia would also cause the camera to work incorrectly, only taking green pictures. Other software features like Sony’s video and tweaks also stopped working. Sony, however, to their credit saw the error in their ways and patched that issue after Android Pie was released back in 2018.
What is interesting, as the XDA report notes, is that re-locking the bootloader makes the camera work again as normal. This basically indicates the obstacle is software level, and with more creativity, those with root access can theoretically find a solution around it, or Samsung can simply remove the restriction with an update to the phone.
I am a strong believer in being allowed to do whatever you want with a device you paid a premium for, and Samsung withholding some features back in order to discourage users from trying to get more freedom with a rooted device is just plain wrong.
Samsung has also been put on the spot in the past because of serving ads to their smartphones, which users felt they had not been given a choice whether they are comfortable with it. The latest information we have is that they are doing away with them, for good.