There’s good and bad news on the modding front this morning for Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 owners. First, the good: the bootloader has already been unlocked and root access achieved, which could pave the way for rooting or running custom ROMs on the phone.

Now for the bad. If you do choose to unlock the bootloader, Samsung stops the Z Fold 3 cameras from working.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3Samsung even has a warning at the ready for would-be unlockers. It explicitly mentions that cameras will cease to function and adds that apps may not work as expected and your warranty may go out the window, too.

The discovery was reported by a pair of members over at XDA Developers reported their experiences yesterday. There was some speculation that Samsung may have taken this step to comply with laws in certain regions, but XDA user ianmacd seems confident that the F926B model is affected in all markets.

Samsung's warning to would-be modders
Samsung’s warning to would-be modders (image: XDA developers)

If this sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it has happened before. Almost three years ago Sony started doing something very similar to Xperia modders.

The official line from Sony Mobile was that unlocking the bootloader removed DRM security keys. Interfering with the DRM, they claimed, could cripple certain “advanced camera functionality” including noise reduction and low-light shooting.

Sony didn’t go as far as completely disabling cameras. Unlocking the Xperia bootloader still let users take pictures. That might have been better than what Samsung has done — if users had been able to take pictures that didn’t come out all green.

While this isn’t the happiest of developments for would-be Z Fold 3 modders, there’s a good chance the community will solve the issue relatively soon. The original poster commented that a “non-complicated module” for the popular Magisk rooting tool should do the trick. For now, re-locking the bootloader seems to restore the camera functionality.

There’s always the possibility that Samsung anticipated that move, too, and may have a few more unpleasant surprises waiting as devs dig deeper.

via XDA Developers

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  1. As cool as it might be to see the bootloader unlocked, it seems like the kind of device that I wouldn’t want to wander too far from official Samsung support.

    I imagine a LOT of unique OS features were developed by Samsung to allow apps to interact with the unique hardware. I wouldn’t think that custom ROMs would be ready to support some of those unique features for a long time.

    1. Unlocking isn’t just for custom ROMs. It is how you get rid of all the crapware Samsung adds to their phones.

      1. Fair, but I think there would probably be some hard limits for things that people might want to remove. For example, if someone wants to remove Samsung’s launcher, are there even any 3rd party launchers that can work with the Samsung Fold phones yet?

        I’m not sure if things have improved since the launch of the previous Samsung Fold, but I read that it wasn’t possible to use any 3rd party launchers properly, because of the unique aspects of the hardware, and dynamic screen sizes.

        1. Sure, removing the launcher could be a problem, just like deleting system32 on windows could be a problem. But they are both (or at least could be made) a fixable one (even if that means a clean install).

  2. For the amount of money Samsung demands for this phone you would think you would actually own it and do what you want with it. Just kidding, of course you don’t actually own the device. You simply pay (a lot) for the opportunity to use it for two or three years.