Unlocking the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s bootloader kills all 5 cameras

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Open-Screen Bank

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

TL; DR

  • The Galaxy Z Fold 3 cameras do not work after unlocking the bootloader.
  • Samsung’s foldable device warns users of this side effect before actually unlocking the device.
  • It wouldn’t be the first time that camera functionality has been seriously impacted by an unlocked bootloader.

There are several reasons you might want to unlock your phone’s bootloader, but this usually has the side effect of disabling some apps. Now it seems that Samsung added another side effect to the list.

XDA developer reports that unlocking the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s bootloader actually disables all cameras on the foldable phone. This effectively kills the standard camera, third-party camera apps, and even camera-based face unlock.

Usually, unlocking a Samsung phone’s bootloader will result in the device failing Google’s SafetyNet safety tests. This, in turn, causes apps like Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and even Netflix to not work. We can understand these side effects as device security is critical for financial and streaming apps in general. But having basic hardware like the cameras refusing to work feels like a punishment for tinkering with the phone.

XDA notes that Sony previously disabled cameras on devices with bootloader unlock as well. At the time, Sony said that unlocking the bootloader on its devices would delete certain DRM security keys, affecting “advanced” camera features like noise reduction. So we suspect that a similar scenario will play out with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 if it not only throws a roadblock for hobbyists. But it seems that even rudimentary access to the cameras is better than no access at all.

We contacted Samsung to confirm this issue and whether it applies to other devices in its portfolio. We’ll update the article when the company gets back to us.

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