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

It's a rather nasty side-effect, but hopefully the community (or Samsung) is working on a solution.

Published onAugust 24, 2021

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 open screen bench
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • The Galaxy Z Fold 3’s cameras don’t work after unlocking its bootloader.
  • Samsung’s foldable warns users of this side-effect before actually unlocking the device.
  • It wouldn’t be the first time camera functionality was seriously affected by an unlocked bootloader.

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

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

Samsung does include a warning screen before unlocking the bootloader noting that the camera will be disabled, but it still makes for a strange move at first glance.

More reading: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review — No Note replacement, but a fine foldable

Typically, unlocking a Samsung phone’s bootloader results in the device failing Google’s SafetyNet security checks. This, in turn, results in apps like Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and even the likes of Netflix not working. We can understand these side-effects, as device security is generally key for financial and streaming apps. 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 bootloader unlocked devices too. At the time, Sony said that unlocking the bootloader on its devices would wipe certain DRM security keys, affecting “advanced” camera functionality such as noise reduction. So we’re guessing a similar scenario is playing out with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 if it isn’t simply throwing a roadblock at tinkerers. But it seems like even rudimentary access to the cameras would be better than no access at all.

We’ve contacted Samsung for confirmation of this issue and whether it applies to any other devices in its portfolio. We’ll update the article if/when the company gets back to us.

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