fbpx
Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 Hands-on: Getting better

These foldables are more premium and affordable upgrades

At ‘Unpacked’ 2021, Samsung unveiled two new smartwatches, a pair of wireless earbuds and, most importantly, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the Galaxy Z Fold 3, its latest duo of foldable smartphones.

I went hands-on with both foldable devices and my overall initial impression is that they’re quite solid. Most importantly, there are several improvements since their last iterations that make the concept of a foldable smartphone a lot more feasible for the average person, despite their expensive price tags.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Display

7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex, 2,208 x 1,768 pixels + 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 2,268 x 832 pixels - 120Hz

6.7-inch Foldable FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 2,640 x 1,080 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate | Cover display 1.9-inch Super AMOLED 260 x 512 pixels

Processor

Snapdragon 888

Snapdragon 888

RAM

12GB of RAM

8GB of RAM

Storage

256GB/512GB of storage

128GB/256GB of storage

Dimensions (in.)

Unfolded: 158.2 x 128.2 x 6.4 mm | Folded: 158.2. x 67.1 x 16 mm

Unfolded: 166 x 72.2 x 6.9mm | Folded: 86.4 x 72.2 x 17.1 mm

Weight

271g

183g

Rear Facing Camera

12-megapixel (Ultra wide, f/2.2) + 12-megapixel (wide, f/1.8) + 12-megapixel (telephoto, f/2.4)

12-megapixel (f/1.8) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2)

Front Facing Camera

10-megapixel (f/2.2) + 4-megapixel (f/1.8)

10-megapixel (f/2.4)

OS

Android 11

Android 11

Battery

4,400mAh

3,300mAh

Network Connectivity

LTE/ 5G

LTE/ 5G

Sensors

Fingerprint sensor (side mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, compass, barometer

Fingerprint sensor (side mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, compass, barometer

SIM Type

Nano SIM

Nano SIM

Launch Date

August 11, 2021

August 11, 2021

Misc

Colours: Phantom Black, Phantom Green, Phantom Silver

Colours: Cream, Green, Lavendar, Phantom Black, Gray (Samsung.com Exclusive), White (Samsung.com Exclusive), Pink (Samsung.com Exclusive)

Display

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex, 2,208 x 1,768 pixels + 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 2,268 x 832 pixels - 120Hz

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

6.7-inch Foldable FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 2,640 x 1,080 pixels, 120Hz refresh rate | Cover display 1.9-inch Super AMOLED 260 x 512 pixels

Processor

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Snapdragon 888

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Snapdragon 888

RAM

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

12GB of RAM

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

8GB of RAM

Storage

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

256GB/512GB of storage

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

128GB/256GB of storage

Dimensions (in.)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Unfolded: 158.2 x 128.2 x 6.4 mm | Folded: 158.2. x 67.1 x 16 mm

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Unfolded: 166 x 72.2 x 6.9mm | Folded: 86.4 x 72.2 x 17.1 mm

Weight

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

271g

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

183g

Rear Facing Camera

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

12-megapixel (Ultra wide, f/2.2) + 12-megapixel (wide, f/1.8) + 12-megapixel (telephoto, f/2.4)

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

12-megapixel (f/1.8) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2)

Front Facing Camera

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

10-megapixel (f/2.2) + 4-megapixel (f/1.8)

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

10-megapixel (f/2.4)

OS

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Android 11

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Android 11

Battery

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

4,400mAh

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

3,300mAh

Network Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

LTE/ 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

LTE/ 5G

Sensors

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Fingerprint sensor (side mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, compass, barometer

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Fingerprint sensor (side mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, compass, barometer

SIM Type

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Nano SIM

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Nano SIM

Launch Date

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

August 11, 2021

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

August 11, 2021

Misc

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Colours: Phantom Black, Phantom Green, Phantom Silver

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Colours: Cream, Green, Lavendar, Phantom Black, Gray (Samsung.com Exclusive), White (Samsung.com Exclusive), Pink (Samsung.com Exclusive)

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3

When I first picked up the Z Fold 3, it felt like a “dummy device” compared to the previous Z Fold 2. Despite the smartphone only being 11g lighter than its predecessor, the difference is immediately noticeable. The Z Fold 3 is also thinner and not as bulky as its predecessor, which I really appreciate, given the size of the Z Fold 2.

The Fold 3 feels entirely more premium than the Fold 2. For example, the device’s rear includes a matte texture that feels high-quality and prevents the smartphone from getting covered in fingerprints, though it still attracts smudges.

The foldable’s cover screen now features a buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. I used the Z Fold 2’s cover screen quite a bit, but would normally revert to the larger display due to its 120Hz refresh rate. With the Z Fold 3, that’s no longer an issue.

“When you’re about to take a selfie, the front-facing camera reveals itself and looks like a normal shooter.”

While the handset’s displays still feature screen protectors, they aren’t as noticeable, despite how obvious they are in pictures and to the touch. In fact, when I first picked up the Z Fold 3, I had to look very closely to see if it was even there. However, unlike the Z Fold 2, Samsung told me that it can’t peel off. Samsung calls the protector a “protective film,” which offers further shielding over the foldable’s ‘Gorilla Glass Victus’ screen.

In my brief time with the Z Fold 3, I didn’t find the permanent display protectors to be an issue, mostly because they look less like a normal screen protector a lot more like they’re actually part of the screen. This seems to be an issue the South Korean tech giant aimed to solve with the Z Fold 3, and it definitely paid off. I’m still concerned that the minor indents which are sometimes visible in the Z Fold 2’s display will return with the Z Fold 3, so keep an eye out for my full review. 

Moving to the inner display, what’s most interesting about the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is its new Under Camera Display (UDC).

In short, it’s definitely not entirely what I was expecting. Samsung says that it was able to hide the front-facing cutout by placing display pixels over the camera lens. While this is true, the pixels located on top of the lens are arguably more noticeable than the actual sensor and look a little weird. This is especially apparent when you have a white background.  Also, when you’re watching content from apps like YouTube, you’re really able to distinguish it from the rest of the screen. Similar to the still-present foldable display crease, I’ll likely forget it’s there in time. That said, I didn’t expect the pixels to look so strange.

“Samsung partnered with several app developers like Netflix, Slack, YouTube and Spotify to create a better-optimized experience.”

When you’re about to take a selfie, the front-facing camera reveals itself and looks like a normal shooter. I briefly used the under-display camera in not-so-great lighting, and while the resulting image didn’t look great, the difference was negligible compared to the Z Fold 2. This is especially surprising given that the Z Fold 3’s shooter comes in at 4-megapixels and the Z Fold 2’s was 10-megapixels. With that in mind, more testing of the Under Display Camera is definitely needed before I pass the final judgment.

Other new Z Fold 3 features I was able to test out include the ability to pin the Edge bar to the display to create a ‘taskbar,’ similar to a desktop computer. This makes it easier to split the screen between two apps. I didn’t test out this feature a lot, but it’s something I plan to explore more when I get my hands on a review device.

It’s also worth mentioning that Samsung partnered with several app developers like Netflix, Slack, YouTube and Spotify to create a better-optimized experience.

Another key part of the Z Fold 3 is its S Pen compatibility. The Z Fold 3 will work with both the S Pen Pro and the S Pen Fold Edition. This additional accessory doesn’t come with the Z Fold 3 and needs to be purchased separately or in a bundle (pricing is currently unknown).

Galaxy Z Flip 3

On the other hand, my opinion on the new Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a bit more negative. Overall, the device feels slightly less premium than the Z Fold 3 and even last year’s Z Flip 5G.

While the back offers Gorilla Glass Victus material, which Samsung says protects the Z Flip 3 from scratches, it lacks the same matte feel of the Z Fold 3 and attracts fingerprints like no other premium device I’ve used before.

The Z Flip 3 also features what Samsung calls ‘Armor Aluminum’ to better protect the device when it folds. While this helps the handset in terms of durability, it also gives it a slightly bulkier look when compared to the Z Flip and Z Flip 5G.

Thankfully, this is where the negatives regarding the Flip 3 end and the positives commence.

On the front, there’s a larger 1.9-inch cover screen. I really like the shift to the larger display compared to the 1.1-inch display available on the Z Flip 5G. The Cover Screen now lets you perform tasks like using Samsung Pay, flipping through Quick Settings, checking notifications legibly and offers access more widgets.

I didn’t get to try this out during my brief time with the foldable, but you can even customize the Cover Screen to match the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic’s watch faces.

Further, the Z Flip 3 is thinner and lighter than the Z Flip 5G. With this in mind, it’s worth mentioning that a woman at the hands-on event I attended mentioned that the device fits more easily in the pockets of women’s pants. Given how women’s pants rarely feature pockets — and when they do, they’re tiny — I’d say this is a good thing.

When you flip open the handset, the smartphone offers a large 6.7-inch 120Hz refresh rate display. This is a massive upgrade compared to the Z Flip 5G’s standard display, offering more fluid movement across the board.

Finally, it’s important to note that both the Z Flip 5G and the Z Fold 3 are IPX8 waterproof, which means they should be able to withstand being submerged in water for brief periods of time.

Samsung is ‘unfolding’ the future of smartphones

Samsung’s new foldable smartphones are undeniable upgrades over their predecessors and both smartphones offer a premium experience, despite my minor grievances with the Z Flip 3.

The Z Fold 3 looks and feels like a premium foldable and even based on the short amount of time I spent with the device, it’s definitely a Note-worthy flagship.

On the other hand, the Z Flip 3 offers great specs and, more so than ever before, feels like a real flagship with few notable compromises. With its pricing cheaper than Z Fold 3’s, in some ways, it’s Samsung’s more accessible 2021 foldable.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be going in-depth with both of these foldable handsets and will put their cameras, hardware and overall user experience through their paces.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Galaxy Flip 3 are now available for pre-order. The 256GB Z Fold 3 costs $2,269 and the 512GB variant costs $2,409 (Phantom Black only). The Z Fold 3 is available in ‘Phantom Silver,’ ‘Phantom Black’ and ‘Phantom Green.’

The 128GB Z Flip 3 is priced at $1,259 and the 256GB variant (Phantom Black only) costs $1,329.99.

The Z Flip 3 is available in ‘Cream,’ ‘Green,’ ‘Lavender,’ and ‘Phantom Black.’ Samsung is also launching exclusive colours, including ‘Gray,’ ‘White’ and ‘Pink,’ but it’s currently unclear if they will launch in Canada.

Comments