There’s something a bit different about Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip3. It’s not that it folds, as lots of phones can do that. The point of difference the Z Flip3 has is that it’s actually desirable.
That, oddly, is its biggest achievement. Previous folding, or flipping, smartphones have all looked like hack jobs. Not this. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is a well-designed device with proper smartphone specs and features. It’s also got a sensible price tag.
The only negative is the screen crease, and that’s a feature that all folding phones share. If you can look past that, there’s a lot to like here.
- Great performance
- Durable design
- Crease is hard to see
- Flex mode
- Sharp, vibrant display
- There is a crease
- Poor battery
- Lack of apps that utilise Flex Mode
- No telephoto lens
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is the latest device in the Flip range. You may be wondering what happened to the “Flip2”. All you need to know is Samsung skipped that and went straight from the Flip to the Flip3.
The Flip3 is a familiar device that doesn’t introduce a lot of noticeable changes from the original Flip. It’s the same design, it has the same cameras and it has the same poor battery.
But, the changes it does bring are definitely welcome ones.
The Flip3 is significantly more durable and its 4x larger outer display allows you to do more with the device in folded mode.
As far as horizontally folding phones go, this is the best on the market.
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip3 5G costs $1,599 for a 128GB version and an extra $100 for a 256GB version.
Those familiar with the Galaxy Z Flip will easily recognise the Flip3. Other than the 4x larger outer display, the designs are very similar.
The Flip3 is a bit thinner and slightly taller than the Flip measuring 166 x 72.2 x 6.9 mm unfolded, and 86.4 x 72.2 x 15.9 mm folded. However, the most significant design changes the Flip3 brings, (other than the outer display, more on that below) aren’t immediately obvious.
The Flip3 is significantly more durable than its predecessor. Samsung has used its own Armor Aluminum material for the frame, the outer display is made with scratch and drop resistant Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus and Samsung has also applied a stretchable PET protective film on the main display, which insulates it from liquid damage. It’s a very solid device, especially when folded.
It’s sturdy without being too heavy at 183g, and its design alleviated any worries I had about its durability. I was impressed by how strong the Flip3 is, for a foldable device.
Samsung also claims the main display has been strengthened and is 80% more durable than the Flip. I’m not brave enough to test this out, but it definitely feels solid.
The Flip3 has an improved IPX8 water resistance rating meaning it can handle being submerged in up to 1m of water.
The best design improvement the Flip3 brings is the larger outer display. It’s 4x larger than the Flip and it’s far more user friendly. You can see more information, like messages and emails. You can change songs and you can even take selfies with it. It allows you to do more with the Fold3 in its folded mode. It’s a significant improvement.
The Fold3 comes in a variety of colours, cream, green, lavender and phantom black. And you can also get it in grey, white or pink when purchasing it off the Samsung website. All of these look good. Our cream review device had a nice shiny gloss to it, however I did find the casing was easily smudged by fingerprints.
The Fold3 boasts a 6.7inch Super AMOLED display with a 2640 x 1080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate.
It’s bright and sharp and navigating through apps and menus is smooth. It looks great.
Obviously, there is a crease horizontally in the main display. The pixels here are slightly lighter than the rest of the display, but it was only a problem if I consciously looked for it.
The device does a good job at making the crease unobtrusive. Even when watching videos in full screen I barely noticed it.
Disappointingly there hasn’t been any changes made to the camera array on the Flip3. It has the same camera setup as its predecessor.
While these cameras aren’t bad, it feels like a missed opportunity. Especially with the impressive camera arrays available on the Galaxy S21.
There’s a 12MP (f/1.8) wide-angle lens, a 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide and a 10MP (f/2.4) selfie camera.
The phone lacks a telephoto lens with an optical zoom. For zoomed-in photos, you’re relying on the Flip3’s 10x digital zoom capabilities, and the results are never as impressive as a dedicated telephoto lens.
For non-zoomed shots, the cameras are more than capable. The photos look great. Photography enthusiasts may notice images tend to be oversaturated making them slightly less accurate. But overall the Flip3 will allow you to take photos you’ll love.
The architecture of the phone lends itself well to hands-free photography. You can fold the phone in half and set it down on a surface and it’s stable. No need for a tripod. This was useful when video calling someone. I didn’t have to hold the phone the whole time.
And as a terrible photo subject, I liked the Dual Preview feature that allowed me to see myself in the outer display when someone was taking a photo of me. You do have to be close to the phone to see it well, but it allowed me to get my usually horrendous photo smile, at least looking somewhat natural.
You can also film in up to 4K resolution at 60fps. The stabilisation software works well with the Flip3 and the videos I never had any issues with bumpy footage.
In this comparison between the Flip3 and the iPhone 12 at 1x zoom. You can see the Flip3 adds a lot more saturation to the image, which can be less accurate.
Again you can see at 0.5x zoom, the Flip3 has a tendency to produce a more saturated image, over the iPhone 12.
An area where the Flip3 did produce better images was when using digital zoom. Like the Flip3 the iPhone 12 also doesn’t have an optical zoom. The sharpness of the image produced by the Flip3 is better than the iPhone 12 at 5x digital zoom.
The Flip3 comes with Android 11 and One UI 3.1 out of the box.
The operating system is fast, easy to navigate and user-friendly. It comes with pre-installed apps like Samsung Health, Bixby and Samsung Free.
The Flip3’s best feature is Flex mode. This is where the main display is separated into two panels, one on the top half of the screen, one on the bottom. To turn Flex mode on, the app needs to support it and you simply have to fold the phone.
For example, when using the camera app the top panel will show the shot you’re taking and the bottom panel will let you scroll through your settings like ratio, type of shot, flash on/off and everything else. It’s useful when you have the device sitting on a surface while trying to take a photo.
I found it most useful when watching YouTube. As a massive YouTube addict, I particularly enjoyed its compatibility with Flex mode. I could have the video playing on the top panel while scrolling through comments and recommended videos on the bottom panel. It’s great and it works seamlessly.
The only downside with Flex mode is that not a lot of apps support it. If I folded the phone while using Spotify the screen would not get divided. While we can expect Google-based apps to support Flex mode, third party apps probably won’t and that’s disappointing.
The Flip3 comes equipped with a Snapdragon 888 processor and 8GB of RAM. This is the best Android chipset on the market right now and is also used in the Galaxy S21.
It’s fast and it performs very well. Apps load quickly, graphic intensive games like Raid: Shadow Legends run without issues and there’s no stuttering when navigating the phone.
The Snapdragon 888 achieved very good Geekbench 5 scores with a single-core score of 1104 and a multi-core score of 3587. The Flip3 is going to be able to handle anything you throw at it, no matter how demanding, without problems.
This strong performance lends itself well to Flex mode. The Flip3 was very good at registering when I wanted to have the display in Flex mode and I never ran into any hiccups where the device didn’t register Flex mode or accidentally registered it.
The Flip3’s battery is disappointing.
Samsung maintained the same 3,300mAh battery that can be found in the Flip.
The Flip3 has a brighter display, a higher refresh rate and a larger outer display and a 3,300mAh battery isn’t enough to keep up. To put that into perspective the Galaxy S21 has a 4,000mAh battery.
In our testing, we found the Flip3 would last around 6 hours with average use and that sucks. Heavy usage drops that to around 5. This means you’ll need to constantly charge the Flip3, multiple times a day.
To add to the battery woes, the Flip3 only supports 15W wired charging and 10W wireless charging. There isn’t a super-fast charging mode like we’ve seen with Oppo’s latest phones. It takes roughly 35 minutes to get from 0% to 48% charge. Which isn’t too bad but for a device you’ll need to charge a lot, that’s not fast enough.
Also, the device doesn’t come with a charger in the box. Which is always a downside.
If you’re looking for a foldable phone that can be used steadily without a tripod, that can split its main display into two panels and that has a durable, sturdy design, you’re going to love the Galaxy Z Flip3.
It performs well, has a great looking main display and the large outer display is a massive improvement on the original Flip.
But the question needs to be asked, is this better than a similarly priced device that doesn’t fold? No, it’s not, but it could be on par. Which is a massive win for Samsung’s foldable phones.
The Flip3 is held back by a very poor battery and other than the outer display it doesn’t do a lot to warrant upgrading from the Flip.
Other than being able to fold, the Flip3 doesn’t bring anything unique to the market. The similarly priced iPhone 12 Pro has better cameras, a far better battery and better performance, but of course, it doesn’t fold in half.