The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is the latest in the range of foldables that phone makers have decided are the future of mobile. In the past I have been very skeptical of the concept, often quoting the iconic line from Jurassic Park “People are so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” But here we are in 2021, and after using the Galaxy Z Flip3 for about two weeks, I am convinced foldable phones could be truly exciting.
Before I continue, I must admit I am old. Not ancient, but I fondly remember the feeling of flipping a phone closed to hang up. Back when the Motorola Razr was the biggest phone on the planet, that was my favourite thing about it. This is the first thing I thought of when I unboxed and folded the Galaxy Z Flip3 for the first time.
Looking at the design, the Galaxy Z Flip3 offers a 6.7-inch foldable FHD+ dynamic AMOLED 2X display, delivering a resolution of 2640 x 1080 with a 120Hz refresh rate. You would think the fact that it folds could take away some vibrancy of the screen, but during testing I found the screen clear and bright. There is still the tell-tale crease in the middle of the display, but Samsung has done a great job at mitigating that while using the device, with it rarely noticeable in day-to-day use.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 features Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and offers a new protective film out of the box. Considering how malleable the underling screen technology is, the fact that I am not constantly fearful of damaging the device is amazing, and it is all thanks to Samsung. It feels much more “glass” like this time around and is much easier to use than past foldable devices.
“You would think the fact that it folds could take away some vibrancy of the screen, but during testing I found the screen clear and bright.”
I am unsure if the longevity will be as good as non-folding phones, but this is the first time I did not feel the need to baby a foldable since they first hit the market. Samsung also made the Galaxy Z Flip3 IPX8 waterproof, meaning you can get caught in the rain and not worry about bricking your new device, an amazing achievement.
Using the phone was what you would expect, it felt natural after a short while. Yes, there is a crease, but I quickly got used to it and quickly grew to love the way the Galaxy Z Flip3 felt and functioned. While it may not be as vibrant as some phones on the market, I found the Galaxy Z Flip3 very useful for media consumption, as well as daily tasks, including email, web browsing and light gaming.
The front screen offers a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED 260 x 512 display usable for notifications and quick tasks on the phone. This is one of the major changes for this year’s model, and I have to say it is a great addition. While you will not be using your phone from the little front display, it gives just enough to let you know if you should pick up your phone from a notification.
It can be used to change music, see who sent an email, or just check the time. It is something flip phones have done for years, but this move makes the Galaxy Z Flip3 feel far more usable, especially if you are one that has a pathological need to check every message as it comes in.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 is kept as minimal as possible. It features only the buttons you need to enjoy the device, while keeping the experience as streamlined as possible. On the right side, you will find a volume rocker, a dual-purpose power button and a fingerprint sensor. On the left side, you will find the sim tray, with the USB Type-C port and speaker grill sitting at the bottom of the phone.
The metal construction gives the phone a solid, premium feel that is a nice touch. Each fold of the screen feels well reinforced, giving enough click without it ever feeling like closing your new $1000 device will cause major problems. The ‘Armor Aluminum’ frame is a good contrast, giving a sleek, modern look while ensuring the phone feels solid in the hand. The rear of the phone features a dual tone glass backing, with a dual camera system and a single flash. It feels like a refined Samsung experience, while still giving a sense of fun to your new smartphone.
“The ‘Armor Aluminum’ frame is a good contrast, giving a sleek, modern look while ensuring the phone feels solid in the hand.”
While I have tested many phones in the past few years, there is something to be said when a phone can impress or spark a sense of excitement when using it. While it may seem simple, the Galaxy Z Flip3 brings that feeling of wonder when it folds. It works in a way that feels very reminiscent of phones of old, with just enough click to transport me back to university.
Much like all major Android-based flagships this year, the Galaxy Z Flip3 ships with a Snapdragon 888 processor, and offers 8 GB RAM, the option of 128 GB or 256 GB storage configurations, and uses a nano-sim. While not staggering specs, it is what you would expect from a phone like this. Samsung gives enough to ensure the experience is smooth, without it causing the price to skyrocket or delivering features and specs the average person would never utilize.
Thankfully, for all mobile gaming lovers, the Galaxy Z Flip3, while unique, still manages to game with the best of them. I decided to dive into some of the latest titles currently available for Android, including League of Legends: Wild Rift, and Fortnite. Thanks to the Snapdragon 888 at the core of the phone, everything runs smoothly. I did find the phone got warm after longer gameplay sessions, but it was nothing that was alarming.
The dual speakers on the top and bottom of the Flip 3 make gaming loud and clear. It will not replace a good Bluetooth speaker, but while on the go or just jumping into a round of Fortnite you will get enough to keep you in the experience. But let’s be honest here, while it sounds good enough, it is still a smartphone speaker and will lack a full range of audio. It can sound a bit flat at times but will suit most people’s needs while on the go.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 boasts a 3,300mAh battery that is a bit anemic by today’s standards. With the screen and 5G, along with the 888, most people may be able to manage a day of use. However, any power users out there will need to reach for their charger to keep them going till they clock out for the night. While this is not a dealbreaker, for a phone that is so fun to enjoy while out and about, the battery could be the biggest gripe about the Flip 3.
Looking to the camera, the Galaxy Z Flip3 feels like a step in the right direction, but is still lacking compared to other smartphones, including their own Galaxy range of devices. It features a 12-megapixel wide angle and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, but sadly, fans of telephoto will have to look elsewhere.
Overall, the phone delivered good, if not great shots both in the day and at night. Images captured looked clear, with vibrant colours and detail that is indicative of Samsung cameras. There is always the wide range of Samsung optimizations you may have to deal with, but in most of our testing it never got in the way of taking good photos, beyond, at times, making grass and other foliage look a bit too vibrant for my liking.
The selfie camera works, but don’t expect content creation levels with the Galaxy Z Flip3. The 10-megapixel camera should serve most people’s needs and will work well for Instagram or even for a video call, but I did find the colours a bit too bright in testing, and detail was not as clear as I would like. It is also not the best in low light with images looking grainy. Thankfully, the Flip 3 allows you to use the main 12-megapixel shooter when the phone is closed to take much clearer shots and could be the way to go if you want the best possible image for socials.
Samsung has made a solid case for why the Flip 3 is a good option for smartphone buyers. It is a gimmick for sure, but one that works and finally feels ready for prime time. The phone looks good, is fast, and is built to be used, offering a stunning premium feel. With countless phones available at around $1,000, you are paying for the fact that it folds.
There are phones that take better pictures, have better battery life, and are built with more power, but few phones are as unique or worth your time. If you are looking for something special, and don’t mind paying for that privilege, the Galaxy Z Flip3 is a one-of-a-kind device that needs to be experienced.