Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Review
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is undoubtedly one of the best convertible or foldable smartphones in the market, even though it competes in a very small market segment. This is because of the very less number of phones with fold/unfold mechanisms available in this segment. Only a few phones previously held that slot, including Samsung's own previous Z Flip series and the Motorola Razr, and with no new launches for its successor, Motorola's last build is now out of date.
The recently released Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4, which debuted in August 2022 with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, can now be considered the phone's major rival. However, due to the latest build, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 costs a lot more than its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Flip3. But, if the price is not a concern, then it is recommended to go with the latest model.
As the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 review process goes on, the Z Flip3 performs much better than its predecessor at what a foldable smartphone should do while achieving everything it's expected to achieve. Even after the launch of new Z series phones, Galaxy Z Flip3 still performs well in all tasks.
This phone is one of the best foldable phones out there, and the best Samsung phone out there, and it's a pleasure to use for those who are willing to spend for something a little more pocketable. However, all of its non-folding capabilities are something that can be found in almost all brands for less money. Simply put, the folding mechanism is what attracts the users, but the other features are quite basic, and hence the price is not justified.
Let us now dive deep and discuss the features of the phone in detail:
Packaging: Unboxing the Galaxy Z Flip3 5g
Like other Samsung phones, Galaxy Z Flip3 5G also comes in premium packaging. The outer box is of glossy grey colour with branding and key details or features written on it. After opening the box, the first thing we see is the handset, just like any other normal phone packaging. At the bottom of the box, there are other components, such as a Type C-to-C data cable, SIM ejection pin, protective vinyl back cover, and some documents. Significantly, the screen protector film is already installed in the phone. But unfortunately, the phone does not come with a charging adapter within the box, and one has to buy the charger separately.
Price and Release Date
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 was unveiled at Samsung's digital launch on August 11, 2021, and it went on sale in the United States and the United Kingdom on August 27 of the same year. Those living in Australia had to wait till September 10, 2021.
It has two storage options: 128GB and 256GB. The base variant (128GB) costs around $999 (£949 or AU$1,499), while the higher variant (256GB) costs around $1,049 (£999 or AU$1,599), similar to the price of other flagship devices like Apple's iPhone 13 Pro. For comparison, the previous Galaxy Flip phone cost around $1,380 (£1,300/ AU$1,800), and the 5G model was even more expensive, available at around $1,449 (£1,399/ AU$2,599). Simply put, the Galaxy Z Flip3 is more expensive than the Z Flip 5G and the original Z Flip unless you find a discount for one of those models. However, it is expected.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is likewise far less expensive than its bigger counterpart, the Samsung Galaxy S Ultra, which is an Android phone with the most powerful hardware and software features around. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a great option with dual display options and a comparatively low budget, and it's specially made for easy carrying.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 doesn't look much different from its predecessors except for an expanded exterior display and rearranged rear cameras. It's, as yet, an easily foldable phone with two dividing parts (not completely), pivoting around enormous, Samsung-marked joints (hinges). Once opened, it's still a very tall and decent phone with a 6.7-inch display.
Some enhancements have been made, especially in the design and construction. The border around the main screen is now narrower than its predecessor. However, when it is closed, there is still a slight gap between the two turning sides. Nevertheless, this can be seen as a positive point as the screen sides will not rub against each other, thereby preventing unintended scratches. However, Samsung claims that the design of the screen's edges has been slightly protected with a protective plastic bumper ring around the inner Flex Display so that they don't rub together.
The back design of the Z Flip3 has also been changed from a single variety colour finish to a two-variation colour effect, with the outer display as well as the two rear cameras aligned vertically next to each other on the black glass in the top area. Additionally, about half of the first part has another colour similar to the bottom two-thirds. This time, it's a more exotic look, although some of the other colour options are more attractive than others.
The inside screen has a 'Glasstic' flexible plastic backing, while the back is covered with Gorilla Glass Victus, which according to its maker, is stronger than Gorilla Glass 6 and twice as protective against scratch resistance. With this upgrade to the Z series, Samsung has also added an IPX8 rating for water protection, which means that the phone can survive in a depth of around 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. However, it doesn't have any dust resistance rating, which may be a concern for some users.
Except for the larger external display, the phone is set up similarly to its predecessor. On the right side is the lock button with a fingerprint sensor, and above it is the volume rocker buttons. The volume buttons are placed quite high so that one cannot easily reach them with one hand when the phone is open. That's why raising or lowering the volume is remarkably difficult or annoying. Besides, the lock button is easily accessible, and one can easily use the fingerprint lock/unlock using their thumb.
On the left side, you only get a SIM tray, which is located on the top. The bottom of the phone houses a USB-C port in the middle, a speaker on the right, and a microphone on the left. There's also an additional mic on the top of the frame for noise cancellation. It is noteworthy that there is no microSD slot present which would have allowed you to add additional storage.
A Folding Mechanism: How is it?
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is one of the best foldable phones out there, although there are a few more options available to compete with it. One such notable option is the Motorola Razr. One could argue that the Razr has more features on its outer screen; however, the Z Flip3 gives you more features when unfolded. Compared to the Motorola Razr, the Galaxy Z Flip3 enables users to open it up to a greater degree with stability until it's completely flat.
As was the case with previous Z Flip phones, the Z Flip3 is a little difficult to unfold with one hand. However, this resistance allows you to unfold the device to any degree you like with the confidence that it will remain in place, which is both functional and exciting.
A notable advantage of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G compared to other similar phones is its part-folding capability (also known as Flex Mode), which allows users to use applications on one (top) half of the screen while folding the other half in a way that acts as a stand. However, there are limited applications that support Flex Mode. Notably, this is helpful in certain scenarios, such as when you need to take selfies or video chat. You don't have to grab your phone; simply place the other half on the surface and use the other half for target work.
Also, the additional screen at the back can help users to get the required information and enable users to access some important functions like changing songs, picking up the phone, etc. Also, when the phone is folded, it is easy to carry and has the main screen protected from scratches caused by keys or other objects in the pocket.
Although Samsung's Z Flip3 external display offers much more than just checking alerts, previewing selfies and managing audio, the Motorola Razr's larger 2.6-inch external screen is more useful and can connect with more applications.
Although this Samsung Z series phone has a great display, it is a better version than its previous phone, yet it is difficult to conclude whether the glass screen is better or the plastic screen that we have with this phone.
Upon opening, it offers a large 6.7-inch Full HD+ AMOLED (2640 x 1080) display with a 120Hz refresh rate, and the overall quality is somewhere between LCD and OLED levels in terms of colour richness and sharpness. Although you will feel the seam when you run your finger over the centre of the display, there is no noticeable difference, and it looks pretty similar to what was on the previous foldable display of Z series phones. However, the display has been slightly enhanced over its predecessor, and it now has a 120Hz refresh rate for more responsive gaming and browsing.
As referenced, the Z Flip3's 1.9-inch outside screen is almost multiple times the size of the first Z Flip's 1.1-inch external screen. The Z Flip3's larger screen makes it much easier to preview selfies, and there are mini-app widgets for simple audio controls, setting timers, and a few other things. It has the world's smallest photo preview but barely shows a single line of text.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 has sufficient cameras for recreational photography, but it lacks a telephoto lens. Despite this, it performs admirably in all other areas. The phone benefits from Samsung's great photography programming, with pictures looking well-optimized and vivid.
At the back, it houses a dual camera setup (a 12MP f/1.8 primary camera and a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera) along with an LED flashlight. On the front, there is a 10MP f/2.4 selfie camera. It's a solid offering, but it falls short of strong telephoto cameras like the 10x optical zoom on the S22 Ultra and phones like the comparably priced Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, which have 3x optical zoom.
The 12MP primary camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) and 12MP secondary ultra-wide camera on the back of the phone appears to be unchanged from the Z Flip's previous phones. But during the day, they now produce photos with a better colour balance that is almost at par with photos captured by earlier Samsung Z series phone cameras. The front-facing camera also captures amazing photos, though it lacks a bit of detail compared to selfies captured by front-facing cameras on competing flagships like the iPhone 13. Despite this, it is among the best phones for taking selfies that we have used recently. Unlike having to uncomfortably fold the arm to fit yourself and others into the frame, which can be challenging for individuals with limited arm area, the Z Flip3 is very easy to fold the phone in half and lay it flat on the surface to shoot images (or selfies).
One special thing about this phone is that it can help you take selfies even when it is folded. In that case, it uses its rear camera and shows a preview on its external screen. Some unique gestures have been added to the software to perform certain camera-related actions using the volume and power buttons. For example, one can launch camera mode by double tapping the power button and then control functions using swipes on the external screen. Although taking a selfie this way sounds pretty easier, it does have some limitations. During such usage, the camera only captures square images, and there is no option to change the dimensions in any way.
Performance and Software
With a Snapdragon 888 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB or 256GB of storage, it can keep pace with other flagships. The processor was also the main attraction point of this phone at the time of its release. It performs on par with any phone in the most expensive top-tier handset category. Apart from the availability of an ample amount of RAM and huge storage, the software optimization is also quite good.
Sadly, the capacity isn't expandable via microSD, an important feature for those who need more data storage capacity. It is not ideal considering the price. However, if you need more space, there are options such as cloud storage.
In general, performance is remarkable: whether we are browsing the web, watching media, or just messing around with games, the phone doesn't stutter. Its Geekbench 5 average score of 2801 was pretty decent when the phone was initially tested, but it wasn't quite on par with other higher-end phones of the year like the Asus Rogue 5 (3732) or the iPhone 12 Pro (4007). Still, the performance is quite satisfactory, and there are no major issues in practical life use.
At launch, the Z Flip3 featured Android 11, the best from Google's then-latest operating system. Later, Android 12 was made available to existing users with an OTA update. However, it should be noted that Samsung has optimized the overall interface and also added several customized tweaks and features to enhance the overall performance and experience.
One of the biggest features of Android 12 is Material You, which enables users to change the overall colour of the UI based on the colour combination selected from Settings. Samsung has made this feature even better for the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 or Watch 4 Classic by adding the option to sync their watch faces, giving them matching colours, fonts and even smaller images. Although this may not be noticeable by most users as this feature is strictly related to other Samsung products, and not all users may have it. However, this is a good technique from Samsung to promote users to its products or ecosystem, much similar to Apple.
Battery Capacity & Life
The biggest drawback of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is its 3,300mAh battery, which is far low than any flagship phone and hardly lasts a whole day. Due to the wide range of features and AMOLED screen, one cannot predict that it will last till the next day. There's also no charger in the case, which is a promise of the organization's shift toward greater manageability and less waste (as well as reducing money on costs).
Simply keeping the display on Always-on mode or turning on the phone drains the battery faster than most phones. It has also been reported by many users that the phone works normally till the battery reaches 10%, but after that, the battery drains significantly even without much usage. However, in normal tasks, such as browsing the net or watching media, the phone's battery performs or drains normally like other phones.
During testing, the 60W Asus Quick Charge adapter was able to charge the battery capacity from 0 to 46% in 30 minutes and 80% in an hour. It is neither too fast nor too slow. However, keeping the price in mind, there are many other phones which are offering much faster charging speeds and better battery backup. Also, most of the phones available in the same price segment have more battery capacity.
Considering foldable phones, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is one of the best foldable smartphones you can buy. Due to the release of more Z series phones after the Z Flip3, one can expect good offers to buy the Z Flip3 phone at a good price. It offers many of the same features and specifications as many expensive or flagship models but at a lower cost. If you want a smartphone that folds up to fit into your bags and pockets and offers flagship-like performance, the Z Flip3 can be a great option. However, it has a relatively smaller battery and lacks a telephoto camera lens, both of which are major drawbacks. If the price isn't an issue, then one should look for the latest option available in the Z series to enjoy the best of Samsung's foldable technology.
Why should one consider a Galaxy Z Flip3 5G?
Why should one not consider the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G?