Opinion, Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 – Finally a Mainstream Foldable Phone?

Samsung made a pretty bold decision to not introduce a new Galaxy Note device this year; a series that already has strong mainstream appeal. Instead, we get two foldable smartphones: the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, and the bigger, almost tablet-like Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Without a doubt foldable phones don’t have particularly great mainstream appeal right now, but this could change with these two new smartphones. This is especially true for the Galaxy Z Flip 3, given its much more affordable nature than the Z Fold 3.

While these two foldable phones may not be able to enjoy the same success as Samsung’s very popular Note devices – not yet, anyway – the South Korean company is definitely on the right path. In fact, I personally believe the Z Flip 3 will pave the way for that.

In my opinion, two criteria have to be met in order for foldable phones to be appealing enough for the mainstream market: affordability and durability. Well, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 fulfill these two criteria…to a certain extent.

Let’s focus on the affordability of the Z Flip 3 first. The original Z Flip was only offered with 256GB of storage, which puts it at a higher price point. The new Z Flip 3, on the other hand, is offered in 128GB and 256GB configurations, effectively lowering the entry price of the phone.

Unfortunately, local pricing of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 has not been revealed yet, but it shouldn’t stray too far from the $999 starting price of the foldable phone in the US – that comes up to about RM4,230. Yes, that’s still quite a steep price tag, but compared to the local launch price of the original Z Flip (a whopping RM5,888), it’s much, much more palatable.

While we’re talking about affordability, it’s worth mentioning that the original Z Flip is also far more affordable now. As mentioned, it retailed at RM5,888 when it was first available here in Malaysia, but you can currently get it for merely RM2,699; that’s more than half off of the launch price.

Anyway, affordability alone is just half of the equation. In order for the Galaxy Z Flip 3 to really enjoy mainstream success, it has to be durable enough for everyday use too. This was one of the shortcomings of the first Z Flip.

Now, it’s not that it was fragile by any means, but the plastic protective layer on top of the phone’s foldable glass screen can get scratched and dinged quite easily. Unlike other proper flagship smartphones, the Z Flip lacks any form of water resistance too.

Well, both of these have been addressed with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Not only does it have an IPX8 water resistance rating now, the protective layer of the phone’s screen is said to be up to 80% more durable too. That’s not all: thanks to the use of a new “Armor Titanium” material, the metal frame and hinge of the phone are now 10% tougher.

Beyond the fact that the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is more affordable and durable than its predecessor, it is also a better foldable phone overall. One of the biggest upgrades it received is a larger 1.9-inch 512 x 260 Super AMOLED panel on the exterior cover of the phone. With more screen real estate, it can show more detailed notifications and widgets.

Aside from that, the Z Flip 3 is powered by Qualcomm’s relatively new Snapdragon 888 chipset as well, so you can expect to get flagship-level performance out of this foldable phone. This is in contrast to the original Z Flip, which didn’t ship with the most recent flagship chip available at the time.

Other specifications of the Z Flip 3 include the same 6.7-inch 1080p Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display – but with a much faster 120Hz adaptive refresh rate – 8GB of RAM, a dual camera system (12MP primary + 12MP ultra-wide angle), a 10MP selfie camera, and a 3,300mAh battery.

So then, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is more affordable, more durable, and a more polished foldable smartphone over its predecessor – are these enough to propel it to mainstream success? Well, it still depends on overall market sentiment, especially in a price-sensitive market like Malaysia.

While it’s great that the Z Flip 3 is more durable than the previous model – and it’s the right direction to go in order for foldable phones to be more compelling – the mainstream appeal of the Z Flip 3 is highly dependent on exactly how much it will cost.

Hopefully, Samsung Malaysia will price the Galaxy Z Flip 3 competitively enough. I’d argue it is more important to price this phone well over the decidedly more premium Z Fold 3. After all, if it’s affordable enough, the Z Flip 3 could be the first foldable phone most consumers will (seriously) consider picking up.