Review, Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Review: Potentially Your First Foldable Phone

Samsung’s range of foldable smartphones have come a long way since 2019. Not only are its latest range of foldables more durable than ever, they are also much, much more affordable now. This is especially the case with this particular device, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.

Starting at RM3,999 here in Malaysia, it could really well be the first foldable phone for many folks. While it still has some shortcomings here and there, it is easily one of the most refined, affordable phones of its kind in the market now. Not convinced? Then keep on reading this review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.

What It Is

DisplayMain: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X (2640 x 1080), 120Hz
Cover: 1.9-inch Super AMOLED (512 x 260), 60Hz
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 888 2.84GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 660
Storage128GB/256GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)12MP f/1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
12MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide angle)
Camera (front)10MP f/2.4
DimensionsOpen: 166 x 72.2 x 6.9 mm
Close: 86.4 x 72.2 x 15.9~17.1 mm
OSOne UI 3.1.1 based on Android 11
Bluetooth 5.1
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
USB Type-C
PriceRM3,999 (128GB), RM4,199 (256GB)

Looking at its list of specifications, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a reasonably high-end device. Though it doesn’t have Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888+ chip or the fastest display, these hardware are still well within the territory of a flagship smartphone.

If there’s any area you should be concerned about, it would be the Z Flip 3’s 3,300mAh battery. It’s not a particularly generous capacity, which does result in rather underwhelming battery life – more on this further down the review.

The Good Stuff

The main appeal of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 has to be its foldable display in a clamshell design. In fact, there were a few times where I was folding this seemingly normal-looking phone in half to the amazement of my friends and families. While the novelty does wear off after some time, there’s no denying the “wow factor” of this phone.

It doesn’t just look fancy either: the Z Flip 3’s foldable screen has some practical uses too, thanks to Flex mode. Basically, when you start folding the display in half, certain apps will split into the top and bottom part of the screen. In the camera app, for example, you can use Flex mode to capture low-angle shots easier.

Flex mode also comes in handy to shoot selfies. You can just place the Z Flip 3 on a surface and use the timer to start snapping, all without the need for a tripod or any object to keep the phone upright. I initially thought Flex mode was just a gimmick, but after using it for a number of video calls, I do find it surprisingly handy.

As for the Z Flip 3’s screen itself, it’s great. The 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X primary display looks pleasant to the eyes with punchy colours, deep blacks, and wide viewing angles. The fast 120Hz refresh rate lends to a fluid, responsive user experience as well.

What about the crease in the middle of the foldable display? Well, if you look for it, you’ll definitely see it; this is especially evident if you’re watching dark content. That being said, in regular use, I don’t really notice the crease all that much, though if you run your finger over it, you’ll definitely feel it.

One of the main concerns of a foldable phone is durability, and I’m happy to report that the Galaxy Z Flip 3 feels much more durable than its predecessor. The hinge feels more robust, the protective layer on top of foldable glass screen doesn’t have a weird, rubbery texture anymore, and this phone is even IPX8-rated.

For a device with more moving parts than a regular smartphone, it’s really quite impressive that Samsung managed to get the Z Flip 3 to be water-resistant. In my opinion, water resistance is a must-have feature for a flagship device, and it’s great that you can get it on a foldable phone now.

Powered by a Snapdragon 888 chipset, there’s no denying that the performance level of the Z Flip 3 is good. While it doesn’t feel quite as powerful as other Snapdragon 888 phones – especially in graphically demanding games like Genshin Impact – it’s still fast enough for me to multitask seamlessly on this phone.

Last but definitely not least is the value proposition of the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Retailing from only RM3,999 for the 128GB model (RM4,199 for the 256GB configuration), it is markedly more affordable than its predecessor, which went for a whopping RM5,888 at launch.

This is one of the main reasons the Z Flip 3 is the first foldable phone most folks will seriously consider getting. Sure, at RM3,999, it sits in the same price range as other flagship phones in the market now, but hey, the Z Flip 3 is proper flagship phone too with similar processing power and refinement.

That being said, this foldable phone does have its fair share of shortcomings – let’s get to them in the next section.

The Bad Stuff

As fun as it is to fold and unfold the Galaxy Z Flip 3, it can also be inconvenient to do so sometimes. When I’m not out and about, I actually just leave it unfolded for the sake of convenience. It doesn’t help either that it’s difficult to unfold the phone with only one hand.

And then there’s the cover screen of the Z Flip 3. Yes, it’s much more usable now thanks to the extra screen real estate, but I still find myself just unfolding the phone to check my notifications. The thing is, the cover screen is basically like a smartwatch: you can check your messages, but you can’t interact with them much.

Packed with only a 3,300mAh battery, the Z Flip 3 isn’t a particularly long-lasting smartphone either. On average, I can only get up to four hours of screen on time on a single charge.

Granted, this level of battery life is still good enough to get through a typical day of use. But if I throw in a couple sessions of Genshin Impact in my day, I do find myself running out of juice before the end of the day, unfortunately enough.

If you’re hoping for amazing camera performance with the Galaxy Z Flip 3, well…you have to manage your expectations. Don’t get me wrong, its 12MP primary sensor and 12MP ultra-wide angle lens can take reasonably good-looking shots, but in comparison to other phones at this price point, it does fall behind.

The dual camera system performs admirably in daytime, but in low light conditions, both the primary and ultra-wide angle sensors start to show their limits. Detail preservation isn’t great, there are lots of sharpening, and noise level is very apparent with the ultra-wide angle lens. Judge for yourself with these sample shots.

Yes, these are by no means lacklustre images, but you can definitely get better results with other flagship smartphones. Not to mention the fact that you’ll get a more versatile camera setup that offers a zoom lens as well.

Is It Worth It?

Despite its shortcomings, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is still a very attractive foldable phone with an equally attractive price tag. It’s also durable, it offers a respectable level of performance, and it has a great-looking display too. The cherry on top? It also folds in half.

These are winning qualities for any flagship-class device. If you can live with the shortcomings of the Z Flip 3, you will be very happy with this foldable smartphone. Hopefully, Samsung will continue to refine its range of foldable devices – I can’t wait to see what the Korean company has in store in this segment next year.

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