Flip phones are officially back for good with Samsung’s third generation of the Z Flip, formally named the Galaxy Z Flip3. Of course, having the novelty factor of a phone being able to fold in half does come at a cost – with the Flip3 costing £949 unlocked, but even without this special feature, it does still carry some impressive specs. The phone can shoot 4K video across the board and features a 120Hz high-refresh-rate display.
When talking about the design, it’s pretty hard to avoid the fact that this thing folds in half but I’ll touch on that in a little moment. The phone otherwise features a nice and premium design that feels good to hold and use. The exterior of the Fold3 features a glass and aluminium build which I think looks great in this black and cream colour scheme which does a good job of hiding fingerprints, it’s also nice to see no glossy metal as the matte aluminium sides of the device will show minimal wear and tear.
You’ll notice two cameras on the exterior of the device, which both sit alongside a touchscreen display – this does have some handy feature’s which I’ll talk about a bit later in the review, but it also lets you display widgets to be able to swipe between useful information without having to unlock the device.
All the buttons can be found on the right side of the device, with the power button being in an ideal position to be able to comfortably use and unlock the device. This is important as the fingerprint sensor for the Fold3 is found within the button itself, so being able to easily access this without any strenuous movement is great to see. There are also some volume buttons above the power button, these can be a little harder to reach if you’re using the device with one hand, but they provide a clear click and tactile feedback when pressed.
That’s all there really is to the exterior of the device, it looks very tidy, and I love the two-tone colour design that can be seen on this specific colourway. The phone isn’t particularly heavy, at around 183-grams but when folded, due to its compact footprint, it can feel a little heavier.
This is the first folding device I’ve ever held, so it does feel somewhat bizarre and novel to be unfolding a phone – and a little bit nerve-wracking at the same time as this phone isn’t cheap! When unfolded, you’ll immediately notice that this device is tall, with a 6.7-inch display that features a hole punch camera cut-out.
The display features a pre-applied screen protector that is not designed to be removed as removing it could permanently damage or break the display – if you get a Flip3 yourself, make sure to leave that screen protector alone and as is.
Samsung claims that the display should be able to withstand 200,000 folds before showing any problems, during the few weeks that I’ve been able to test the device – I’ve not had any problems with unfolding and folding although I did notice that the plastic display can be more prone to collecting and accumulating dust than a phone with a glass screen. The process of folding and unfolding the device is straightforward enough and the hinge feels sturdy.
Samsung also claims that the device is water-resistant, with an IPX8 water resistance rating so you should be fine to use this device in rainy conditions, for example, however, the device features no dust resistance rating. As you look around the device, you’ll notice that the hinge features plastic elements to protect it as well as the display having a lip around the edge to protect it when the device is folded.
I’ve been very impressed with the display on the Flip3, despite only having a 1080p resolution, it looks stunning thanks to the fact it is AMOLED and supports HDR10+ so if you find yourself watching HDR content on the device – it looks fantastic.
The display has an 84.7% screen to body ratio, leaving very thin bezels around the device that all have a uniform appearance – so there’s no big chin at the bottom of the device. The display also features a pixel density of 426 pixels per inch, so text looks sharp and crisp to read and images and video content look great. The display also provides plenty of brightness, being able to be comfortably used in bright outdoor conditions as well as dim indoor environments.
As this phone does fold, there is a crease in the middle of the screen – so I’m sure you’re wondering how noticeable this is. It really depends on what you’re looking at and from what angle, when looking at videos and photos I didn’t find the crease to be that noticeable, however it can be more noticeable when looking at the device from an angle or when physically touching the display, but it is a major trade-off of having a folding phone in comparison to a normal non-folding device.
The display also features a 120Hz high refresh rate, which provides a silky-smooth experience for using the device and browsing through various interfaces. It also makes gaming on the device great as games that can make use of the high refresh rate look fantastic.
The display on the exterior of the device is also AMOLED, so it blends in seamlessly and also looks very good, although this exterior display is not always on and needs to be tapped to wake up.
The Flip3 runs Android 11 with Samsung’s One UI 3.1.1 which provides some unique software features offered by Samsung but also some software features that make use of the Flip3’s ability to be angled and folded, such as the camera app being able to work in a clamshell mode. You can also use the exterior display as a camera viewfinder whilst the phone is folded.
I’ve not changed too much from how Samsung sets up the device to work out of the box, but I have made sure to make use of gestures instead of button controls at the bottom of the display as I am more accustomed to these with an iPhone being my primary device.
The overall software experience is snappy and responsive thanks to the device’s specifications, which I’ll get onto next, as well as that 120Hz display. If you are looking to save some battery life, the display can be taken out of the Auto mode and locked to 60Hz, although for my testing I left it running at 120Hz all the time.
Of course, being a Samsung device, Samsung does like to include their own apps as well as Google’s. This can leave the device containing quite a few apps with duplicate functionality such as Samsung’s internet browser and Google’s Chrome as well as the Galaxy Store and Play Store – to name two examples, as well as a couple of apps bundled from Microsoft. Most of these can be uninstalled, but there are quite a few apps already on the device or selected by default during setup out of the box.
The Flip3 features smooth and responsive performance, as should be expected of a premium phone. I didn’t notice any slowdowns during my time of testing the device and the overall experience of browsing through apps, gaming and multitasking were smooth and pleasant. This is thanks to the device’s Snapdragon 888 processor which features 8 cores. A mixture of 1 high-power, 3 mid-power and 4 low-power cores offer fast performance when needed but also deliver better battery life when a lot of processing power isn’t required.
The fingerprint sensor on the side of the device performed excellently and was snappy at unlocking the device from sleep and the speakers also offer surprisingly impressive sound which offers an immersive listening experience, these won’t beat a dedicated wireless speaker, but for speakers built into a phone – not bad.
I also ran some benchmarks on the Flip3, so you can compare them against your own device or any other device you may be interested in. On Geekbench 5, the device scored a single-core score of 1,049 and a multi-core score of 3,541 which means the Flip3 slightly outperforms the Exynos S21 Ultra 5G. For testing graphics performance, I used 3DMark, the device scored 1,430 on the Wild Life Extreme benchmark.
As far as other connectivity goes, the device features 5G connectivity and I happened to find myself in a place where 5G was available. As Vodafone has provided the device for this review the tests were done on their network, my fastest speed test recorded speeds of up to 387 megabits per second on the download. The Flip3 also supports Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6 as well as NFC which can be used to make contactless payments with Samsung Pay.
As I mentioned earlier during the review, the main rear-facing cameras can be found on the back of the device with no huge camera bump in sight. Both cameras, one of which is a wide and the other an ultrawide, feature 12-megapixel sensors with f/1.8 and f/2.2 apertures respectively, with the wide offering optical image stabilisation.
I’ve been very impressed with the photos that come out of the cameras on this device, Samsung has done a fantastic job with the image quality and processing. Photos are well exposed for both the sky and land with any HDR processing looking natural. If you do prefer a flatter looking image, these may stand out as being a little saturated, but when viewed on the OLED display of the device I think they look fantastic.
The cameras perform well in both bright outdoor environments as well as darker environments and return sharp-looking images. As the sensor is only 12 megapixels, the resolution of images isn’t huge but it’s definitely enough for posting online or creating a small photo print – resolution isn’t everything in a camera.
The device can also shoot 4K video across the board with 4k60 on the rear-facing cameras, with higher frame rates at 1080p and 720p. Video from the cameras, like the photos, look fantastic and the stabilisation is very effective at smoothening out any camera shaking that may show up from walking.
The selfie camera offers a decent field of view and does a decent job at taking selfies. It’s not quite as high a resolution as the rear-facing cameras, with a 10-megapixel resolution, but it’s still plenty fine for a selfie. The device also supports portrait mode which can be used on any of the cameras and works fairly well, although it is using AI to determine what is in the foreground and background – so it can sometimes be a little soft around hair.
As can be expected with a phone that physically folds in half, there have to be compromises in places and battery life is one of those places. The battery life on the Flip3 isn’t the longest in comparison to the competition, with a 3300mAh battery.
I found the battery to give me around a day and a half of use, although I would probably recommend charging it every day just to be on the safe side. I used PCMark to benchmark the battery life of the device as this emulates continuous on-screen usage and the device lasted 5 hours and 21 minutes before hitting the 20% remaining end point, which is about two hours less than the Motorola Edge 20 Pro I reviewed a month or so ago.
Luckily, when you are running low, the Flip3 features 15W fast charging to charge your device as well as 10W wireless charging. You can even charge other wirelessly charging devices with 4W reverse wireless charging which could be handy if you need to change some earbuds that feature a wireless charging case.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is certainly a unique device and I have greatly enjoyed my time using it. For a phone that folds in half, you may think that there need to be compromises everywhere, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The device features great performance and cameras and the only major downsides I could see within day-to-day use were the shorter battery life and crease within the display fold. If folding and flipping phones intrigue you and you’re happy to pay a premium, the Z Flip3 is well worth considering as an option.
The SummarySamsung Galaxy Z Flip3
- Premium and well built design.
- Immersive and high-quality display.
- Impressive cameras and dynamic range.
- Screen crease is visible from an angle.
- Battery life falls short of the competition.
- Plastic screen protector is prone to dust.