While foldable smartphones are not cheap as of now, they are getting there. Samsung has been a company that has been making major strides in this area, with it now making foldable smartphones more affordable. Starting at Rs 84,999, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is now much more affordable compared to the original Galaxy Z Flip, which launched in India for Rs 1,09,999.
Price aside, this time along there does not seem to be many compromises that you would have to make to opt for a foldable smartphone. With this, you get a top of the line processor, an IPX8 water resistance rating, a 120Hz refresh rate and a unique folding display to name some benefits.
All of this said, not all is sunny side up with the Galaxy Z Flip 3. There are things that do pull me back towards a slab phone. However, my urges are not strong enough to pull me back. While till now, I used to call foldable smartphones, test products, with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 the view is changing and I can now say that these can now appeal to mainstream phone users.
Design and build
Taking a look at the new Galaxy Z Flip 3 it is quite evident that the major change is on the outer shell. The device features a comparatively larger outer display along with larger camera sensors. It also features an armoured aluminium frame, which did help me a lot with the two unfortunate drops that the device took.
While I personally do like the Galaxy Z Fold series a lot, the Z Flip is comparatively much more palatable. This is because the device is much more pocket friendly, as folded it is the size of a small wallet and unfolded it has a massive 6.7-inch display.
The device has been made available in Phantom Black and Cream colour options. I personally like the Phantom Black colourway which came in for review. However, a lot of my friends have shared their views that the Cream colour is what they like.
The hinge is a bit disappointing, as it is quite stiff, making it very difficult to flip open and close with one hand. While I did master opening it with a flick, I am yet to learn how to flick close it.
It comes with an IPX8 rating making it the first folding smartphone alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 3 to be water-resistant. While I do not recommend you intentionally put a device in water. I did test out the claim by a small margin, leaving the phone in a tub of water for 29 minutes. Taking it out, everything functioned properly, with no damage to the internals as far as I know.
One of the major positives of this smartphone is the larger outer display, which you can use to check notifications, click selfies and more. On top of the display, the company has used Gorilla Glass Victus to protect it against scratches and drops. The back panel feels similar to a Pixel, with frosted and glossy glass. The hinge consists of the Samsung branding, but when the phone is unfolded, you will not be able to find the company’s branding being shown anywhere. Also, the hinge feels pretty sturdy with it making no grinding or creaking sounds while opening or closing.
The back of the phone is pretty slippery, which does cause it to take a nosedive every time it is on a sloped surface or it is vibrating. My review unit fell twice, but has managed to stay intact with no major damage. However, I would still recommend that you use a case, Samsung has not provided a case inside the box, which means you will have to shell out extra for a third-party case.
The device does not feature a massive camera bump like some other smartphones in this price range, but does have a protective ring on top to ensure that the lenses are not scratched.
It comes with a capacitive fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button, and it is pretty responsive. The placement of the volume rockers is pretty high and I found them difficult to access while using.
Finally getting to the part you all have been waiting for, the foldable display. The 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED Infinity Flex Display is simply gorgeous. But not everything about it is shining stars. The display still features a major crease in the middle, which you can easily see and feel while using.
The cover display is one of the major improvements we get to see in the Galaxy Z Flip 3. The display is now 1.9-inch in size, which is appreciably larger than before, thus making it more useful. You can use it to frame yourself while taking selfies with the primary cameras, check out notifications and use widgets. You can use up to seven widgets on the cover display, which include a Music player, Alarm, Voice Recorder, Timer, Samsung Health, Weather and Calendar.
You can also customise the clock style from within the Settings, to make it resonate with you more. With a single tap, you can activate the cover display to show you the time, and with a double tap or by pressing the power button you can activate it completely. You can also pick up and reject calls right from the display.
The cover display looks stunning both when turned on and off, but it does require some more tweaking to make it more usable. The company could add support for third party widgets, allow users to reply to messages directly and more.
The 6.7-inch folding display is the prime feature of this smartphone. Apart from being much brighter and feeling smoother than the previous generation Galaxy Z Flip, the display now also features a 120Hz refresh rate.
The AMOLED panel looks beautiful, with vivid colours, deep blacks and ultra-wide viewing angles. Using the device under direct sunlight is not a problem, and the panel easily managed to remain legible even under direct sunlight.
Samsung claims to have reworked the pre-installed plastic film, which is now 80 percent stronger than the previous device. However, it still feels fragile and my unit did catch a few scratches. I also feel that on the right side just below the crease the display has popped up a bit and I can feel a bubble even though it is not visible.
Opening the display partially activates the Flex Mode, which will split supported apps in the middle and show you the main content on the top half and important controls on the bottom half. Though I did not use this mode much, I definitely can see the appeal, especially for apps like YouTube.
Lastly, the crease in the centre from where the device folds is quite prominent. Even though you will start to ignore it after a few hours of use, but running a finger through it will remind you of the blemish.
Overall, the foldable screen rather than being a novelty is pretty usable and beautiful. It is vivid, bright and can make the phone easily pocketable. The display might not be perfect, but it is something you will not get elsewhere, especially at this price.
To recall, the original Galaxy Z Flip was not the best when it came to performance, being equipped by an almost year-old Snapdragon chip at the time. That’s not the case with the Galaxy Z Flip 3, as it is powered by the flagship Snapdragon 888 chipset. Additionally, it features 8GB of RAM, which is not a lot these days, but enough to get all the work that you might want to get done. The device comes in two storage options 128GB and 256GB. I would recommend that you spend a bit extra and get the 256GB storage variant.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 comes with a set of stereo speakers. The new speakers are much louder compared to the predecessor, but not as loud as I would have personally liked.
In daily use, I experienced no stutters or hanging. The device managed to smoothly sift through everything that I threw at it. None of the apps that I use on a daily basis felt sluggish or was kicked out of memory even during heavy multitasking.
The device managed to provide me with a solid gaming experience. However, after long gaming sessions, the device did heat up a lot. But that is a given considering the power that the Snapdragon 888 outputs and the slim size of the Z Flip 3. After exploiting the device a lot the temperature rose to an extent that it provided me with a warning. I had to eventually put it aside to let it cool down. I had a similar experience while using the cameras.
I played multiple games on the device including Call of Duty: Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India, NFS No Limits and more. During extended gameplay, I did not face any sort of lag or stutter with the device. The vibration feedback was ample, but nothing out of the ordinary so was the sound. The only issue was the heating.
Gaming extensively for around an hour and a half, I did notice a minor frame drop. However, this was expected considering the amount of heat that the device was generating.
Taking the testing a step further, I opened around 40 tabs in Chrome and started switching between them, and as expected, the phone was easily able to cope with no lag. None of the tabs got killed off while doing so. Increasing the pressure, I performed our multi-app test along with the multi-tab test, where I opened 27 apps and kept switching between them while at the same time switching between 40 tabs each on three web browsers. The device did manage the pressure, however, it did kill off two tabs in a browser and one app.
Overall, in day-to-day usage, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 will handle itself with style and elegance. You will not face any problems while using the device and it will hold its own with daily tasks even if you like to play resource-intensive games.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 runs Google’s Android 11 operating system with the company’s own One UI 3.1.1 skin on top. The experience remains similar to using any other Samsung Galaxy flagship smartphone. However, there are a few foldable-focused features like the Flex Mode, Drag and Split feature and more.
There is one feature that the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is missing, and that’s the DeX support. One good thing is that Samsung has promised three years of OS updates and five years of security updates.
The device comes with a capacitive fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button. It also comes with face recognition, both authentication methods are quick and work smoothly.
I feel that cameras are not going to be a major focus for anyone purchasing a Galaxy Z Flip 3, the company still has provided usable cameras on the device. If cameras are what you are looking at you can consider getting a device like the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
By this I do not mean that the cameras of the Flip 3 are bad, they are just not in part with other devices in the competition. This was expected considering that the company on this phone has put its focus on delivering a good and durable flexible display.
The photos clicked using the primary camera came out vibrant, a bit oversaturated, with a lot of processing and smoothing of faces. All of the images are good enough to be shared on social media and are pleasing to the eyes. Low light photos are not as good as you would expect from a flagship smartphone but for everyday casual photography, the phone is pretty capable.
The front camera also gets the work done, with images having almost similar results as the back cameras, but with a little blur. The front camera photos also were a bit brighter than the rear cameras. I would suggest that you use the rear cameras to click selfies, by setting the frame using the cover display.
Samsung has used a dual battery setup to provide a 3,300mAh battery on the new Galaxy Z Flip 3. At first, I was a bit sceptical that would this be enough to hold features like a 120Hz display, a cover display and more. However, I was surprised that during my usage, the device was able to give me a battery life of around 10 hours on a single charge with around 20 percent battery left in the tank at the end of the day. During my usage, the average screen on time lied at around 4 hours. For a phone that is this slim and has a small battery life, I find this to be very respectable battery life. However, do keep in mind, this is much lower in battery performance compared to slab flagships at a similar price.
While the battery life is good enough for a foldable smartphone. The drawback of this device is 15W charging. Charging it is an excruciatingly slow affair, and it takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes to fully charge from zero. It also supports 10W wireless charging.
While the charging might not be a sore point for some, many who have been spoilt by 30W, 45W, 65W and even 100W fast charging, will have a hard time using this device.
While I have not been impressed by any of the slab phones in a long time, foldable smartphones had me excited. At Rs 84,999 the Galaxy Z Flip is making them affordable for the masses. This smartphone apart from being a high-end flagship device is also a fashion statement at the same time. Trust me on this people will want to see it more than the new iPhones. While there are still some issues with the device, I would still say that this is the phone that will take the foldable devices into the mainstream, and I would definitely recommend that you get this one if you are looking to get a flagship smartphone that is also a vogue magnet.
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