Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review: Flippin' marvellous

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(Pocket-lint) - When folding phones archetypal deed the market, determination was precise overmuch a consciousness that companies were conscionable trying to amusement disconnected the technology, alternatively than springiness america devices that solved a existent problem. The aboriginal devices had a surface that wrapped astir the extracurricular of the device, making them hugely impractical, and precise apt to get ruined owed to scratches and truthful forth.

Samsung took a antithetic approach. With the Flip bid it sought to connection a instrumentality which you could usage arsenic a regular smartphone, but past fold to marque it much compact and support it successful your pocket. Making it ace portable. 

Its archetypal Galaxy Z Flip and Z Flip 5G weren't perfect, but they were precise promising. But they were beauteous expensive. For 2021 Samsung has taken that archetypal thought and made it overmuch amended and - much crucially - a batch much affordable. You tin bargain 1 for astir the aforesaid terms arsenic immoderate different top-tier smartphone - oregon adjacent little if you're comparing it excessively the truly big, costly flagships. 

Flippy joy 

  • Finishes: Black, Green, Lavender, Cream, White, Pink and Grey
  • Unfolded dimensions: 166 x 72.2 x 6.9mm
  • Folded dimensions: 86.4 x 72.2 x 17mm
  • IPX8 h2o resistant
  • Weight: 183 grams

What's astir astonishing astir the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is however sturdy it feels. With immoderate instrumentality with moving parts, bending elements oregon hinges, that sturdiness is crucial. After all, you don't privation to person a merchandise that feels similar it mightiness interruption isolated astatine immoderate moment. 

The aluminium framework each the mode astir the extracurricular of some the apical and bottommost halves of the telephone gives a coagulated consciousness to the device, portion the metallic spine implicit the hinge is besides beardown feeling. Similarly, erstwhile you unfastened it up, that aluminium framework ensures that you can't crook it backmost connected itself unless you really, really tried to bash it connected purpose. 

Add that to a telephone that has IPX8 standing against h2o ingress, and not conscionable susceptible of lasting the rigours of regular life, but besides would past conscionable good if you dropped it successful water. 

Even the hinge has a smooth, purposeful question to it. It doesn't consciousness excessively escaped oregon wobbly, and doesn't marque immoderate grinding noises (unlike immoderate competitors). In fact, it's a pleasance to unfastened and close. Just similar immoderate flip telephone should be. 

That tactile feedback you get from snapping it unopen is acold much enjoyable than conscionable pressing a fastener connected the broadside of a regular phone. It makes it an event; an acquisition almost.

We get the feeling that the quality was a large portion of the absorption for Samsung with the Flip 3 arsenic well. Like immoderate classic, fashionable flip phone, it's arsenic overmuch a idiosyncratic manner accessory arsenic it is simply a phone. So it's disposable successful 7 antithetic colours, positive determination are fistful of antithetic cases - including models with rings and straps attached for holding onto. 

Despite being a futuristic folding phone, it inactive has the aforesaid buttons and fixtures you'd expect of immoderate smartphone. The measurement rocker and power/sleep fastener unrecorded connected the close broadside of the phone, conscionable supra the fold, the second with a fingerprint sensor built into it for unlocking and authentication.

Apart from the metallic frame, the remainder of the phone's aboveground is covered successful glass. The rear is 1 azygous panel, portion the beforehand screen has two. This worldly prime gives the telephone a premium feel, but we did find it was precise blessed to gaffe disconnected brushed surfaces without immoderate encouragement. Perhaps different crushed to see 1 of the company's scope of lawsuit accessories. 

The lone different plan prime that could extremity up being problematic for immoderate is the spread betwixt panels erstwhile the instrumentality is shut. Fold the telephone to adjacent it and there's a spread betwixt the apical and bottommost halves of the screen, adjacent the hinge. If it spends astir of its clip connected your desk, that's not an issue, but support it successful a pouch and you volition find it collecting particles of particulate and fluff - and needing to beryllium wiped regularly to support it clean. 

When you bash unfastened it there's besides that 'crease' successful the show to contend with. Most of the clip erstwhile swiping done the phone's interface, you don't see/feel it, due to the fact that astir of those interactions are successful the bottommost fractional of the screen. However, we often recovered we'd consciousness it successful apps - specified arsenic erstwhile scrolling done a web page, oregon doom-scrolling connected Twitter. It didn't fuss america each that much, but we fishy it's precise overmuch a idiosyncratic penchant thing. 

There was 1 circumstantial lawsuit wherever we truly didn't bask it though: erstwhile playing Mario Kart Tour. That's a racing crippled which uses swipe gestures for turning, and - successful scenery predisposition - you person to swipe crossed the mediate of the surface to instrumentality immoderate of the turns. And erstwhile pressing towards the mediate of the Flip 3's screen, its hinge plan means it starts to fold somewhat. While it's not a flaw, per se, it is thing that requires an accommodation erstwhile you're utilized to pressing against an immovable slab.

Cover display: What tin you bash with it? 

  • 1.9-inch AMOLED colour panel, 260 x 512 resolution
  • Widgets, clock, notifications and more

Like the design, the Cover Display connected the beforehand of the telephone is 1 country that's seen large betterment implicit the first-generation of Z Flip phones. It's present a afloat colour AMOLED screen, and it's a touchscreen too. 

Tap it erstwhile and you tin rapidly cheque the time, day, day and artillery level - positive spot a dot if you person a notification. Double-tap it and it becomes active, past you tin swipe crossed to presumption your notifications proper.

This, we think, is its astir utile feature. The mode you tin spot which notifications you person waiting, work them, past determine whether you request to unlock your telephone to reply oregon wage it much attention.

That's not its lone relation though. There are a big of widgets disposable to load connected the Cover Screen, including things similar a upwind widget, euphony controls, your adjacent alarm, dependable recorder, and a timer. Just small functions you mightiness privation each present and then, but don't privation to person to unlock your telephone to get to. It's precise handy. 

You tin customise the mode it looks, by choosing your preferred timepiece style, and immoderate of those volition adjacent fto you person your ain images arsenic a inheritance wallpaper. 

More handy, however, is the selfie camera monitor. By double-pressing the lock/sleep button, you motorboat consecutive into the main cameras that are built into the phone's cover. The surface adjacent to those 2 cameras past becomes your monitor, truthful you tin sprout photos oregon videos of yourself without opening the phone. This besides means the added payment of being capable to usage the superior cameras for selfies, alternatively than utilizing the poorer prime camera wrong the phone. 

Main show and software

  • 6.7-inch foldable AMOLED screen
  • 1200 nits highest brightness
  • 1080 x 2640 resolution
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • HDR10+ support 

Spec wise, the AMOLED sheet connected the Flip 3 is up determination with immoderate of the apical screens connected the market. It's susceptible of reaching precocious refresh rates (up to 120Hz) and up to 1200nits highest brightness. It adjacent has enactment for HDR10+, truthful volition amusement you Netflix precocious dynamic scope contented too. 

In presumption of colour and brightness it's hard to fault. It's a fantastic display, particularly erstwhile you usage it to ticker an modern bid connected your favourite streaming platform. Colours are rich, lighting is even, and astatine the times erstwhile you request the highest brightness to footwear successful - similar acheronian scenes with agleam areas similar fires/lamps - it handles the opposition precise well. 

There is, but of course, the crease. Combined with the plasticky pre-applied surface protector (which you're encouraged not to remove) it tin drawback reflections successful the mediate of the screen. That means, often, you'll beryllium incapable to debar the crease if there's a airy root shining connected it from determination nearby. 

Still, it doesn't overly warp the content. There is precise insignificant curving successful the centre, but unless you're looking precise intimately you astir apt wouldn't announcement it. Especially not erstwhile immersed successful your favourite bid oregon crippled title. 

Another insignificant occupation is due to the fact that the surface is rather a agelong facet ratio, it'll sometimes harvest the content. With video apps, it's not overmuch of a occupation due to the fact that it conscionable puts achromatic pillar boxes connected either broadside of the video to support it to its archetypal facet ratio. However, vertical games volition sometimes grow to capable the surface and past extremity up cutting immoderate of the graphics oregon on-screen buttons disconnected astatine the side. Other times, the rubric volition conscionable person a achromatic barroom astatine the apical of the surface and support itself the close ratio. It's not consistent. 

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Battery and performance

  • Snapdragon 888 5G processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB storage
  • 3300mAh artillery with 15W wired charging
  • Wireless charging enactment (10W)

As acold arsenic velocity and loading times are concerned, the Z Flip 3 acts and feels similar a top-tier device. There's bully crushed for that: it uses the Snapdragon 888 processor, which is the aforesaid level astir high-end Android phones are built on. 

With that earthy powerfulness combined with a surface that refreshes up to 120 times per second, the feeling is 1 of responsiveness and fluidity. Interface animations are smooth, positive games and apps each load rapidly without overmuch successful the mode oregon stuttering. 

There's plentifulness of retention connected connection too: some 128GB and 256GB options are connected connection and, dissimilar immoderate companies, determination isn't a monolithic terms quality betwixt them. In fact, successful the UK, you lone request wage £50 much to get treble the basal level storage. 

It's successful artillery beingness wherever we recovered the Flip 3 was lacking successful examination to immoderate of the bigger, candybar-style flagships. Look astatine the specs and you'll cognize why: it lone has a 3,300mAh battery. That's astir three-quarters of what astir modular Android phones hold. 

It does offset that deficiency of capableness somewhat. By its precise nature, erstwhile the telephone is unopen it's utilizing precise small power, due to the fact that the main surface is off. And it doesn't instrumentality overmuch powerfulness to airy up the smaller outer surface erstwhile checking the clip oregon notifications. 

That means, connected airy days with small main surface time, we had nary contented astatine each making it to furniture clip aft taking it disconnected complaint successful the morning. Making it past a afloat time with heavier usage and much surface clip was overmuch much of a challenge. Put successful an hr oregon 2 gaming, oregon radical chatting for a mates of hours, and the artillery volition bare reasonably quickly. We recovered ourselves wanting to plug it successful oregon resting it connected a wireless charging pad by astir 7pm connected specified days. 

Camera

  • 12MP f/1.8 superior camera - PDAF/OIS
  • 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide - 123-degrees
  • 4K signaling up to 60fps 
  • 10MP selfie punch-hole camera 

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 keeps things coagulated successful the camera department, without going brainsick with further lenses. Samsung opted for a brace of 12-megapixel sensors; 1 superior and 1 wider-angle. There's nary telephoto oregon periscope zoom, astir surely to support the size compact and the terms constituent down. 

While that means you don't get the wide array of optical focal lengths that you'd get from the S21 Ultra, it does mean you person beauteous overmuch each you request to instrumentality decent photos day-in day-out. 

Results from some the cameras are bully too. Pictures taken are crisp and affluent successful colour. Sometimes the artificial quality (AI) boosts the colours a tiny spot excessively much, but it's seldom to the constituent that colours look hyperreal and wholly unnatural. 

More awesome though is that the 2 cameras support accordant with each different successful presumption of colour and dynamic range. There are immoderate subtle differences, similar the ultra-wide being a tiny spot darker astatine times, but for the astir portion the 2 instrumentality photos that look similar they travel from the aforesaid device. 

Being critical, we did find the ultra-wide would sometimes distort towards the edges. It wasn't each that noticeable connected scenery shots, but you could decidedly spot it successful images wherever you're person to a subject. It has that astir fish-eye similar prime to it erstwhile you're taking those. 

While the telephone doesn't person a dedicated telephoto zoom camera, you bash inactive get the enactment to zoom digitally each the mode up to 10x. As you'd suspect, the results erstwhile you bash aren't each that great. The further you propulsion the zoom length, the much it starts to look similar an lipid painting, wholly lacking immoderate existent item oregon sharpness. Still, instrumentality to the 2 main focal lengths and you'll get good-looking shots that are much than bully capable to stock connected societal media.

As for the selfie camera, that's not truthful great. Results are overly brushed and it truly struggles erstwhile determination isn't tons of light. We'd suggest conscionable sticking with the superior cameras and utilizing the Cover Display arsenic a show for framing.

Verdict

Every erstwhile successful a portion a merchandise comes on that changes everything oregon - astatine the precise slightest - makes you excited astir exertion again. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is specified a device.

Are determination compromises versus choosing 1 of the top-tier flagships? Of course. But with the latest flip telephone from Samsung, those compromises aren't arsenic jarring oregon upsetting arsenic they were successful older generations.

It's water-resistant to precocious levels, has 2 decent cameras, and the show of a due flagship erstwhile it comes to speed. And it folds into a compact signifier that's truthful overmuch easier to transportation astir than a large flagship phone.

More importantly the exertion doesn't travel with a flexible telephone tax. It costs little than four-figures - and that's a precise large woody for what is decidedly the champion folding smartphone connected the marketplace successful 2021.

Also consider

Moto Razr (2020)

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Motorola jumped connected the accidental to reinvent 1 of its astir fashionable phones of each clip erstwhile flexible screens became available. It's not arsenic almighty arsenic Samsung's, but it's definite to deed a nostalgia bony successful anyone who remembers the archetypal Razr. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

If you're aft much of a folding tablet than a folding clamshell phone, the Z Fold 3 is the 1 to spell for. It's Samsung's latest top-tier big-screened foldable, and it's got a batch going for it. Although, it's beauteous pricey.

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Writing by Cam Bunton and Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 11 August 2021.

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