For the first time ever, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 from Samsung’s new foldable line actually looks promising. Improved water resistance, a larger front screen, the absence of any Exynos phone variants and many other tweaks from previous iterations; makes me wonder if this new generation of foldables is something that consumers should consider as their next daily driver.
So, in terms of its technicalities, it’s definitely an improvement, but is it enough for everyday people like you and me to give it a shot?
For its design, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 doesn’t deviate too much from its predecessor. There are more colours available (such as this cream-coloured variant I have) but set the two next to each other, and you’ll find that they aren’t too dissimilar.
So what exactly has changed about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3? For starters, the front of the flip phone comes with a 1.9-inch cover screen, with the previous iteration only having a 1.1-inch cover screen. Now it may not seem like a large increase, but having had a hands-on with the prior Samsung Flip, I can easily say that the increment is sizable enough where the cover screen is something I would use on a day to day basis.
Notifications, for example, are easily readable, and the biggest stand out for me was being able to use Samsung Pay just by swiping up the screen without needing to flip open the phone. Apart from that, while I don’t see this as a plus point, having the ability to change songs and enabling noise-cancelling for those who use a Galaxy Buds Live or Pro is definitely a step in the right direction.
Flipping open the phone, you are greeted with the same 6.7 inch AMOLED display but with a 120hz refresh rate as compared to the original flip with a standard 60hz. However, that’s not the only improvement Samsung has made to the display. Samsung claims that the screen is a mix of plastic and glass, which makes the screen significantly more durable.
In my personal opinion, after using the phone for 30 minutes or so, I genuinely forgot that the screen was made of plastic. The only time I was reminded of it was when my fingers went down the crease in the middle of the phone, which unfortunately still exists. But, to me, the crease was a minor disturbance and something that I definitely could live with.
In terms of the video watching experience on the phone, I would have preferred to have an under-display camera like the one found in the Fold3. But all in all, it seems reasonable; the screen was relatively bright enough to handle watching outdoors, and the speakers sounded great with low distortion at higher volumes.
However, the crease is noticeable when you watch any content off-axis, and it may be something that potentially bothers you. But, looking at it straight on, I could barely tell that it was there, which makes the whole viewing experience similar to just watching it on my S20+.
Accompanied with the cover screen are your rear cameras; one being a 12MP wide-angle lens and the other being a 12MP ultra-wide lens. Both are capable of shooting 4k videos at up to 60fps with HDR10+ support.
Apart from the rear cameras, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 comes with a 10MP selfie camera capable of shooting up to 4k 30fps. Generally, the lenses work well and give the users a versatile range of focal lengths. The photos are sharp and have very pleasing and true-to-eye colours, which in my personal opinion is best for a phone.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Being a flippable phone with a front screen, you can use the front camera to take a selfie. In the native camera app (unfortunately not available yet for Instagram), you can activate the front screen to display what the cameras see, giving you a frame for reference to take your selfies and vlogs. While the small screen cannot display the whole image, resulting in framing issues, it still allows you to take better-looking photos and videos.
Moving onto what’s underneath the hood, the major change of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is that there are no Exynos variants out for sale, which means nothing but good news for the phone and its user.
Instead of the Exynos 2100 found in select variants of the S21s, it comes fitted with the flagship Qualcomm 888, with 8GB of ram and up to 256GB of storage. The significance of this means that not only will your phone run cooler, but it will also have a longer battery life as compared to the Exynos chip.
When it comes to the phone’s overall performance, everything felt snappy, and there were generally close to no lag or stutters that I noticed when I daily drove the phone. However, when it comes to the UI, here’s where I think it felt a little bit rushed. While in Google Duo, it’s possible to prop the phone up in standing mode to take a video call with a specialised UI made just for the Flip. For most apps that we use daily, like Whatsapp or Telegram, when you fold the phone, there are no changes in the UI, and all you are left with is a weirdly shaped video call with your friends.
While this isn’t purely Samsung’s fault, it would have been great to force-enable this instead of having to set it in the multitasking view, which is a few additional steps. In terms of gaming, everything was set to the max when playing Mobile Legends, and I never felt any lag spikes though the phone did get warm after some time, but not to the point where it starts to affect your gaming performance. Even when gaming, while you may at some point slide your finger across the crease, you generally wouldn’t notice it and in fact to some people, having the longer screen does feel better for gaming.
However, when it comes to battery life, here is where the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 falls short. The phone only comes equipped with a 3300mAh battery to keep the body as thin as possible. This translates into the battery life for the Flip 3 being roughly the same as an S21 5G (which comes with a 4000mAh battery) with a Qualcomm 888 processor.
In my testing, the Flip 3 can last up to around 7 hours with mixed usage of social media, video watching and texting or calling people here and there. So is this a bad thing? Well, no, but it is definitely disappointing, and I hope that the battery life can be addressed in the next iteration.
To sum up my experience with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3, it was definitely interesting, but more importantly, convincing. While I can’t speculate on its durability in the long term, most of my concerns with the original Zflip were addressed in this new iteration, and it has surpassed any of my expectations.
Having a usable front screen, the ability to take great photos using the front camera and the surprising lack of adjustments moving to the phone convinced me that it is something that people should consider if they are planning on changing their phones. However, I hope Samsung further pushes the boundaries of what a conventional phone is by finding a way to squeeze a larger battery, make the screen out of glass and have more apps support the Flip’s front screen. Apart from that, feel free to consider this as your new daily driver.
Photos by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC Team.