Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review: Peak foldable chic

It turns out that the third time is really a charm with Samsung's foldable-clamshell design. Although it may seem like a tribute to an older design, this is the perfect form factor for the devices that we love and use every day. Samsung is not content with flip phones being a niche product. It has dropped the MSRP from $999 to appeal to younger customers and even offers accessories to make the Galaxy Z Flip 3 more hip. Samsung isn't just focusing on the design of its third-generation clamshell folding phone. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 foldable smartphone now has the important features people expect from modern smartphones. This includes key milestones such as water resistance, stereo speakers and a screen that doesn’t scratch easily. These features are essential for mass market adoption. VPN Deals: Monthly plans starting at $16 and a lifetime license for $16 respectively. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 offers an incredible experience, from the moment you open the box to the time you close it before going to bed. This is a strangely therapeutic experience that many phone users have lost in this age of black mirrors, which all appear and function almost identically. The design is simpler than the Fold 3, as it doesn't alter the way that you use your phone when it's closed. It didn't take me long to fall in love and you will soon see why, after reading our Galaxy Z Flip 3 review.
Galaxy Z Flip 3 Bottom Line: The Galaxy Z Flip 3 makes most sense to recommend. This time, it's not only the price that's better. The Flip 3 is water-resistant, has great screen protectors built-in, durable design, exceptional performance and battery life, and comes with reliable cameras. You'll be able to enjoy every day with it, even if Samsung makes some improvements next year. The Flip 3's No-compromise performance

Great cameras

Software features for bespoke projects

Beautiful and practical design

The Bad No telephoto lens that is water, scratch, or drop-resistant

The functionality of the cover display is limited

Slides well on uneven surfaces

Samsung offers 15W charging at a slow speed starting at $999

Amazon: Starting at $999

Galaxy Z Flip 3: Prices and availability

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 was launched in August. It is now available at all major retailers and carriers as well as at The retail price of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is $999. This makes it the first major foldable phone to be priced below $1,000. You can get the Galaxy Z Flip 3 for a mere few hundred dollars if you have other phones that you are willing to trade in or score a deal from your preferred carrier. Samsung offers the Galaxy Z Flip 3 bespoke edition, which allows you to personalize the phone in a way that other phones don't. You can customize the back and front panels with a selection of around half a dozen colors. You can also customize the frame with one of two colors. Samsung offers a variety of Z Flip 3 cases. These will not only protect your device but also make it look better than the original. This is great as almost nothing is included in the box with the phone. It continues the trend of only offering the phone when you buy it. The small box contains the phone, the USB-C cable and some manuals. Galaxy Z Flip 3: Design and hardware

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Category Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, 5G Operating System Android 11 One UI 3.1.1 Cover Display: 1.9 inches, 261x512 (302ppi) resolution; AMOLED Inner Display: 6.7 inches (22/9), 2640x1080 (425ppi) resolution) Dynamic AMOLED 2X 120Hz refresh rate Chipset Snapdragon 8888 Memory 8GB Storage 128GB, 256GB Expandable Storage 12MP, f/1.8 (wide-angle)

12MP, F/2.2, 1.12mm Ultra-Wide Camera Inside Camera 10MP, F/2.4, 1.22mm Security side-mounted fingerprint sensor Battery 3300mAh

15W Fast Charging

Wireless charging at 10W

Dimensions of 4.5W Reverse Wireless Charging Dimensions 86.4x72.2x17.1mm (folded).

Dimensions: 166 x 72.2x 6.9mm (unfolded). Weight: 183g Water resistance IPX8 Colors Phantom Black and Cream, Green, Lavender. Gray. White.

It would be remiss of me not to start by describing how much I miss flip phones. My cell phone journey began in high school with a Motorola brick, which was a Nextel-branded Motorola. But I have never forgotten how wonderful it can feel to close the lid. Android was also launched with a phone with a hinged keyboard, but the industry lost sight of the fact that it had a physical keyboard. The experience of flipping the phone open or closed is something that a standard slate-style smartphone can't do, even if it has a cover that closes. The hinge is a key feature of the phone that makes it stand out. It is also remarkable how small a flip phone can be. This is a stark contrast to modern smartphones that are too big to fit into some pockets. You won't need to sacrifice flagship-level specs because of the unique, smaller form factor. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has the same Snapdragon 888 processor, 120Hz display, and excellent cameras as the Galaxy S21. They also have significantly improved brightness levels than the Galaxy S21 and the Z Flip 5G. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a chic design unlike any foldable device. Samsung chose a dual-tone design for all seven colors, which further enhances the outstanding design. It also highlights the most significant physical change between the previous model and this year's: the cover display. The Galaxy Z Flip 5G's front screen was barely large enough to pass for a screen. But the Flip 3 quadruples that size to make it more practical. This display is still too small for regular tasks such as replying to emails or using apps.

Samsung's unique design allowed it to include the best processor, 120Hz display and water resistance.

The Z Flip 5G's cover display is only marginally better than the Z Flip 3's, but the hinge is an improvement of 100 percent. The hinge of the Z Flip 3 is as tight as the Z Fold 3 and can be used at any angle if placed on a flat surface. It's possible to fold the phone at any angle from 30 to 150 degrees and then place it on a surface. For taking photos from unusual angles, sharp angles work best. Obtuse angles work well for video calls and other multitasking. It can be difficult to pick up a phone from a surface such as a table or other surface if it is open flat. However, it is much easier to have the phone in Flex Mode or all the way closed.

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

The Z Flip 3's metal frame feels solid, but thanks to Armor Aluminum it is surprisingly lightweight, especially when compared with the Z Fold 3. It weighs in at 183g, which makes it slightly heavier than the Galaxy S21 Ultra and far lighter than the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Flip 3's sturdy hinge doesn't creak, wobble or creak at all. This further solidifies its well-built nature. Gorilla Glass Victus is the real thing. 2 weeks into my use, there has not been a scratch on the phone. Gorilla Glass Victus is also included in the Z Flip 3. It can be used wherever there's shiny surfaces. Victus is better than any other Gorilla Glass product. I have snubbed the many "improvements” made over the years. This phone has not been scratched since I bought it. The new PET (polyethylene triterephthalate), screen protector for the larger interior display feels exactly like glass and doesn’t scratch easily. This is great because repairs can be expensive and you won't want it to scratch or break if possible. The display must fold inwardly when it's a folding phone. This is a simple physics fact, but there's a horizontal crease in the middle of your display. It's obvious that the crease is visible and can drive people insane. Some people may look at it, others rub their fingers over it while scrolling through social media. The crease is not something that bothers me personally. It's also not noticeable when you look at the device directly. However, it's an important bit of information that you need to know before diving in. The Z Flip 3 has an IPX8 rating, which means that it is water-resistant. This means that you don't have to worry about damaging your foldable. You could endanger the hinge by taking it to the beach. There is no dust protection.

Interestingly, although Samsung has little raised bumps at the corners to keep it closed flat, the back doesn't have any raised edges or feet. It's nice to not have a huge camera hump that causes the phone to wobble on a table. Here's looking at Z Fold 3. This completely flat and shiny back reminds me of the Nexus 4 from a year ago. If you place the Z Flip 3 onto a non-level surface, it will slowly slide off the edge. This problem can be solved by placing a case, such as one of the Samsung leather cases, on the Z Flip 3.

It's not only cathartic to flip the phone open and close, but it also makes the device more pocketable, a characteristic that is rare in modern smartphones.

Stereo speakers can be made possible by combining a larger earpiece above the display with a standard speaker near the USB-C port at the bottom of your phone. These speakers sound slightly less loud than the Fold 3 at maximum volume, and they don't sound as deep or as clear at higher volumes. However, they are quieter than the Fold 3 but produce less distortion. This is a huge improvement on the Z Flip 5G's single speaker. Galaxy Z Flip 3 Software and Performance

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Samsung is currently developing the One UI 4 experience. It is based on Android 12. At the beginning of November 2021, it opened beta access to selected customers. All customers will receive the final Galaxy Z Flip 3 release by the end of this year. Z Flip 3 owners can continue to use the One UI 3.1 version that was launched in August with the Z Flip 3. OneUI 3.1 is built on Android 11 and is almost identical to the experience on phones such as the Galaxy S21. Flex Mode, which is a handy feature that allows you to fold your phone, is the most significant difference. Flex Mode, which is when the hinge can be opened at any angle other than 180 degrees, is more than just a way to take silly photos with your phone. It's far more useful than that, especially when you consider the latest software updates from Samsung. OneUI 3.1 is included with the Z Flip 3. This includes a Foldable-specific feature that forces apps into Flex Mode when the phone folds.

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Flex Mode allows you to easily keep up with multitask apps and chats or pick up your phone from a desk. Flex Mode apps reside in the top half of your screen, and have a square aspect ratio. Although the bottom screen can be used to adjust brightness or make quick adjustments, it is not something you will use very often. The camera is a great use for the bottom screen. It slides the viewfinder up onto the top of the display, and all the controls are on the bottom. Although this setting may not be readily accessible in Samsung Labs, Samsung has scheduled a notification to appear within the first few hours to inform you that this useful feature is available. This is a shame that this feature isn't more prominently displayed. This is a great feature if you are constantly interacting with Discord chats, waiting for text messages to arrive, or simply want to watch a video on your desk while you work. You can use Android's standard split screen view if Flex mode isn't suitable for an app or you want to run multiple apps at once. This allows you to place each app in a square on one half of your screen. You can rotate and resize apps to change the aspect ratio. Many little quality-of life features are available by default. This includes the slide-out shortcut tray at the right edge. It isn't possible to pin it as you can with the Fold 3 but that would be a little awkward due to the limited screen space. I can imagine a world in which Samsung allows users pin a shortcut row at the bottom of their phone, similar to what you might find on a desktop computer.

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

The small cover screen on the outside can reduce friction when opening a flip phone. However, it is not very useful. This screen is most useful for four purposes. I use it daily to check the time, glance at incoming messages, control media and toggle between silent, vibrate and ringer modes. Samsung did not include a keyboard, voice reply or any other type of voice functionality. You will need to actually open the display to respond to anything. You can also place several widgets on the display by simply swiping left from the clock. These include a timer, alarm, calendar schedule and step counter. Unfortunately, none of these widgets were useful to me during my time on the phone.

Although the cover display is a significant improvement on last year's model, it still has limited utility.

The front cover display can also be used to view the camera, whether the phone is open or closed. Double-clicking on the power button will launch the camera when the phone is closed. However, I found that the display was more awkward than I expected for this function. Contrary to what you might think, the issue is not the display's size. It's the aspect ratio. The narrow display will cut off significant portions of your image no matter how you hold it. Although the display was usable for this purpose, it was difficult to use. I didn't choose it to take a photograph except to test its functionality. It's easy to swipe left and right to switch between video and photo modes. Swiping up or down allows you to switch between regular and ultra-wide cameras.

The Z Flip 3 performs in all situations as you would expect from a high-end Samsung flagship phone. I have never experienced lag, stuttering or hesitation while launching apps or running complex apps. It's faster and more smooth than the Z Flip 5G thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate. It's hard to overstate the amazing 120Hz experience, but you can still lower the refresh rate if your battery life is a concern. Galaxy Z Flip 3: Batteries

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

There are many reports about the Z Flip 3's battery performance, but they all seem to agree that it isn't the most reliable. The Z Fold 3 was similar to this extent. The battery in the Z Flip 3's 3,300mAh is not small but it's also not very large. Comparatively, the Galaxy S21's battery is 4,000mAh, while the Pixel 5a has 4,680mAh. The 3,300mAh battery in the Z Flip 3 was enough for me to last a whole day without worrying. My Bluetooth speakers play music all day and I use my phone regularly to chat, take photos, and check social media. Despite this, I don't tend to be able reach more than 3-4 hours on any screen at once with any device. It doesn't matter what I'm doing.

For average usage, the battery will work fine, but power users will experience problems due to the slower charging speed of 15W.

You will need to charge your phone regularly if you use it for extended periods of time. It is also limited to 15W wired charging. This means that it takes around 2 hours to charge the battery from 0-100%. Galaxy Z Flip 3: Cameras

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

Samsung created all kinds of headlines when it was revealed that the Flip 3 and Fold 3 would have no hardware upgrades to the previous generation Samsung foldables. While the cameras were not bad, they weren't great in all situations. In the case of Flip 5G, the last telephoto lens meant that zooming in to scenes was going to be blurry. A telephoto lens is not necessary to zoom in beyond 2-3x. This makes the image very dull. Samsung managed to make the Flip 3 look amazing thanks to an incredible software upgrade that took "old" camera hardware, and made it feel new again. This is what we've seen time and again with Google's phones. They have basically used the same camera sensors as 2015, but the software experience surpasses everyone's hardware skills. Samsung has adopted this mantra of "work smarter, and not harder". Let's start with the good. Zoom detail is very poor because there is no telephoto lens. Zooming in further than 2x will result in an extremely blurred image. Despite the fact that the zoom buttons on the viewfinder allow you to zoom in up to 10x, it is not possible to zoom in any further. It's possible to zoom in further than 2x, but it won't result in a great photo or video.

The execution of the camera is flawless and more consistent than any Samsung phone I have ever seen before the Galaxy S21. The inside front-facing camera is also unable to detect movement in light less than broad daylight. Although I don't know why Samsung keeps putting low ISO in such high priority, blurry photos are a result of the shutter needing to stay open longer. This causes blurry images if objects move. It seems that the ISO 640 setting is what the front-facing camera defaults to in most situations. This is quite absurd. It will increase ISO to 3200 if it detects blurry objects. However, this is only when it gets really dark. The camera executes flawlessly on a consistent basis, which is something I have never seen before with a Samsung Galaxy S21. The best features of the Pixel's camera -- such as multiframe capture, automatic photo replacement, night mode, toast notificatoins, and automatic night mode -- have been integrated into Samsung's software. They work flawlessly in all situations I tested them.

My original shot was automatically replaced by this one. It has a better framing. Source: Android Central My original shot was automatically replaced by this one. It has much better framing.

After I returned from the airport, one example of an excellent automatic image replacement occurred. My son was showing me his ridiculously large graham cracker Goldfish when we picked him up for lunch. Samsung's camera software detected that I was trying align my eyes with the fish's top and snapped the shutter too soon. When I clicked into the gallery, I saw the image replaced by the one I wanted. It was an image taken right after I hit the shutter button. The post-processing work had begun.

Samsung's camera software was intelligent enough to recognize that I had taken the shot too soon and replace it with a better version.

You'll also notice that night mode automatically activates when the detected light levels fall below certain thresholds. This result gives me a sense of security that I haven't experienced with previous Samsung phones. Night mode was automatically enabled when the conditions are below certain light levels. There were clear indicators on the viewfinder to help you hold the phone still for a few seconds, while the phone took the required number of photos to create the final result.

Portrait mode is simply stunning and doesn't suffer from the harsh edge calculation of other phones. This phone has a portrait mode that I absolutely love. Phones often look for objects and create a blurring effect around them to simulate the shallow depth of field found in SLR cameras. Sometimes the result is beautiful, but sometimes it's not accurate. This can lead to missed edges that stick out like sore thumbs. Samsung's method is softer than that. It avoids harsh lines in favor of subtler ones. This results in images with accurate edge calculations. The Z Fold 3's video recording quality is excellent at 4K resolution at 60FPS. Super slow-mo video can be recorded at a maximum speed of 960FPS at the same resolution. These are the two most common features on Samsung phones, and they perform just as well as we expect. The Z Flip 3 continues to be a great choice for video quality. The Galaxy S21 series allows you to record 8K video at a higher quality, just as you will find with the photo experience. Although 8K recording is not something most people care about, it is a significant spec improvement that you won’t find on the Flip 3! Galaxy Z Flip 3: Competiton

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

Samsung is the leader in foldable phones. Although Motorola may have updated the RAZR last year with a 5G model, it doesn’t seem to be a better choice than last year’s Galaxy Z Flip 5G. These phones are not water-resistant, have poor cameras, and were more expensive than the ones last year. If you are looking for a clamshell folding phone and don't care too much about the features, it might be possible to find a bargain on a second-hand model. However, this is a difficult sell compared to the Z Flip 3 and the Motorola RAZR 2. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is Samsung's 2021 foldable and it costs twice as much. The Z Fold 3 is not for you if big phones are not your thing. You might be interested in a larger folding phone. However, the Z Fold 3 has a larger battery, larger screens, S Pen capabilities, and a telephoto lens on the back that allows for greater zoom. Although it's not the Galaxy S21's best camera, there is a slight advantage over the Flip 3. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a great Samsung phone that boasts the best camera performance. It costs the same as the Z Flip 3 and offers an even better experience. The phone can't be folded closed, but it has S Pen support and can be used with the right case.

Galaxy Z Flip 3: Should You Buy It?

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central

This is the flip phone you should get if you... Many of us have grown up with them, or used them frequently in the past. We loved the usefulness of the hinge. You can now have the form factor you want without having to sacrifice the modern smartphone experience. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the perfect phone for you. The Z Flip 3 has everything you need: great cameras, fast performance, unique form factors, water resistance and more. It costs $999, but it is well worth it. The Z Flip 3 is a refreshing take on the old smartphone experience. This is more than a new paint job. It's a paradigm shift in how phones look and are used. You'll be astonished at the beauty of this display and it will make you stand out from others. This is not the product for you. The Z Flip 3's average battery capacity and slow charging speeds could make it difficult to use for the most serious reasons. The best cameras are not available. While Samsung has made significant improvements to its camera software, the Z Flip 3's camera hardware is still limited. The Galaxy S21 Ultra phones have 100x zoom and 108MP sensors. However, the Z Flip 3 only has a handful of 10MP and 12MP sensors that lack optical zoom. They aren't bad but they are not the best. You want to live the beach lifestyle. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has improvements in almost all areas of the hardware compared with the Z Flip 5G. However, it did not add dust protection. It's dangerous for your phone's health to go to the beach, or anywhere else that dirt and sand can get on (and into) the phone. Although a few cases may help, this is not a good idea. It is amazing to see how fast foldables have developed. Foldables have evolved from a very basic product two years ago to a highly-recommended product today. The Z Flip 3 looks cool and is very portable, unlike the bulky phones of recent years. The Z Flip 3 is a unique phone that offers a compact, high-quality phone with no compromises and a great price. 4.5/5 The $999 price tag makes it affordable to more people than ever. Deals from Samsung and the carriers mean that you can purchase a Z Flip 3 for a few hundred dollars if you are willing to trade in or sign a contract. People who are constantly using their phones to zoom in might consider switching to another phone. Power users should also consider other options if they don’t want to be dragged crazy by the battery life issues. The Z Flip 3 is a unique and amazing alternative to the best flagships of this year.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 Bottom Line: Foldables can now be as good as flagship smartphones in many ways. The Flip 3 provides a unique form factor that is unmatched by any standard smartphone. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is built to last, with water resistance, reliable cameras, durable hardware and great display. It also has a surprising amount of battery life and stunning performance. Samsung: Starting at $999

Amazon: Starting at $999

Review Changelog This article was first published in August 2021. This article was revised in November 2021 to reflect the updated price and availability.

Added to the software section, mention of One UI 4 Android 12 updates and beta availability