Get the obvious out of the way first – the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is a beautiful phone. You can tell immediately that its aesthetics are a huge upgrade from last year's Z Flip.
I've never been a fan of glossy backs. Something about them always sounded cheap and cheesy to me, even on premium flagships.
Seeing Samsung go for a matte metallic finish this time around was a treat to the touch and eyes. The Phantom Black variant I got made the phone look even slimmer.
Bigger cover display to do more
The cover display has grown in size and now measures 1.9 inches with 260 × 512 px. After that, it also became more functional.
You used to mainly use the title screen to check the time and date, check your notifications, or control your media. Now you have access to a wide variety of functions, such as swiping left to access your alarm clock, voice recorder, weather, Samsung Health and more.
Swiping right will bring up notifications, swiping down will let you control the brightness of the cover display, and swiping up will give you access to Samsung Pay (which I don't use, but it's nice to have one Option for those who do).
Granted, despite these upgrades, you wish you could do a lot more on the cover display, like a quick reply to a message. While this may require a slightly larger cover display, I don't think many users would have a problem with it.
You can use the cover display to take a quick selfie, a feature that was also there on the Z Flip but has now been improved and called Quick Shot.
Useful for, well, quick shots (or checking your looks).
The advantage of Quick Shot is that you can quickly take a picture with just a double press of the power button and a tap on the cover display. You can also rotate a video. These come out in decent quality as the dual cameras are used as opposed to a selfie that is usually taken with the front camera.
But let's say if you knew exactly what your surroundings looked like in the selfie, you wouldn't find much use for Quick Shot. You can really only see yourself, so you cannot control what is in the rest of the frame in relation to the environment.
Seamlessly integrated dual cameras
The dual cameras on the back of the Z Flip3 no longer have their own small housing. Instead, they are built into the cover display, giving the phone a more modern look.
Simple and smooth.
Instead of being oriented horizontally, they have also been oriented vertically, which matches the flow of the Z Flip3's long body much better.
However, in terms of specs, you'll find the exact same thing on the old Z Flip. Perhaps the lack of an upgrade in this area is a sacrifice Samsung had to make in order to improve other features and lower the price of the Z Flip series, but more on that later.
That being said, the Z Flip3's cameras are by no means terrible. In photo and portrait mode, the recorded details are razor-sharp.
- Get to know Cookie, my boss's gentle little fur baby.
- Another setting from Cookie where you can really see her whiskers.
- Meet this flower in my garden, taken in portrait format.
- This is my camera-shy ball of dust, Ziggi, taken in portrait mode for a nice cinematic effect.
The zoom options are more limited, and zooming in on an object results in a shot that takes away much of the detail. On the S21 Ultra, for example, there was a zoom lock feature that helped stabilize your enlarged shot so it was less blurry, and the AI would later also make the image sharper after the shot.
The Z Flip3's selfie camera is fine, but if you've used the Z Flip before, there's nothing to complain about either, as they share the same specs.
Hinges that are smooth and secure
I mentioned in my first impression of the Z Flip3 that the hinges felt a lot better this time around, but my memory isn't the best, so maybe take this with a grain of salt.
These hinges would have to withstand years of opening and closing, but instead of being super tight to compensate for looseness over time, they feel just right.
- A phone that fits.
- The hinges allow stable folding.
- Every reviewer's pose to demonstrate the foldability of the phone.
- Perfectly balanced as everything should be.
Very easy to open with two hands (recommended so you don't damage the screen with your nails) and the phone won't snap or open on its own.
This means that you can also balance the phone in different folds, which gives you more flexibility with certain functions.
For example, if you wanted to take hands-free photos with the timer, you don't really need a tripod. Just put the phone down, adjust the flip angle, set a timer, pose and snap.
- Good for taking photos of yourself with the dual cameras …
- Or take pictures of other objects hands-free.
Of course it has its limits that a real tripod can overcome, e.g. For example, if the surface you are placing the phone on is not the right height to get the right frame.
Aside from that, the flexibility also lets you take selfies with the rear dual cameras as you can customize your pose using the cover display. I assume this is the main benefit of its foldability as everything else like hands-free video and virtual calls isn't really enhanced by the experience.
If you were to watch a video hands-free with the phone folded, your video would look pretty small and only take up half of the screen.
- Honestly, would you like to watch your videos hands-free this way?
- A dent where it folds, but it's not bothersome.
One of the biggest advantages of the Z Flip3's foldability is that it can become a fairly compact phone that makes it easy to slip into a pocket or jeans pocket. There is also less chance of scratching the screen unless you throw it in with some loose keys and coins that can get between the closed flip phone.
A display that is a feast for the eyes
Compared to the Z Flip, the Z Flip3 has an improved AMOLED 2X foldable dynamic display with an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz. To be honest, I don't know what all of this means, but the screen is very vivid and sharp, and its brightness of 1,200 nits amplifies the clarity even more.
It makes it a pleasure to watch videos or play games, complemented by the stereo speakers (a new feature in the Z Flip series) that made the media sound richer. Note that there is no headphone jack so you have to opt for bluetooth wireless earbuds for privacy reasons.
A 120 Hz screen is a nice perk, but for me it is: a perk. No need. Plus, it drains its 3,300mAh battery a lot faster, so I decided to keep the phone in sleep mode, which meant being a farmer with a 60Hz refresh rate.
The Z Flip3 has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and 8GB of RAM as the Galaxy S21, which means its performance should keep up with most newer flagship phones.
Of course, as usual, I had to bring out Genshin Impact in this test as it's my demanding game to see how a phone's performance holds up.
Fellow Genshin players, what were your Raiden Shogun roles like? The 6.7 inch narrow display of the Z Flip3 makes the game "long", as you can see in the screenshot.
I was able to enjoy relatively lag-free experiences for about an hour each time, albeit on medium settings so as not to overclock the phone. Of course, the gaming experience wasn't as snappy as it would normally be on a gaming laptop or PC.
The phone would heat up slightly from the cameras / display area cover if I was playing without pauses, but nothing too uncomfortable. With smaller games and my personal daily phone usage, the Z Flip3 could do a good 12 hours without charging before it drains, I would say.
Price is an important factor in my decision to buy equipment, and now that the Z Flip3 starts at a much lower price (RM3,999) than the Z Flip (RM5,888 at launch) it has become a more viable purchase .
It's definitely an upgrade of the Z Flip, and with a price tag similar to most of the flagship phones currently on the market, Samsung is trying to make the Z Flip3 a more accessible device for everyday users, not just first-time users.
The Z Flip3's biggest downside right now is likely its cameras, which are a downgrade if you're used to the quality of Samsung's other flagship phones.
But if that's not a big deal breaker (and as I said, they are still decent cameras) then I'd say the Z Flip3 is worth buying, and more than just for the brag about it.
|Enlarged cover display with more functions||Same old cameras with lackluster zoom functions|
|Stereo speakers improve the richness of the sound|
|Vivid and sharp display|
- Read our first impressions on the phone here, you can pre-order the Z Flip3 here.
- Read more VP judgments here.
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