I have a thing for Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold phones, especially the Fold2. That got me playing Genshin Impact before taking the plunge and buying a proper gaming laptop.
In summary, I had a great time with the Fold2. I don't really work on my phone so it was a great device for entertainment purposes.
That's not to say that it wasn't a good phone in general, as it was comparable to most flagship phones. But that was the standard: just equal, not better. So the RM8K price didn't feel justified.
How does the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 perform?
Cosmetic changes: the good and the bad
In terms of colors, the Fold3 is available in Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Green, compared to the Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze options of the Fold2.
Changes to the back of the phone would seem mostly cosmetic to users, but Samsung claims the aluminum used is more durable now. I really liked how Samsung stayed with the matte finish of the Fold2 because it feels and looks much more premium. On top of that, the phone now has an IPX8 rating compared to the lack of one on the Fold2.
- Silver may be simple, but it can take on such beautiful hues
- The camera body is much slimmer than before
- She is fat
In terms of size, the slight changes are practically imperceptible unless you have Fold2 and Fold3 against each other, although the Fold3 is lighter in weight at 271g.
Based on my old photo comparisons, it appears that Samsung moved the volume and power buttons on the side of the phone down to the center, which was handy when gaming as it didn't accidentally trigger unwanted commands.
One of the most noticeable changes to the unfolded Fold3 would be the lack of a punch-hole front camera, which is supposed to create a more seamless and uninterrupted display. This works as intended on a darker screen.
But when you open a light background or window, you have to screw up your eyes to really convince yourself that there is nothing there. Not a bad attempt, but it seems like it suffers the same fate as other under-display cameras (UDCs). In addition, the specifications have been downgraded from 10 MP (Fold2) to 4 MP, which means a poorer camera quality overall.
Wrinkles or not wrinkles?
- A stand-alone phone that doesn't require hands to stay upright
- Bend the fold
- Hands-free photography, checked
- With this split-screen function, you can review a recording immediately after it has been recorded
As for the foldability of the phone, this is where it can polarize. Those who prefer to hold phones more easily would probably go for the Flip3 as the Fold3 is much bulkier and less elegant to open.
In the nude, its smooth edges make it a little harder to get a good grip on to open the phone smoothly, but a phone case should provide additional friction.
I personally like that it can be transformed from a slim smartphone into a mini tablet. However, once it is flipped open, it's nearly impossible to treat like a regular phone (which the deck screen emulates) where one-hand typing is easy.
Because of its size, you can go for the split keyboard option, which allows you to type without having your thumbs stretched across the center of the screen. However, if you are careful about which buttons you press, this can confuse you. In that case, you still have the nice old standard keyboard.
The advanced Labs feature lets you open up to 3 different app windows and yes, they all work at the same time
Both the cover and main display now have an adaptive refresh rate of 120 Hz, compared to the Fold2, where the cover display only had a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
A very lanky cover display
Samsung's display game keeps disappointing, especially with the newer models, so the Fold3 doesn't have much else to offer.
The Fold3's processor is an upgrade from the Snapdragon 888, but I can't tell you how my Genshin Impact gameplay has been affected compared to playing on the Fold2's Snapdragon 865. The gameplay was smooth again and brought back memories of my time with the Fold2.
I suppose that's what I like best about the fold phones – the fact that mobile gaming is better because I can see more of the game's surroundings.
A larger screen overall makes it a lot more immersive
Of course, due to its size and weight, getting used to holding the Fold3 for long hours of play can be a challenge, but I found it fine.
As nice as playing on the Fold3 was, unfortunately I felt that the battery drained faster with frequent use and greedy apps. This is probably because the battery part was hit slightly with a downgrade from 4,500 mAh to 4,400 mAh.
Fortunately, charging to 100% is quick and takes just under an hour, so I usually take a break from the device.
Of everything else the Fold3 offered, what I was most disappointed with was its cameras. For one, not only has the main display camera deteriorated, but the specifications of the triple cameras and the cover display's front camera have largely remained unchanged.
The cameras on the Fold2 already didn't impress me, so not seeing any improvements on the Fold3 was unsatisfactory. The Flip3 suffered a similar fate, however, and I had attributed it to the fact that it was the sacrifice Samsung made to bring the phone down in price, so I'll say the same for the Fold3.
- One of the clearer shots we've taken, but still less detailed than the cameras on the Note20 and Z Flip3, for example
- Not the best smartphone photography you can get these days
- A close-up photo that was still not as sharp as other smartphone cameras
In terms of camera quality between the Flip3 and Fold3, the Flip3 took a landslide victory and I'm not entirely sure why, as the specs on paper seem to be similar. But more on that in an upcoming article comparing Fold3 and Flip3.
Also new to the fold phone is the S Pen compatibility, which drives the narrative that it is a mini tablet. Before you get too excited though, note that the Fold3 will only work with the new S Pen Fold Edition (RM199) or the S Pen Pro (RM499), neither of which came with the phone.
Any attempt to use other S Pens or styluses will result in an on-screen warning stating that you could damage the display on the Fold3 and will not be able to continue.
With all that has been shared, I would conclude that the Fold3 is still a phone that impresses me, aside from subpar cameras. It starts at RM 6,699, a decrease from the original price of the Fold2.
I would say if all you need is a smartphone with a familiar design, the Fold3 is not for you. It's better for those who want some versatility with their device and maybe the still high price tag can be worth it for them. Is it then worth upgrading from the Fold2? I would say no.
|Improved durability, button placements, and weight||S Pen not included, limited compatibility|
|Better cover display specs||Bad camera quality compared to flagship models|
|S Pen compatibility for productivity|
- Find out more about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 here.
- Take a look at our review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 here.
- Read more VP judgments here.
VP Verdict is a series where we personally test and test products, services, fads and apps. Would you like to suggest something else to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.