Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Review: The foldable worth flipping for!

The closest thing to a mainstream foldable

by: - Last updated on: November 2nd, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G is Samsung’s third attempt at a phone that flips open from the middle.
  • Unlike the Fold, which expands to become a near-tablet, the Flip is about packing a normal phone into an even smaller form factor.
  • The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a significant step forward from previous Flip phones in terms of both design and functionality.
  • At its price of Rs 84,999, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the most affordable, flagship-level foldable out there. Perhaps the closest thing we have to a mainstream foldable!

While the innards of a smartphone keep getting monumentally better, design is, unfortunately, an aspect where we seldom get the opportunity to drop our jaws on the floor. There are very few smartphones that still manage to bring in an element of surprise in terms of design that turns heads and makes people stand and stare. One of those very rare smartphones is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G.

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Looks that make you flip!

Every smartphone gets a few queries when it first arrives but rarely is there a phone that piques the interest of pretty much every person that sees it. However, this is precisely what happens when you carry a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 with you, courtesy of its clamshell design. The ‘flip’ element of the phone is the star attraction that catches eyes and keeps them glued, and this time around, Samsung has gone all in to make the Flip 3 not only striking but also solid.

The device comes with a metal body with a smooth back. We received the Phantom Black variant of the phone. The back has a smooth metal finish with a hinge that goes right through the middle horizontally. This hinge is the star of the Flip-show, which makes the Flip-world go around. The top of the back has a small glass panel which is home to the dual-camera unit and the secondary display.

The black glass panel gives it an illusion of a big screen, but the truth of the matter is that the actual screen is inside this panel which is a tad smaller than the actual panel. Fold the phone in half, and the hinge curves and reveals an engraved Samsung logo which looks very elegant and quite classy. It is the only branding on the phone which is quite subtle and actually goes into hiding when the phone is open.

Good looking and well built too

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Flip the phone open (pun intended), and a gorgeous, trademark Samsung display will stare at you. The phone brings a tall 6.7-inch display to the table that comes with thin bezels. There is a punch-hole in the display that carries the front camera of the phone. The hinge on the back has a bumpy and significant presence on the front of the screen as well. At first, the slight indentation on the screen would feel unsettling, especially when you are casually scrolling and your thumb slides over it, but one gets used to it after a while.

The actual flipping makes the Flip 3 an extremely compact phone to hold and carry. However, the aluminum body of the device does make it a little slippery, and the process of folding the phone makes the display slightly more prone to smudges and scratches. This is particularly problematic because you cannot put a display protector on the display.

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Yes, the phone comes with a clamshell form factor, but you cannot really ‘flip’ the phone open like an OG flip phone would (think of those Star Trek phones). You would need to use both your hands to open the smartphone. Having said that, the Flip 3 does have the same clamshell-phone charm, and Samsung has also worked on making the phone solid and has added an IP X8 rating making it water-resistant, which is a significant plus. The phone folds in half and then can be opened up into a full-fledged smartphone – it gives you a large-ish phone with the option to carry it in a compact form factor. This is the exact opposite approach of the Z Fold 3 but has its own adherents as well, especially among those who want a small phone without losing out on a big screen!

Flagship specs beneath that style

Along with the distinct looks, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 also packs in a lot of power. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G which is paired with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. There is an 8 GB RAM, 128 GB storage variant as well. There is no expandable storage, though.

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The Flip 3 can easily handle your everyday task with ease. The device does it all without breaking a sweat, whether social media scrolling, texting, or multi-tasking. The story remains the same in both casual and high-end gaming departments as well. While the dent-line in the middle may feel distracting while gaming, the phone manages to deliver an overall great gaming experience. Casual games like Subway Surfers, Alto’s Odyssey were an absolute treat to experience on the device, and so were high-end games like Call Of Duty and Asphalt 9. You can easily try any smartphone game on the device on maxed-out settings, and the phone is unlikely to disappoint you.

The only thing that takes away from what is otherwise an incredible gaming experience was the fact that the phone heats up. That is one problem we faced on different occasions – it heats up quite frequently, and it gets warm to a level that you start feeling uncomfortable. Given Samsung’s history with rising temperature on smartphones, this might bother some folks.

Sheer display magic inside and outside (it is a Samsung, duh!)

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If there is one thing that Samsung gets right every time with its smartphones, it is the display, and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is no different. The smooth gaming performance of the Flip 3 is paired with a beautiful tall 6.7-inch dynamic AMOLED 2X foldable full HD+ display with HDR 10+. The previous Flip had a similar display, but Samsung has pushed the refresh rate to 120 Hz this time around.

The display of the phone truly makes you want to flip it open over and over. In best Samsung tradition, the Flip’s display comes with really vibrant colors and reproduces deep contrast. The display also aces the brightness game and can be easily used under a bright sun. There is a secondary display on the phone’s back, which comes in very handy when the phone is flipped closed. The 1.9-inch Super AMOLED display with 260 x 512 resolution is extremely functional and very beautiful to look at.

You can easily take calls, read notifications and messages using this screen. Double pressing the lock button turns this secondary screen into a viewfinder for the camera where you can change modes and take pictures and videos. You can even add widgets to this display and access different features right from the closed phone. The only thing we think Samsung missed out on was the ability to select and send at least simple automated replies to messages.

Sight is good…and sound is too

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The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is equipped with dual stereo speakers. As a result, the phone’s audio output while consuming content is loud and clear, but taking calls on loudspeaker mode delivers mediocre output. This is a big issue because taking calls while the phone is ‘halved’ makes them go directly to loudspeaker mode.

Speaking of calls, the call quality on the device is otherwise pretty good. We did not face any call drop issues with the phone. The phone has a very OG clamshell phone feature where you can flip the phone down while you are on a call, and the call will be automatically disconnected, but this was actually not very convenient. We would have liked if the phone transferred the call to loudspeaker mode or earphones in such cases because you otherwise cannot fold the phone back if you want to park it in your pocket and continue talking. You have to manage with the full-fledged size.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 comes with a side-mounted physical fingerprint scanner that doubles up as a lock/ Bixby button. This works very swiftly and justifies our opinion that fingerprint scanners deserve to be on the sides of phones rather than under their displays. The device also comes with support for 5G, something we could not test for obvious reasons, but it does make the phone future-proof.

Good cameras, and yes, THAT stand mode

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Samsung has restrained itself and has only added a dual camera set up on the back (yes, it deserves an ‘only’ in the day and age of more and more cameras). The main camera unit consists of two 12 megapixel sensors– the primary wide sensor comes with f/1.8 aperture, Dual Pixel PDAF, and OIS, while the secondary ultra-wide sensor comes with f/2.2 aperture. It can capture 4K videos at up to 60 fps.

Given enough light, the cameras on the Flip 3 will provide some beautiful shots with detail in abundance. The main sensor manages to capture portrait and landscape images well, while the telephoto lens lets you get closer without having to move. The phone is quick to focus and capture. It also handles shadows really well and delivers depth in pictures with shadows.

The night mode on the device is pretty good as well. You get enough detail without the shots going blurry or too noisy. The phone also handles video really well – you get pretty steady footage even with shaky hands.

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[Click here for full resolution pictures and additional samples]

That said, the camera struggles to reproduce color accurately. Those who like their images to pop might not mind the oversaturation, but those with an inclination towards true, natural color might find the colors a tad overwhelming. The smartphone also struggles to focus while taking macro shots. The macros have a learning curve because you cannot simply tap on your subject and get it in focus while taking macro shots. Instead, you have to adjust the distance, which often fails to highlight the subject which one originally wanted to highlight. But if you can get the camera to focus on your subject, the phone can produce some really deep bokeh, giving your pictures a different depth altogether.

There is a 10-megapixel front camera on the phone, which is not quite as impressive, unfortunately. Do not get us wrong; it takes good enough pictures for social media but does not do anything beyond that. It needs well-lit conditions to capture detail, and the colors come out a little oversaturated too. However, being a foldable phone, you can actually fold the phone at 90 degrees and use the lower half as the base for your camera to sit on and create a tripod-like stand to capture and take videos. When you do this, the upper half of the phone will turn into a viewfinder, while the lower half will go blank, giving you a clear view of what is being captured. This adds immense stability to the content without needing an additional gadget or support.

A few battery blues

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The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is powered by a 3,300 mAh battery and supports 15W fast charging. These are some disappointing battery numbers from Samsung, especially in a premium smartphone, and we have seen Samsung doing much better in other cases. Perhaps the form factor restricted the brand’s options. The lack of big numbers comes forth in battery performance. The phone can last a day at most if you are careful, but on most days, you will find yourself reaching for a charger before the day ends.

The fast charging support is not too impressive either. Maxed at 15W, the phone takes more than one and a half hours to charge completely, no matter what charger/ adapter you use – which is a little odd in the age of flagships that get charged in well under an hour. The Flip 3 also gets quite warm while charging, which can make it a little uncomfortable to use while the phone is charging. On the other hand, the phone comes with support for fast wireless charging at 10 W and reverse wireless charging at 4.5W, which you can use to charge your TWS or other small gadgets.

Flex-ing some UI muscle

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The Flip 3 runs on Android 11, which is topped with Samsung’s in-house OneUI 3.1. This is pretty much the same software that you see on other Samsung smartphones, with a few additions explicitly made for devices like the Flip 3. The phone comes with a Flex Mode, which allows the app to open in pop-up view or split-screen when the phone is opened in L shape, giving you the app interface on the top half and more controls on the lower half – sort of a VERY mini notebook of sorts. Unfortunately, this mode only works for a handful of apps, which restricts its utility at the moment. Perhaps this will change in the coming days.

The UI is otherwise clean and not too complicated. Those who like the ‘pure Android’ interface might not enjoy it as much, but the phone comes with handy features and functions that make the phone more useful without letting it become too overwhelming. Samsung has also promised that the Z Flip 3 will receive software updates for at least four years from the time of release. This includes monthly security patches from Samsung.

Not just eye candy anymore

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Priced at Rs. 84,999 for the 8 GB/ 128 GB version and Rs. 88,999 for the 8 GB / 256 GB version, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 definitely finds itself in the premium zone. And yes, on paper, its specs are not only matched but surpassed by a number of other phones. But the Flip 3 is not about specs. It has the Flip factor, which gives it a massive edge over all the other smartphones in this segment. It is a very polarising device that will either have you swooning over it or will leave you a little disappointed, but either way, it will your attention.

The launch of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 also marks a significant step in the foldable phone market, as it represents a form factor that has functional value. This is actually one of the most practical and budget-friendly (even when it costs nearly 90k) foldable phones that users can use in their day-to-day lives. Yes, it has a few flaws that Samsung still needs to work on (the battery life, more functionality in flex mode and on that external display), but with the Flip 3, Samsung has taken foldable phones firmly out of the eye candy zone, and a step closer to the mainstream!

Buy Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Pros
  • Eye-catching design
  • Tall, beautiful display
  • Folds into half
  • Strong performer
  • Useful external display
Cons
  • Unsatisfactory battery life
  • The phone heats up
  • The camera produces oversaturated colors
Review Overview
Build & Design
Performance
Camera
Battery
Price
SUMMARY

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a significant step forward from previous Flip phones, in terms of both design and functionality. It's the most affordable, flagship-level foldable out there. Perhaps the closest thing we have to a mainstream foldable!

4.1

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