Samsung unveiled the much anticipated third generation of its foldable phones, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G (the review of which you can check out here) on August 11th, 2021.
Now, you will read an extensive review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G with personal opinions and all the features and functions covered.
When Samsung released its first foldable phone, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, back in 2019 it definitely indicated that Samsung was onto something. It was a futuristic yet nostalgic design but it definitely struck everyone’s attention. The idea the a normal looking slim smartphone could “unfold” into a display which resembled that of a tablet was definitely unique.
Well, after two years and another generation of the Fold in between, Samsung has just released its latest version of the Fold. It is safe to say that this foldable phone is the best foldable smartphone out there, with all its glory.
The new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is packed with new features and functionalities, both in terms of hardware and software. Following are some things that are new in this generation of the fold.
Some new features
• Water Resistance
The Fold series finally gets IPX8 water resistance with the Fold3. IPX8 means that the device can be submerged deeper than 1 meter. However, Samsung has stated that “IPX8 is based on test conditions for submersion in up to 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes”. The device is not dust resistant though.
• Double 120 Hz display setup
In the previous fold (the Galaxy Z Fold 2), only the main display, the unfolded one featured the 120 Hz refresh rate but this year, the cover display is also 120 Hz. This feature means smoother scrolling and transitions.
The Galaxy Z fold3 5G comes in three new amazing colors. The three colors are Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Green. The black and green are matte and subtle while the silver as you would expect is shiny.
• New under-display front facing camera
The main display of the Fold3 has the front facing camera under the display itself. This is something great that Samsung has done as it eliminates the need for any hole-punch or a notch. The visibility of the camera still depends on viewing angles, exposure and brightness of the display itself.
• S Pen support
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G has S Pen support like the Note series. The pen supported with the device is designed specifically for the Fold and is named S Pen Fold Edition. It has got a precise 1.5mm tip and low latency for a natural feeling while you write, sketch or take down notes.
• More durable build
This year’s Fold has a much more durable design than last year’s. The phone’s exterior has a strong Armor Aluminum frame which Samsung calls their strongest aluminum frame. The displays are more durable as well.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G features a 7.6 inch main foldable dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 120 HZ refresh rate, peek brightness of 1200 nits and a resolution of 1768 x 2208 pixels. This big screen is incredible for movie-watching, browsing, multitasking, taking notes, gaming and much more. Basically, what the main display provides is a very unique viewing experience. It now shows more information, two instances of the same app can be opened at the same time, there is a ‘flex mode’ in which the screen folds into two separate screens, and there is main screen and cover screen mirroring in which changes in the main screen are automatically mapped to the cover screen and vice versa.
The cover display is a 6.2 inch dynamic AMOLED 2X, also now with a 120 Hz refresh rate, a resolution of 832 x 2268 pixels and protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The cover display although 120 Hz now and much improved is still a narrow display and has an awkward aspect ratio.
Memory and Storage
The new Samsung foldable comes with two options of storage; 256 GB & 512 GB, both with memory of a whopping 12 GB. These configurations are pretty reasonable since the phone is pretty much a hybrid beast between a smartphone and a tablet.
Performance and Battery life
Now, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 is powered by the Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm) chip so you know it’s fast and powerful. You can definitely run intensive apps, do a lot of web browsing, play heavy games and do other stuff on the double 120 Hz display setup very swiftly but…. you will probably have to compromise on battery life.
The phone has 4400 mAh Li-Po battery and that is even smaller than last year’s Fold. It is probably because of the lighter and slightly slimmer build. Nevertheless, the battery life could definitely be better. The battery life cannot even be conserved by using the cover display only as that is 120 Hz too now and so requires more power.
The new Fold also has a five camera-lens setup, of which three are part of the main camera module, one is the selfie hole punch camera on the cover display and one is the front facing selfie camera under the main display in the top right corner. The main camera module has three lenses of 12 MP. There is a wide lens of 26 mm with f/1.8 aperture, a telephoto lens of 52 mm with f/2.4 aperture and an ultra-wide lens of 12 mm with f/2.2 aperture. The main camera quality is good but not really great. The cameras do take incredible photos in light but do not capture the sharpness like the other high-end flagship phones do. The image quality of the under the display selfie camera on the main display is really not that good.
The lens has 4 MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture and is hidden by a sort of “pixelated array” as MKBHD calls it. This front facing camera takes “fuzzy” photos in some conditions and in good conditions, even when the image quality is slightly better, it looks highly processed, not natural. So for selfies, you would be better off with the hole punch camera of 10 MP, 26 mm lens with f/2.2 aperture, which takes much better and sharper photos.
The new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G starts at $1799.99 with 256 GB of storage and goes up to $1899.99 with 512 GB of storage.
Verdict | Should you buy?
We think this phone is absolutely great. But everything has its pros and cons. Now, when you look at this phone it definitely speaks volumes, especially its design, but there are a few things you should consider before buying this great phone.
If you are going to buy this phone, you will probably have to compromise on battery health as mentioned earlier. Another not much discussed thing, probably because it doesn’t matter much is the crease down the middle of the main display. You don’t really feel it much as you move your fingers on the display but it is definitely there and not pretty. Even though the whole Fold deal is to give you a tablet-sized screen and experience in smaller, normal phone-ish form factor, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is still a chunky and thick phone. But it is slimmer than last year’s Fold since Samsung trimmed the design a bit.
There is a lot of good and excellence in this phone too. It is, as mentioned earlier, the greatest foldable phone ever made even with its small number of flaws. With this phone, you get a new and improved build, dual sim compatibility, 5G connectivity and a double 120 Hz display setup. The hinge is much more solid now and this Fold is the only foldable phone with water resistance. The displays are 29% brighter than the Z Fold 2 too. Browsing the web on the Z Fold3 is amazing, it’s just like browsing on a tablet or a computer but much more responsive. There is the dual apps feature and the ‘flex mode’ mentioned earlier. You can stack an app over another app on the main display for multitasking too. You get S Pen support now which makes it both fun and productive for you to have this phone. But remember it is an optional accessory. Apps like Instagram are much better optimized now. The task bar has been improved and is more user-friendly.
All in all, we would say that this phone is for those who want to make a statement and make heads turn. It is also for those who want to enjoy a bigger tablet-sized screen on their phone. You can buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G here.