Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Review: The Mainstream Foldable!

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3_Main

Everyone loves good nostalgia, right? I mean, having the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G in my possession for the past few days, it feels as if flip phones never went extinct! Yes, that’s the level of refinement you get on the Galaxy Z Flip3… It is a modern-day mainstream foldable smartphone, that has reinvented the good ol’ clamshell design! 

I have been using the Galaxy Z Flip3 for about two weeks now, and boy oh boy, the honeymoon phase is still on. To be honest, having a phone that has a glass front, and being able to fold it in half, (pardon me, if I sound as if I am over exaggerating here) is truly magical. I mean, one moment this phone is right about the size of my palm, and the next moment, I flip it open and boom, it is a full-sized smartphone. But beyond the magic and the clamshell design, there’s so much more to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, and in this full review, I’ll be sharing my first-hand experience so that you can decide whether the Galaxy Z Flip3 is worth it or not?

Galaxy Z Flip3: Specs at a Glance…

— 6,7” Main Screen, Dynamic AMOLED 2X (2640×1080 pixels), 120Hz Refresh Rate, HDR10+, 22:9 Aspect Ratio
— 1.9” Cover Screen, Super AMOLED (260×512 pixels)
— Protection: Gorilla Glass Victus, Armor Aluminum Frame, IPX8 Water-Resistant
— Weight: 183g, Thickness: 6.9mm (Unfolded), 17.1-15.9mm (Folded)
— OneUI 3.1.1 (Android 11)
— Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC
— 8GB LPDDR5 RAM + 128GB UFS 3.1 Storage (Rs. 84,999)
— 8GB LPDDR5 RAM + 256GB UFS 3.1 Storage (Rs. 88,999)
— Non-Expandable Storage
— 3,300mAh Battery
— Up to 15W Wired Charging10W Wireless Charging and 5W Reverse Wireless Charging
— Dual Rear Cameras: 12MP Main, f/1.8, OIS + 12MP Ultra-Wide, f/2.2
— 10MP Front Camera, f/2.4
— Dual-SIM (Nano-SIM + eSIM ) 
— Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, USB Type-C 3.1, Carrier Aggregation and 5G

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The Galaxy Z Flip3 Is Growing on Me Day by Day!

I remember calling the Galaxy Z Flip3 an eye-catchy smartphone in my first impressions article, and well, this phone did catch a lot of people’s attention. Personally, I never had the chance to review the previous two Z Flips’, and just like an average Joe, I too went to the Samsung stores to get my first hands-on experience. Alright, I actually did get to see the Z Flip 5G at my old workplace, when one of my colleagues got it for review, but that was again for just a couple of hours. However, finally being able to review the third generation of the Z Flip makes me a happy kid.

So, we were on the topic of how this phone caught so many people’s attention. Honestly, for me and you, this might just be a new piece of tech, that makes us enthusiasts excited. But there’s a whole bunch of people out there, who still can’t believe that there is actually a phone that has a display and it folds in half! On the road, at restaurants, at the movies, at the grocery stores, heck, even at home with my family; there were so many instances when I was the centre of attention. Wait, actually, it was the phone that was the centre of attention. During this review period, many people have walked up to me just to ask which phone is this. That’s the level of intrigue and aura the Galaxy Z Flip3 has created. 

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Of course, the Galaxy Z Flip3 features a terrific design, no second thoughts about it. The looks on offer are irresistible, and the Phantom Black shade looks every bit premium and classy. And while I did have my doubts regarding the hinge, I am happy to report it has been holding up pretty well. After having flipped and slam shut the phone so many times, the hinge has actually become smoother, and by smoother I don’t mean it has become loose. Let me put it this way, the hinge on the Galaxy Z Flip3 is just the right amount of rigid, if you get what I mean. Besides, this one has also become one of the first water-resistant foldable phones, featuring an IPX8 rating. 

So when it comes to durability, the Galaxy Z Flip3 has been doing great. The Gorilla Glass Victus outer has been holding up well, with no visible scratches yet. Otherwise, that’s about it when it comes to the design. The Galaxy Z Flip3 isn’t just about looks but is also built well. Now, let’s move on and focus on how this phone fared as my daily driver. 

Galaxy Z Flip3 Display: Samsung Is the King!

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is a prime example of a company that’s not just a market leader when it comes to making smartphone displays but this is a company that always keeps on pushing boundaries. This reminds me, that the Galaxy Z Flip 5G had a good display, but two factors that didn’t make it a great display were — average sunlight legibility and a 60Hz refresh rate. But with the Galaxy Z Flip3, Samsung has upped its game once again, and not only is the main 6.7” screen much brighter, be it indoors or outdoors, it also features a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. Now, the smooth scrolling does come at the cost of battery life, and I am going to address that part in a bit. 

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Okay, apart from the main screen, this time around the 1.9” cover screen of the Galaxy Z Flip3 also makes sense. It has grown in size, and so have its capabilities. Of course, you still can’t reply to texts or emails from the cover screen, but you can very well check your texts and emails from this cover screen, and if you want to go ahead and reply, you can continue it by flipping the phone open. Now, I would’ve loved to see some sort of auto-reply feature for the cover screen, but I guess, we’ll have to wait for it one more year. I hope so! 

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But coming back to the main screen of the Galaxy Z Flip3, it’s a pleasure to use. The multimedia experience, be it watching movies or playing games is superb, partly thanks to the loud and clear stereo speakers on offer. Yes, the crease is there, and you do feel it while sliding your finger across the screen, but trust me, you get used to it. Apart from this, the pre-applied screen protector has been doing a fabulous job of protecting the front from nick and scratches. Plus, the oleophobic coating on top makes sure the screen doesn’t get smudged. That said, the corners and edges do get dusty pretty quick, so I’d suggest keeping a cleaning cloth handy. 

Galaxy Z Flip3 Software: Make or Break

What do you do with a phone which has the looks and the raw power, but doesn’t have the software to back things up? Fortunately, with the Galaxy Z Flip3, Samsung has not only paid attention to the aesthetics but also to the overall software. Not only is OneUI 3.1 secure, thanks to Samsung Knox, but it also comes loaded with all the bells and whistles to give you a delightful experience. Of course, the Galaxy Z Flip3 can do everything that your usual Galaxy phones with OneUI can do, although the main highlight of this phone’s software has to be Flex mode. It’s as if Samsung understood from the get-go on how to maximise the use of a screen when it is folded in half. For instance, the Motorola Razr is also a foldable phone that rides on that perfect nostalgia factor, however, there’s nothing groundbreaking about its software experience, apart from the “nostalgia” associated with the Razr brand. 

Anyway, coming back to the Galaxy Z Flip3, so Flex mode works like a charm. For example, you don’t have a tripod, no issues! With Flex mode, your Galaxy Z Flip3 transforms into one. Another great example would be video calling. With Google Duo, you don’t even need to hold your phone in the hand, again, simply place it like a laptop and there you have it — the top screen becomes your viewfinder while the bottom screen presents you with options.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3_5

And similarly, Samsung has made sure that a slew of apps natively supports Flex mode, and just in case, the desired app you’re looking for doesn’t support the feature, there’s also a way to manually enable the feature. Just go to Settings > Advanced features > Labs > Flex mode panel. For instance, in WhatsApp, the messages and the text input window automatically shift to the top screen, while the keyboard is present on the bottom screen. This again makes you easily able to type on your phone without having to lift it in your hands. 

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In a day and age, where there’s very little innovation, it’s good to see that a company is trying to offer something fresh, and honestly speaking, I think they delivered with OneUI on the Galaxy Z Flip3. Now, all eyes on the Galaxy Z Flip4!

Galaxy Z Flip3 Performance, Battery Life, Connectivity

If I have to keep it short, I would say, performance has been top-notch. Battery life has been kind of average. Lastly, for connectivity, the phone covers every major aspect there is! Come on, this is a high-end phone we’re talking about here, what did you expect. 

So, elaborating on the three categories that I mentioned above, let me tell you about connectivity first. The Galaxy Z Flip3 is 5G ready, and it supports ample amounts of bands. So much so, that you can let 5G come, and this phone is more than ready for it. Apart from 5G, there’s 4G carrier aggregation, calls sounded natural and crisp in the phone’s earpiece and I also did not face any hiccups regarding Wi-Fi signals or network reception. By the way, this should come as a part of the software, but just to inform you, this phone also gets a native call recorder. I mean, all the latest OneUI phones have the feature, but just putting it out there.

Finally, in terms of performance, the Galaxy Z Flip3 posted a solid Antutu score of 679467. Even in Geekbench, the phone had a strong showing with a single-core score of 1032 and a multi-core score of 3191. Lastly, according to Androbench, the read and write speeds on the Galaxy Z Flip3 were 1606 MB/s and 748 MB/s respectively. 

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But apart from benchmarks, even in general day to day use, the Galaxy Z Flip3 didn’t disappoint at all. Now, despite it being so slim and featuring the resource-hungry Snapdragon 888 under the hood, this phone can handle any sort of load you can think of. And while 8GB RAM doesn’t sound top of the line, say like a 12GB RAM, but it gets the job done and again, thanks to the software optimisation, the RAM management on this phone has been great. 

Although, while playing graphics-intensive games such as Call of Duty: Mobile and BGMI, or even while using the camera, the top portion of the phone does get slightly warm to the touch, again nothing alarming, but even then, you get sustained top-notch performance. And apart from this, watch hours of videos on it, type on it, use social media, use Chrome, and the Galaxy Z Flip3 won’t break a sweat. 

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Now, this brings me to the endurance section and good performance on the Galaxy Z Flip3 comes at the cost of average battery life. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the battery optimisation because the 3,300mAh cell coupled with the Snapdragon 888 and the 120Hz screen tries to deliver its best. But you need to see that, to power up this kind of hardware, a larger battery was needed, maybe at least a 4,000mAh cell. With that said, I am not completely ruling out the battery life on the Galaxy Z Flip3 like many other reviewers. See, if you’re a casual user, you will still be able to use this phone from morning to evening with medium to heavy usage. For me, I was able to last about a day with the Galaxy Z Flip3 on numerous occasions with around 5-6 hours of SoT, which by the way is a legendary number keeping the battery capacity in mind. 

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However, charging times can be improved for sure. See, for me, charging times is not an issue at all. Usually, I charge my phones overnight, and because the standby times on most phones is great these days, I can simply start using them the next day. Besides, whenever I travel around, my phones are always connected to a fast charger in my car, so charging or battery life has never really been a problem for me, mostly. However, for people, who need those quick top-ups in dire situations, I think they’ll have to compromise here a bit. 

Galaxy Z Flip3 Camera: Flipping it, Clicking it! 

Okay, let’s talk about the camera performance on the Galaxy Z Flip3. You’re getting two lenses at the rear — a 12MP main sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and OIS. This is coupled with a 12MP ultra-wide angle sensor with an f/2.2 aperture. For selfies, there’s a 10MP camera on the cover screen situated in a centre-aligned hole-punch. 

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You can use the Galaxy Z Flip3 to click photos in three different ways. First, just like a conventional smartphone, i.e. holding the phone in its unfolded state. Second, placing the phone in flex mode for clicking selfies. And third, wherein you can utilise the rear cameras to click better selfies; thanks to the 1.9” cover screen. 

I am attaching a few images to give you an idea of the Galaxy Z Flip3’s camera performance. And while they aren’t the best that I have seen this year, I think that title still goes to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Galaxy Z Flip3’s is definitely right there in the top 5 best phone cameras. 

So, briefly touching down on the image quality, there are no second thoughts that the main rear lenses take some crisp looking and vibrant images indoors or outdoors, not to mention the excellent dynamic range you get to see in photos. 

As for the ultra-wide-angle lens, well, it might not be as good as the main lens, but it definitely provides for some cool-looking dramatic shots. Although, there was a slight colour disparity between the shots taken from the main and the ultra-wide lens. 

Coming to the 10MP selfie camera, this one also takes some amazing looking images, that are sharp and detailed. I also loved how the camera algorithm dealt with my skin tone. Even for portrait selfies, the phone did a solid job with edge detection.

Now coming to the photos taken in not so great lighting, the night mode did help to keep the exposure in check for most of the photos, and the overall details were also decent. However, when it comes to clicking human subjects, the camera did tend to over smoothen the skin texture, and I found this to happen in 8 out of 10 cases. A software update might help in fixing this minor issue, but besides this, the camera system on the Galaxy Z Flip3 is solid. 

Galaxy Z Flip3 Verdict: Absolutely Worth It! 

Again, taking a reference from my first impressions article, but if you must have read that, in my closing thoughts I had said, ordinary is boring! Well, ordinary has indeed been boring. So much so, that I have started making direct comparisons of the Galaxy Z Flip3 with the regular smartphones. And while I do have a bunch of good smartphones lying around to test, I don’t feel like giving up on the Galaxy Z Flip3 just yet. So, I have decided to keep my main SIM inside this one for now. As for whether you should buy this one or not? Well, the subhead says it all. I totally believe this is worth it product, and not just because it is different or it is foldable, I mean that it is. But most importantly, the Z Flip3 feels complete this year, it feels polished than ever. Not to forget, the prices are pretty much in line or even lower than many top of the line Samsung phones or even iPhones!

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Long story short, the Galaxy Z Flip3 is an attention grabber in a crowd, a fashion piece of tech, and if you’re someone who wants to get the big-screen experience on a phone, without having to own a cumbersome device, I would say, definitely go for this one. Yes, the battery life is a bit underwhelming, but if you’re someone like me, I think you would do just fine. However, I will still add a disclaimer — don’t expect this one to be an endurance champ. Although, for everything on offer, I think I am willing to live with the Galaxy Z Flip3. Thank you for reading folks. Have a pleasant day ahead! 🙂

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Aman Rashid
aman.rashid@u2opiamobile.com

Aman is the Video-Head for Mr Phone's YouTube channel, based out of New Delhi. He's a true blue sneakerhead, is an avid WWE follower, loves all things tech, and is a huge DragonBall fanboy. He follows a simple mantra in life — Live, Laugh, Love! 💛